Thursday, December 24, 2015

C&NW's 40th Street Ramp Coaling Towers (M19A)

This engine servicing facility was part of a much larger railyard.

According to HistoricAerials, the coaling towers were removed between 2005 and 2007.

Scott Jenks posted
EMD photo at 40th St. Engine Terminal, 1940. Diesel Builder sent a photographer out around Chicago shooting terminals, shops, and locomotives. Goal was to make a sales pitch to management about what could be eliminated with new diesels. Similar series was shot on the Milwaukee Road in Milwaukee. From my collection.
[I presume the gantry crane in the background is for servicing the ash pit. I doubt if they would have team tracks in this crowded area of the yard. And obviously there is a water tower.]

Jerry Krug posted
On April 19, 2004, I grabbed this shot of the two coaling towers at the ex-Chicago & North Western's Keeler Ave. facilities in Chicago. Both of these towers have been demolished since. The photo was taken from a city street to the south. The track in the foreground hosts Union Pacific and Metra trains.
Jerry Krug commented on his posting above
Left Tower

Jerry Krug commented on his posting above
Right Tower

Kevin Piper posted
Melrose Park, IL, [wrong] 3-21-80. Check out those pimp lights!
Jim Wilson M19-A it looks like to me....
[Most of the comments concerning this photo of 1643 were about "pimp the lights" until I commented "I was too distracted by the coaling tower to notice any lights." Patrick McNamara said there were no coaling towers at Proviso in 1980. Jeff Lilja said they had 2 coaling towers "at the 40th Street ramp." Patrick provided the photo below with the two towers as a comment.]

Patrick McNamara comment on the above posting
This is the South Tower.
Patrick McNamara comment
Patrick's comment:
The Coal Towers are marked on this map of the East End of the facility as M35 (North Tower) and M38 (South Tower).
But this map must have been earlier in the 20th century because it doesn't match the 1938 aerial photo. I included another aerial photo where I put green rectangles around where I believe the two towers were. The shadows of the towers help locate the towers.

Note the northern coal tower and two roundhouses are for the Wisconsin Division whereas the southern coal tower and roundhouse is for the Galena Division.

1938 Aerial (fixed link) from IHLAP at full resolution plus Paint

Jerry Cramer posted
Before and after pictures. C&NW shops at 40th St. in Chicago. The building is still used and serviced by the UP. It's called industrial Storage
Jerry Cramer commented on his posting above
Different view with top picture taken about where the front and above of where the UPrr engine sits.

Lou Gerard posted
C&NW F7 423 in NJ Transit colors after it returned from lease duty, with retired E and F units at M19A in Chicago. 1989. 423 now operates on the Wisconsin Great Northern at Spooner WI.

Steven J. Brown posted
Chicago and North Western E's (and a switcher), stacks capped, await disposition after being displaced by F40PH's at 40th Street Yard in Chicago, Illinois - May 1985.

Steven J. Brown shared

David M Laz posted
At a coaling station at the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yards (This is where Santa got his coal)
[I doubt this tower was in Chicago, but it does show how standardized the towers were.]
David M Laz posted
Steam replenishing a the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yards , Chicago ,
David Daruszka 40th Street.
[Jack Delano   LoC: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34645]
Ron Tutt posted
Nina Oliphant posted
David Daruszka updated the group photo
Dennis DeBruler An improved version of a Jack Delano photo, Library of Congress:
Dennis DeBruler So this would be the 40th Street Ramp. But we are left with the question of which one: Wisconsin or Galena Division.
David Daruszka commented on the above update
Patrick McNamara commented on a sharing: " I added the M19A photo to the C&NW Fan page a few years ago - it is from the C&NWHS Archive and I purchased the 8x10 from them, scanned it and posted it. Go to their Archive page and find was a bigger rez photo than this."

Posted in Facebook by David Daruszka "C&NW 40th Street Roundhouse (Chicago). The diesel shop on the right (M-19A) still stands and is used for Metra locomotive servicing."

Dyadya Abdul shared
CNW's 40th Street engine terminal. I believe it was often refereed to as "Smokey Hollow". More info at -…/c-40th-street-ramp-… [which is this page]

John Morris posted
This negative from my collection has been stored for over 50 years and it is time for it to be shared. This view of Class E-2-A, a 4-6-2 Pacific, was most likely taken in 1934 right after the locomotive was rebuilt to haul "The 400" in competition with the CB&Q and Milwaukee Road fast services on the Chicago-Twin Cities route. Note the multiple dynamos near the cab probably necessary to power the added unique oscillating skylight in front of the stack. Additional details or corrections to this post are welcome.
Dennis DeBruler I never noticed before that the coaling towers at C&NW 40th Street Ramp in Chicago could service tracks way off to the side as well as the tracks that were underneath them.
Peter Crisler Had to be later than 1934. More likely 1935 as the triangular "400" light box was not on the original overhaul. In all my research on the 2900's, #2908 was the only engine to have this light box on the front as well as the lighted side markers. The light in front of the stack was the second generation Mars light as the original was pointed upwards at a 45 degree angle.
Lawrence Smith These engines were really something and little has been written about them. A contributor for Trains recently wrote he has an ETT for the Adams div from the 30s which states the speed limit was 'none'. They really moved the 400 fast to compete w/the Hi and the CBQ.

