A gray, misty day on the bike trail - look closely and you'll see a couple of four-legged visitors.

The Bike Trail

Special thanks to Griffith resident Elizabeth Goral for authoring the following article.

The Erie Lackawanna Bike Trail

Most of the bike trails you find in the Lake County area are the result of former railroad tracks, better known as the "Rails to Trails" project. The trail that runs through Griffith is on the former Erie Lackawanna Railroad track and right-of-way. This project is part of a national effort, which began in 1992, to use former railroad easements to promote alternative modes of transportation, including biking and hiking.

Many different types of birds, insects and wildlife can be found along the part of the trail that stretches from Arbogast Avenue in Griffith through the end of the trail in Crown Point. This portion of the trail also flourishes with wildflowers during the Spring and Summer months. The trail is ideal for biking, jogging, walking and in-line skating. The Erie Lackawanna also connects to the Crosstown Trail in Highland. Caution should be used when crossing at Broad Street where there can be heavy auto and rail traffic.

Parking for the Griffith trail can be found at 45th Street and also on Broad Street (South of Main) across from the Griffith Historical Society and Grand Trunk Depot and Railroad Museum.

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad - A (very) Brief History

Before becoming the Erie Lackawanna, the Erie was chartered in 1832 and was known as the New York & Erie Railroad Company. The Erie transported passengers and freight between New York, Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago. The Erie merged with DL&W Railroad in 1960 and became the Erie Lackawanna Railroad.

The Erie Lackawanna's main rail yard was located at 51st Street in Chicago.

In 1972, the Erie Lackawanna went bankrupt, and in 1976, it was taken over by Conrail (the Consolidated Rail Corporation). Conrail was established by the federal government under the Regional Rail Organization Act of 1973 to take over five bankrupt northeastern railroads: Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, New Jersey Central, Reading and Penn Central railroad companies.

In its early years, Conrail had lost more money that the bankrupt lines had before they consolidated. However, by 1983 the corporation had become profitable. In 1987, the government put the Conrail stock up for sale to the public. Today, the system operates in fifteen states and is one of only five major railways left in the United States.

Want to learn more about the Erie Lackawanna Railroad?

Information on the Erie Lackawanna merger are archived at Akron University in Ohio. The bulk of material in the collection dates from 1960-1971. Legal and financial records relating to the railroad's final reorganization and liquidation process are also available. The collection also contains records from the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western & Erie Railroad, some of which date back to 1850.

The Erie Lackawanna Historical Society also collects material from and about the railroad and its precursors. Additionally, the Hagley library in Delaware has some information on the railroad.

The following resources are also available:

  • Grant, H. Roger. Erie Lackawanna: Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 1994
  • DeYoung, Larry. Erie Lackawanna: In Color. Edison, NJ: Morning Sun Books, 1991-1994. Volume 1: The West End; Volume 2: New York State; Volume 3: The East End

Prepared by: Elizabeth Goral, March, 1999


Above image - looking North from the parking and rest area on South Broad Street, near the railroad tracks and across the street from the Griffith Historical Society Railroad Depot and Museum.


Above is the 45th Street parking and rest area - looking South toward the Griffith High School.


Above is the Colfax Avenue parking area and rest stop - looking North.