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Waterways in Indiana


Corn harvest Indiana
Corn harvest Indiana

Rivers were the chief means of transportation for both settlers and produce during the first half of the 19th century. In the 1840s canals served temporarily as waterways connecting the navigable rivers. In the 1850s several railroads were built across the state, and by the end of the 1850s railroads had superseded waterways as the principal form of transportation. Today, Indiana, nicknamed the Crossroads of America, is served by some of the finest waterways, railroads, highways, and other transportation facilities in the nation.

The principal waterway serving the Calumet region is Lake Michigan, which is part of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. Major ports on the Indiana lakeshore include Indiana Harbor, which is administratively a part of the Port of Chicago, two privately owned ports at Gary and Buffington, and Burns Waterway Harbor in Porter County, built and administered by the Indiana Port Commission.

Most of the freight handled at the ports on Lake Michigan consists of raw materials for the Calumet industrial area. Railroads, highways, and canals link the Calumet region with the extensive port facilities of nearby Chicago and with the Illinois Waterway, which connects with the Mississippi River. The principal waterway serving southern Indiana is the Ohio River. Two ports on the Ohio, the Southwind Maritime Center in Mount Vernon and the Clark Maritime Center near New Albany, load and off-load river barges. Evansville, down river on the Ohio, also handles river barge traffic.

Northern and northwestern Indiana are crossed by all the major rail lines to Chicago from the eastern United States and have one of the greatest concentrations of railroad tracks of any part of the United States. Other lines serving the rest of the state focus mainly on Indianapolis, which is one of the principal transportation centers of the Midwest.

Railroad


Most of the railroad traffic in Indiana consists entirely of freight. Passenger travel on Amtrak connects Indianapolis with Chicago and northern Indiana cities with both Chicago and New York City. There are a total of 6,746 km (4,192 mi) of railroad track in Indiana.

Printing and publishing is important, especially in Indianapolis and Hammond. The state’s principal industrial area, the Calumet region, borders Lake Michigan and includes the cities of Gary, East Chicago, Hammond, and Whiting. As one of the leading U.S. centers of heavy industry the Calumet region specializes in oil refining and in the manufacture of steel and other primary metals, coke, chemicals, tar, plastics, and cement.

A network of highways and tollways links the major cities and industrial areas in Indiana. Heavily used by trucking lines, they provide rapid transportation for much of the state’s farm and industrial production. Many of the major highways have been built since the 1940s, and they cut across the older road system that divides the flatter areas of northern and central Indiana into a checkerboard of square sections. Major east-west interstate highways are interstates 90, 80, 70, and 64, while principal north-south routes are interstates 69 and 65. Winding roads are found mainly in the south, where the hilly terrain makes it necessary to follow the contours of the land. U.S. Highway 40 follows for the most part the Old National, or Cumberland, Road. Indianapolis is the principal route center in the state.

Other focal points for highways and road traffic include the Calumet region, where routes for Chicago converge, South Bend, Fort Wayne, and Terre Haute. The principal bridging points on the Ohio River along the Indiana state line are New Albany, across from Louisville, Kentucky, and Evansville. There are 153,642 km (95,469 mi) of highways in Indiana, including 1,886 km (1,172 mi) of interstate freeway.

Airport


Almost every major city in Indiana is served by a commercial airport. Six of the state’s 12 airports have runways long enough for even the biggest commercial airliners. The busiest airport in the state is Indianapolis International, which serves more than 3.3 million passengers each year. Indianapolis handles most of Indiana’s wholesale trade and much of the state’s retail trade, although the state also comes within the trading orbits of Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. Other major commercial centers are South Bend, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Terre Haute, and Evansville. "Indiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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