Friday, June 8, 2018

Lost/ComEd Calumet Generation Station

(Satellite)
Opened 1921 [ChicagoRailfan]
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
[Note the two ships parked in the Calumet River]
While discussing 100th Street Yards in a posting, Rod Truszkowski commented: "The yard East of commercial is the 100th st yard it was the yard that serviced rail to water, general mills and the commonwealth Edison plant plus a few other industries." Rod provided the following 1915 map and explained that ComEd built their plant where the ice pond was. (The ice pond was for harvesting ice in the winter.) Looking at a satellite image, ComEd still owns the land and uses it for a switchyard.

Rod Truszkowski commented on a posting
Rod Sellers posted
View from the Skyway by Daily Calumet photographer, June 5 1974


Railfan explained that these plants transmitted the electricity at 12,000 volts. That would explain why ComEd had so many plants at the beginning of the 20th Century. That voltage is so low that today it is used in the power lines behind people's houses. Fortunately, Chicago had plenty of railroads (for coal) and river branches (for cooling water) to facilitate the construction of plants throughout the city. Since then transmission voltages have increased so that ComEd could build big power plants, including nuclear, out in the boonies and bring the power into the city. Over the decades, transmission voltages have increased to a max of one million volts. ComEd uses transmission lines up to 765,000 volts.. There are still railroad right-of-ways in the area along which ComEd built the transmission lines.

While looking for the transmission lines that supply the switch yard, I noticed that someone built a peaking plant east of a gas company and north of ComEd's switchyard. Since this plant would use natural gas fired turbines to make electricity, that location is ideal. And this is still a heavy industry area, which mitigates the issue of noise. A gas turbine is basically a jet engine.



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