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The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway


EJ&E Railroad History
I would like thank Stephen Dale for taking the time to write this well researched history of the EJ&E. Without his effort, this page would probably still be blank. Ironically, Stephen lives in the UK. This history describes of the RR as of 2002.

By Stephen Dale

The Joliet, Aurora & Northern Railway Co. was incorporated on April 30, 1884, to construct a line from the Indiana state line westerly through Joliet and Aurora to the banks of the Mississippi River opposite Dubuque, Iowa. However, the company managed only to construct a line between Joliet and Aurora and actual operations began two years later in 1886.

In 1887, Morgan interests decided to construct a line, which would bypass Chicago, from Valparaiso, IN, westward through Joliet, Ill., and thence northward to a connection with the Milwaukee Road near Elgin, Ill. Two separate railroads were incorporated for this purpose in both Illinois and Indiana, respectively. The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. of Illinois was incorporated on March 18, 1887, and the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. of Indiana was incorporated on April 13, 1887.

The EJ&E Railway Co. of Illinois built its line westward from the Illinois-Indiana state line towards Elgin, and utilized the already completed section of the JA&N’s line between Joliet and Normantown. The new line was completed and made a connection with the Milwaukee Road near Elgin in 1888, and in October of that same year, the EJ&E Railway Co. of Illinois acquired the Joliet, Aurora & Northern Railway.

Meanwhile, the EJ&E Railway Co. of Indiana had been building its line eastward from the Illinois-Indiana state line through Griffith and Hobart and it reached McCool, IN, in late 1888.

The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Company came into existence on December 4, 1888, when the Indiana company was formally merged into the Illinois one. The new company officially began operations on January 1, 1889.

Two years later, in January 1891, the EJ&E acquired the Waukegan & Southwestern Railway Co. This company had built a line southward from Waukegan to near Elgin. About the same time the EJ&E also acquired the Gardner, Coal City & Northern Railway Co., which consisted of a line from Caster (Just south of Coal City) northward through Minooka to a connection with the EJ&E’s main line at Walker Junction. Two years later in 1893 the EJ&E extended its main line further eastward from McCool, IN, to a connection with the LS&MS at Porter, IN

Thus, by 1893, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway’s line stretched in a 130-mile arc from Waukegan, Ill., through Elgin (Spaulding) and Joliet to Porter, IN

In 1894, the EJ&E negotiated trackage rights over the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway’s line between Dyer and Hammond in order to gain access to the street railways and the rapidly growing industrial district of Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting. (The LNA&C was the predecessor of the Monon.) In 1897, the EJ&E purchased a small company called the Western Indiana Railroad Co. This small road consisted of only about one mile of track in Hammond and the EJ&E soon extended it to East Chicago and Whiting still using its trackage rights over the future Monon in order to reach the newly acquired but disconnected property.

Another company that would form an important part of the EJ&E was the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway.

In 1889, the North Chicago Rolling Mill Company merged with the Union Steel Company and purchased the plant of the Joliet Steel Company to form the Illinois Steel Company. Very soon after, the new steel corporation incorporated several new switching and terminal railroads in Illinois to construct many miles of industrial tracks in Chicago, South Chicago, and Joliet, and to also operate existing ones. These were the Chicago & Kenosha Railway Co., the Calumet & Blue Island Railroad Co., the Chicago & Southeastern Railway Co. of Illinois, and the Joliet & Blue Island Railway Co. (One new company was also incorporated in Wisconsin; the Milwaukee, Bay View & Chicago Railroad.) In July 1894, the Calumet & Blue Island Railroad leased all four of the other ISC-owned railroads.

On April 1, 1896, the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway Co. of Indiana completed a line from Illinois Steel’s great South Works in South Chicago through Indiana Harbor to a connection with the B&O and LS&MS at Clarke Junction. A new company, the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway Co., was incorporated on February 7, 1897, to consolidate its former namesake company together with the Calumet & Blue Island Railroad and its four leased lines.

In 1898, the EJ&E and CLS&E both came under the ownership and control of the newly created Federal Steel Company headed by Judge Elbert Gary. In order to dispense with trackage rights over the “Monon” and to physically connect the two properties, the Griffith & Northern Railway Co. was incorporated to build a 7.5-mile line from the EJ&E at Griffith to the CLS&E at Clarke Junction. Construction of the new line commenced in 1899 and at about the same time the EJ&E also constructed a short connecting line from Shearson on its Hammond-Whiting line to a junction with the new line at Cavanaugh.

The United States Steel Corporation came into existence in 1901 acquiring the Federal Steel Company and control of Illinois Steel, and with these came ownership of the EJ&E and control of the CLS&E. Construction of the huge steel mill in the new city of Gary commenced in 1906, and in the following year the CLS&E completed a short extension from Clarke Junction to Gary in order to serve the new plant. Kirk Yard on the new extension was laid out in 1908.

Despite being physically operated by the EJ&E, the Chicago, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway remained a nominally independent company on paper until June 1, 1909, when the EJ&E formally leased it. The CLS&E was finally merged into the EJ&E on December 30, 1938.

In December 1988, the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway became a part of a newly created holding company called “Transtar, Inc” (TRANSTAR).

- Epilogue -

Throughout the Twentieth Century, the United States Steel Corporation owned and controlled several other major railroads as well as the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern. Amongst these were the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad, the Union Railroad, and the Birmingham & Southern Railroad.

By the 1970s the United States Steel Corporation was finding the steel business tougher going mainly because of rising costs and foreign competition and it decided to diversify. In 1982, the company bought Marathon Oil, and four years later it purchased Texas Oil & Gas. Also, in 1986, to reflect its smaller role in the steel production business, United States Steel renamed itself USX Corporation.

In 1988, as part of its continuing reorganization, USX decided to also slough off its railroad and transportation businesses and Transtar, Inc (TRANSTAR), a new railroad holding company, was born. USX sold off 55 percent of its transportation interests to Transtar Holdings LP - an affiliate of the Blackstone Banking Group - but it did retain the remaining 45 percent interest in the newly created TRANSTAR.

Twelve years later, USX and the Blackstone Group decided upon a divorce and to both go their separate ways. On October 4, 2000, an announcement was made to the effect that Transtar Holdings LP (the Blackstone affiliate) and USX had decided upon yet another reorganization and had struck a deal.

The deal was that the Blackstone Group, through its affiliate Transtar Holdings LP, would exchange all of its shares (55 percent) in TRANSTAR and would get complete 100 percent ownership of four of the TRANSTAR subsidiaries. Namely: Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Co., Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad Co., Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock Co., and USS Great Lakes Fleets, Inc.

In return, USX would get 100 percent of everything that was left of TRANSTAR – i.e. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co., Birmingham & Southern Railroad Co., Union Railroad Co., McKeesport Connecting Railroad Co., Lake Terminal Railroad Co., and etc.

The deal went through on March 23, 2001, and the four old TRANSTAR companies, B&LE, DM&IR, P&C Dock Co., and USS Great Lakes Fleets are now under the umbrella of a newly created Blackstone affiliate called Great Lakes Transportation LLC.

The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway, together with all of the remaining TRANSTAR companies now continue to operate under the old TRANSTAR umbrella - the difference now being that the wheel has turned full circle and TRANSTAR and all the remaining railroads are again 100-percent-owned by USX.

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