Monday, October 23, 2017

BRC: Belt Railway Company of Chicago

(Shortlines)  (source)
Dennis DeBruler I've noticed that their herald is still on their bridge over I-290,!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEzO5O...
Paul Schlichting Because that is there main line that connect to the CPRS (former MILW)

20140906 0114 view from the west side of Cicero Ave. Bridge
The Belt Railway Company of Chicago is the largest intermediate switching terminal railroad in the United States. It interchanges with every railroad serving the Chicago rail hub and serves about 100 industries. It has 28 miles of mainline track and more than 300 miles of switching tracks. Their main yard, Clearing Yard, already has its own post. Their web site has a nice introduction and history and a timeline.

The BRC charter railroads in 1882 have some names I have never heard of -- the Louisville, New Albany & Chicago Railway, Chicago & Atlantic Railway, Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad, Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway, and Chicago & Grand Trunk Railway. So the todo list now includes determining into which railroads these evolved. The railroads that joined in 1910 are much more familiar -- the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, Illinois Central Railroad, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad, and Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The Pere Marquette Railway joined in 1924. Due to mergers and the bankruptcy of the Rock Island, today's owners are BNSF, CN, CP, CSXT, NS, and UP.

Dennis DeBruler commented on a post
The C&WI was charted in 1879 by John B. Brown as the first terminal line in Chicago. Originally the C&WI focused on passenger service to Dearborn. But in 1881 Brown charted the "Belt Division, C&WI." And the passenger oriented part of the C&WI became the "Terminal Division, C&WI." A new belt route that went West along the Wabash right-of-way and then North a few blocks east of Cicero Ave. was completed in Aug, 1883. During this construction on Nov 22, 1881, the "Belt Division, C&WI" became the "Belt Railway Company of Chicago." BRC also built routes to, and along, the Calumet River.
Meanwhile, A.B. Stickney created the Chicago Union Transfer Railway in 1889 as Chicago's primary classification yard that would be used by all the belt lines, and thus all of the Chicago railroads. It was a large loop of tracks in which railroads would be assigned radial tracks. (See attached image.) A train could then efficiently go around the loop dropping off and picking up cars from several different railroads. But what got built by 1902 was a hump yard, one of the first of its type. But the line-haul railroads did not want to pay extra to have their cars classified so the yard closed after just a month. However, as congestion in Chicago grew, nine (another source says seven) railroads joined the original five owners in 1912 and bought into ownership of the BRC as part of the Belt Operating Agreement. This new ownership also acquired the Clearing Yard of the Chicago Union Transfer Railway. The agreement was successful enough that the capacity of the yard was increased from 5,000 cars/day in 1902 to 10,000 cars/day in 1914. And the branch that left Clearing on the west end and U-turned to head East along the north side of the yard to its mainline was built. (This was the route that used to go through the middle of what became Midway Airport. That route has obviously since been moved north of the airport.)
Because of mergers and the general decline of carload freight after the Interstate highway system was built, Clearing was practically empty by 1990. But new management revived it. Now, many of the Chicago railroads have converted their major classification yards to intermodal yards and their merchandise trains go directly to Clearing or IHB's Blue Island. Now BRC "is the largest intermediate switching terminal railroad in the United States." So Stickney's vision was more than a century ahead of its time.
David Daruszka posted the image for Stickney's circular plan.

The map on this page shows both divisions.

1889 Chicago Quadrangle @ 1:62,500

ChicagoRailFan has more details including a list of mileposts, a track diagram, and links to interlocking towers and track elevation ordinances.

BBC Show Announcement (source)
BRC's photo gallery has steam locomotives and maps as well as pictures of their current locomotives.

The photo gallery also has a more detailed map with mile posts and street names on the sides. But that map is dated because it still shows Conrail tracks.

Brian Morgan comment in Ed's posting
[I wish the text was readable. I saved it because some of the trackage right lines were new to me.]

David Daruszka enhanced a map posted by Bill Molony
This map of The Belt Railway of Chicago is from their 2000 annual report.

post that has so much information I saved it in a raw format as two screenshots.


No comments:

Post a Comment