Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago

Brief History:
Numerous railroad grade crossings delayed its cars and imposed extra maintenance expense on the Hammond-based streetcar system. Gary Railways and even the South Shore Line competed for its riders. With street paving in the 1920s, numerous buses moved into its territory. Plagued with these problems, the company did well to keep cars running on its badly deteriorated tracks until 1940. The major competing bus line had been purchased in 1931.

Common ownership with the South Chicago City Railway Company brought through operation into Chicago as early as 1896. Similarly, Chicago cars ran to Hammond and East Chicago. However, each company advertised the service on its side of the state line as a local route, retaining the fares from that portion.

Quick Facts:

When it ran streetcars: 1893-1940

First abandonment: 1901: South end in Hammond

Last addition to system: 1919: Columbia Avenue, Hammond

Miles of line (1920): 20 owned, 10 operation into Chicago

Number of routes (1920): 3

Frequency of service (base, 1927): 20 minutes

Number of cars (1920): 32 passenger, 12 other

Surviving equipment: None

Population (city limits, 1930):

  • Hammond, 64,560
  • East Chicago, 54,784
  • Whiting, 10,880

Revenue passengers (1920): 9,126,439

Number of employees (1931): about 100

Principal companies in system:

  • Formed 1893: Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago Electric Railway Co.
  • 1910: Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago Railway Co.
  • 1929: Calumet Railways, Inc.
  • 1931: Chicago & Calumet District Transit Co.

Major books (all are out of print):

  • The Hammond Whiting & East Chicago Ry., by James J. Buckley (Electric Railway Historical Society Bulletin 8. 1953)

More Reading in First & Fastest:

  • "Hangin' 'round Hohman in Hammond," Summer 1995
  • "State Line" by Don Idarius, Spring 1995
  • "Transfer Yourself to the 1930s" by Joseph M. Canfield, Winter 1993-94
  • "Seeing Chicago for a Dime" by Earl Powis, Autumn 1993
    For back issues of First & Fastest, click here.

More Reading on the internet:


Contributing to this report: Roy G. Benedict and unpublished research by James J. Buckley

  Map of the Hammond, Whiting & East Chicago system. –Map by Roy G. Benedict Publishers' Services
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  Though it served the three cities in its name and Chicago, the HW&EC operated city cars, not interurbans. Car 68, part of a 1916-19 re-equipping, stands on Exchange Avenue at Forsythe Avenue (Indianapolis Boulevard), the East Chicago wye, in 1923. –Joe L. Diaz collection
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