Calumet Tower/CP 502 - East Chicago

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EJ&ESDM809

EJ&E fan
#1
Calumet Tower and CP 502 are two great locations to view trains.

Location:

Calumet Tower and CP 502 are both located in East Chicago, Indiana.

Directions:

From I-80/94 exit at Kennedy Avenue northbound. Kennedy ends at the junction. Make a left at the end of Kennedy and make a right immediately after the tracks, there is a parking lot located there.

For directions on how to get to CP 502, see this page. http://www.dhke.com/CRJ/indharb.html

Railroads

At Calumet Tower, you can see:
CSX
IHB
NS
UP
CP
EJ&E/CN
South Shore freights
BNSF
Much much more, the IHB is known for it's variety

At CP 502, you can see:
NS
IHB
CP
CSX
Amtrak
UP
BNSF
CN/EJ&E
A lot more on IHB again
Mittal Switchers

Information

Calumet Tower is where the IHB Kankakee Belt Line and the CN/EJ&E Whiting branch cross over CSX's Barr Sub at grade. Calumet Tower is still up and manned by IHB operators. Just north of the viewing area, the EJ&E branch curves and crosses the IHB at grade. The IHB usually sees 25-30 trains a day here, the CSX typically sees 60 or more, and the CN/EJ&E sees 2 a day. All told, trains counts here are usually around 90 but can approach 100 on a good day. IHB's Michigan Avenue Yard is visible from the junction so there is a lot of switching going on here. All told, Calumet can be a busy place at times, and as I mentioned, it's all still controlled by a manned interlocking tower. While East Chicago is far from the safest town in the area, the junction seems to be a relatively safe area during the day. Just be a little cautious and you will be fine.

CP 502 is where the same IHB mainline that passes by Calumet Tower crosses and interchanges with NS' very busy Chicago Line. The C?EJ&E Lakefront line parallels the Chicago Line past here, and Mittal's steel mill operations can be viewed here as well. This is the north end of the IHB Kankakee Line. The trains that don't get on the NS here are heading for Lake Front Yard, which is where Mittal interchanges with the CN/EJ&E and the IHB. NS trains heading to IHB's Blue Island and Gibson Yards get off the Chicago Line and onto the IHB here. This is also the point where NS trains heading for Streator for interchange with BNSF get onto and off the Chicago Line, as NS actually owns the Kankakee Line south of Gibson Junction all the way down to Streator and beyond. The IHB sees maybe 20 or so trains a day here, the NS sees over 100 including Amtrak, CSX and CP traffic. The Lakefront Line sees 2-4 a day. All told, this place sees over 100 trains a day, and this total does not include Mittal switching moves. All told, this is a very important junction, as well as a busy one. Safety is not a issue here, the area is basically all steel mills with no residential areas nearby.

Accessibility

Calumet Tower is a very accessable location. The parking lot on the west side of the IHB is public property. Make sure you don't stray from that area, however, as the operator of the tower will keep an eye on you. They have been known to phone foolish people into the IHB or the East Chicago police, and the both of their cops are not known to be kind customers. The bottom line is you can come here, but do not mess around!

CP 502 is for the most part accessible. There is a nice parking lot located on the south side of the NS, CN/J and Mittal trackage. I am not sure who owns the parking lot here but I have never heard of anyone getting kicked out by Mittal security. There is also a pedestrian bridge over the tracks here that offers a great morning eastbound shots. Keep in mind this bridge is actually Mittal property. Although in most cases people are ok taking photos up here, every once in a while Mittal security will ask you to leave the bridge, so make sure you have a back-up location ready in case if you get unlucky.
 





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