Monday, February 9, 2015

CJ: Union Stock Yard and Transit Company, 1865 (Chicago Junction)

Bill Molony posted
Map of the Union Stockyards & Transit Company railway lines 1865-1898.

Dennis DeBruler One needs a "decoder key" when looking at these old maps.

CM&N was Chicago, Madison & Northern. It was bought by IC to gain direct access to their original charter line in Freeport.

CTT was Chicago Terminal Transfer and became the B&OCT.

CCC&StL is better known as the Big Four.

Chicago & Atlantic must have become the Erie.

Robey St. became Damen Ave.

Charlie Vlk CM&N was never an independent road; just a construction name. Little known is that the IC used the Chicago & Aurora/CB&Q to reach Chicago as construction of the main line and Chicago Branch spanned a number of years. Traffic was routed from Mendota and later the Iowa traffic came in over the C&I to Aurora. This even went back to before the CB&Q had their own line into Chicago and caused some friction with the C&NW which had operated the IC Freeport segment and had traffic agreements with the CB&Q that were contested.
[There are also some comments about when did Santa Fe build there own passenger tracks south of the IC tracks. Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern is the railroad that Santa Fe bought to gain access to Chicago. ]

Update: details about Swift & Company  The successor was Chicago Junction. When the Chicago Junction, along with the other railroads, was forced to elevate its tracks, it built a passenger route separate from its freight route and leased the passenger route to the CTA in 1907. The shuttle service between the CTA's Indiana Avenue Station and the stock yards was called the Stock Yards Branch. The passenger route west of the station was the Kenwood Branch.

In 1865, the western boundary of Chicago was Western Avenue, and the southern boundary was Pershing Road. This was the year the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company of Chicago (USY&T) was incorporated to consolidate the Chicago stock yards. They acquired swampland south of Pershing Road to build the yards and built a railroad outside the city limits to connect all nine railroads entering Chicago south of Roosevelt Road to those yards. (Wikipedia) The nine railroads that had maintained stock yards (listed below) helped finance the Union Yards and closed their own yards. (FTC) By 1870, Chicago had extended its boundaries to include the stock yards, and the yards were processing 2 million animals a year. By 1890, the number was 9 million. In the early 1860s, the meat-packing industry was located in Cincinnati, Ohio. By the 1870s, the industry had moved to Chicago.

The resulting meat packing industries were some of the largest industries in the world at the time. Philip Armour was the first person to build a modern large-scale meatpacking plant in 1867.
This new plant employed the modern "assembly line" (or rather dis-assembly line) method of work. The mechanized process with its killing wheel and conveyors helped inspire the automobile assembly line that Henry Ford popularized in 1913. For a time the Armour plant, located on a twelve (12) acre site, was renowned as the largest factory in the world. In addition, hedging transactions by the stockyard companies was pivotal in the establishment and growth of the Chicago-based commodity exchanges and futures markets. (Wikipedia)
The USY&T railroad was the second of six hub (belt) railroads in the Chicago area. (St. Charles Air Line was the first.) It connected the following properties:
  • Starting west from Illinois Central and Michigan Central
  • Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana (later the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, then NYC) and Rock Island & Pacific
  • Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (later Pennsy)
  • The stock yards
  • It then turned northward and paralleled the Chicago & Great Eastern's line (later Pennsy) in Campbell Avenue
  • Chicago & Alton at Brighton Park Crossing
  • Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
  • Chicago & North Western Railway at Ogden Avenue
(Update: The USY&T was later named Chicago River and Indiana whose nickname was Chicago Junction. It was acquired by NYC under protest by the other railroads.)

I labeled this post as rrNYC because, even though it started out as a union railroad, Vanderbuilt later got control of the railroad. And when Conrail was split up, NS got this asset. The route is intact except for the segment between the IC and RI. I include a 1938 aerial image to indicate where that segment used to run.


In the photos below, note that the canal along the north side of the yards no longer exists. The rail yard is now a 4-track corridor along Pershing Road. In 1971, most everything in the area bounded by Pershing Road, Ashland, Halsted, and 47th Street was demolished and redeveloped as an industrial park. One structure that was not demolished was the main entrance gate.

LoC: 1878:  Packing houses in the distance. Covered pens for hogs and sheep; open pens for cattle. Area of yards, 75 acres; 50 miles railroad tracks. Daily capacity: 25,000 head cattle, 160,000 hogs, 10,000 sheep, and 1,000 horses.

