Friday, February 24, 2017

B&O Passenger Access to Chicago (Brookdale Spur)

1897 Map
B&O did not extend its railroad to Chicago until 1874. It joined the railroad corridor around Lake Michigan that also had Pennsylvania and New York Central, crossed the Calumet River, then turned north and then northwest until it met the Illinois Central (IC) at 71st Street. It used IC's track and station to access the Chicago passenger market. The map shows this B&O branch from the Calumet River crossing to the IC. (It also shows that IC itself had a branch through Southwest Chicago.) [ForgottenChicago]  Scott Griffith and Bob Lalich provided some details of the industry around 71st. You can still see a diagonal land scar southwest of 71st St. and Dorchester Ave.

Michigan Central (MC) was not happy with an eastern competitor joining IC and MC at the Illinois Central stations. (IC had more than one station in the 1800s as it kept outgrowing the last one it built.) So when IC elevated its tracks around the turn of the 19th Century, the B&O did not build a connecting ramp. Instead, they took advantage of the financial difficulties of the Chicago area properties built and acquired by the president of the Northern Pacific including Grand Central Station to form the B&O Chicago Terminal (C&OCT) Railroad in 1910.
1897 Map
The B&O passenger trains used the Rock Island to go west from its original mainline just west of the Calumet River crossing to a spur it built along the PRR's Panhandle right-of-way (RoW) between the Rock Island's western end and its own mainline at Forest Hill Station. Both the Panhandle and this spur are now abandoned. But it ran along the eastern edge of what is now Dan Ryan Woods. The passenger trains then used the B&OCT to go north to about Ogden Avenue and then turned east to go across the South Branch to the Grand Central Station.

Brandon McShane provided more history of their early depot usage in a comment on a posting:
B&O used a portion of the Inter-State Exposition Building, roughly on the site of the Art Institute, as its Chicago terminal until IC's track elevation through Hyde Park and Woodlawn broke the connection at Brookdale. The first B&O passenger trains called on Grand Central Station on Decembr 1, 1891.
The Brookdale Spur served as an industrial spur until the 1970s. Forgotten Chicago documents the industries served and how the RoW has been reused.

While studying the 1897 Map, I noticed that this spur allowed the B&O, as well as the IC, to directly serve the 1893 Columbia Exhibition.

1897 Map

Update: see photos of the 76th Street Depot.

A photo of the IC south Branch crossing the Brookdale branch at Commercial and 83rd. In the comments I discuss this as evidence of the track density that used to be in Chicago. Thus the label "just horses".

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