Thursday, October 30, 2014

CREATE: P1 - Metra/Rock Island Flyover

Update: In 1965, Marty Bernard took several photos from the Englewood Union Station. The Rock Island had 3 tracks crossing 4 Pennsylvania tracks.

On page 6 of the main section of the  October 24, 2014, Chicago Tribune had an article by Richard Wronski announcing the completion of the CREATE project P1. So it is time to research that project.
Once again, the CREATE web site has not been updated to record the cost nor the completion date. So I'm really glad I tripped across the page 6 article. The cost was $142 million. This project is easy to understand -- the former Rock Island tracks (now Metra) are raised over the former Pennsylvania (now NS) tracks. Amtrak also uses the NS tracks. Since no one is going to pose the trains and provide police escort for me, I include the Tribune photo. Update: a video of the dedication ceremony has some interesting background activity.

Chicago Tribune, Oct. 24, 2014
Satellite before construction
 Since the current satellite images are not new enough to show the construction, I save one of them as a before picture.

At first the cost surprised me because I remembered that the B2 project cost "just" $83 million. But then I identified some reason why P1 would cost more:
  • The bridge+approaches can carry 3 tracks instead of one.
  • Since the project description indicates the scope of work extends to 69th Street, it appears the southern approach needed to go over I-90/94. This is a lot bigger span than the NS tracks.
  • The bridge is "double high" since it is going over tracks that are already elevated.
  • Since the new construction is west of the existing tracks, some urban property may have been purchased.
This project needed to be completed before other CREATE projects will move more commuter trains to the Metra route and more Amtrak trains to the NS route.

A construction video confuses me. Since the span behind the crane crosses the NS tracks, what is the purpose of the span for which it is lifting girders? That seems to be an rather expensive span over dirt. I need to give some more thought as to whether or not I'm going to go to that neighborhood to take my own pictures.

The Tribune article also explained the controversy concerning the usage of minority-owned contractors. I believe it is a fair summary that the Metra CEO, Alex Clifford, thought he was being asked by the Metra chairman, Larry Huggins, to bribe the over site hiring monitor -- the National Black Chamber of Commerce -- with $50,000. Also Clifford thought that a $200,000 no-bid contract that Huggins helped Target Group get did not fullfill the terms of the contract. These were some of the issues that caused Clifford to leave Metra in May 2013. If you Goggle "metra scandal" you are offered several to choose from. I saw that soon after Clifford left, 6 board members were gone. I was looking for a reminder of which disgraced Metra executive committed suicide by stepping in front of a Metra train, but I could not find that information.

Todd Hollritt posted
Update: Todd's comment:
Norfolk Southern 20K the 63rd Street – Chicago, IL to Croxton Yard – Jersey City, NJ intermodal freight arrives at the former Erie Lackawanna.
Calling it 63rd Street cost me some time. There is nothing at 63rd Street. Even after the planned extension, the yard goes to just 59th Street. I believe the train is going to the intermodal yard that combined the former Wabash and C&WI/Erie yards.The train is still several blocks away from the yard.

An aerial photo by the Tribune showing the flyover and a NS train crossing the expressway. Also some of an NS intermodal yard on the right side of the picture.

Train Watching: IHB+UP/CNW

I started taking a video of an northbound IHB train south of the UP/CNW crossing.

But the train was so slow that I switched to taking pictures of just the "fallen flag" vehicle cars and then the remaining cars since it ended up being a mixed freight. (I computed that the train was going 6 mph.)
The Diesel Shop has a link to an IHB locomotive roster. That page indicates locomotives 2163 and 2161 are NRE 3GS21B gensets built in 2012 in Mt. Vernon, IL. The gensets use three 700 hp Cummins engines. 2161 was built on a SP SD45T-2 frame whereas 2163 reused a SP SD40T-2 frame. In the following screen shots, we can see that in each locomotive the 2 gensets nearest the cab are active.

In terms of the fallen flags,
20141025 0063
there was a Chicago & North Western car...

 ...two Grand Trunk cars...
 ...three Conrail cars...
...and a Southern Pacific car.

