Thursday, February 26, 2015

21st Street Crossing or Alton Junction

(CRJ) Correction: The C&WI had five tracks through the junction. In addition to their four main tracks that went to the Dearborn Station, there was a track on the north side that went to the 18th Street Yard. (Update: NS names this crossing CP-521 and it is the end-of-the-line for NS because Amtrak owns the bridge, Union Station, and the intervening former-Pennsy yards.)

Update: I finally found some pictures of the tower. Most pictures in this area skunk the tower with a train.

For over a century, the near south of Chicago was a huge collection of railroad yards serving the passenger stations and freight stations in the South Loop. I can remember going over the Roosevelt Road Viaduct and being amazed by the amount of track on both sides. But it was in the 1970s, and there were no trains on all of that track. All of the trains going to the south part of Union Station except for CB&Q and to Dearborn Station plus ICwest trains funneled through this 21st Street Crossing (the Contrail/PC/Pennsy called it Alton, GM&O called it Fort Wayne, and IC and C&WI called it 21st (Tuch) I believe the Sante Fe also called it 21st. Today, all railroads call it 21st.). During its prime it saw over a 150 trains a day, of which 75% were passenger trains. This was probably the busiest crossing in Chicago. (CRJ) A 1948 photo on Bill's page shows most of the 26 diamonds that the crossing had during its prime and a C&WI engine transferring a passenger train back to the yards for servicing.

(The following description of the trackage mixes verb tenses because a lot of the track became obsolete when Amtrak moved all of its trains to Union Station.) Since the Pennsy had tracks through this junction, we can find an interlocking diagram for this crossing (see below). The NS/Pennsy goes through the crossing in a north/south direction. Four tracks merge down to two tracks before entering the crossing and the lift bridge across the South Branch just to the north of this crossing. The double track BNSF/Santa Fe and CN/IC/ Chicago, Madison & Northern branch from the west merged before entering the crossing in a northeastern direction and then diverged again on the other side. The Stanta Fe tracks fed their passenger train (coach) yard as well as Dearborn station. CN/Alton passenger trains take the tracks on the North side of the IC tracks and then turn north to merge with the NS/Pennsy tracks to access Union Station. Alton freight trains would have merged with the IC tracks back at Bridgeport and then they diverge on the other side of the crossing. The Chicago & Western Indiana had four tracks coming from the south and all four of them crossed the Alton/IC/Santa Fe tracks and then the Pennsy tracks.

Alton Junction of Pennsy Mainline
Sante Fe had facilities to service their passenger trains on the station side of this crossing. But C&WI had to transfer the trains for Erie, Monon, C&EI, GTW, and Wabash down south to their various yards for servicing. C&EI's yard was between 31st and 39th, Wabash was between 39th and 47th, and Erie was between 47th and 55th (1920 map). Another source calls the Erie yard the 52nd C&WI Coach Yard, and it also handled the Monon trains. It probably also handled the GTW trains.

Photo from Dan Murray collection

Now (2015) only one of the four C&WI tracks comes from the south and it merges with NS/Pennsy tracks before it enters the crossing. The four C&WI tracks and double Alton tracks on the northeast side is now the Ping Tom Memorial Park. The northern CN/Alton tracks continue to connect to the NS/Pennsy tracks and carry the Metra-Heritage commuters. The CN/IC tracks continue to run northeast to the St. Charles Air Line. But CN is expected to abandon these tracks when they are finished with their Elgin, Joliet and Eastern upgrades. At which time there will no longer be a crossing here, just connection tracks. The Santa Fe right-of-way is now used by the relatively new RTA Orange Line to Midway. It uses an overpass so rapid transit trains do not interfere with the north/south trains. Unfortunately, that overpass was built too low to allow double-stack trains to be interchanged via this route. The CW&I tower was taken over by Amtrak, and it remained in service until 2005 (CRJ).

Update: Since the C&WI and Pennsy tracks are elevated, so you can't get a shot of the tracks from a crossing. But when my daughter was driving me around Chicago so that I could take pictures of bridges, we took the ramp from I-94 North to I-55 West, and that ramp goes over the tracks.

20150502 0732c
Zooming in further, you can see that the three NS/Pennsy tracks on the right (east) side are maintained separately from the Metra+UP+CSX/C&WI tracks on the left side. All of these tracks merge into the two on the right before they reach the south tower of the Canal Street RR Bridge in the middle background.

