South Shore Line
Alone among interurbans, the South Shore has made the transition to a commuter railroad practically like those that were steam railroads. Abundant freight traffic, developed under Insull control (1925-32), kept it alive into the era of public subsidies for passenger transport.
Operation started with streetcars to Indiana Harbor. As a rare 6600v ac interurban, it seemed unpromising until the Insulls re-electrified it, bought new rolling stock and generally revitalized it.
The Depression of the 1930s brought another bankruptcy. Later came management as part of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company and public support of passenger service. Finally the railroad was purchased by NICTD, an Indiana municipal corporation. The freight operation, already dieselized, then continues as a separate private-sector company.
For photos of the South Shore Line, check out the railroad's photo archive.
When it ran: 1904-present
- 1910 - Tolleston branch
- 1926 - Indiana Harbor branch
- 1956 - Street-running in East Chicago (replaced by new alignment)
- 1970 - Street-running in South Bend
Most recent addition to the system: 1992 - Extension to South Bend Airport
Miles of line (passenger service, 1956): 90
Frequency of service (1958 midday every day):
- Chicago-Gary - half-hourly
- Gary-South Bend - hourly
Number of cars (1954):
- 64 passenger cars
- 19 locomotives
- 173 total
Revenue passengers (1946): 6, 163,798
Number of employees (1947): 962
Principal companies in system:
- 1901-04: Chicago & Indiana Air Line Railway Co.
- 1904-24: Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend Railway Co.
- 1924-circa 1940: The Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend Railway Co.
- 1925-1990s: Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad
- 1977-present: Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD)
- 1989-present: Chicago SouthShore & South Bend Railroad (freight carrier)
Major books (those marked * are out of print):
- The Insull Interurbans by Gordon E. Lloyd (Morning Sun Books, 1996)
- How the Medal Was Won (Central Electric Railfans' Association Bulletin 124, 1985)
- Duneland Electric by Donald R. Kaplan (*1984)
- Spirit of the South Shore by William A. Raia (*1984)
- South Shore, The Last Interurban by William D. Middleton (*1970)
- Electric Railways of Indiana, Part III (Central Electric Railfans' Association Bulletin 104, *1960)
More Reading in First & Fastest: Every issue contains South Shore Line material
More Reading on the internet:
Contributing to this report: Roy G. Benedict, James J. Buckley, Norm Carlson, Art Peterson