Early Intrusions

The first intrusions on the natural landscape of the Calumet area came from the railroads and from the Calumet and Chicago Canal and Dock Company which began development of the Calumet River. At this time the area was cattail marsh crossed by a series of ridges made of sand dunes, sand bars, and sand ridges. The ridges were used originally as Native American trails and later as roads and railroad right of ways. 

Railroads Intrude

The first major factor in changing the natural landscape of the Calumet area was the coming of the railroads. When the railroads came they followed the sand ridges which separated the cattail marshes of the region. Railroad embankments were built to raise the trackbed above the water that covered much of the land. Land was filled in to provide places to build shops and roundhouses to service the trains. In 1848 the Lake Shore and Michigan Railroad extended its tracks through the Southeast Side from Englewood. They followed the major transportation corridor which follows Indianapolis Boulevard and South Chicago Avenue. The Pennsylvania and Fort Wayne railroad and Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern railroad came soon thereafter. By 1874 there were four railroad trunk lines in South Chicago. In 1883 the Illinois Central began to operate suburban trains through the community along the lake front. 

Hegewisch was at one time a huge marshland avoided by the railroads. Eventually railroads arrived and development began through the efforts of A. Hegewisch, who established United States Rolling Stock Company in Hegewisch in 1883. The Chicago and Western Indiana and Pennsylvania Railroads opened stations in Hegewisch. 


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Railroad Crosses the Barren Landscape 
of the Hegewisch Area Known as "Arizona"

Railroad Tracks Inside U. S. Steel South Works