Mark Llanuza posted two photos with the comment: "its the 2006 in St Charles riding on the former CGW line with famous Radio Rex Hauser going across the Fox River and switching General Mills."
It appears there were two General Mills plants near St. Charles. Tom Burke's 2007 Flick photo allowed me to find the one in St. Charles because he says "Olcott Plastics now occupies the former General Mills building but the tracks were ripped out several years ago." This 37-year old plant closed in 2002. It was a food products plant that produced "more than 200 types of food including cereal and single-pack food items for the military, schools, airlines, prisons and restaurants. The announcement comes nine months after General Mills completed its $10.4 million buyout of Pillsbury, which a spokeswoman said has caused excess capacity in the company's production system." [NWItimes]
Global Earth goes back to Mar 1996 in this area. Randall Road is on the left, IL-64 is at the bottom, and Dean Street slants across near the top. (Satellite) I include the buildings in the upper-right corner because they were the only ones that existed out here in 1939. You can see the industrial spur that curves south just east of Randall Road.
|Global Earth, Mar 1996|
|Global Earth, Mar 1999|
|Global Earth, Apr 2005|
|1939 Aerial Photo|
While looking for the St. Charles General Mills plant, I found another General Mills plant in West Chicago. This is along the remnant of Chicago, Burlington & Quincy's original mainline from Aurora to the Galena & Chicago Union tracks, which it used to access Chicago. (G&CU became the C&NW, and it is now the UP. CB&Q built its own route to Chicago during the Civil War.) This 1959 plant was closed in 2017 affecting 500 employees. It produced "three major lines for the Minneapolis-based company, including Bugles snacks, General Mills cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Hamburger Helper products....The food manufacturer, which has been up against shifting consumer tastes that are moving away from packaged, processed foods, has been trying to make changes to keep up with the times. It has eliminated some artificial colors from its cereals and reduced sugar in its yogurts. Amid sluggish sales last year, the company laid off about 1,400 employees....The company has already announced plans to close facilities in Lodi, Calif., New Albany, Ind., Midland, Ontario, and Methuen, Mass." [ChicagoTribune and IllinoisPolicy]
BNSF does still run a local freight train on this branch. While I was taking photos of the former CB&Q roundhouse in Aurora, I heard the horn of a local leaving Eola Yard and heading north on this branch. But I was not familiar enough with the roads in the Fox River area to attempt to chase it. On a later trip to take photos of dams on the Fox River, I stopped at a gas station across the road from the branch and asked the attendant if trains still run on it. He said once a day during the week.
[Note that his image is old enought that there are several freight cars parked in the small yard by the plant.]