Calumet (train)

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Valpo Local trains at Valparaiso station, August 1980.jpg
The Calumet and Indiana Connection at Valparaiso in 1980
Service typeCommuter rail
PredecessorUnnamed Conrail service; previously Penn Central Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad
First serviceAugust 30, 1869
October 29, 1979 (Amtrak)
Last serviceMay 3, 1991
Former operator(s)Amtrak
Distance travelled44 miles (71 km)
Average journey time1 hour 20 minutes
Service frequencyDaily (weekdays only)
Train number(s)321, 324 (Indiana Connection)
322, 323 (Calumet)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
0 mi
Burlington Northern
to Aurora
Heritage Corridor
to Joliet
Norfolk Southern Line
to Orland Park
Rock Island District
7.0 mi
11.3 km
closed 1970s
Metra Electric, South Shore
to Randolph Street
Metra Electric, South Shore
to Blue Island, U Pk., and S. Bend
14.6 mi
23.5 km
State Line
closed 1970s
16.0 mi
25.7 km
16.8 mi
27 km
17.3 mi
27.8 km
closed 1970s
18.9 mi
30.4 km
closed 1970s
19.9 mi
32 km
Indiana Harbor
21.5 mi
34.6 km
closed 1970s
South Shore Line
to Randolph Street
South Shore Line
to South Bend
25.0 mi
40.2 km
27.4 mi
44.1 km
33.1 mi
53.3 km
37.0 mi
59.5 km
43.6 mi
70.2 km

The Calumet, also commonly called the Valpo Local, was a 43.6-mile (70.2 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak between Chicago and Valparaiso, Indiana.[1] Despite Amtrak's mandate to provide only intercity service, the Calumet was a commuter train. Transferred from Conrail in 1979, the full route was shared with Amtrak's Broadway Limited until 1990; the Calumet was discontinued the next year.


Valparaiso local train entering Chicago in 1964
1972 Penn Central timetable showing the Valparaiso local service and the Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter service

The service first ran August 30, 1869, called the Chicago–Valparaiso Accommodation, though usually colloquially referred to as the "Valpo Local" or "The Dummy",[1] by the Pennsylvania Railroad on its Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway, its main line from Pittsburgh west to Chicago. From April 1, 1871, until January 1, 1920, the Pennsylvania Company operated the line.[2] After that it returned to direct operation by the Pennsylvania Railroad until February 1, 1968, when the PRR was merged into Penn Central Transportation. By that point, the route operated as a rush-hour commuter service, with two trains traveling from Valparaiso to Chicago at 5:55 AM and 6:35 AM and two trains returning from Chicago to Valparaiso at 5:00 PM and 5:40 PM [3]

With the May 1, 1971, startup of Amtrak, all Penn Central intercity trains were taken over by Amtrak, but Penn Central continued to run commuter trains in several metropolitan areas, including the Valpo Local.

The bankrupt Penn Central merged into Conrail on April 1, 1976, which continued operations until 1979, at which point Amtrak took over.[4] The route was also served by the daily Broadway Limited to New York City, and on October 1, 1981, the daily Capitol Limited to Washington, DC, began using it. At first the Valpo Local was served by two daily trains, the Calumet and the Indiana Connection; the Indiana Connection was discontinued first.

Due to Conrail's desire to abandon part of the former PRR main line, the Broadway Limited and Capitol Limited were rerouted respectively onto the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and New York Central Railroad lines on November 11, 1990, leaving about half of the Calumet route with no other service.[5] Amtrak announced that it would discontinue the Calumet on December 31.[6] Representative Peter J. Visclosky introduced H.R. 5660 to require Amtrak to continue operations until July 1, 1991 to allow time for the State of Indiana to consider subsidizing the route. The date was changed to May 6 and the mandate was included in S. 3012, an amendment to the Independent Safety Board Act of 1974, signed into law November 28, 1990, by U.S. President George H. W. Bush as Public Law No. 101-641. Indiana decided not to pay the required $1.5 million a year,[7] and the weekday-only Calumet last ran Friday, May 3, 1991.[8]

Commuter service from Chicago into northern Indiana is still provided by the South Shore Line, operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District over its own alignment, whose closest stop, Dune Park station, is 15 miles from Valparaiso, closer to Lake Michigan. The ChicaGo Dash express bus to Chicago, which operates during weekday rush hours, has for its Valparaiso terminal a parking lot adjacent to Franklin House and former rail station.[9][10]

On August 1, 2004, the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad started freight operations over the old route of the Calumet and beyond.[11]

A $350,000 study is being conducted in 2017 to assess the return of service to Valparaiso, with the new service potentially running as far as Fort Wayne and northwest Ohio.[12]

Station stops[edit]

The Calumet and Indiana Connection were assigned numbers between 321 and 324, with odd numbers running westbound and even numbers eastbound. Trains made the following station stops (some of which closed prior to Amtrak's takeover of the route):[13]



  1. ^ a b Christopher T. Baer, PRR Chronology - 1869 (PDF)
  2. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission, Corporate Genealogy - Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Archived 2002-01-11 at
  3. ^ Dorin, Patrick C. (1969). Commuter Railroads: A Pictorial Review of the Most Travelled Trains. New York: Bonanza Books. OCLC 14408290.
  4. ^ Chicago Commuter Equipment from the Recent Past
  5. ^ Mike Schafer, Amtrak's atlas, Trains June 1991
  6. ^ Peter J. Visclosky, Keep Commuter Rail on Track (September 18, 1990)
  7. ^ The Times, $1.5 million annually needed to keep Valpo-Chicago Amtrak, November 22, 1990
  8. ^ Arrivals and Departures, Trains July 1991
  9. ^ VALPOtransit, [1] (accessed January 24, 2017)
  10. ^ a b Franklin House: About Us (with photo), [2] (accessed January 24, 2017)
  11. ^ SCHS - Chicago Fort Wayne and Eastern Archived September 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Zorn, Tim (December 23, 2016). "Study to look at reviving rail passenger service to Chicago with stops in Valparaiso, Gary". Post-Tribune/Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  13. ^ March 3, 1971 and April 30, 1972 timetables

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata