It depends on what you mean by "harbors with depots". If you mean passenger
depots for direct transfer from water craft to train, I believe the only one
might have been the old Illinois Central Grand Central Station in the later
1800's on the south bank of the Chicago River near Lake Michigan. There
were extensive harbor facilities along the river adjoining the IC depot and
lake steamers were still in common use.
The Chicago area had/has major harbor facilities for cargo vessels on the
far south side along the Calumet River, and in northern Indiana at Gary and
more recently Burns Harbor. These were primarily for boats supporting the
major steel works in those areas, but also carried grain and other
commodities. My understanding is that there was little interchange of coal
and iron ore between the lakers and the RRs, but I believe there was
significant transfer of agricultural products at the large elevator complex
on Lake Calumet. There were passenger stations within a few miles of all of
these harbors, but I believe there were few if any passengers on the lake
freighters in the 20th century, and any transfers would have involved a
trolley or taxi ride.
There is one other current, active harbor/depot that comes to mind - the
AMTRAK Hammond, Indiana depot is not far from the Hammond Marina where 3 or
4 gambling boats dock. Geezer
Thanx Geezer, i should have been a bit more informative , i mean in the
transition era and not passenger ( although that seems a nice theme aswell )
but a small river or lake harbor with a depot to serve store and packing
buildings or maybe a manufacturing company of whatever.
Google Earth for Gary, Indiana, and poke around the docks. You'll find
lots of industry by the water with tracks. But be careful, you can get
trapped in Google Earth and not even notice that it's already four AM!
The Metra depot at Waukegan is less than a half-mile as the crow flies
from the slips where the cement boats put in. Maybe even as little as a
quarter-mile. The UP "yard" is just north of there also, and the
Waukegan marina (the old if it hasn't been demolished yet, and the newer
The only real changes to the area I know about are the new marina (the
more southerly one) and a new passenger depot for Metra. The old station
was actually at the foot of Clayton Street, but built up. The road at
the front of the station perpendicular to Clayton Street sloped downward
both north and south and parking was parallel on the road. One entered
the station up top, purchased tickets, then took the stairs down to the
trains. The tracks sit below a roughly 30-foot bluff that runs along the
lake for miles. This slope has caused problems. At one point prior to
1920 a streetcar ended up lodged in the station after its brakes failed
to hold it on upper Clayton Street. It rolled downhill across Sheridan
Road and into the train station. No one was hurt. I could find the exact
date if you care.
The buildings bordering the north end of the inner harbor (where the
cement boats dock) was Larsen Marine (I think they're still in
business). Across the road to the north from there is Outboard Marine
Corp. AKA Johnson Motors (now shut down; my father worked there for 33
years). There is a small turntable still extant from steam days just
south of the station, but I'm not sure how far. It's not big, probably
big enough to turn an F7 or an E9, possibly a 4-4-2. Commonwealth Edison
(formerly Public Service of Northern Illinois) has a coal-fired
electrical plant just north of there also, so that's another site to
model if you chose.
There was a tannery along the east side of the yard that had burned down
sometime prior to 1966, but I remember the smell. It lingered long after
the building had gone.
The only new building I'm aware of down there is the big new yacht club
building. That went up sometime in the 1980s.
You could try the Waukegan News-Sun or Lake County Historical Society
for photos of the area. The News-Sun website is through the parent
company, but I forgot the publisher's name. There's also a
Carnegie-funded library just a block south of the train station that
would make an interesting model. There was talk of it being torn down,
but the Historical Society wanted it. I have no idea if it was preserved
Just glad to help answer a question. Of course any weekend passenger
train in Waukegan will be full of sailors on weekend liberty from Great
Lakes Naval Training Center (est. 1908), just down the (rail)road.
BTW, does anyone know a source for HO US Navy sailors? I'll need some to
fill a North Shore Line "Swabbie Special" in a few years. I haven't been
able to find any.