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.) In 1883, the B&O built their own lakefront station.

Then the B&O joined the effort to build the Grand Central Station and moved their passenger trains to it on Dec 1, 1891. [Brandon McShane comment on a post]
The Illinois Central was probably relieved to have the B&O traffic off of their tracks to free up capacity for servicing the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition.

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 the Wisconsin Central branch at Forest Hill Station. This spur was built by the B&O Connecting RR. [Bob Lalich comment on a post] 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 Wisconsin Central to go north to about Ogden Avenue and then turned east to go across the South Branch to the Grand Central Station.

So when IC elevated its tracks around the turn of the 19th Century, the B&O did not build a connecting ramp. In 1910, the B&O took advantage of the financial difficulties of  Wisconsin Central and its financial backer, Northern Pacific, and acquired their Chicago properties, including Grand Central Station, to form the B&O Chicago Terminal (B&OCT) Railroad.

The Brookdale Spur served as an industrial spur until the 1970s. Forgotten Chicago documents the industries served and how the RoW has been reused.
108.  B&O Industrial Tracks 71st Street Grade
[109 is Carpenter Coal - Woodlawn Fuel Co.
110. Team Tracks
112 Freight Connection IC Main Line]

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

1897 Map

David Daruszka posted
Track elevation at 69th Street on the Illinois Central. The station sign says "Brookdale", which is the present day location of one of the substations for the Metra Electric. Brookdale was also the connection point between the B&O and IC. David R. Phillips Collection. The date on the photo is not legible.
Lawrence Smith read somewhere that when the Ic elevated, the BO connection at Brookdale ceased to exist and the BO adopted their circuitous route via south Chicago/Beverly etc. turning W at RI Jct.
Bob Lalich The B&O diverted their trains to Grand Central via the Chicago & Calumet Terminal in 1891. The IC was elevated at Brookdale shortly after 1900.
David Daruszka I was told that David R. Phillips rescued many glass plate negatives from the demolition of Central Station where they were stored. This print may be from one of them, possibly a contact print off an 8X10 negative.

Bob Lalich commented on a post
Photos of trains on the Brookdale line are hard to find. Here is one of an eastbound local crossing the IC South Chicago Branch near 83rd St. Photo by James Burd.

Marty Mroczkowski commented on a post
This is a picture taken from my back porch at 81st & Saginaw. This train was affectionately known by everyone in the neighborhood as "The One-A-Day"

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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