The UP locomotives are model C41-8W 9451 and 9453 and model C44-9W 9721. In addition to the transfer train climbing the new connection to the IHB, around timestamp 2:50 is a train backing into Proviso Yard on the ground level.

I believe the bulk-head flat car was carrying steel I-beams.

There was only two gondola cars with a visible load -- coils of wire.

All four flat cars were carrying steel plates. I include a picture to record how low the steel is stacked. A reminder of how heavy steel can be.

And I looked closely for a red light on the End-of-Train device and did not notice any, blinking or otherwise.

The number of vehicle cars in the IHB train was computed from the timestamps on the video and photos and an estimate that it took 10 seconds for each 88-foot car to pass. The speed computes as 6 mph. Even I can jog that fast, for a little bit.

An analysis of the car types in the three trains. Note that I could not analyze all of the cars in the UP trains because I ran out of battery while taking the video.

tank 13

3-bay covered 4 44 18
2-bay covered
gondola 9

coil 7

vehicle 40

flat 4

bulk-head flat 1

box 3 17
refer 4

82 82 30

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CREATE: GS6 - 25th Avenue

GS6 is a grade separation between 25th Avenue and CNW/UP tracks in Bellwood, IL. On the CREATE status map it is supposed to be in the construction phase. But the only activity I could see is that they have erected a sign.

20141025 0058

I was not aware of this CREATE project when I did my field trip. The reason I was in this neighborhood was to check out projects B2&B3.

I was going North on US-12 to check out the pedestrian walks on the bridge over Proviso Yard. The good news is that it had walks on both sides of the bridge. The bad news is that those high fences that curve inwards is an indication that I'm in a bad neighborhood. So I kept on driving until I got across the bridge and could turn right. And then I drove east until I could turn right again, which was on 25th Avenue. I had noticed that many of the parking lots were surrounded by fences with barbed wire on top. Another indication that the neighborhood has had issues. But when I saw the sign, I pulled into a driveway to take a picture. When I was done, I noticed that a security guard was walking towards me. I explained that I was just taking a picture of the sign, and I left.

Since there was no traffic behind me, I stopped on the C&NW/UP crossing to take pictures looking West and then East. But you can tell by the crooked picture I was nervous about setting on the crossing too long. The rail overpass in the west-looking view is the IHB.

I was surprised that they plan to do an overpass instead of an underpass because the tracks are a few feet higher than the road here and we have seen that the project managers seem to prefer underpasses.

I have a friend that used this street in his commute. He reported a couple of years ago that they shut it down completely for the work. There are not a lot of crossings so any detour he tries is bad.

Bill Molony shared and IDOT posting of an IDOT Instagram, Sep. 16, 2016
Here's a look at the CREATE GS6 project at 25th Ave. between Lake Street and St. Charles Road in Bellwood.
The improvements eliminate grade crossing, reduce congestion and improve safety for 21,000 vehicles and 38 Pace buses per day.
The new overpass opened Dec. 22, 2016. "The railroad overpass project was made possible by a $22.2 million contribution from Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), $2.4 million from the villages of Bellwood and Melrose Park and $16.4 million from federal, railroad and other state sources." I noticed they dodged the question of how much Union Pacific and the Feds contributed to the $41 million project.

CREATE: B2, B3, B4 and B5

Of the 6 Class-1 railroads serving Chicago, the only one that does not benefit from these projects is the BNSF.

CREATE projects B2 and B3 improve the connection between the IHB and UP/C&NW/Galena&Chicago. To better understand what the projects did, I verified that the images are old enough to provide a "before" picture.

That means that they are older than September, 2009, because that is when the B3 project was completed.This project double tracked the connection between the CNW Proviso Yard and the IHB to feed a new fourth track on the IHB.
I can't figure out how to remove the labels when I zoom in on the bird's-eye view, so the image to the right is the highest resolution I can get without labels.

I compared Bing's roadmap with Google's roadmap to confirm Google is accurate at high resolutions concerning track layout, but Bing is not. Note that Bing missed the old connection between CNW and IHB (the curved track in the closeup on the right). Even with the label lines in the way, you can see that the IHB has only three tracks crossing the CNW. In fact, you can see the expanded bridge abutments for the fourth track and one of the spans for the new bridge.

