Chasing South Shore Geeps Down the Street

A South Shore light power move has just entered the street running on 11th Street in Michigan City, Ind.

A South Shore light power move has just entered the street running on 11th Street in Michigan City, Ind.

One of our objectives in visiting Michigan City, Ind., recently was to photograph the street running done by South Shore trains. Getting a passenger train was all but assured because they run on a published schedule.

But getting a freight train in the street would take having some luck. In a literal sense, we didn’t get that.

But we did get a light power move of two South Shore freight GP35s running down 11th Street. We chased them for a while and got them meeting a passenger train near the Beverly Shores station.

We began our quest by “visiting” the South Shore yard and shops on the east side of town. I say visit in quotations marks because we never went onto the property.

Instead, we viewed the sights from a road bridge that goes over the facility. There were several South Shore freight locomotives in the service area, but nothing seemed to be moving or about to move.

We spent some time photographing Amtrak trains and heard a South Shore crew talking to the dispatcher. The crew said it had No. 2000 facing west and No. 2005 facing east.

Those are freight unit numbers and it gave us hope that a freight train would be operating.

After the passage of an Amtrak train, we swung past the South Shore yard again. Crossing the tracks by the Carroll Avenue Station, we could see that No. 2000 had its headlights and ditch lights on. It must be getting ready to move.

Another radio conversation with the dispatcher confirmed that this crew was headed westward to do some work.

We waited in a parking lot toward the east end of the street running on 11th Street. When we saw the crossing gates going down for East Michigan Avenue, it was time to get into position.

Initially, I was standing in the street, but as the train approached I stepped back up onto the curb. That was a good thing because right as the locomotive arrived and we had finished getting out “coming” photos, a white car passed going the opposition direction of the train and it would have hit me had I not moved.

After photographing the train coming and going, Adam suggested that we chase it down the street. I made some photographs from the passenger seat.

It wasn’t the first train I’ve shot from a moving vehicle, but it was the first one that I photographed that was going down the street ahead of me.

We chased the train west of Michigan City, getting it waiting for a passenger train at the west end of a section of double track. With that we returned to Michigan City to get more photographs and to have lunch.

If you’re ever in Michigan City, I highly recommend the Shoreline Brewery on Wabash Street. It features great food and beer. Besides, how can you go wrong at a place whose logo is shaped and has the same colors as the herald of the South Shore Line?

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Slipping through a residential neighborhood. The houses are on Maple Street.

Slipping through a residential neighborhood. The houses are on Maple Street.

The going away shot with late morning sun illuminating the nose.

The going away shot with late morning sun illuminating the nose.

You've heard of a steeple cab, but how about a steeple coming out of a cab?

You’ve heard of a steeple cab, but how about a steeple coming out of a cab?

I like this image because it conveys a sense of a railroad track running down a street complete with all of the urban clutter of traffic signals, street signs and utility poles. If you look to the right of the nose of No. 2005 you'll see milepost 34 attached to a utility pole.

I like this image because it conveys a sense of a railroad track running down a street complete with all of the urban clutter of traffic signals, street signs and utility poles. If you look to the right of the nose of No. 2005 you’ll see milepost 34 attached to a utility pole.

We've caught up with the South Shore geeps and are pacing them down the street, hanging back a little ways.

We’ve caught up with the South Shore geeps and are pacing them down the street, hanging back a little ways.

That grade crossing signal that you see is to warn traffic about trains on the track that is parallel to them. The light power move is shown making a job during which it will transition onto 10th Street for more street running. In the process, it will cross Kentucky Street and Chicago Street as well as Amtrak's Michigan District. If you don't stop behind that yellow sign you might get clipped as a train comes around the curve.

That grade crossing signal that you see is to warn traffic about trains on the track that is parallel to them. The light power move is shown making a job during which it will transition onto 10th Street for more street running. In the process, it will cross Kentucky Street and Chicago Street as well as Amtrak’s Michigan District. If you don’t stop behind that yellow sign you might get clipped as a train comes around the curve.

The signals at the left edge of the image was the eastward home signals for Amtrak's Michigan District, which crosses the South Shore on a diamond on the edge of 10th Street.

The signals at the left edge of the image was the eastward home signals for Amtrak’s Michigan District, which crosses the South Shore on a diamond on the edge of 10th Street.

The crew has stopped just short of Lake Shore County Road. The crossing gates remained down and when a vehicle approached a crew member would come out of the cab and wave them across.

The crew has stopped just short of Lake Shore County Road. The crossing gates remained down and when a vehicle approached a crew member would come out of the cab and wave them across.

The engineer of No. 2000 has moved down slightly to block Lake Shore County Road as the passenger train approaches in the distance.

The engineer of No. 2000 has moved down slightly to block Lake Shore County Road as the passenger train approaches in the distance.

South Shore freight meets South Shore passenger.

South Shore freight meets South Shore passenger.

With the passenger train out of the way, the light power move has the signal to move onto the single track in Beverly Shores.

With the passenger train out of the way, the light power move has the signal to move onto the single track in Beverly Shores.

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