I have now conquered the South Shore Line!

I have now finished what I started. Last year I started photographing the South Shore Line and got photos of every station from Gary and further out, and now I have finished the project by photographing every station on the line. Today, taking advantage of the clear skies (and more daylight available than earlier in the winter) I photographed Hegewisch, Hammond, and East Chicago.

I took a pretty unusual route this time in order to 1. avoid paying more in fares than I have to (the South Shore Line is expensive and doesn’t offer any day passes, and the free westbound trips promotion I took advantage of earlier is no longer a thing) and 2. not have to constantly wait for trains. With this in mind, I checked Google Earth for where walking was feasible, as the stops are a lot closer together than further out on the line. I found that walking from East Chicago to Hammond was definitely doable, but Hammond to Hegewisch was probably not a good idea since there weren’t any direct routes with sidewalks. Hegewisch is on the CTA bus route 30, so that provided me alternate means home that was cheaper and ran more frequently than the South Shore Line. With that in mind, my route was this: 1. take the the train out to East Chicago, photograph there, 2. walk to Hammond, photograph there, 3. take the train one stop to Hegewisch, photograph there, then 4. take the 30 bus to 69th and transfer to the Red Line home.

With that plan in place, it was time to put it into action. This expedition started the day out as normal, by catching the Red Line at Bryn Mawr. The train got me downtown on time as usual, and I walked over to Millennium Station. Millennium Station had a few Metra trains operating on the South Shore Line platforms for some reason (probably maintenance on the Metra tracks/platforms).

I got on the train, and noticed that half the seats were roped off to facilitate social distancing:

South Shore Line seat pair roped off for social distancing
Seat roped off to faciliate social distancing

This was not the case last time I was on the South Shore Line in October 2020. It was good to see that they are helping with COVID preventative measures, especially when this is a system that had a “mask-optional car” last year. The train left right on time, sailing across the South Side. The first good sign of the day was when I was somewhere around Hegewisch, I was able to see the downtown skyline across the lake. That meant the visibility was over 10 miles, which is as good as it gets.

I got off at East Chicago, and immediately started snapping photos:

Looking inbound at East Chicago
East Chicago platform
East Chicago headhouse
East Chicago headhouse

East Chicago seems to be the most substantial station on the line (other than those shared with Metra). It’s constructed on an alignment adjacent to the Indiana Toll Road, and has a center high-level platform with guantlet track to allow freight trains to pass the station without interference from the platform. There is a massive parking lot (and some overflow parking available nearby) and a station house. Due to the fact that there were two janitors cleaning the station lobby, I wasn’t able to photograph it, but it has a ticket counter, vending machines, ticket machines, water fountains, and restrooms. There also is an additional entrance further to the east to allow easier access from the far end of the parking lot.

From there, I started walking towards Hammond, and after the better part of an hour, I got there.

Hammond main entrance
Main entrance to Hammond Station

Hammond has a large station house adjacent to the station with a coffee shop (closed while I was there) and restrooms, a large parking lot, and two high-level platforms (one for each track, rather than an island platform). While East Chicago is elevated, Hammond is at ground level.

Hammond station house
Hammond station house
Hammond station house interior
Interior of the station, with a view of the closed coffee shop
Outbound platform at Hammond, looking east
Outbound platform at Hammond

An interesting detail was that the outbound platform only had a canopy for a small part of the length, while the inbound platform had a canopy for the full length. I guess this is because there are probably a lot more people boarding inbound at Hammond than outbound.

Hammond platforms and parking lot from the west
Hammond western platform entrances
Entrance to the platforms at the west end, by the station house

While waiting for the next inbound train, I ate my lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Eventually, an inbound train arrived and I boarded it, only to get off one stop later at Hegewisch:

Inbound platform at Hegewisch from the west end
Inbound platform at Hegewisch

Hegewisch was laid out pretty similarly to Hammond, with a station house and two side platforms at ground level. Hegewisch also only had a full-length canopy on the inbound platform.

Hegewisch station house
Station house at Hegewisch

While I was photographing Hegewisch, an outbound train stopped there:

Outbound train arriving at Hegewisch
Outbound train arriving at Hegewisch

Hegewisch’s station house also had a coffee shop (also closed at the time), restrooms, and waiting area:

Waiting room at Hegewisch
Waiting room at Hegewisch

From there, I caught the 30 bus to 69th.

Bus stop at Hegewisch
Bus shelter at Hegewisch

Along the way, there was a detour due to bridge construction, so we went over the 95th Street Bridge. To my disappointment, we did not jump the bridge while it was up, like Elwood Blues did with the Bluesmobile in the Blues Brothers.

Then at 69th, I caught the Red Line home. I wasn’t able to get too many photos there since there were a lot more people than I expected on a Saturday, but I did get a few pictures of the platform.

Platform at 69th, looking north
Platform at 69th

This was my first time on the L anywhere south of Cermak Road, and my first time boarding on a freeway-median station (I have taken the Blue Line through the O’Hare Branch, but never actually boarded or disembarked there). I will definitely return to continue my photography, but that’s a project for another day.