I discovered that the Bing maps in FlashEarth do allow you to display the maps without labels, but this version is the same up-to-date images that the other satellite sites use. But the labeled version still has errors because it is now missing both the old and the new connections. (Google's road map shows both connections.)

I don't understand this project. The writeup said the old connection blocks the IHB mainline. But the mainline has 3 tracks. There don't seem to be many yards north of this connection. Is there really more traffic than 2 tracks could handle? And why does the IHB have to run its trains so slowly? A northbound IHB train was going so slow that I quit taking a video of it and switched to taking pictures. Increasing the speed would not only reduce the time a freight car spends in Chicago, it would increase the capacity of the IHB tracks. Surely the slow speed is not because the IHB skimps on track maintenance. Proper track maintenance has got to be cheaper than building another bridge. Furthermore, the mainline is down to just 3 tracks anyhow soon after the new track is across the bridge. So does a few hundred feet of length really help that much? I noticed that the this project description page does not include the cost of the project.

Below is the bridge that was built by the B2 project. According to an ASCE article, the project was completed in September, 2013.

Below is a newer version of the first map above to illustrate the B2 project.


I marked up the above image with a red line to highlight the new connection.

This $83 milllion project does make sense. If you look at the first satellite image at the top of this page, you will see that freight trains leaving the IHB using the old connection had to travel on the bottom track for a few blocks before it took the S-curve connection up to the freight yards. And the new track reduces the incline of the connector because the rise is now spread across the relatively long east-west section.

That bottom track is the track used by the commuter trains. I caught a freight train on the connector while I was there, and I learned that the UP also runs it trains slowly. (Around 2:50 in the video another freight appears on the lower yard lead.) Since this track is just a year old, it should not be running slow because of bad tracks. Is it because of the sharp curves? Because the freight trains are so slow, if a commuter train is blocked by a freight movement, it could incur a significant delay.

Projects B4/B5 were signalling and track work for a 7-mile stretch of the IHB. It demonstrates that Chicago still has 19-th century rail technology in the 21-st century because it upgraded over a dozen hand-thrown switches to power switches. It also added and improved crossovers. Instead of taking 2 hours to cover the 7 miles (3.5 mph, walking speed), it takes "just" 20 minutes. That is still just 21 mph. The report is excited that the track speed is now all the way up to 30 mph. This makes me appreciate how fast freight trains run on the BNSF/CB&Q racetrack near my house. What struck me was the cost -- $38 million for "just" track and signalling work. Track and signalling work is more complicated than I would have guessed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chicago Passenger Stations

Bill Molony posted
Chicago station lead tracks, taken from the Board of Trade building:
Far left - Dearborn Station
Center - La Salle Street Station, with a New York Central train leaving
Right Center - Grand Central Station and lead tracks
Far Right - Coach yards and lead tracks from Chicago Union StationJim Vecchitto what a great picture.. Pre Congress x-way which opened in 53.. Any idea actual date of photo..

Lance Erickson's photo:
"From a Pennsylvania RR time table of the 1960's
Update: Lance provided this 1960s summary as a comment when I posted a link to this research to The Railroad Depot Page

Chapter 5 of Rail City Chicago USA and Chicago Stations & Trains Photo Archive describe the 6 long-distance passenger stations that used to exist to the west and south of downtown Chicago. For reference, I marked up a satellite image and a 1938 aerial photo according to the convention:
  • Left red rectangle: Chicago & North Western
  • Left yellow rectangle: Union Station
  • Middle yellow rectangle: Grand Central Station
  • Middle red rectangle: La Salle Street Station
  • Right yellow rectangle: Dearborn Station
  • Right red rectangle: Central Station 
MapQuest plus Paint
For the 1938 image, I include just the 4 southern stations so that I can include the service and approach tracks in the image because these yards are long since gone.

IHAP plus Paint
In the following table, the row that spans 3 columns lists the railroads that used the station.

