Friday, February 28, 2014

South Shore Line #803

South Shore Line "Little Joe" #803 at the Illinois Railway Museum on May 23, 2004

The Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad, also known as the South Shore Line, was the equivalent of the North Shore Line on the other side of Chicago. The South Shore Line ran from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana. Locomotive #803 was originally one of 20 built by General Electric in 1949 for the Russian railway. While the locomotives were under construction, the United States banned their shipment to the Soviet Union due to the beginning of Cold War tension. Upon their completion, the locomotives were offered for sale to other buyers. The South Shore was the first buyer, acquiring 3 of the locomotives in 1949. The 5,120 horsepower locomotives were used in freight service on the South Shore. Of the remaining locomotives, 12 were purchased by the Milwaukee Road for its electrified main lines in Montana and Washington, and 5 were purchased by the Paulista Railway of Brazil. This entire group of locomotives, or at least those that remained in America, were nicknamed Little Joes after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The South Shore’s Little Joes were retired in February 1981, and #803 arrived at IRM on July 19, 1981. In addition to #803, other surviving Little Joes include South Shore #802 owned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum of Baltimore, Maryland, and on loan since 1994 to the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania where it is displayed, Milwaukee Road #E-70 on display in Deer Lodge, Montana, and two of the Brazilian units at museums in Brazil. The South Shore Line itself still exists today, though its freight and passenger operations have been split into separate companies. The passenger operations are still electric and are considered to be America’s last interurban, operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. The freight service is handled by diesel locomotives.

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