Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Canal Street (Canalport) and 35th Street Yards

I totally rewrote this on 2/26/2017 because I got some answers to the questions I had in the first version from Facebook comments in the postings referenced below.

Originally, this yard was the team tracks for C&WI's owners.

Since the UP/C&WI and NS/Pennsy tracks are elevated, you can't get a shot of the tracks from a crossing. But when my daughter was driving me around Chicago so that I could take pictures of bridges, we took the ramp from I-94 North to I-55 West, and that ramp goes over the tracks. In the background is the south tower of the Canal Street RR Bridge. The 21st Street Crossing is just this side of that bridge. That crossing used to have five C&WI tracks crossing Santa Fe, IC, and Pennsy tracks as they curved eastward towards Dearborn Station. Now it is just a turnout from the tracks across the bridge to a single track. (The two tracks that continue south switch from Amtrak to Metra ownership at the 21st Street Crossing and NS handles the freight on this route.) That track fans out at 23rd St. into a handful of tracks, some of which  run all the way south of 40th Street. This used to be an intermodal yard for UP via MoPac trackage rights over CB&Q. After UP built Global 4, UP uses it as storage for Global 1.

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C&EI used the C&WI yards at Canal and 35th Streets. UP and CSX got 50/50 ownership of the C&EI main stem and the C&WI north of Dolton Junction. (Metra actually owns the C&WI assets between 21 St. Crossing and 75th Street, but it lets the freight railroads handle the freight business along this stretch.) One of the trades UP and CSX have made is that UP got ownership of these two yards in exchange for CSX making heavier use of the former C&EI route between Dolton and Woodland Junction where the CSX/SDB/L&N/eastern branch of C&EI separates from the UP/MoPac/western branch of C&EI. A comment by Mark Hinsdale indicates the usage south of Dolton is currently 60%. That number will probably go up if CSX completes its plans to build a big intermodal and industrial park near Crete, IL.

Now that we have established that the maps that show CSX shares ownership of these two yards are wrong, lets look at them in more detail. My pictures above and a satellite image shows that they use the space from 23rd to 26th Streets for container and empty trailer storage. The part between 26th and 29th Streets contains the loading platforms.
They have a couple of MI-JACK container gantry cranes. A satellite image indicates that 35th Street Yard is used to store empties.

Even though they opened Global One in 1984, Bill Mallon commented "Believe it or not it's still running intermodal trains in and out of there. That yard has been shutting down since 1988. Lol. Still running, small but strong."

Mark Hinsdale posted
"From the Tower..."
Taken from the "steps," @ MH, westbound Amtrak Train #3, the "Southwest Chief," begins its trek to Southern California, as UP #1938 patiently waits for a signal to cross over the BNSF Chicago Subdivision and return to Global One at Wood Street.
Mark Hinsdale Canal Street still receives and launches two intermodal trains in & out most days. Bare tables typically go back and forth between there & Global One, and this UP crew is returning to Wood Street after doing just that a bit earlier.
Mark Hinsdale posted
A pair of Union Pacific road units head light toward the railroad's Canal Street Intermodal Facility in the day;s last sunlight.
Darren K Hill I used to work in and out of Canal Street,what's left,car storage?

Mark Hinsdale No, they still take in and launch a couple of daily stackers outta there.
Andrew Urbanski posted
Anyone know what this engine is?
A friend of mine shot this outside US Cellular Field.
Conversion of a big yard to intermodal (Global 2) or greenfield yards such as Global 3 and Global 4 have long (3,000 feet) loading ramps so that the road engines can quickly disassemble or assemble a train themselves. Because the loading ramps at Canalport are just 500 feet, they use the contractor Intermodal Services of America (used to be Omnitrax) to switch the little cuts between the long holding tracks and the short container loading tracks. The contractor leases the locomotives from TransGlobal (ECRX, Econo-Rail Corporation).

Bill Mallon commented on Andrew Urbanski's posting
Dillon Harrison commented on Andrew Urbanski's posting

Steven J Brown posted
Southern Pacific run through on the Burlington Northern Racetrack at LaGrange, Illinois - November 25, 1991.
Dennis DeBruler Was SP headed to Canalport? That used to be C&WI's team tracks for all of its owners. So it should have been rather easy to change it to an intermodal yard.
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Xavier Quintana posted
This is a photo of the 24th Street viaduct under this yard. Please follow the "posted" link in the caption for more pictures. I think of these viaducts under wide railroad yards as "urban tunnels." I used a Bird's Eye View rotated at 90-degrees to verify that not only does 24th have a viaduct under this yard, but so do 23rd and 24th Place.
As a measure of yard activity, I take a snapshot of the locomotives in the yard and what they are doing.