Stuart Pears -> Chicagoland Railfan
Stuart's comment:
SantaFe Streamliner passes beneath the Signals at the Junction with the Pennsylvania about 1 Mile out of Dearborn Station.
On the right is the south tower of the Canal Street RR Bridge, so this is an inbound passenger train. The comments mention Alco DL-109 & 110. In response to a comment about this being a very early warbonnet scheme, Patrick added the color picture with the comment:
Patrick McNamara comment
Not quite - the DL-109 and 110 were built in May of 1941...and they sported some strange liveries thruout their lives. Here's #50 at Argentine KS in May of 1957.......
David Charles Lindberg -> Chicagoland Railfan
David indicated that this is a 1976 photo and that the red and white engine in the background is Frisco. Randy Olson commented that this is the Broadway Limited.

Bill DeMar elaborated:
You're right Dave, ex Frisco, but in this pic it is owned by Amtrak and was used to switch out Amtrak's 21st Street yard ( Santa Fe ). I started Amtrak at this yard in 1979.
I commented:
You can see where they have already removed some of the C&WI diamonds from the two Sante Fe/ICwest tracks.
Mark Lianuza -> F units, E units, FA's, PA's and other Diesel Cab units
Penn Central E-units Valpo train heads through Fort Wayne Jct 1975

Stuart Pearson -> Chicagoland Railfan
Stuart's comment:
"THE CHIEF" still brings a FLOOD OF MEMORIES to every RR FAN no matter if they ever Rode that TRAIN. Show here Inbound for Dearborn St. Station approaching the 21st Street Crossing. SantaFe Photo.
Other comments correct the direction of the train.

Eric Powell This is a beautiful photo! This is the outbound Chief - train is pointed westbound across 21st St. Interlocking.

Mark Bilecki Sr. Its definately heading outbound, the building in the background is the old Cuneo press , which was used in the movie Backdraft at the end of the movie.

Harold J. Krewer Well, it COULD have been pulled out the west end of the coach yard and is shoving back to the depot, but yes, it is indeed pointed west and the 21st St diamonds are in the near background.
Bill Molony posting
Bill's comment: "Here's GM&O #17 to Joliet at 21st St."

Since railfans generally take pictures of sheetmetal, this is the first picture at 21st street I have seen that catches part of the tower in the frame.
Ed Kwiatkowski shared
IC GE U-30-C's stop at 21st street Jct .This train came in from Freeport 1976
A reminder that ICwest shared two tracks through the crossing with Santa Fe.
A Bob Coolidge Photo from IC
It's April 29, 1972 at 21st street
This photo shows the two tracks through the crossing that IC and Sante Fe shared. You can see the diamonds with C&WI and Pennsy. The engines block a view of the diamonds of C&WI crossing Pennsy and of the tower.

Note that you can see the black John Hancock building being constructed over the red building in the middle background.
A Bob Coolidge Photo from IC
It's April 29, 1972 at 21st street
This view catches some of the C&WI tracks turning East and crossing the Pennsy. Amtrak's Super Chief coaches are parked in Sante Fe's former passenger coach yard. The tower must be just off to the left.
Craig Willett posted
Santa Fe 15 the Texas Chief at 21st Chicago. Not the best scan, you'll get the idea.
[Comments indicate a U30CG with two U28's behind it.]
David M Laz posted
PRR E8s, possibly pulling the "General", pass eastbound through 21st Street, Chicago in June of 1959.
[I discovered that David stole this picture from John Dziobko Jr., but he did add some details to the text.]
Evan Jones provided the following three pictures as comments on a posting for another junction.




David M Laz posted
Walt Del Calle Or Panhandle Jct. Or Alton Jct. Or Santa Fe Jct.
Craig Willett posted
Texas Chief Train 15 departing Chicago at 21st St. Tower. Summer 1969
The comments agree that 401 is a GE U30CG and that U30CGs were ugly. We can see a glimpse of Santa Fe's passenger coach yard on the right.]
Steven J Brown posted
Milwaukee Road 261 pokes off the 21st Street bridge in Chicago to get around the 16th Street wye after returning from an excursion to Galesburg. June 20, 2002.
Glenn Miller posted
One of the Pennsylvania Railroad's legendary K4 class 4-6-2 steam locomotive leads a passenger train out of Chicago at 21st street in 1950. Photo by Wallace W. Abbey
John Dziobko Jr.'s 1962 photo shows the Pennsy tracks being crossed by the IC+Santa Fe tracks. It also shows four of the C&WI tracks crossing the IC+Santa Fe tracks and then turning to cross the Pennsy tracks. In the background near the Canal Street RR Bridge, you see the GM&O tracks curving northward to join the Pennsy tracks to cross the bridge and access Union Station. You can also see the bridge tender shack and the top of the 21st Junction Tower.

