Category Archives: Illinois

An Older Rail “Chicago Bypass”

If you have been following us for a while, we ALWAYS keep talking about a “mythological” Chicago Bypass.

As late as 1964 there was a great one: The Kankakee Belt Route is the nickname for the Illinois Division of the New York Central Railroad, which extended from South Bend, Indiana, through Kankakee, Illinois, and westward to Zearing, Illinois. It was marketed as the “Kankakee Belt” route to connect with western railroads and avoid the congestion of the Chicago area.

Today, the Norfolk Southern operates the Kankakee Belt Route (ex-Conrail, ex-NYC, Kankakee Belt Line). Sections at the east end (to South Bend) and West End (Zearing area) have been removed. The Kankakee Belt Route sees around eight to ten trains daily, from the BNSF (old AT&SF main line) at Streator, Illinois to Norfolk Southern Railway interchanges and facilities in Indiana. It still serves as a Chicago bypass.

It’s gone now although sections remain. Many of the connecting railroads have disappeared!

The Kankakee Belt Line and connections (1964)

Location Railroad
South Bend, Indiana New York Central and Grand Trunk Railway
North Liberty, Indiana Wabash
Walkerton, Indiana B&O and Nickel Plate
Hamlet, Indiana Pennsylvania
Knox, Indiana Nickel Plate
North Judson, Indiana Pennsylvania and Erie
San Pierre, Indiana Monon
Shelby, Indiana Monon
Schneider, Indiana New York Central
Delmar, Illinois Milwaukee
Momence, Illinois Chicago & Eastern Illinois
Kankakee, Illinois Illinois Central and New York Central
Reddick, Illinois Wabash
Dwight, Illinois GM&O (Alton)
Streator, Illinois Santa Fe, Burlington
Lostant, Illinois Illinois Central
Depue, Illinois Rock Island
Ladd, Illinois Northwestern, Milwaukee, LS&BC RR
Zearing, Illinois Burlington

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