Jim Nugent collection
5. From trail to railroad The Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad was built and in operation by 1855, according to railroad historian, Bill Molony. It was just over 44 miles in length and it extended from Joliet, Illinois to Lake Junction (East Gary), Indiana. The new line cut off over 30 miles compared to lines going through Chicago and soon earned the nickname of the "Joliet Cutoff." There is evidence that some of the commodities being shipped to the east, and the finished goods being shipped west on the Illinois and Michigan Canal traveled over the Joliet cutoff. The towns of Spencer and Frankfort came into existence as a result of the railroad. The Joliet cutoff railroad never had it's own engines or rolling stock because it was leased to the Michigan Central.
In 1890, the Michigan Central Railroad came under the financial control of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad but it continued to operate as a separate railroad. The Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad and the Michigan Central existed, at least on paper, into the mid-1950s because they were mortgaged and were paying off bonds. In 1910, two trains were run each way every day on the Joliet Division. A passenger could connect in East Gary with trains from Cincinnati and Detroit. On the western end, at Joliet, the line connected with trains for Bloomington, Springfield, and St. Louis.

Burlington Route

Railroad poster offering reduced fares to farmers attending the International Livestock Expostion in Chicago, Illinois designed by Norman Tolson
Jim Nugent collection poster in Jim Nugent collection
Old Plank Road Trail
A 22-mile recreation and nature trail in northeastern Illinois
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