Dearborn Street1885Closed 1971, Re-purposed in the 1980sChicago & Western Indiana
Santa Fe, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville (Monon), Erie, Grand Trunk Western, Wabash, Chesapeake & Ohio (initially, moved to Grand Central)
Grand Central1890Demolished 1971, still (2015) a vacant lotBaltimore & Ohio
Chicago Great Western, B&O, Pere Marquette, Wisconsin Central (Soo), C&O (later)
Central1893Demolished 1974Illinois Central
IC; Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis (Big Four); Michigan Central (MC and Big Four used this station initially. They changed to La Salle when they became part of the NYC System)
La Salle Street1903just commutersRock Island and New York Central
RI; NYC; New York, Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate Road); Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad (joining RI tracks in the Ashburn neighborhood)
Chicago & North Western1911just commutersC&NW
Union Station1925commuters and AmtrakCB&Q, Penn, Milwaukee
Chicago and Alton(GM&O), CB&Q, Milwaukee Road, Pennsylvania. After Amtrak was formed in 1971, all long distance passenger trains were moved to this station.

Dearborn Street

Contents moved to Dearborn Station.

Grand Central Station

Contents moved to Grand Central Station.

Central Station

Contents moved to Central Station.

La Salle Street Station

Contents moved to La Salle Street.

Chicago & North Western

Contents moved to Chicago & North Western.

Union Station

Contents moved to Union Station.

Bill Molony posted
Bill's comment:
The seven central Chicago passenger depots - 1892.Baltimore & Ohio - depot #5Chicago & Alton - depot #3Chicago & Atlantic - depot #6Chicago, Burlington & Quincy - depot #3Chicago & Eastern Illinois - depot #6Chicago & Grand Trunk - depot #6Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul - depot #3Chicago & North Western - depot #2Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific - depot #4Chicago, Santa Fe & California - depot #6Chicago, St. Louis & Pittsburgh - depot #3Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City - depot #7Chicago & Western Indiana - depot #6Illinois Central - depot #1Cleveland,Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis - depot #1Lake Shore & Michigan Southern - depot #4Louisville, New Albany & Chicago - depot #6Michigan Central - depot #1New York Chicago & St Louis - depot #4Pittsburgh Ft. Wayne & Chicago - depot #3Wabash - depot #6Wisconsin Central - depot #7
In a later posting of the above  map, David Daruszka added the comment:
The map also predates the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Central Station does not appear on the map (built to coincide with the Fair) #1 on the map was the original IC station (also known as Central Station). #5 is the B&O depot that was in the Exposition Hall located on the site of today's Art Institute, also built for the Fair.

Bill Molony posted
Ken Molinelli shared Jeff Curran's post.
Chicago Stations 1930. Northwestern and Union Station in the upper left corner, LaSalle at the center, Grand Central to the left of LaSalle and Dearborn to the right of LaSalle. The IC station is out of the picture to the right.

IH: Illinois Northern Railroad

Update: I discovered that David Daruszka also has a posting on this railroad. So does DHKE, which has a couple of maps.

ForgottenChicago: Swing Bridge
INR was a switching railroad that goes north of Corwith Yard across the Sanitary and Ship Canal. They had 6 Alco S4 switchers. (Update: Eddie has a picture by Marty of a couple of those Alcos. And a 1984 picture of a Sante Fe locomotive on the line.)

According to a Surface Transportation Board decision:
The 2.38 miles of Chicago area trackage was formerly trackage of the Illinois Northern Railway (INR), a switching carrier owned by International Harvester (IH). IH sold its capital stock in the INR to a group of railroads, one of which was The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company (ATSF). Later, ATSF (now BNSF) acquired all of the former INR interests in the Chicago area.
A detailed 1930 map in the Shortlines Club page indicates that the International Harvester plants (30, 33, and 38) were around the intersection of 26th/Blue Island and S Western Ave.

And from a comment on the TrainBoard, we learn:
Joe I do know that the INX would switch a cut of cars to the Elsdon Yard via the Corwith Hump on tuesdays and fridays and during the remainder of the week perform switching tasks from Corwith into the western part of the Central Industrial District East of Kedzie Ave and west of Elsdon Junction and North of the IHB/Belt Rwy/GTW tracks. I know for certain the INX use to switch the old Peter Pan Peanut Butter plant at 48th Street between Saint Louis and Drake.
In the above referenced 1999 Surface Transportation Board petition to abandon, two industries actively used the railroad and two wanted to preserve the option of using it. BNSF claims the 16 crossings need to be upgraded as well as the track. But they did not note any maintenance costs of the swing bridge as an issue. I need to find the Western Ave. team tracks that BNSF references. They are the only existing team tracks I know of.