LoC: 1901

Bill Molony posted
Union Stock Yards on the south side of Chicago, circa 1940.
Nearly nine million head of livestock were received annually at this massive facility. 
It was "The Live Stock Market of the World" back then.
Stuart Pearson It was a MASSIVE PLACE. When I was in HS every Boy HAD to take 6 Weeks of each of the Shop Courses offered at the School. Auto, Machine, Print, Electrical, Wood, and Agricultural. Agricultural, or AG as we called it was o requirement because of all the Boys that came to JTHS from the New Lenox, Frankfort, Elwood, and Manhattan areas. We did take a Field Trip to the Stock Yards and actually viewed the activity on the "Killing Floor." As a result I found it difficult to Eat Meat for awhile after that experience. The AG Building was located on the Southside of Jefferson St. where the Tennis Courts are now. IOt was an old Red Brick 3 story structure that would actually S~H~A~K~E when a Rock Island Freight Train pulled by a 5000 Class 4-8-4 came by.

Bill Molony posted again
Chicago Union Stock Yards post card picture post marked January 28, 1943.
Craig Sanders How in the world did they keep it all straight?!
Todd VanSlyke Paper and pencil and a handshake.

Jim Arvites posted
Update: Gregory Mikosz posted five pictures. His comments include:
Drovers herded cattle, hogs, and sheep down two wide thoroughfares from the railroad cars to the pens. From the Civil War until the 1920s and peaking in 1924, more meat was processed in Chicago than in any other place in the world. Evolving methods of transportation and distribution led to declining business and the closing of the Union Stock Yards in 1971.

Jeff Nichols -> Forgotten Chicago
Jeff's comment: "Union Stock Yards, 1897. NYPL." Look at all the smoke being poured out by the packing plants and related industries.

Kenneth Andresen -> Forgotten Chicago
Kenneth's comment:
The Entrance Gate to the Union Stock Yards, postcard from ca. 1920 (located at S. Peoria St. and W. Exchange Avenue). 
The Union Stock Yard Gate, was the entrance to the famous Union Stock Yards in Chicago. The gate was designed by John Wellborn Root of Burnham and Root around 1875.
There are a lot more pictures in the comments for this posting, including:

Frank Pajak
Frank Pajak: "1893 Sausage."

video concerning the stock yards from C&NW's perspective.

Sharon Avendano shared a David M Laz post
December 27, 1865 – The first shipment of hogs arrives at the Union Stockyards, opened officially just one day earlier. The vast facility that would come to occupy land bordered by Pershing Avenue, Halsted Street, Forty-Seventh Street, and Ashland Avenue, got its start in 1864 when nine railroad companies purchase 320 acres of swampland on the southwest side of the city.
Vince Mietlicki Worse than the stockyards were the meat packing plants located in Bridgeport near so-called Bubbly Creek. Tee-Pak made sausage liners/wraps and put tons of emissions into the the nearby neighborhood. I think it was sulfur dioxide or carbon disulfide used in the making of those packages. Of course, this was in the 60s before EPA existed.
Dave Baker At the end of the Cival War Chicago was part of Wisconsin [Dave did not read the article. The boundary was moved as part of the state's admission in 1818 to encourage trade with the northeast to balance the pro slavery sympathies in southern Illinois.]

Ted Okuda posted
August 22, 1956: A fire at the Union Stock Yard.
Bruce Moffat posted
Bob Lalich Very cool! I have not seen many action shots within USY.

Jon Oye -> Original Chicago
One of the things Chicago was once known for. 
Postcard. Curteich-Chicago "C.T. Art-Colortone." 
Aero Distributing Co., Chicago.
Jesse Cordero posted, Kenneth Swedroe posted
Chicago stock yards, 1947.
[From a redundant posting:]
Turk Meyers Every pen had an "address" so they documented and kept track of livestock.
George Coy also posted
The maze of livestock pens and walkways at Chicago's stockyards, ca. 1947
Library of Congress
Mike Breski shared
Union Stockyard & Transfer Co RailroadRich Benko I worked at the last standing Swift & Company plant in the Chicago stockyards 1970-1972!
Kenneth Swedroe posted
The union stock yards, Chicago is.. from the song, my kind of town, Chicago is.
Robin Lavin Wasn’t it near a large train station? I think I took a train there to Ohio...Dennis DeBruler That was probably the Englewood Union Station down by 63rd,

D Clock Oest posted
[Did somebody go up in a balloon to sketch this aerial view?
Or could they imagine what it looked like by walking all around the area?]

