Monday, July 6, 2015

C&NW's Passenger Yard (Erie Street Yard)

(Update: Erie Street Yard was for servicing the locomotives and coaches used on the northern routes. C&NW had two other yards dedicated to passenger service: the California Yard for commuter and intercity coaches except for the "City" streamlines, which were served on the Streamliner Ramp. The locomotives were serviced at the 40th Street Ramp.)

It is fairly easy to determine where the freight yards were in Chicago because many of them still exist as intermodal yards. But it is a lot harder determining where the passenger yards were. I found a map that indicates C&NW's passenger yard was named Erie Street and Grand Avenue. Note that further south they had a couple of freight houses. And the widely spaced tracks down by Kinzie Street were team tracks.

Engineering Diagram from Chicago Switching

David Daruszka uploaded, p24

The 60622 Nostalgic posted
Looking southeast, toward Downtown Chicago from the southeast corner of Chicago & Halsted. Notice the C&NW railroad tracks before the construction of the Northwest (Kennedy) Expressway. This is a screenshot from the television series, M Squad. (1950's)

Bird's Eye View
The Chicago Tribune printing plant now uses most of the passenger yard land plus the land of three old industries. In particular, the building at the top has removed all traces of the roundhouse. The coach yard now appears to be a truck servicing facility.
Tom Rutkowski posted
5/8/18. Chicago Tribune building
Dennis DeBruler The Tribune planned to use ships for the newsprint delivery like they did at their former location. But they were denied the needed dredging operations because the sediment was so polluted it was decreed that it could not be disturbed. So there is now no need to maintain a location next to the river. C&NW supplied newsprint for the Sun Times printing plant. In fact that was the last customer on the line that used to go all the way to the end of the Navy Pier. But the former Tribune plant used ships for newsprint delivery. Maybe rail delivery in the Winter?Rob Bloxsom I don't know how much truth there is to that, because praire materials uses the same route for their barges...Dennis DeBruler Barges have a draft of 9 feet. The Tribune used St. Lawrence Seaway ships (salties), which have a draft of 25 feet or Lakers, which are even deeper.
[This is the same local that services Blommer Chocolate.]
Tom commented on this posting
AJ Grigg posted
The UP spur leading into the Chicago Tribune complex immediately north of the Ohio St Feeder.

Bird's Eye View
Also of note is that Erie Street used to have a bridge across the North Branch. You can see the remnants of the bridge abutments. Note the industrial spur through the parking lot to deliver the newsprint via rail. That is one advantage of replacing a rail yard with new buildings, you are close to tracks. The map above also implies that Halstead Street had a swing bridge as recently as 1959.
Eddie G Hoffmann posted
Also posted by Mark Llanuza
Update: Eddie's comment:
This C&NW publicity photo shows the Erie Street passenger car yard about 2 PM in the early 1950s. Halsted Street runs along the left of the photo. he auto is driving west on Erie Street. The Montgomery Ward catalog warehouse is the large building at the right of the photo. The bleakness is almost tangible.
Karen Operabuffa Most of the tracks are gone, now the site of the Tribune printing plant and parking lot.
Matt Tuteur the freight stayed active till about 2004.
James Connelly Halsted to the left and Chicago Ave. above nice.

Paul Petraitis shared Eddie's post with the comment: "Who built these cars? Pullman?"
David DaruszkaGroup Admin C&NW's commuter coaches were built by both Pullman Standard and American Car & Foundry. Some were older intercity passenger cars downgraded and modified for commuter operations. Some were built specifically for commuter service. The round topped cars were probably purpose built for commuter service, while the clerestory topped cars were probably through passenger cars. Those cars were often of wooden construction sheathed in steel.

David H. Nelson To add to David Daruszka's comments: The Pullman Fleet, before dispersal in 1948, was mostly sleepers and they *owned* them. Pretty much any other U.S. passenger train car type you've ever seen were usually owned by each railroad and they could have been built by anybody. So suburban coaches, baggage, RPO, diners, etc., may have been built by anybody, even if they looked much like a Pullman sleeper. 

The older the car was the longer the list of possible builders.

Post WWII the car builders were Pullman Standard, AC&F, and Budd and all three built all kinds of passenger cars, not just sleepers, and sold every one of them to somebody.

