EXPLORING THE PRR HAMMOND BRANCH
One of the more obscure Pennsylvania Railroad lines in the Chicago area, was the Hammond Branch. This line diverted from the SC&S Branch, which was the line between Colehour Jct. and Bernice that allowed Logansport Division passenger trains a more direct route into Chicago Union Station via the Fort Wayne line. And the Hammond Branch connected with the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal main line in Hammond, which at the time was jointly owned with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
On August 1, 2011, the route of the Hammond Branch was explored, within the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago.
The PRR Hammond Branch diverged from the SC&S Branch near 135th St. and Green Bay Ave. View is looking north at the 135th St. crossing, with some trackage from the Hammond Branch still in place. A hand operated switch had connected with the SC&S Branch.
Looking south from 135th St., with some of the former Hammond Branch trackage visible, diverging to the left.
The Hammond Branch crossed Avenue O south of 135th St., and ran along the south side of an alley extending east. View is looking straight east from Avenue O, with no evidence of any trackage seen here.
If one looks carefully, one can see a bit of rail from the Hammond Branch. This is immediately east of Avenue O.
Walking further east down the alley, one can occasionally see more obvious evidence of the Hammond Branch.
And further east, an Indiana Harbor Belt branch begins paralleling the former Hammond Branch to the south. Looking south from near Avenue K, one can vaguely see some of the Hammond Branch rails, in front of the Indiana Harbor Belt.
Accessibility to the Hammond Branch ends near Avenue K, and much undeveloped land exists between Avenue K and the State Line. Within Hammond, Indiana, no evidence was found of the Hammond Branch. The branch apparently paralleled one block east of Torrence Ave. in Hammond. From 137th St. to 139th St., Torrence Ave. makes a curve from east to south. And south of 139th St., the street paralleling Torrence Ave. to the east is Baltimore Ave. The Hammond Branch apparently then followed an alignment by Baltimore Ave. as far south as the South Shore Line tracks. The Hammond Branch crossed the South Shore Line at a non interlocked crossing, with gates which were normally set against the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Hammond Branch then curved east, crossed Calumet Ave., and joined what now is the CSX main line. That CSX line is best known as the former Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal main line, but was previously jointly owned with the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Commuter Rail Schedules - 1901 schedules of commuter rail service over this branch, which operated from Union Station to East Chicago.