UP locomotives over 23rd St. heading a cut of deep-well empties that stretched to 33rd St.
TransGlobal locomotives south of 24th. with empties. The train started with a cut of piggyback cars that stretches to almost 33rd followed by a cut of deep-well cars that goes a little south of 38th followed by shorter cuts of piggybacks and deep-well cars that stretch to 40th.
There were a couple of cuts of loaded cars down by Guaranteed Rate Field.

A TransGlobal locomotive all by itself on a storage track south of 38th. That storage track also had some MoW equipment.

The tracks in the 35th St. Yard were rather full, mainly with empty cars.

Bill DeMar posted
Grillin some burgers and watching some containers being unloaded at UP's Canal street yard today.
Dillon Harrison Didn't realize they were still doing lifts at Canal. Last time I was there, The place looked Mothballed.
Bill DeMar Not like it use to be , but still working out of the yard portion (29th street to Archer Ave) . This is a long stretch just south of that .
Jerry Hongoltz Mi-Jack overhead crane.
Colton Michael David Verzi Only empties getting grounded there.
Kevin Piper posted
Some of the best years in my life were those I spent in Chicago working at Canal Street. The job was just plain fun almost every day. I actually worked for Chicago Rail Link who provided contract switching for Union Pacific around the clock. A big reason the job I had at Canal Street was so good is the fact that there was no railroad supervision. We were our own bosses and knew our jobs very well. We knew exactly what UP needed every day, and worked hard to make things work smoothly. We also knew about all intermodal equipment capabilities, and were able to quickly respond to the varied needs on the loading tracks. We were innovative and effecient. I had a lot of pride in the operation.
We made up hot intermodal trains and handled inbounds. We had the CSNPZ, CSSEZ, and CSLAZ, as well as others. We made trains up with our own switch engines, and completed with UP road power after it arrived from Proviso with an outbound crew. Over the years, road power went from C&NW GP50's and SD40-2's to the latest UP widecab EMD and GE units, along with everything in between. Outbound crews alternated between C&NW long-distance road people and Chicago terminal men. I got to know almost all the outbound people who took trains from "Canalport" because they rode on the power as I put their trains together. CRL provided all support work prior to departure, including hanging of an end of train device (EOT) and the air test.
The C&NW folks were often colorful and interesting. For the most part, they were respectful and fun to be around, and many of us were on a first name basis. Mayno D. Smith, known simply as "M.D." was one of those people. M.D. was a C&NW terminal brakeman who always came to Canal Street with conductor "Kingfish" Turner, and engineer Jewell Daniel. There was never a dull moment when those three arrived, but M.D. stole the show. The first order of business was M.D. asking, "We got time foe a sammich?" The crew would then slide down a 15 foot embankment and climb under a fence to get food at nearby Maxwell Street Depot. M.D. always played the EOT's four-digit code for his Illinois daily "Pick Four" lottery ticket, and he actually won $10,000 twice using that method! So, the train's EOT code was always very important to him! While waiting, one of the brakeman's duties was to climb down from the engine and get the train's waybills from a UP supervisor when they arrived. M.D. was too lazy to climb down, and always made someone else in the cab do it. There was a very attractive UP clerk named Norma who worked in the Canal Street office. Old M.D. was infatuated with Norma and talked about her a lot. I often bullshitted smiling M.D. by telling him that Norma had been asking how he was, and wanted to say hello. One day I tricked M.D. into climbing down to get the bills by telling him Norma was bringing them over. M.D. quickly cleaned up his appearance and climbed down only to find UP ramp boss "Lenny" behind the wheel of a white Suburban with the waybills. Disgusted, M.D. climbed back in the cab, threw down a big yellow envelope, and said, "Sheeet, that ain't Nomma!" "Eat your sammich", I replied. Those guys were fun.


A 1998 photo showing C&NW painted locos with a piggyback train under the I-90 overpass

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