On April 23, 2001, Central Illinois Railroad assumed operations of the IN trackage. But its owner went out of business and operations ended August 9, 2010. The BNSF is once again abandoning the line and plans to remove the bridge.

Update: I have read that the route has been abandoned and the track and crossing gates have been removed.

Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The Atchison, Topeka & santa Fe railroad's "I.N" ex
Illinois Northern Railroad industrial branchline local
at work. Photographd near West 28th Street east of
South Kedzie Avenue, in Chicago's Little Village
neighborhood. Chicago Illinois. June 1984.
This portion of the I.N branch north of Corwith Yard,
has since been abandoned and the tracks removed.

Ed has a Flickr photo of a Santa Fe engine working the IN route.

Brian Morgan comment in Ed's posting
Brian Morgan If you can find a map of the Illinois Northern you will notice that that line was Santa Fe's Original Routing to Dearborn before they built thier present route alongside the North Bank of the old I&M Canal present day I-55.
Mark Leininger I remember the IN tower off Western Ave. Used to visit the tower operator when working midnight....
Edward Kwiatowski posted two photos with the comment:
Heres 2 photographs from the defunct Illinois Northern Railroad.
This little railroad, switched the once numerous industrial
railroad spur sidings, in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.
The Illinois Northern Railroad, was a shortline subsidiary railroad of the former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and also the International Harvester Corp. This railroad interchanged with the Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at their east end terminal at South Western and Blue Island Avenues. The line proceeded west crossing South
California Avenue, and passed a run around track along the north
side of Chicago's infamous Cook County Jail on West 26th Street, between South California and Sacramento Avenues. Curving southwest, this railroad line crossed the former Illinois Central Railroad's Iowa Division Mainline at West 33rd Street, proceeded south across the Chicago Sanitary And Ship Canal, The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad's mainline, the I 55 Stevenson Expressway, the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad mainline, and finally entering the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad's Corwith Yard facility in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood, where it interchanged freight cars with the ATSF.
During 1972 after the International Harvester Corp had left the city of Chicago Illinois, the ATSF purchased the former Illinois Northern Railroad outright, and operated it as their "I.N" industriial branchline.
The Santa Fe served this line Monday through Friday, with a switching local originating from their Corwith Yard facility south
of the I 55 Stevenson Expressway.
In 1995, the ATSF and the Burlington Northern Railroad merged,
and became todays BNSF Railway. The old I.N branch had fallen
on hard economic times, as many industries had closed or left Chicago. The BNSF Railway operated this line until 2001, when
it leased the line to shortline operator "Central Illinois Railroad."
with very little business left on the old I.N branch and much defered
maintenance, the Central Illinois Railroad switched whatever on line business was left strictly as needed, finally going defunct in 2010.
The BNSF Railway abandoned the old I.N branch, and eventually
removed the remaining tracks and railroad crossing signals.
The former Illinois Northern, was my old neighborhood railroad,
that I had grown up with in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood
back in the day.
Doug Kaniuk info:
Joseph Tuch Santucci Never knew a great deal of the history if the line other than it was part of the Santa Fe and where it operated. On occasion we'd see their job cross us (IC) at the automatic interlocking known on the IC as the IN. A few times I saw the train in a Little Village. Nice bit of information.
Bob Lalich A good portion of the IN "mainline" was the original Grand Trunk route into Chicago.
Joseph Tuch Santucci When and why did that change?
Bob Lalich The arrangement did not last very long and changed due to the Grand Trunk buying in on the C&WI. The first GT terminal was somewhere along Blue Island Ave well outside downtown. The latecomer railroads were having difficulty gaining suitable terminals from the city. Another part of this story is that at least part of the GT west of Thornton was originally built by C&EI prior to C&WI as their route into Chicago. The history is very convoluted - several paper railroads chartered for construction, etc.


