Sunday, November 8, 2015

GTW's Elsdon Yard, Roundhouse and Coaling Tower

1939 Aerial Photo from IHLAP
Ed's Flickr photo and information provided me the clues I needed to find Grand Trunk Western's roundhouse in their Elsdon yard. I also included the industries north of the yard, many of which were served by a railroad.

Looking at a contemporary image, the industrial area still contains industry, but none of it is rail served. Although the corners of some of the buildings are still rounded where sidings used to curve into the area. Also notice that the track from the BNSF/Santa Fe on the north to the CSX/CN/GTW on the south has been removed to remove the maintenance headache of a diamond with the east/west track through this area. The east/west track is BRC on the west and was IHB on the right. The B&OCT Map indicates the IHB part has been abandoned.

1939 Aerial Photo from IHLAP
This 1939 aerial photo is the north/south part of the Elsdon Yard.

Update: Facebook posting of the employee's hotel.

Marty Bernard shared
Grand Trunk Western F3 9027 and GP9 4909, Elsdon Yard,
Chicago, IL, January 1965. A Roger Puta photo.

Michael Buckley I think this yard was south of Santa Fe Corwith yd .
We Deleverd a train and had a train out of there .
They had very small tks maybe 15/20 cars on a track .
They were all close clearance and on curves . Pain in butt to deliver to .
When you picked up train could never get out !

Marty shared again
1915, p 375

Note the coaling tower on the left side.
BRHS posted
Grand Trunk Western class U-4-b 4-8-4 Northern #6410 at the Elsdon Roundhouse in Chicago on April 15th, 1956.
Photograph by R. W. Buhrmaster.
From the Blackhawk collection.

BRHS posted
Grand Trunk Western class U-1-c 4-8-2 Mountain-type #6037, taking on sand at the GTW's Elsdon Yard on the southwest side of Chicago.
Photo by the late Paul Vasich.

Ed posted his Flickr photo with the comment:
A Burro crane parked at the abandoned Grand Trunk Western
Railroad's Elsdon Yard site. Chicago Illinois. September 1986.
The GTW Elsdon Yard closed in October of 1983.

Michael Buckley The GTW Elsdon yard was the worst yard in Chicago to delver to . They had small tracks in yard maybe 15/20 cars long . They were all on a curve with very close clearance between tracks .when you set out cars had to walk them in . GTW crews were very unfriendly wouldn't help you with anything .
Michael Bruchas Burro cranes often made their overnight home with an always parked wreck train in Downers Grove on a siding which was part of the C,B&Q former Downers Grove mini yard. In the 50s to I guess early 80s...
Donnie Biederman  K Mart is closing there where the roundhouse was. Its a pretty busy shopping center still, will see after kmarts gone.
Edward Kwiatkowski The K Mart was actually the Rapid Roller Company factory building.

Brian Morgan commented on Ed's posting
I had a lot of fond memories of the old Elsdon Yard. The West 55th Street Grade crossing was the longest grade crossing East of the Mississippi River at one time crossing all twenty six yard tracks and the two California Mainline tracks. I remember the roundhouse which used to stand at West 49th Street and South Kedzie Avenue.

Ken Schmidt posted, cropped
On the railroad, things can happen.
Here is GTW 4916 at Elsdon Roundhouse.  The forces are standing on Kedzie Avenue north of 51st Street, thinking how they gonna fix this.   David P Morgan once use a caption...."It's the Pits" for a number of units that, well, went beyond where they were supposed to.
But I don't think l saw any that depicted exiting the Roundhouse the wrong direction.
This is part of my collection, and shot in 1962.
Richard Fiedler: I remember this situation well. After the locomotive was cleared out the GTW used cement blocks to patch the stall then painted that patch blue with the GT noodle logo.
Waldolf Ursine: I remember something like this. But it was not in 62. I wasn't even around back then. The engine came out and onto Kedzie Ave and remembered the blue patch. But since I was not even born in 62, this not what I remember.
Skip Ryan: That happened at the NS round house, Calumet yard. Also. Trying to put to many engines. Where they do not fit.
Walt Del Calle: I remember seeing the roundhouse at Calumet Yard with a similar hole in the wall, but the engine had already been removed. Pretty sure I was on a steam excursion in the late 1980s or early 90s.
Patrick Kielty: I drove by the roundhouse several times as I hitchhiked to high school. Does anyone know when or if it was demolished.
Richard Fiedler: Patrick Kielty they demolished it and the whole engine service area around 1982 or so to build a retail plaza with a K Mart.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Richard's comment
And now even the K-Mart is gone.
But the north part of the property still has a slant reflecting the edge of the embankment for the old lead into the yard. That lead still goes to a parking lot.

Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The Grand Trunk Western Railroad's Elsdon Yard locomotive Roundhouse built in 1914. Located on South Kedzie Avenue and approximately West 49th street in Chicago Illinois.
Photographed during the final week of operation in October of 1983.
( Gone. - Demolished.)

Brian A Morgan posted
The late great Grand Trunk Western Elsdon Roundhouse formerly stood at West 49th Place and South Kedzie Avenue. Chicago, Illinois.
Richard Fiedler I remember when the Geep went through the wall and almost wound up on Kedzie. That stall is where the big blue GT is.
Brian A Morgan Richard Fiedler. I remember that day as if was yesterday. To this day the sidewalk is still depressed there where the front trucks landed.

Ron Wesolowski posted
I believe this to be ELSDON this is December 1982
Chuck Guzik yes...thats 51st St. looking east

Matt McClure commented on a post
Eyepilot13 has an excellent northward view of the crossing in 1987, after the heyday of GTW and Elsdon Yard.

Ian Papp posted five photos that included these two.


Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The former Grand Trunk Western Railroad's Elsdon Yard locomotive terminal, located at approximately South Kedzie Avenue and West 49th Street, in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood.
Photographed during the final week of operation. Chicago Illinois.
October 1983. Gone. - Demolished.
Site redeveloped to a retail strip mall.

Ken Lyp posted
Elston yard Chicago 1958 looking East from Millard
Richard FiedlerGroup Admin I remember that big sheet metal shop building pictured next to the track right. At one time the Chicago and Grand Trunk has a large car repair shop there. I’ve always wondered if that building was the last remnant of that car shop. Was at 54 th St and visible from the 55th St crossing. Was painted a red color.Robert Leffingwell Steam late in the steam era. Even CB&Q steam for a while.
Edward Kwiatkowski shared a Flickr photo
35 years ago this past October, the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad closed their Elsdon Yard and locomotive terminal facility in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood.
I took this photograph during the final week of operation, in
October of 1983. We are facing west at the locomotive terminal's ready tracks, just west of the old 1914 built
steam era roundhouse on South Kedzie Avenue, at
approximately West 49th Street.
One week after I took this photograph, this whole area resembled a very abandoned and vacant ghost town.
Flickr comment: "This facility was eventually demolished in 1987."

Ken Schmidt posted
In June of 1976. GTW 1501 was switching cars at Elsdon yard.
[I note this post because of the comments, not the locomotive.]
Ken Schmidt Let me offer an aside. In 1929, the City of Chicago mandated that all railroads should be above street level "within the City limits". You will pardon me for being too lazy to look up where the limits were at that time.

The photo above shows of course the yard at street level, with switching over 51st and 55th streets. They were the exception, as I am sure other railroads also had exceptions.

Of course, as some of you are aware, I could not speak for anything north of I-55 as that was considered a foreign country, and up until 1989, I did not have the proper papers to even venture there.
Ean Kahn-Treras Ken Schmidt kind of odd how the yard escaped the mandate, but the mainline both to the east and south did not.
Brian A Morgan posted
The Elsdon Yard ready track. GTW Elsdon Yard.

Brian A Morgan posted
Track schematic of the Grand Trunk Western Railway Elsdon Yard Complex including the old Whipple Refrigerated Car Works and GTW affiliated Chicago New York & Boston Refrigerated Car Lines Yard and shops.

