Deadly traffic accidents in the early years of the last century served as the catalyst for the decision to eliminate all grade rail crossings along the Illinois Central line between downtown Chicago and Matteson-Richton.
Five Lives Snuffed out at “Death Angle” Crossing, Heights Residents, on way to Chicago, Victims of Revolting Accident at the Homewood I.C. Crossing, Automobile is Hit by Two Fast Trains, Four of Party Die Instantly, One Lives but for a Few Hours, Heavy Fog Obscures View of Crossing where there have been Eight Fatalities in a Year…
This is the headline that streamed atop the front-page of the Chicago Heights Star newspaper chronicling a disastrous auto-train accident, which occurred New Years Eve morning 1919.
The collision, which claimed five lives, was the last of several fatal incidents at the same crossing that happened in 1919 alone.
These accidents served as the catalyst for the decision to eliminate all grade rail crossings along the Illinois Central line between downtown Chicago and Matteson-Richton.
The growing population along the rail line and the increasing use of the automobile at the time led to more fatal accidents at these crossings. Prior to the construction of the viaduct, the Dixie Highway crossed the rail tracks at grade and on an angle near the Maple Road intersection on the west side of the tracks in Homewood.
Fatal accidents there had become quite numerous over the years earning the intersection the apt name of “the death angle.” These accidents occurred despite the fact that a flagman was usually stationed there to stop traffic when trains approached.
The Dixie Highway “subway,” or viaduct as we know it, was completed in the fall of 1922.
Since then, thousands of vehicles have passed safely through the viaduct each day. Although plagued by flooding during heavy rains through the years and now beginning to show its age, the viaduct has fortunately lived up to the intent of providing for the safety of motorists.
There have been no collisions involving trains and automobiles in Homewood since it was completed almost a century ago.