Griffith, Indiana's Mammoth Railroad Intersection

Griffith, Indiana is the site of a railroad junction between several tracks of railroads today, and yet it pales in comparison to how the junction looked when two more railroad lines crossed here.

The Broad Street crossing when all five railroads crossed 11 tracks forming 14 diamonds - the Michigan Central, Grand Trunk, Erie, Elgin Joliet & Eastern and the Chesapeake & Ohio. The photo is from the 1930s. (NWI Times)


The Michigan Central Railroad would be the first railroad through the area in 1854, running between Joliet and Gary, IN, only to be followed by the Grand Trunk Railway, Erie Railroad, Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway, Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, Erie and Kalamazoo, Michigan Southern, Chicago and Erie, and others. Eventually, the diamonds would look like this:

1953 Highland, IN Map. (USGS)

Today, you'll still see tons of railfans visiting the area, in addition to numerous trains running on an almost constant basis. A small train museum exists on the east site of the property, with a few pieces of rolling stock, representing some of the rail lines that once traversed the area today. 

We visited the crossing in March of 2019 and are sharing our experience and a bit of history on the crossing now in January of 2021.


Just one of three trains that passed by through our relatively short visit.

An old station retrofitted into a museum.

Entrance to the parking lot, complete with a signal and gates. One wonders if these were previously used at the Griffith crossing.

Interlocking tower on the east side of the property.



Static display caboose of the EJ&E 503 on site. All photos Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo. March, 2019.

For our purposes, we'll discuss the rail lines that used to emanate or cross here, starting with the aforementioned Michigan Central line from Joliet. In Illinois, it is now the Old Plank Road Trail, but continued onto Lake Station, Indiana, paralleling the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway (now CN) tracks at the Junction.

This line was abandoned east of Griffith in 1976 by Conrail, after having been passed down to the New York Central and Penn Central railroads. Part of the right of way is now the Lake Station Trail, but much of it was completely abandoned.

Looking west near the beginning of the old Joliet-Lake Station, IN Michigan Central railroad line. In Illinois, much of this is known as the Old Plank Road Trail. Here in Lake Station it’s the Lake Station Trail. About 44 miles west is downtown Joliet. (Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places photo)

Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway's Porter Branch was abandoned in 1984, which ran from Griffith, IN, east to Chesterton. Much of this is now the Prairie Duneland Bike Trail.

Image: TrailLink

Heading in a clockwise rotation, immediately southeast of the Griffith junction was the Chesapeake & Ohio's Wabash Subdivision, abandoned in 1981 to Malden, IN, 29 miles away. A small part of this line directly remains in service to serve ACS Technical Products, Inc. 

Parts of this line are now the Chesapeake & Ohio Greenway. The removal of rails on this line was caught by Tom Golden in 1981:

Image: RailPictures.net - "With railfan and State Line Tower operator Dick Grobner documenting the scene from the ground, a Chesapeake & Ohio rail train is in the process of removing the former C&O/EL mainline from Griffith Junction while Griffith Tower oversees the junction which now has GTW and EJ&E traffic. Note the impressions of the former track layout that served industries adjacent to the mainline and had been previously removed. Tom Golden photo."

The C&O actually continued north from this junction as well, paralleling the Erie Railroad to Kenwood St in Hammond, where it diverged west into Illinois along the former Chicago Cincinnati & Louisville Railroad. This segment of the C&O was abandoned sometime in the 1980's as well, possibly at the same time as the Griffith-Malden segment.

By far, the longest abandoned railroad in the interchange was the Erie Railroad from Hammond, IN to Elgin, OH, with nearly all of the 176 miles between those two cities abandoned. This abandonment actually heads to another once mighty interchange of railroads, which is now the site of the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum. In 1960, the Erie merged with the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railway.

Interestingly, an industrial spur track remains adjacent to the right of way, in spite of the fact that this line was abandoned by Conrail in 1986. Thus, Conrail would abandoned two sections of railroad nearby that it inherited from its two largest predecessors, PC and EL.

Looking northwest at Griffith, IN. This wide open right of way once encompassed the Erie-Lackawanna Railway, which is now abandoned between Hammond, IN and Elgin, OH, for 176 miles. The only exception is at North Judson, IN, where a railroad museum uses part of the ROW. To the right one can see the Erie-Lackawanna Trail, and to the left, a spur track still exists for a mainline that does not. (Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places Photo)

Most of the right of way in Lake County, IN, has been converted into the Erie-Lackawanna Trail.


Thanks as always for reading!



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