Mitch Markovitz The round roof cars, I believe but not certain, were built by Standard Car. David is correct with the content of his post.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Jeff Davies posted
The C&NW North and Northwest lines run south to north across the left of the photo. The northeast corner of where those lines cross over the intersection of Halsted and Erie Streets was called the "Erie Street Passenger car yard." The large yard at the center of the photo is today the location of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE printing plant. At the top left of the photo, one can make out the Milwaukee Road yard on Goose Island. The buildings at the right of the photo are the Montgomery Ward catalog warehouse and offices.
Year Unknown.
Photo courtesy of The Chicago and Northwestern Historical Society.
C&NW Historical Society posted
We are looking to the northwest from the end of the platforms of the C&NW Madison Street Station. The bridge in the foreground carries the CTA "Green" and "Pink" lines over the terminal throat. Check out the interior of the Lake Street C&NW tower seen at the right side of the CTA bridge in the following photo. What C&NW "400" streamliner is that? There is a lot of detail to be seen in this photo.
The link should be public so you can go to Facebook to view a high-res version of this photo. Notice that in the right middle are boxcars and freight houses and in the left background is the passenger coach yard.]
Chicago & North Western Historical Society posted
We think that this may be a scene from the Erie Street coach yard in Chicago. Erie street had both passenger car storage and freight car facilities there. Note the locomotive on the viaduct. There seems to be a bit of trouble there. The "tower" at the far left of the photo looks like one which was near the Chicago terminal. Any helpful guesses out there? There is no data at all on the back of this 3X5 size photo.
Don Walsh Looks like the locomotive may have derailed and the cranes are re-railing it. The men in the foreground are loading blocks of ice into early refrigerated box cars to keep the commodities cool during shipping.
Mark Ratzer I believe that's Clinton Street tower on the left - too far south for Erie Street coach yard.
David Daruszka comment
The coach yard tracks extended as far south as Kinzie Street. Here is a Sanborn map of the area. The Cold Storage building was further south than the area in this picture.Jerry Cramer East end of Grand Ave. yard.Patrick McNamara The tracks behind Clinton Street Tower were the Kinzie Street Team tracks.Chicago & North Western Historical Society Thank you everybody for the ID. It sure is nice to have such great group of rail fans to help with the IDs of these photos!
David provided three photos as comments to a posting by Wayne Hudak.


From another posting of this photo: Patrick McNamara The photographer, Mario Scacheri, is taking the photo (in 1930) from the Chicago Avenue Bridge. The bridge in the middle ground is the Erie Street Bridge, and the second from the camera is the Grand Avenue Bridge. 
Stephen Karlson Testimony to the productivity of the gallery cars. 
John van Loon C&NW commuter coach tops indeed.
From Jeff Bransky comment on another posting about the Chicago Avenue Bridge:
If you could look north and south from this vantage point, back in 1918, you would see very large railroad yards. This was the view looking south. Actual date of this photo is more recent because the Civic Opera Building, Merchandise Mart, and Board of Trade are visible.
Michael-Paul Mandile Where is this exactly?
Jeff Bransky Michael-Paul Mandile Immediately south of Chicago Avenue and just east of Halsted looking south. Actually looking SSE.
David Daruszka This was the C&NW's Erie Street coach yard that serviced coaches and locomotives used in commuter service.
Arsenio Oloroso The Chicago region's freight yard system was (is) arguably the largest in the U..S. as befits the city's role as a key transportation hub. As part of the Galena Division of the C&NW we didn't do long hauls, which was what the Wisconsin Division did, but transferred freight trains from one yard to another in the Chicago area, where other railroads would collect them for other destinations.

David Daruszka posted
A photo from the LIFE magazine archives of the roundhouse at the C&NW Erie Street coach yard. Quite a menagerie of motive power.
Patrick McNamara commented on the above posting
The white buildings along the river in the background are, of course, Montgomery Wards. Here's where the turntable was.....

