Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CB&Q's 1860s Industrial Park

1897
When Chicago, Burlington & Quincy built their own rail access from Aurora to Chicago during 1862-64, it worked with the South Branch Dock Company to also build a 75-acre industrial park along the north side of the South Branch of the Chicago River. The South Branch Dock Co. started digging the slips in 1859. That start before the Civil War and the pressure from Chicago & NorthWestern to get CB&Q trains off their tracks is probably why CB&Q did construction during the war. (Chicago: America's Railroad Capital: The Illustrated History, 1836 to Today, Chicago: A Biography) The 1897 map clearly shows the slips built by the South Branch Dock and the spurs built by CB&Q. Burlington agreed to provide access from all of the other railroads in Chicago.

Note that the navigable portion of the South Branch ended east of Western Avenue because the Sanitary and Ship Canal was still being built in 1897.

1897 plus paint
I studied the Nov. 29, 1938 aerial photo to determine which slips still existed in 1938.   My interpretation of the photo is that slips B, E, F, J, and K where filled in by 1938. The land use has changed from lumber yards and grain elevators to heavy industry and railroad yards.

To determine which slips are left today, I first compared Bing's Bird's Eye View with Google's satellite images. They agree. Most of H and about half of D, G and "I" still exist. The only heavy industry that is left is the Fisk Generating plant west of slip D, and that is closed and scheduled to be torn down to make room for a servicing facility of CTA's buses. Note that the Chicago International Produce Market was built on top of slips L and M.

The following 1915 maps cover South Branch Dock Company's slips. I notice that the South Branch west of where the Sanitary and Ship Canal starts has not been filled in yet.

pdf copy from 1915 Smoke Abatement Report, p. 348
pdf copy from 1915 Smoke Abatement Report, p. 349
Bird's Eye View
Each of the slips is a named canal. The "Power House" west of Mason's Canal (slip D above) would be the Fisk Generating Plant. It is the only heavy industry left in this industrial park. Soon the gentrification of this industrial park into warehouses and service buildings will be complete because it is supposed to be torn down for a CTA bus service facility.

Update: Steve Malachinski posted:
Building off the success of the elevated 606 trail, the City of Chicago has announced plans for a new at-grade recreational trail coming to the abandoned BNSF railroad route between the city’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. While the findings of an initial feasibility study were presented to the community by the Chicago Department of Transportation on Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially announced the project on Sunday morning. Dubbed the "Paseo," the biking and walking path will ultimately extend 4 miles across the lower west side. Work will soon begin on the first phase of the project which follows Sangamon between 16th and 21st Streets. Future phases will extend southwestward to 32nd Street and Central Park Avenue and may see construction begin as early as this fall.
Satellite
Edward Kwiatkowski posted a 2008 Flickr photo showing a Central Illinois engine crossing Pauline Street. Note that Central Illinois used a CB&Q inspired paint scheme. Not only can you see tracks in a recent satellite image, you can see a cut of cars parked on the west side of the street. (Streetside)

Satellite
From comments in a posting, I learned this industrial spur is still active:

Franklin Campbell The Illinois Northern did cross the CJ tracks at Western and connect to the CB&Q tracks. They had a few customers there along with their roundhouse I believe. I think the diamond connecting the lines was pulled up around the time of the BNSF Merger. Domino Sugar and a warehouse along 26th and western were served from the Lumber District side from then til now.

I am happy to say that it doesn't look like the section atleast west of Loomis will be going anywhere anytime soon. BNSF just rebuilt the spur that ran south along Paulina into the scrapyard along the river. The scrapyard hadn't recieved rail service in some time, but they have 3 gondolas sitting along the river now awaiting loading. Domino Sugar still gets cars too.


Steve Malachinski Recently talked to a BN trainmaster and they just got some NEW business along that line.

Franklin Campbell Yeah I heard the same thing! According to Security at the Scrapyard on Paulina, a new warehouse is being built just Northwest of the scrapyard. They are supposed to get a spur branching west from the street trackage on Paulina which still looks to be under construction as it is still fenced off.

Edward Kwiatkowski posted a 2008 Flickr photo of the Central Illinois crossing Cermak Road.

Satellite
A lot has changed in this industrial area since 2008, but my guess is that the turnout in another Flickr photo by Ed of a Central Illinois engine is this one by Wood Street.
Satellite
As an example of the change, note that this building still has a curve because an industrial lead went pass it to turn south to industries along the canal.

Ed has a Flickr photo from 1983 when BN was still switching the spur along Pauline Street. A comment indicates the engine is a SW7.

1 comment:

  1. Industrial parks can do spectacular things. They are really a good place of investment and memories.

    ReplyDelete