New York Central, Page 5

The Kankakee Belt (II & I Branch)

The Kankakee Belt was the Illinois Division of the New York Central Lines. The Kankakee Branch, which ran between South Bend, Indiana, and Zearing, Illinois was marketed as the "Kankakee Belt" route to connect with western railroads and avoid the congestion of the Chicago area. On two succesive weekend in December 2004, I decided to trek out and along the old Kankakee Belt from South Bend, Indiana to the Indiana - Illinois state line. The second weekend the weather turned a tad bit raw and so I apologize for the quality of many of the pictures.

Pictured at Union Depot, this NYC gas/ electric doodlebug once ran the Kankakee Belt line. Exact date unknown, but a good guess would be circa 1930's or 1940's.




NYC 1966Rock Island 120 (F7A) leads two New York Central units on NYC-RI pool freight on the NYC at South Bend, Indiana, October 1966. This freight often ran on the Kankakee Belt. Courtesy of Jerry Appleman. Visit his railroad photographs web site.




NYC C-Liner #5008 lead a westbound freight on the Kankakee Belt at Arnold Street, circa April 1960. The former Oliver works is in the background.






Left: Looking east towards Arnold Street along the Kankakee Belt. Right: In this view you are looking towards Ford Street and Oliver Yard. The South Walnut Street crossing is also pictured.


Left: The former Kankakee Belt right of way at the east end of Oliver Yard. The passing freight is on the former Grand Trunk Western tracks. The area to my left, most of which has grown over was once where the NYC roundhouse and service facilities once were. See map to right.


Left: Hard to believe that there was once a roundhouse and turntable in this area. Right: Birds eye view of the Kankakee Belt line towards downtown South Bend.


Left: Looking southwest from the Olive Street overpass along the Kankakee Belt. Right: From the Sample Street overpass at the Kankakee Belt.


Left: NS Local motive power sitting on the old Kankakee Belt mainline. Part of the branch is still active today. Right: Southern gon sits on the interchange between the NS and CN, or former NYC and former GTW.


Left: Siding into the Steel Warehouse Plant. Right: Mainline, storage siding and run around tracks on the former Kankakee Belt west end of the yard. The cars on the left are those to be delivered, or loaded, set for pickup.


Left: Looking northeast towards the general area once known as JK Tower. The line moving off to the right is the former St. Joseph, South Bend and Southern mainline. It is still in use and is being rebuilt by the NS. Right: The end of the still in use section of the Kankakee Belt. Near where I am standing there are wheel stops welded to the rails. The tracks dissappear into the underbrush. During summer, it is too think for any exploring. I plan to return this winter and see how far the tracks run out towards Mayflower Road.

The former Kankakee Belt right of way, December 2004. This location is about 100 yards east of Mayflower Road in South Bend, Indiana. You are looking across a bridge northeast towards Oliver Yard on the southwest side of the city.





Left: Side view of the bridge over a creek east of Mayflower Road. Right: Standing in the middle of the bridge looking towards the southwest along the old right of way. West of Mayflower Road, the roadbed is still visible for about 150 yards, then it has been obliterated by farm fields.


Left: The first community the Kankakee Belt traveled through was North Liberty. Pictured is the NYC depot in town, circa 1962. Right: North Liberty 2004. Looking northeast along the abandoned right of way at the State Road 4 crossing once was.


Left: Location where the Kankakee Belt once crossed the Wabash Railroad at North Liberty. Right: Looking to the south along the former Kankakee Belt from the former Wabash line through town. Next stop, Walkerton, Indiana.


East of Walkerton, Indiana. February 3, 1962. A westbound freight hits another train just east of Walkerton. Four crewmen were injured. Left: NYC Alco FA2 # 1076 sits facing a crumpled boxcar. The remains of the caboose are pictured under the boxcar. Right: Damaged cars and track and spectators highlight another picture of the February 1962 wreck.

Looking at what was left of the caboose on the February 1962 wreck east of Walkerton.





Walkerton, Indiana 1978. On this August day a northbound freight was captured crossing the former B & O line.





Walkerton, Indiana 2004. Left: Looking to the northeast along the Kankakee Belt line from the Norfolk and Western tracks. Right: Unless there are other well hidden rails between South Bend and Wheatfield, the rails in this crossing are all that remains of the Kankakee Belt track.


More pictures from Walkerton. Left: Looking to the southwest along the Kankakee Belt. Tracks in the foreground are the Norfolk and Western, those in the distance, the former Baltimore and Ohio, currently CSX. While taking pictures, two CSX freights came through town. Right: Tower at Walkerton. Does not look active.


Hamlet Indiana depots. Left: The original II&I depot at Hamlet. Built sometime around 1895, the view is looking north toward the tower at the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago crossing. This depot was destroyed by fire in 1911 and was replaced with a more modern building in the same year. Right: The replacement depot, circa 1911.


Left: Another picture of the replacement depot with Sam "Bud" Childs (clerk) and C Ross Lee (Station Agent) pictured. NEW 03-26-2005 Right: The PRR/ NYC tower at Hamlet, December 1973. The two tracks in the foreground are those of the PRR.

Hamlet, Indiana 2004. You are standing on the Kankakee Belt right of way looking north across the former Pennsylvania RR line.






More Hamlet images. Left: Looking southwest from the former PRR crossing. The elevator in the distance was more than likely a customer on the line. Right: South of the intersection of Starke Street and Indiana, south of Hamlet. The Kankakee Belt right of way. Looking southwest. Next community, Knox.

Knox, Indiana crossing. The NYC Kankakee Belt is the single track in the foreground.






Knox, Indiana 2004. You are looking at the former NKP depot that once sat downtown. Today it is a visitors center and it sits along the former Kankakee Belt right of way. The tracks pictured are on the right of way. The line is very easy to trace through Knox and much of the former right of way is still visible.






Left: Bridge over the swollen Yellow River in Knox. You are on the southwest bank looking toward the northeast. Right: Looking northeast down the mainline and across the deck of the bridge.

Looking southwest across St. Road 35 down the right of way.






Taking advantage of a sunny day, did some chasing along the old Kankakee Belt. Left, Right and Below Left: This bridge was once part of the old NYC Kankakee Belt. Today it is used as part of a driveway. The residence now sits on the former right of way. Mr. Mike Moser allowed me to take pictures of the bridge. Look closely in the picture on the right and old pilling from older bridges are still there. This house is located south west of Knox. Behind Mr. Moser's house the right of way can be seen and walked.






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