Kwiatkowski posted a link to a Flickr photo of a Santa Fe locomotive with the comment:
The Monday thru Friday Atchison, Topeka & santa Fe
Railroad's "I.N / former Illinois Northern Railroad" industrial
branchline switching local at work. Chicago Illinois
circa 1984. ( Gone. - Abandoned. Tracks removed.) 
The ATSF served this line 5 days a week, switching
the once numerous industries, in Chicago's
Little Village neighborhood, with a switching local
freight train operating out of Corwith Yard.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Railroad Crossing War

Cindy Gray posted
The first railroad from Chicago was the Galena and Chicago Union. But soon after G&CU was started, the Illinois Central's branch from Effingham to Chicago and the Rock Island were also started. The original plan for the IC route was to build west of Lake Calumet and proceed due north to the Chicago River. But before the IC could implement this plan, the Rock Island interests had bought "considerable acreage along the very right-of-way that the Illinois Central had hoped would provide a route to the heart of Chicago. Not only had they bought up much of the needed land, but they had also immediately begun to build." (ChiRail, p32)

The first two railroads to build to Chicago from the East were the Michigan Central (MC) from Detroit and the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana (MS&NI) from Toledo. Both of these railroads intended to shorten the trip for people and cargo coming from the Erie Canal to the I&M Canal by eliminating the circuitous water route up Lake Huron and then down Lake Michigan. But their entry into Chicago was stymied because there was no provision for granting charters to out-of-state railroads. To get around this issue, the IC agreed to award trackage rights to MC while the RI granted the MS&NI access to Chicago. Since the RI was the first line constructed, MS&NI was the first eastern railroad to enter Chicago on Feb 20, 1852. (ChiRail, p32)

Since the Rock Island beat the IC to the preferred route, the IC obtained permission from Chicago to build north through Lake Michigan. At that time, Michigan Avenue was at the shoreline, and it needed a breakwater that the IC would provide when it built its railroad in the lake. But to get to the lakeshore, the IC had to cross the branch line that the RI had built southeast from 63rd street to the Indiana border for the MS&NI. Since the IC was allied with the MC, an enemy of the MS&NI, it was denied permission to cross the MS&NI trackage. And to emphasize the point, they posted a guard to prevent unauthorized construction activity. They expected the IC to build an overpass. But the IC was not going to spend money on an overpass, one night they simply kidnapped the guard and by dawn a frog was installed. Each railroad ran its trains with the assumption that they had the right-of-way until 1853 when a wreck killed 18 people. The rule was established that a train had to stop at a crossing and proceed only after verifying that there were no other trains approaching. (ChiRail, p 42-43)

The MS&NI became part of the New York Central System (and now the Norfolk Southern) and those tracks were later elevated because of Chicago city ordinances requiring grade separations between railroads and streets. But it appears that somehow the IC dodged the requirement to elevate its tracks. Looking at a sattellite map, the NS/NYC tracks now go over the CN/IC tracks. Update: looking again, the CN/IC tracks are elevated towards the north.

Update: The crossing is known as the Grand Crossing. I don't know how safe this neighborhood is to go take my own pictures. Plus I'm sure I can't get this view because this looks like the photographer  is on CN/IC property. Checking a satellite image, I was surprised that most of these IC tracks are still present.

.pdf copy from 1915 Smoke Abatement Report, p. 488
Bob Lalich found a Barriger photo from the perspective of the Pennsy tracks.

David Daruska posted in Facebook
David Daruska has more information on Chicago's first rail crossing accident.

David Daruszka posted
Northbound on Metra Electric Track 4, approaching 75th Street. The bridges are former Pennsy and NYC heritage.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Grain Elevator -- Gilman, IL

Gilman, IL has two grain elevators. On the north side is a Co-op grain elevator.

You can see the growth of this elevator is typical. The white building would have been built before WWII. Then they added a couple of cement silos before they switched to steel bins. I was focused on getting a picture of the train depot in Gilman, so I forgot to go to get a picture of the other side of the elevator. I assume the grain dryer is on the other side at the base of the leg. Update: I did get more pictures. But I see that I need to get a picture between the bins of the leg/unloading area.