John Dziobko Jr. also got the first photo I have seen looking south at this crossing. Then I found another photo looking south of a Wabash GP7 on a C&WI track crossing the IC+Santa Fe and Pennsy tracks. Can you imagine the complexity and maintenance nightmare of what amounts to a triple crossing? John also caught an inbound C&WI commuter on the inner track where a locomotive crosses both an IC+Sante Fe and a Pennsy track.

John crossed the IC+Santa Fe tracks and got a Sante Fe train headed to Dearborn. A C&WI engine running light over the IC+Santa Fe tracks. It is probably headed to Dearborn to pull a cut of passenger coaches to a coach yard to be serviced (cleaned and restocked).

The caption claims this Erie train is arriving at Dearborn, but based on the truss bridge in the background and the curve of the C&WI tracks, I believe it is departing.

A GM&O train is rounding the curve towards the bridge.

This 1972 photo from  David Wilson's Photoset shows an ICG train with both IC and GM&O power. The Santa Fe building in the background indicates we are looking West. So the train is outbound. We can see the curve of the C&WI tracks on the left.

Gerry Grzyb posted six pictures of this train going through the crossing. Fortunately it is a public group and you should be able to use the link to access the photosSo many liked my ATSF Dearborn pics, I thought I'd give you my sequence of the El Capitan/Super Chief passing through 21st St. in the late Sixties. Comment away, ATSF experts!
Stuart B. Slaymaker I make it to be just around 20 cars...
Gerry Grzyb My only regrets are that I only took pictures at this spot for one day in my life, and that I can't go back to the time when I could walk among the tracks of Chicago's major junctions with no hassles. I,m usually a bit skeptical when us old farts tell the kids they don't know what they missed....but, they don't know what they missed!
[I wondered if he was an employee or if one really was allowed to cross tracks back in 1970.]

This photo is easy to place because of the Canal Street RR Bridge on the left.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
This photo was harder to place because I have been in the area of 21st Street Crossing enough to know that a tall, long industrial building no longer exists. So it was time to consult the old aerial photos. The excerpt on the right provides some context. The one below focuses on the building.

Zoomed in
It was between Grove St. and the tracks, and it is now yet another vacant lot. I wonder who owned that building and what it used to make.

The bridges in the foreground of the photo still exist because they are the Canal St. overpass.

This 1990 photo catches the corner of the industrial building.
Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail light power move at 21st Street in Chicago - January 1993.
SD40-2 6481 (built 1978) became CSX 8845, B23-7 (built 1978) became CSX 3159 then Quincy Bay Terminal then Conway Scenic and finally to the Finger lakes RR, C40-8W 6134 (built 1991) became CSX 7333, SD40 6334 (built 1968 as PRR 6081 to PC 6081) became I&M Rail Link 217 to Iowa Chicago and Eastern 217.
Steven J. Brown posted three photos with the comment:
Sequence of a Chicago Central and Pacific train at 21st Street in Chicago - January 8, 1990. Note the CTA Orange line under construction in the third photo.
Here is a bit of history on the GeeP rebuilds: 8211 builtt 1957 as IC GP9 9211 rebuilt as IC GP10 8211 became ADM 8411 at Enid, OK, 972 built 1956 as Milwaukee Road GP9 2382 rebuilt as MILW GP20 972, 1585 built 1957 as Detroit Toledo and Ironton GP7 957 rebuilt as IC GP8 7985 became AL Gilbert 2004 at Keyes, CA.
Terry Falduto Awesome. The old Cuneo Press building and construction of the Orange Line, which would open in 3.5+ more years.


