Railroads serve the Kankakee Marsh

Before the advent of automobile transportation, sportsmen arrived and departed the region via the railroads that passed through. Most of the communities on the river had a depot, like Water Valley near Shelby, Indiana. All the towns on the fringe of the great hunters paradise also had depots. A couple of the sportsmen clubs also boasted flag stop service, which allowed guest to arrive and depart for the club.

Railroad like the Baltimore and Ohio, Chesapeake and Ohio, Nickel Plate Road, Lake Erie and Western, New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, Chicago Attica and Southern, Erie Railroad, Chicago and Wabash Railroad and the Monon Railroad all serviced the thousands of sportsmen who came to the clubs.


Walkerton Indiana Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot. -Walkerton Area Historical Society-


Lake Erie and Western Railroad, Walkerton, Indiana. Picture on the right is before 1907. -Walkerton Area Historical Society-


The Nickel Plate Road traveled through the Kankakee Marsh and crossed the River at Chambers Landing. There was a hunting club at that location known as the Nickel Plate Gun and Fishing Club of Chicago. The club was situated on the south side of the railroad tracks on the east side of the River.




Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Depot, Walkerton, Indiana. -Walkerton Area Historical Society-


Baltimore and Ohio bridge over the Kankakee River west of Walkerton, Indiana. -Walkerton Area Historical Society-








Photos: (Left) English Lake depot. The C&O and the Pennsylvania shared this depot. (Right) Coaling tower on the C&O. South bound freight. -Sandy Goodrick Photo-

Photo Left: Removing the original wooden trestle at English Lake. This is around the time the river was being dredged. Note dredge to the right. -Starke County Historical Society-



The Pennsylvania crossed the Kankakee at two locations, English Lake and Davis Station. Photo Left: C&O Depot at English Lake. This depot was used by the PRR also. -Starke County Historical Museum-






Photos: (Left) Original PRR wooden trestle at English Lake. (Right) PRR North Judson depot and the arrival of a PRR passenger train.


Photos: (Left) PRR depot at Kouts, Indiana. (Right) PRR depot at Hebron. Both of these communities were on the edge of the Kankakee Marsh.


Photos: Davis Station on the PRR. This was the name where the PRR crossed the Kankakee. (Left) The Davis Station depot. (Right) 1910 and a derailment takes out part of the bridge over the Kankakee.



Photos (Left) Erie Railroad Depot at Knox, Indiana. (Right) Kankakee River bridge at Lomax.


Photos (Left) Tower at Lomax on the Erie. (Right) Indiana Pipe Line Company at Lomax.


The Kankakee area was also served by the Illinois, Indiana and Iowa Railroad, later New York Central. The line, also known as the Kankakee Belt crossed the river near Shelby. The Streator to South Bend line shared a depot with the Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railroad at Shelby. Early in the 1900's as many as 75 passengers per day boarded or got off trains in Shelby.


Photos (Left) New York Central "Doodlebug" at South Bend's Union Depot. In the later days of regular passenger service, these ran regular passenger service. (Right) The bridge over the Kankakee east of Shelby. Note trestle like concrete approaches on either side. These were necessary because of flooding.


Photos: (Left) Looking East down the Kankakee Belt at Shelby, Indiana 1908. (Right) Schneider, Indiana. Panoramic view of Schneider, Indiana, 1907. The New York Central railroad (Egyptian Line) is shown while a steam-powered passenger train is on the east-west railroad (Indiana, Illinois and Iowa railway, later NYC). A small crowd of passengers are standing nearby. The building close to the train has a "Hotel" sign. The taller building is the Rouse & Ahlgrim Hotel. The building with the large windows is a pool hall. Buggies, then later cars helped deliver hunters to the Cumberland Lodge, north of town. Lowell Library Collection.