Daniel James Springer posted
The "billionth animal" arrives at the Union Stock Yard in 1954, the poor bastard.
Kenneth Swedroe posted
union stock yards, early 1900's
Glen Miller posted
Armour was the most famous of the meat packing businesses in Chicago. It helped make the city a center of the meat packing industry in the U.S. As the herds of cattle reached the end of the trail, they were loaded onto the railroad cars and shipped to Chicago "on the hoof" for slaughter. Beef was packed for shipment to grocery stores and butchers in refrigerated cars developed in the 1870's using ice. Chilled refrigerator cars and ships then created a national industry in vegetables and fruit that could previously only have been consumed locally.
Jeff Nichols posted
Boardwalk through the corrals at the Union Stockyards, 1904. Chicago History Museum, DN-0000986
Windy City Historians posted
Chicago Stockyards, 1970. It closed in 1971. Photo by Don Casper (Vintage Tribune)
[A true urban cowboy.]
Where the cattle came from:
Mel Herweck posted
June 14, 1831
William G. Butler, one of the earliest and most active cattle trail drivers, was born in Mississippi. He moved to Karnes County, Texas in 1858 and after the Civil War ended, he began driving $4 cow to Abilene, Kansas' railhead where he sold them for $40 a head in the spring of 1868. He helped get railroad through Karnes County where he died June 20, 1912.
I did not realize that Santa Fe built towards Denver before it built towards New Mexico.]
Charles Westberry IV posted two photos with the comment:
From an aerial photograph taken 11/29/1930. Photos are of the Chicago stock yards! The photographs were digitized by the Illinois State Geological Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Best viewed on a large screen.
Special thanks to Jon Roma of the Forgotten Chicago group!


I've seen so few photos of stock cars that I thought I should save the ones I do come across.

Mike Breski posted a lot of material copied from wikiwand. The comments are interesting because they discuss CB&Q's Sheep Yard and Dial Soap in Montgomery, IL. Some also discuss cattle car movements in the 70s and 80s.
Don Wagoner The old heads said meat trains during the war on the IC had rights over everything including passenger.
Mike commented on his own post
Conrail cattle cars Brighton Park, IL
Not far from the famous Chicago stockyards, these cattle carriers sit on a back track in Conrail's Ashland Avenue Yard in October 1984
Raymond Breyer posted
Phil Nichols I remember the smell as a little kid (1964+?) going by the NKP Livestock yard and Deckers Hog Market in Charleston Illinois. On Seventh Street NE of the NKP & NYC diamond.

John Stell posted
TP&W 1518 stock car at East Peoria Yard on 4-1-55. Monty Powell slide John Stell collection. I can remember getting livestock from AT&SF. Destinations were Speer Illinois via Sommer C&NW, Schwager on east end of TP&W and somewhere else.
David Jordan Several consecutive TP&W annual reports in the 1950s show a fleet of 20 stock cars, which were leased, IIRC. I had assumed they were part of a pool, possibly for overhead traffic. The late Jim Thomas mentioned unloading cattle at Effner for water, feeding and resting as late as 1964. I've long wondered if TP&W was involved in the movement of South Texas steers from grazing areas in OK and/or KS to King Ranch's Buck & Doe Run Valley Farms in southeast Pennsylvania (ATSF-Lomax-TPW-Effner-PRR). Movement by rail apparently ended around that time.

Dave Durham posted twelve photos with the comment: "In the early 1900s, the Chicago Junction Ry. was busy with line elevation work; these pics from the 1905 Ill RR& Whse Comm report are awesome for their documentation of old Chicago...does ANY of this line remain?"
Steve Malachinski The Chicago Junction (CJ) now Norfolk Southern does exist in part. The tracks run from a connection at Ogden Jct. with the UP (CNW) Rockwell Sub. to CP518 which is the old 40th st jct with the old CWI. Not sure if any of the track which goes under the old CWI, Pennsylvania main lines is still in service.
Ned Carlson According to this page, most of the embankment (which was also used for the Kenwood L branch) is still there.
Matt McClure Yes; it is so odd to see the embankments and concrete all over the place with no rails.
David Daruszka I believe the tracks still run east from the old CJ yard as far as the wye at Root Street on Metra's Rock Island District. Beyond that the tracks (and bridge that carried then over the Rock) are gone.
yson Park Case Paper at 45th and Morgan in the former Stockyards area gets boxcars from NS on former CJ trackage and Vantage Oleochemicals gets quite a few tank cars at 47th and Racine, also off the former CJ and now served by NS in the former Stockyards. Ashland Cold Storage at 43rd and Ashland has an intact former CJ spur that still connects to the NS but it has not gotten a rail delivery in some time.












Chicago's Union Stockyards: 40 Years Since Closing

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