David Daruszka posted
Every day is a throwback day on Chicago Railroad Historians. But it's Thursday, so in the spirit of TBT we have a photo of a C&NW suburban locomotive at the Erie Street Coach Yard circa 1950's. Photograph from Chuckman's Chicago Postcard Collection.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
The concrete structure above the engine caught my eye. By the shadow on the left side of this aerial, we can see there is a standard coaling tower. But it does appear there may be something north of that tower. I found a photo of the area, but it is after the Erie Yard property was sold and commuter operations were moved to the California Yard.

David's comment on the above posting
The coaling tower spans three tracks. The rest of the shadow is a conveyor to move the coal across the tracks from where they dumped it for loading.
Excerpt from Patrick's photo above
Dave's map and this photo confirm my original thought: they built a new coaling tower that was fed from the old coaling tower. Looking closer at the original photo of the steam locomotive, you can see the end of a coaling chute just to the right of the escaping steam.
Lou Gerard posted five photos with the comment: "C&NW scenes at Chicago Ave. roundhouse at Chicago and Halsted in the 1950's by my Dad."


Strauss Mike Is that Western Ave?

Dennis DeBruler commented on the third photo
Halsted Street

The third photo posted by BRHS
That is probably Wells Street Station in the center background. So this would be an early 20th Century photo of C&NW's Erie Yard. Those locomotives would be for commuter service. My reason for the age is because the coaling tower looks like it is still made with wood and the locomotives strike me as small even for commuter service.

Michael Riha shared the Grève des trains - USA - 1946. album. David Daruszka identified the first 20 photos as being taken at Erie Street Yard except for the second and third which were at the La Salle Street Station.


David Daruszka New York Central Niagara type locomotive at LaSalle Street. The Chicago Board of Trade building is in the background.
[This is the first time I have noticed a smokestack in this area.]

David Daruszka The 6012 was a Niagara type locomotive (4-8-4) and one of 24 built by the American Locomotive Works and delivered to the NYC in 1945-46.

Ray Weart The E [the little E under the number] means it's a [C&NW] Class E Pacific.

David Daruszka The gasometer in the distance was still there when I started working at the C&NW in the mid-70's.
[The clam-shell cranes in the background are probably in the material handling yard that is the predecesor of the Prairie Yard #32 that supported the Big Pour for the Trump Tower.]

David Daruszka updated
Michael Bose Keith Folk and Bob Mucci, that is a People's Gas Light and Coke "Gas Meter" in the background, used for storage of manufactured gas (from coal) and to maintain an even pressure in the delivery mains, much like an accumulator in a hydraulic circuit or a capacitor in an electrical circuit.
Michael Bose Bob Mucci, well into the '70s, some into the mid '80s. And the tragic destruction of nearly a neighborhood on the near northwest side in the '90s is evidence that they should still have been in use then, and perhaps even now. The "meter" part of the name does refer to the ability of the storage tank to act as an accumulator or pressure regulator, and Nicor found them quite useful until the softball sized in-line regulator was developed in the mid '80s. They seemed to work okay at first, and freed up the property the meters took up, but in reality, which hit home(s), the device couldn't handle the full line volume of flow and still reduce the delivery pressure. They still can't; the gas company's solution was to just install a lot more of them. Another disaster awaits!

David Daruszka C&NW Erie Street Yard. Suburban locomotives coaled and ready for rush hour service.
[The dome just to the right of the coaling tower is probably the Saint John Cantius Church. Prairie Yard #32 has expanded onto this C&NW land.]

[With this angle we see a bin that has the lettering MATERIAL SERVICE CORPORATION on the side.]

[I've been noticing the gantry crane in several shots. We get a good view of it in this shot. Note that it has a clamshell hanging from it. So do they go directly from coal car to tender while other tenders are being filled under the coaling tower chutes?]

Greg Whitehead I can remember my grandfather that engineered for the L&N Railroad had a bag like that. He called it his grip. He always carried a change of clothes and a carton of cigarettes.
Don Wirth And an employees timetable and book of rules.
David Daruszka I carried a grip as well, but there wasn't much room in it after the rules books and timetable.

Dennis DeBruler I assume the pillars are for the coaling tower. That looks like an interlocking tower on the left. Judging from the chimney and height, there may be one on the right side of the photo as well.

David Daruszka It may have been the yard office, they were often two stories to allow a view of the yard. The only tower I was aware of was at Sangamon Street that controlled the interlocking for the yard and the Wisconsin Division mainline.