On the south side of town is a Cargill grain elevator that has a capacity of 8.5 million bushels. Below is an overview from the northeast side.  The scale house is on the left. The original head house and concrete bins are in the middle. I'm guessing that it then expanded with the two steel bins to the north, then the couple of concrete towers to the south, and then the big steel bin further to the south. They also have gone through a couple of generations of tower dryers. And a couple of generations of unloading pits.

20141013 0219c
From the southeast side we have a closeup view of the operational center of the elevator. When I got this close, the operator that I had talked to hollered at me and said I can't go further because it is a hard-hat area. So I could not get a picture of a truck that was in Pit A dumping its load.

And turning to my left to look straight west between the north and south parts of the complex we see the CN/IC tracks and the yellow fall protector. You can also see the end of the white building they built across the tracks as their most recent expansion. I got the impression that building more than doubled their capacity. It is so big it is hard to get a picture of it. Going south along the tracks, I found a parking lot from which I took this picture. Note that the building has 6 roof vents.

Judging from the number of roof vents visible below, this view from the south at the US-24 crossing shows less than half of the "white building."

A close up of the scale area includes the probe used to get a grain sample. The is one scale for weighing incoming trucks and two scales for weighing empty trucks that are leaving. Having two exist scales ensures that there is not a backlog of trucks trying to leave the elevator even if trucks from different pits finish at the same time.

I started taking pictures from the south side. Rather soon after a truck entered Pit A, I went back to a parking lot north of the elevator to get pictures from the north side including 0219c above.

This is the first picture I took when I got out of the car. Note that by the time I drove around to the north side, the truck was done emptying and leaving the pit. Since they can empty both hoppers at the same time, it takes just a minute or so to unload a truck. And they have 3 pits. Although the other two pits may be able to empty just one hopper at a time.

Since it was a rainy period when I took this trip down US-45, the Ashkum, Danforth  and above coop elevators had no business that day. But the manager of the Ashkum elevator predicted that the Cargill elevator would have bussines because farmers would be taking advantage of the off day to empty grain from their bins to sell to Cargill. And he was right. Fortunately, I arrived when I did because the truck in the picture was the last truck before they closed for the day.

Digitally zooming in to the cab of a picture of a truck that was leaving soon after I arrived on the south side of the elevator confirms the truck is from a farm. And when I examined the other truck pictured above on the incoming scale, it was also from Carley Farms. So that must be a big farm to have at least two trucks. I include a satellite image below because it caught a tractor with a corn planter in the lower right corner. I count 24 rows on the planter. And the tractor seems to be "bent", so it is a big articulated tractor. The grain storage facilities do meet my expectations of being big. It looks like they have tower grain dryers. I would guess their storage capacity is comparable to the Danforth elevator. I tried Bing's Birds-Eye-View to try to determine the height of the bins, but it was not a very good image. Then I noticed that the shadows of the bins are significantly longer than those of the buildings, so they appear to be 3 or 4 stories tall. Even with all that storage, it is evidently not enough to hold their harvest since we saw them selling grain during harvest season when the price for corn would be at its lowest.
And the planter is not only wider than one lane, it is wider than the whole road, by a significant margin. A posting on corn planters is on my todo list, but here are some sneak peaks as to how the planters can be folded for transport down the road. The John Deere planters fold the sides forward.

 And CaseIH has that model plus one where the whole planter row is raised and turned 90 degrees.

I could not find a link for the Cargill quotes, so I copied the following from Cargill's web page after searching for Gilman on Oct. 24, 2014. Remember that this year is predicted to be a second bumper crop in a row and that there will not be enough storage capacity to hold all of the corn harvested this year. So I would expect these prices to be lower than they were in 2012 when we had a drought.

Soft Red Winter Wheat
Spot Price New Crop
5.0525 -0.3000 5.4800 -0.1500
Quote Basis Quote Basis
Yellow Corn
Spot Price New Crop
3.3075 -0.3300 3.3075 -0.3300
Quote Basis Quote Basis
Yellow Soybeans
Spot Price New Crop
9.7475 -0.2600 9.7475 -0.2600
Quote Basis Quote Basis