The Chicago Attica and Southern Railroad was another of the railroad that crosses through the Kankakee Marsh. This line crossed the river at a location known as Dunn's Resort, near the present NIPSCO Wheatfield Generating Station. We are not sure if there was ever scheduled passenger service, but since it passed through the region it is included here. Photo Right: Chicago, Attica and Southern Railroad depot at LaCrosse, Indiana. -John Eagan Collection -



Chicago and Wabash Valley Railroad.

The Chicago and Wabash Valley Railroad was built by Benjamin Gifford, who came to northwest Indiana in 1891. Gifford was very resourceful. He acquired his education, taught school, studied law, became a lawyer, and in 1861 volunteered and served under General Grant in the Union Army. Benjamin Gifford started to acquire land in the southern portions of Lake County and the northern part of Jasper County, until his holding were around 36,000 acres of the low-lands, known as the Black and Copperas Marshes. Gifford had located the divide between the Kankakee and the Iroquois Rivers. His dream was to transform the swamps into gardens to supply the city of Chicago with fresh vegetables. He drained the marshes by building miles of dredge ditching. Gifford also constructed public roads, dug smaller ditches, and divided his land into farms of 80, 160, and 320 acres. Each farm contained a set of farm buildings. By the late 1890's the annual harvest in the area was nearly one million bushels of corn, oats, onions and potatoes, with the prospect of annual crops topping that. Lewis Family Collection. The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railroad (Monon) purchased the C&WV after Gifford's death. The line was abandoned in the 1930's. The railroad had one crossing, at Beech Ridge. There was a camp near that location, named The Beech Ridge Camp.


Photos (Left Above) The C&WVRR Depot at Kersey. (Right) Railroad founder Benjamin Gifford. -The Lewis Family Collection-







The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railroad served the Kankakee Marsh at two locations. The railroad was the first to arrive in south Lake County about 1882, but it arrived even earlier on the Michigan City line at Wilders/ Riverside, in 1852. Lew Wallace rode the CI&L between his home in Crawfordsville to Riverside many times. Other dignitaries and celebrities arrived and departed from the depots in Water Valley, Shelby and Riverside. The original railroad bridge at Water Valley was 150 feet in length. This bridge was replaced in the 1950's. The Ahlgrim Family provided motor launch service between the Water Valley depot and the various clubs and camps along the river.


Photos: (Left) The Monon/ NYC depot at Shelby. This depot was built in 1905. -David Ryunon Collection- (Right) Passenger makes a stop at Thayer, Indiana. Thayer was south of the Kankakee. Many guests of the Diana Club arrived here. -Gerald Born Collection-


Photos (Left) Southbound crossing the Kankakee at Water Valley. -Greg Jancosek Collection- (Right) Passenger north of the river at Water Valley about to arrive at Shelby. -MRHTS Photo Archives-


Photos: (Left) Another look at the trestle at Water Valley. The building on the south bank may have been used as an ice house when ice was harvested off the bayou. One of the buildings was used to store marsh hay for Marshall Field and Company, who used them in comforters and pillows. (Right) Looking up the mainline from the north end of the trestle at Water Valley, towards Shelby. -Marc Buhurmester Collection-


Photos: (Left) The Water Valley depot. This building was once the depot. When this photo was taken, the building was used for some other purpose. The siding to the left was a team track and the one to the right was used to deliver coal for the pump house and lodges. -Marc Buhurmester Collection- (Right) The Fuller's pose in front of the Water Valley depot. -Fuller Family Photographs-


Photos: (Left) LaCrosse Indiana was a railroad town. Served by 5 railroads and 4 depots. Pictured is long time Agent Bessie Smith at the Monon depot. -William Smith Collection- (Right) Wilders, north of the Kankakee. At one time the Monon and Erie maintained a small depot here. The Chicago, Attica and Southern also passed through Wilders.

Photo Left: The trestle at Riverside. Although labeled as Dunn's Resort, after investigation, this is the Monon bridge at Riverside. The hotels and clubs here were all north of the river. When the river was channelized, this location was not changed. You can still see the original channel north of the present channel. -Indiana Historical Society Collection-





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