I'm surprised the police department would have been so big that it had its own building.
Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The Grand Trunk Western Railroad's Elsdon Yard railroad police department building. Located on West 51st Street and South St. Louis Avenue, in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood.
Photographed during October of 1983.
Gone. - Demolished

The original development plan never got very far. The new one used all of the land for one warehouse.
Mar 2018

May 2018

Oct 2018
Edward Kwiatkowski posted four photos with the comment:
The former Grand Trunk Western Railroad Elsdon Yard site today on West 51st Street. Chicago Illinois. August 2020.
The succesor owner of this railroad line CSX Transportation Company, appears to do very little or no maintenance on this line, as the mainline track south of West 51st Street, is over grown with tall weeds.
Do any trains travel through here today, and when?
I dont thin they run anything north of the connection with the BRC. [Hayford Junction]
I remember crossing thru this yard on W. 51st Street in the mid 80’s. I couldn’t believe at the time how many tracks crossed a fairly important street, at grade. Must of been crazy trying to cross there in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s.
AFAIK, from Hayford north is no longer used. BRC switches Central Steel at 49/Kedzie, coming over from Argo.
CN Still owns it CSX has permanent trackage rights. There were some trailer flats and well cars stored on the elevated portion until about a month ago. I know the block signal is still active. I think one reason why there was little activity recently is due to the city having 51st street all torn up doing some utility work.
Doesn't CN still own the track but CSX leases it from them (Elsdon Subdivision)?
I'm pretty sure that various online industry tracks north of Hayford are not in use, Railport has been bulldozed, and CN has no need to interchange with NS at Ashland.
I gotta say that I don't miss Elsdon yard, with 55th Street (and its terrible road conditions) bisecting it.
Ken Swiderski
,if I recall,CN sold it a few yrs. after they bought the EJ&E,once they straightened out how to depart trains out of Markham Yard,but leased it to CSX prior to that.We used it mostly for Intermodal out of Markham and it became a traffic nightmare on delaying trains,plus the looting of containers for trains waiting to get into yard.And that just created another nightmare at CN/Markham Yd.,now ALL trains leaving went S./bound,then East to Gary or West to Joliet,then N. to Battle Creek,Fond Du Lac,etc.,it was ugly.
The BNSF use the trackage when backing up long doublestacks out the yard.





Edward Kwiatkowski posted three photos with the comment:
The closed Grand Trunk Western Railroad's former Elsdon Yard site on West 51st Street between South Lawndale and St. Louis Avenues.
Chicago Illinois.  September 1987.
The GTW closed their Elsdon Yard facility in October of 1983. These photos, were taken around the time, when the GTW was preparing to remove the Yard tracks.
The former GTW Elsdon Yard site today, is being redeveloped in to an industrial park.
Rick La Fever: However where was the piggyback ramp?I know it was west of Ashland (1600 West) and Western Avenue/Boulevard (2400 West). I am thinking it was "under" the Damen Avenue Viaduct (2000 West)?
Terry Holmstrom: Rick La Fever the west boundary of Railport Yard was up against the Damen overpass. Entrance was off 43rd street.
Rick La Fever: Terry Holmstrom In 1988-89, I used to deliver trailers there from either UP Dolton or ATSF Corwith. UP Dolton were normally Mopac 45 footers and the ATSF were usually mail trailers--XTRZ vans with mail or empty mail bags going to Detroit or someplace.
Terry Holmstrom: I locked the door on the two story wooden depot October 4,1983. We moved a single yard assignment across the street to the repair track building.
Mike Croy: Made many, many deliveries to Elsdon from Corwith. I remember one Christmas Eve, I walked into the yardmaster’s office to deliver the waybills and get instructions when He asked me “Hey kid, you want a beer”? Those were the days!



Raymond Storey posted a couple photos of the roundhouse.

Juice Junkie caught a view of the gantry crane over the ash pit.

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