Steven J. Brown posted
Metra Orland Park train at 21st Street in Chicago - April 10, 2002.
Bill Molony posted
A Grand Trunk Western class U-4-b 4-8-4 (can't make out the number), departing from Dearborn Station in Chicago with an eastbound passenger train, most likely GTW #20, The Maple Leaf.
Undated, but circa 1950.
I added a comment explaining that the train will soon be entering the 21st Crossing.]
Marty Bernard shared a Roger Puta photo
ATSF 3119 (GP20) has just crossed the South Branch of the Chicago River, Chicago, IL in January 1972. This was still during the period when the Santa Fe stored and prepared the trains they ran for Amtrak in their own coach yard. This must be a move between Union Station and that yard.
[It appears that all five of the C&WI tracks are still present.]
Daniel C Carroll Jr. posted
#6200 leaving Chicago in 1948. Caption by Rod Russell.
Mark Hinsdale posted three pictures with the comment:
Freight Around the "Hood"...
A few random catches over the past few days...
1) NS eastbound oil loads at 21st Street
2) Somewhat rare CSX power on a UP bare table train at 21st
3) UP #1938 (w "baby wings") returning from Canal St.




Steven J. Brown posted
Viewed from 18th Street in Chicago, The Amtrak City of New Orleans waits for the Capitol Limited to clear 21st Street/Alton Jct before taking the left and then shoving into Union Station - January 24, 1990. CTA Orange line is under construction.
[This is after the C&WI tracks have been torn up but before the Tom Ping Park has been built. This is the only photo I know of that shows the junction tower. Most pictures have the tower skunked by a train. Now the City of New Orleans uses the St. Charles Air Line to go on BNSF/BN/CB&Q tracks before it shoves (backs) into Union Station. I didn't know that it used to use the ICwest tracks to go south on the Metra/Pennsy tracks before it backed into Union Station.]
I found some more pictures showing the Amtrak movement and not only the junction tower, but the bridge control tower.
From Steven J. Brown's "Photos"
January 8, 1990 - 21st Street/Alton Junction during CTA Orange Line construction. Amtrak City of New Orleans arriving around wye connection before shoving into Union Station
From Steven J. Brown's "Photos"
January 8, 1990 - 21st Street/Alton Junction during CTA Orange Line construction. Amtrak City of New Orleans shoving into Union Station.
From Steven J. Brown's "Photos"
January 8, 1990 - 21st Street/Alton Junction during CTA Orange Line construction. Amtrak Ann Rutledge departing for St Louis
[Moving from Amtrak/Pennsy tracks to the CN/GM&O/Alton tracks.]

A 1975 Flickr photo that shows 2 of the 5 C&WI tracks have been removed. It also shows boxcars in the C&WI yard by the river in the background.

David Charles Lindberg posted a 1976 photo that shows some of the C&WI diamonds being removed along with "Outbound Broadway Limited with a new P30CH leading two E units out bound from Union Station."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicago Produce Terminals

A produce market is one of the few industries that is still close to downtown. But they have also migrated further from the loop as the city grew. Produce markets receive produce from growers and sell it to distributors. The distributors, in turn, sell it to grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, company cafeterias, etc.

Post Civil War: South Water Street Market

Jeff Davies posted
South Water Street Market. Chicago. 1926.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Kelleher.
South Water Street was a road along the south bank of the main branch of the Chicago River. There were buildings between South Water and the river, and the buildings had back-door docks on the river. "As downtown banks and businesses moved south, produce jobbers took over the buildings along South Water from State Street west." The 1871 Chicago Fire did not displace the market. The city tried to move the market out of the loop in 1904, 14, 15, and 16 because it choked the city streets. Finally, in what seems to be a mayoral tradition (Daily digging up Meigs Field one night), they bulldozed the area and built the two story Wacker Drive. At least they did not do it in secret one night. The new market opened August 31, 1925. (ChicagoReader)

Chicago History Museum from WTTW
Leon Paa Rios posted
Chicago water market....
Found this framed at my job
Richard Pitchford posted
Water Street Market ran parallel to the river, with buildings that backed up onto the water. Notice the booking office for the South Haven Line – the company that owned the ill-fated steamship Eastland.
Patrick Stevens posted

1920's: South Water Market

Northwestern University
To quote Northwestern's caption of this picture: "When South Water Street was made over into Wacker Drive there was a wholesale exodus of the scores of commission houses. This shows the new home of the South Water Market between Fourteenth Place and Fifteenth Street from Morgan Street to Racine Avenue." This 1929 photo would be looking West. Of note is that there are still a lot more horse and wagons then trucks. When I see pictures like this, I have to wonder what do they do with all of the "road apples?"

