Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by ryanch
I have a question that I thought someone here might find interesting, even though it's not technically commuter/transit. I work in elections, and yesterday, we had a voter who said he lived in Dolton. Our records showed him in South Holland. We allowed him to vote "provisionally," which allows us to research things and potentially withdraw the vote from the totals later if facts point that way. The election is not even close, so this is not going to determine anything. But I like to get things right. And, it's possible his property tax has been going to the wrong village.

So anyway, the Conrail question - his house is on a former Conrail right of way (ex-Pennsy, ex-Panhandle, ex-Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, if I understand correctly.) We show a South Holland annexation in 1932. But they annexed a giant parcel, maybe a quarter square mile. I'm guessing that South Holland de-annexed the railroad, since it wasn't subject to their property tax so they got nothing out of it. And that Dolton annexed it, sometime around the abandonment, at the point when it seemed like it could be developed. And that neither village remembered to send the de/re-annexation notices to the county.

I'm wondering if anyone knows when the Panhandle route was abandoned along the Dolton/South Holland border. And if anyone actually knows more about the history of the property in that area (Greenwood north of 154th), big bonus. Or if anyone can just tell me more about the history of rail abandonment and annexation in this area. That may not answer my question, but I'm curious how these things played out.

It's a freak property - looks to me like someone subdivided it in about 1997. The house in question shows up as 19 years old on the Assessor's webpage. It's the only subdivision for at least a mile or so in either direction, squat in the middle of what might otherwise serve as a decent greenway / bike path.

Thanks in advance. If someone believes there is a better spot for this post, let me know. Apologies in advance because I cross-posted in the Conrail forum, but the odds that.
  by doepack
Looking at the area around 154th & Greenwood on Google maps, that is indeed along Pennsy's old Panhandle line. According to info I printed out a while back from a great website (broadway.pennsyrr.com) that unfortunately is now offline, this line was abandoned piecemeal south of 59th St. sometime during the mid 1980's. Precise abandonment dates for each segment is unknown, but it is thought to have occurred southward from the city through the south suburbs; so again, don't know exactly when the tracks around Dolton/South Holland were removed.

In pre-Metra days, the Panhandle also crossed at grade the IC at West Pullman, and the Rock main line at 103rd/Washington Hts (roughly parallel with Beverly Blvd in this area). Metra service continues at both stations today.

Also, if one were to stand on Halsted just north of 119th St., and look either NW or SE, the old ROW landscape is quite clear, even though the rails are long gone...
  by ryanch
Thanks, Doepack.

For anyone interested, while Dolton couldn't find a record, South Holland got back to us today to say that they had swapped land with Dolton in 1997/98, so the voter was correct. Dolton seems never to have let us know about the annexation.

My hunch about de-annexation was wrong, though. Apparently South Holland did keep the parcel from 1932 through 1997.
Ryanch and Doepack:

Interesting geographic question...I looked at the "Standard Oil Company Chicago and Suburbs Street
Map and Directory" that I have dated May 1976 that I use for reference - my copy even has notes
from when I used it to learn about getting around in Chicagoland and is not in the best condition
considering its age - I observed that this map can answer at least in part questions about the Penn
Central Panhandle Line and the now-noticeable to me complicated boundary between South Holland
and Dolton in the southern section of the map.

One of the best features of the Standard Oil Chicago Street Maps is that all the railroads along W/
roadnames were shown and that the CTA rapid transit routes were also included.

The map shows that Greenwood Avenue NW/SE is the boundary between South Holland and Dolton
and that the paralleling PC Panhandle Line track is in South Holland as it crosses 154th Street. The
boundary runs Greenwood Avenue NW to Sibley Road and then goes south on Maryland Avenue
than east on 154th (SH-N, Dolton S) to University where it turns south again.

The Penn Central Panhandle Line is shown from the Dan Ryan Woods area (83rd between Damen
and Western) running southeast to Lansing just before it crosses the Illinois-Indiana state line.
The crossing of the Rock Island is shown at 103rd and Vincennes and the IC Electric Blue Island
Branch at West Pullman (121st and Union - the Blue Island Branch runs on what would be the
equivalent of 121st Street) is shown on the map. The Panhandle Line is shown crossing into
Riverdale and then crosses at the intersection of 138th Street and Indiana Avenue (Riverdale W,
Chicago City Limits N/E and Dolton S/E - three jurisdictions meet there) running SE towards South
Holland and Lansing.

The South section of the Standard Oil Chicago street map's limits are (west to east) is: Tinley Park,
Country Club Hills, Hazel Crest, Homewood (part), East Hazel Crest, Thornton, Lansing and Munster,
IN (part). This is about 180th Street. Also shown is the defunct Washington Park Race Track along
with the IC Electric spur line that served it (175th and Halsted S of I-80/294) which is noteable.

This should add to this topic...I will suggest that a good vintage map of Chicago and vicinity is any
available Standard Oil Chicago Street Map centering on the 1970s would be a decent reference
item for any rail enthusiast or map collector interested in Chicago area geography...MACTRAXX