Dennis DeBruler And the top story of a yard office would have many windows like an interlocking tower for the same reason --- so the occupants could see what was happening on the tracks.


Dennis DeBruler So not all of the coaches were kept at the California Yard.

Doug Smith California Avenue was for intercity passenger trains at that time. There was also a facility at 40th Street yard for the "City" streamliners (now known as the old ramp).

Dennis DeBruler Grand Avenue Bridge has the west leaf partially up.

David Daruszka C&NW Pacific type (4-6-2) at the Erie Street Yard.
[Another view of the approach viaduct to the Grand Avenue Bridge.]

Dennis DeBruler It looks like the tower can serve at least two tracks on the inside and one track on each side. So it can fill at least four tenders at the same time.

David Daruszka C&NW's Erie Street Yard looking south towards Chicago's downtown. The hopper cars loaded with coal that will be used to fuel the commuter locomotive fleet.
Dennis DeBruler And the best view I have seen of the Grand Avenue Bridge approach viaduct:

Bruce Smith Single sheathed PRR X23 with a replacement round roof, making it class X23B.
[I believe Bruce is talking about the outside braced boxcar. I had noticed it, but did not know the details that Bruce provided.]

David Daruszka Roundhouse and turntable at C&NW's Erie Street Yard. The Montgomery Ward catalog warehouse is in the background.

David Daruszka Locomotives were moved on the turntable to move into the roundhouse boiler first to spot them under the "smoke jacks" that allowed the exhaust to vent from the roundhouse. The locomotives were placed on the turntable to direct them to the proper stall and to orient them in the opposite direction for purposes of operating the train.Dennis DeBruler The smoke jacks were placed near the outside wall so that they could be parked boiler first to maximize the room around the most maintenance prone part of the locomotive.

David Daruszka Steam locomotive required constant servicing which included lubrication and inspection of the many moving parts. Roundhouses performed "light" daily servicing.
Mike Lehman damn thats big
David Daruszka That was just the roundhouse for the suburban engines. There were two huge roundhouses at 40th Street for the Wisconsin and Illinois Division freight engines.
Dennis DeBruler There were three at 40th Street Ramp --- two for Wisconsin and one for Illinois: Although only two of them were a full 360-degrees. And Proviso had a roundhouse.
David Daruszka commented on photo 18
The roundhouse in its final days

Harvey Kahler Quite a few E-1 light Pacifics. Some tenders with headlights for running backward. I remember the tender light shining through the open vestibule door of an Elmhurst scoot on a below-zero night after returning from Wisconsin on a decidedly more comfortable train.
Dennis DeBruler This is the first time I've seen a roundhouse with such a short radius that all of the rails overlap at the turntable. At least those frogs don't get pounded by high speed trains.
Don Wirth They were more common than you think.

Leonard F. Shaner Jr. posted
Chicago & North Western 4-6-2 no. 514 rides the turntable at the Erie Street Yard engine terminal in Chicago in 1952. Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey

Dennis DeBruler commented on Mike's post
Looking at the west end of the Navy Pier Line raised the question: how did the commuter trains get from the grade-level Erie Yard to the elevated tracks that go to the CPT? It looks like they went West to the Wisconsin Division and then backed into the station. That explains why Erie Yard handled the commuter trains for the Wisconsin Division and the California Yard handled them for the Illinois Division.

Update: around 4:34 in this video you can see the spur that used to go down to Erie Yard and that still goes down to the Tribune's Freedom Center printing plant.
Dennis DeBruler shared
Looking Southeast over C&NW's Erie Street Coach Yard. The truss viaducts are Erie Street, Grand Avenue and Kinzie Street.
Paul Hieber Is that Merchandise Mart on the left and Board of Trade second right?
David Daruszka Yes to both.
Dennis DeBruler commented on his post
1929 Chicago Loop Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
Dennis DeBruler commented on his post,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
Dennis DeBruler commented on his post
In this closeup, I put a yellow rectangle around the superstructure of the now "always up" C&NW RR bridge that we can see over the top of the Kinzie Street Bridge. And I made a blue rectangle around the Milwaukee bobtail bridge that was between Kinzie and Grand.

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