Though an important industrial city, in streetcar days and even today Gary is interspersed with large pockets of undeveloped land held for future growth of factories. For this reason even the city car lines seemed like light interurbans. The company also owned what it considered interurbans: trolley lines to nearby towns, largely on side-of-road right-of-way. Some were acquired by absorbing small companies, including the Hobart line which had opened with a gas-electric car. Even the streetcar lines had begun as an offshoot of the storied Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroad.
Starting out late--U. S. Steel purchased the site only in 1905--the system used double-truck streetcars right from the beginning. Around World War I, busy shift changes at the mills required motor-trailer trains. Then under Insull management in the 1920s, the company re-equipped its base services with several series of neat one-man lightweight cars, ingeniously making further refinements in design with each new purchase.
Expansive bus routes were spun off to the Shore Line Motor Coach Company, jointly owned by Gary Railways and the South Shore Line. For efficiency Insull's Midland Utilities Company briefly tried combining non-operating departments of the two railways.
When it ran: 1908-47
Last additions to system: 1924: Miller and Tube Works lines
Some early abandonments:
- 1922: Chesterton-Woodville Jct.
- 1924: Hammond-Indiana Harbor via Kennedy Av.
- 1933: Crown Point line
- 1935: Miller line
Miles of line (1930): 71
Number of all-day rail routes (1928): 10
Number of cars (1930): 96 passenger, 14 other
Revenue passengers (1926): 17,843,470 incl. bus
Number of transportation employees (1928): 160
Principal companies in system:
- 1907-17: Gary & Interurban Railway Co.
- 1908-circa 1950: Gary & Southern Traction Co.
- 1913-17: Gary & Interurban Railroad Co.
- 1917-25: Gary Street Railway Co.
- 1925-43: Gary Railways Co.
- 1943-75: Gary Railways, Inc.
Surviving equipment: Illinois Railway Museum (Union, IL) has a car body.
- Gary Railways, by James J. Buckley (Chicago: Central Electric Railfans' Assn. Bulletin 84. 1949--out of print. Enlarged edition, 1975)
- Interurban to Hobart, by Thomas R. Bullard (Oak Park, Ill.: Bullard, 1991)
- South from Gary, by Thomas R. Bullard (Oak Park, Ill.: Bullard, 1992)
More Reading in First & Fastest:
- "Three Generations Go to Gary" by Lee Frizane, Willard Bruining and Bob Geis, Spring 1996
- "A Long Look Back," cover photo by Joe L. Diaz, Summer 1991.
For back issues of First & Fastest, click here.
More Reading on the internet:
Contributing to this report: Roy G. Benedict and the research of the late James J. Buckley.