Patrick Stevens posted
Update: Northwestern seems to have allowed their security certificate to expire. But I came across another copy of the picture on Facebook. Patrick's comment indicating 1956 is a good example of not being able to believe everything you read on the web. There were not that many horse and wagons in 1956!

I could not find rail access in a 1938 aerial photo. Later I found confirmation that it did not have rail car access.  (Update: CN&W's 1947 video indicates their Morgan Street Yard was close and dedicated to perishable freight. The video shows blowing snow ice into a car to keep it cold during warm weather and warm during really cold weather.  When the merchants were forced to move to South Water Market, the IC and Santa Fe built the Chicago Produce Terminal for them and other railroads to use. The trucks had to travel less than two miles to get to the merchant market.)

Jeff Nichols posted
South Water Street Market, 1955.
University of Chicago Library,
Special Collections Research Center, apf2-09929
The 90-foot wide street that was great for horse and wagons became a nightmare with the advent of semi-trucks. "In the 1960s Mayor Richard J. Daley and the U.S. Department of Agriculture pushed a grandiose scheme to consolidate the city's food-related businesses near Lake Calumet." That plan failed. But market forces are slowly reducing the percentage of the areas produce handled by the market. In 1939 less than 20% of Chicago's produce arrived by truck, by 1993 more than 75% does. Trains are cheaper, but trucks take 3 days and trains take 5 days. Also, markets in Cleveland, Saint Louis, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis are competing with South Water because of lower labor and overhead costs. Moreover, large store chains--Jewel, Dominick's (1993)--can bypass South Water altogether and trucks can deliver directly to their own warehouses. (ChicagoReader) One time when my wife and I were traveling across Central Valley in California, we stopped at a road stand to buy some produce. When we commented that we were surprised that the produce did not look as good as the stuff we see in our Chicago stores, he replied that it was because they had to ship their good stuff or the grocery store chains wouldn't buy it!

When I studied the aerial photo of the 16th Street Corridor for the St. Charles Air Line Railroad posting, I wondered what the long, horizontal buildings in the middle of the photo were used for. Now I know --- South Water Street Market.

These buildings still stand, but they are now condos. (See WBEZ photo above also.)

Fulton Street Market

Patrick Stevens posted
I have not figured out where the Fulton Street Market fits into the history of the markets. I saw a comment for a railroad picture that said Madison Avenue was skid row from the South Branch to Ogden. So the gentrification of the near-west has been a significant change. This would explain why the Union Station is now interested in developing it unused rooms as event, retail and office spaces. It also explains why a report on the Fulton-Randolph Market District wants avoid a "slum clearance" to build more condos. The report has a couple of historic pictures showing a street full of horse and wagons on Page 6.

21st Century

In 2001 the market did move southwest to the north side of the Sanitary and Ship Canal just east of Damen---The Chicago International Produce Market (CIPM).

Trucks from the growers (receiving) use the west side and the trucks for the distributors (loading) use the east side. Looking at the map, I noticed that this area has become a grocery wholesale district. Up the road is Cermak Fresh Market and across the parking lot from that building is ALDI. And a little further towards downtown is Dalmares Produce.

I checked with a 1938 aerial map to confirm that they filled in a couple of slips originally created in the 1800s by the South Branch Dock Company to create land for this new market building. Even though it is built in the 75-acre industrial park that CB&Q created with the dock company when it built its access into Chicago in 1862-4, the market building does not have rail access.

The hours are from 3:30-4:00am to noon. "CIPM merchants offer the widest possible selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, herbs, spices, and specialty dry goods." (Agrilicious) The warehouse contains "ripening rooms" that control temperature, humidity, gassing, and ventilation, which controls ripening rates. Estimates are that produce in Chicago is a billion dollar business. This terminal supports not just the Chicago land area, but a tri-state area. (WBEZ) And they are trying to expand their reach to Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and additional Midwestern states. There are other competitors such as Central Grocers in Joliet.(ThePacker)

The loading doc is full of fast electric forklifts called power jacks moving produce to the correct receiving truck.

If you skip to 1:00 in the video you can see about 20 seconds of loading doc activity. Timestamp 6:04 was also interesting because it shows an order picker filling an order from a selection of 300 products and a view of the size of the cooled warehouse rooms. Note that the video was made in 2009, so the market was viable even during the recession.


Glen Miller posted
[I have heard of this, but I don't know where it is. I don't have time to research it now.]