David Daruszka commented on the above posting
Given the location of the switch stands in the foreground I'm going to say the Wisconsin Division.
Steven J. Brown posted
Chicago and North Western E8 (Built 1953, to RTA 1977, retired in 1983; scrapped 1986) at 40th Street in Chicago - February 26, 1978.
[Note one of the coaling towewrs in the background and a sand tower on the right.] posted
A Chicago & North Western publicity photo featuring E7A's #5019-A/B at the 40th Street Shops in Chicago circa 1953.

Steven J. Brown posted
The first evil invading RTA F40PH's wearing their hideous "what the hell were they thinking?" paint scheme are at the Chicago and North Western engine house at 40th Street Yard in Chicago - October 10, 1977. These would soon replace all the E's and F's on the Rock Island. In the next few years, all the Chicago areas once colorful commuter trains would become homogenous. Forty years later, the F40PH's are still in service - far exceeding the lifespan of the locomotives they replaced!
Michael Riha shared the Grève des trains - USA - 1946. album. Here are the photos that pertain to the 40th Street Ramp. You can tell that steam was dying by 1946 because it appears the two Wisconsin Division roundhouses have been torn down.

David Daruszka The coaling towers lasted well into the UP era.
[This is the Galena Division roundhouse. The "white" coaling tower is over the service lead of the Wisconsin Division.]

Dennis DeBruler On the right is the yard for the long distance passenger trains.
David Daruszka That was a little further west than this photo. Closer to the BRC tracks.
Dennis DeBruler Now that I know where to look, I see that there were two yards along the mainline.
Bob Lalich The CNW packed a lot into this relatively small space! Three turntables and roundhouses, two wyes, transfer tables, shops, several sub yards within the freight yard portion - fascinating operation!
David Daruszka Packed in best sums the place up best. The yard tracks were pretty close together and it was a dangerous place to work when I was there. No lights at night and packs of roaming feral dogs.
Dennis DeBruler You can tell that steam was dying. It looks like they have already torn down the Wisconsin 360-degree roundhouse.

David Daruszka commented on the 23rd photo of  the Grève des trains - USA - 1946. album
All gone by this photo.
[And the diesel shop has been built. I see one of the diesel fuel storage tanks just to the right of the Wisconsin coaling tower. Judging from a satellite image, it looks like they had to tear that tower down to make room for the second tank.]

David Daruszka C&NW's 40th Street. The coaling towers stood for decades after the end of steam service.
Doug Smith They've been gone about seven or eight years now. [2017]
Dennis DeBruler In this view we can easily see the water tower near the entrance of the roundhouse. I wonder how many standpipes it served. It struck me as rather small. They must have a water treatment facility somewhere so that they can practically contentiously refill it. That is, unlike water towers in small towns, this is not a storage tower, it is a surge tower.
David Daruszka I would assume it was one of many on the property, perhaps for each roundhouse.
Dennis DeBruler Even if there is one per roundhouse, that is still a lot of "thirsty" engines to service. But looking closer, that tower may be quite large. It looks like it is on concrete pillars, and it is about twice as high as that diesel switcher
David Daruszka posted seven images with the comment:
The Chicago & North Western's primary locomotive maintenance facilities were located at their 40th Street yards on the city's West Side. With the advent of the diesel locomotive the use of the roundhouse as a service facility was no longer viable. The railroad built a diesel shop, called M-19A, to perform those tasks. The odd title for the building stems from the railroad's designation for all the structures, major and minor, with an "M" designation. The yards are gone, the majority of the structures of the shop complex are gone but M-19A soldiers on. Now owned by Union Pacific it services locomotives for the former C&NW commuter services now operated under contract with Metra.
1949 article in Railway Age covering the completion of C&NW's new 40th Street Diesel Shop.

Aerial view of the M17 roundhouse with the M-19A diesel shop above right.

Chicago Diesel Shop Building M19-A
Three E6s and two E7s are idling or being serviced on the east side of the diesel repair shop. C&NW Public Relations Department photo. C&NW Historical Society Archives collection.

Chicago Diesel Shop Building M19-A
One of the two V-12 engines is being installed into E7 5008A after repairs were made. C&NW Public Relations Department photo. C&NW Historical Society Archives collection.

M19-A in 1983. Chuck Zeiler photograph.

The RTA era has arrived at M-19A with the delivery of new F40 locomotives. Steven J. Brown photograph.

Same building, same function, new owner. Edward Kwiatkowski photograph.
Steven J. Brown posted
[Given the diesel fuel tank on the left, we are looking at the Wisconsin Division coaling tower. The Chicago Division tower is to the photographer's right.]
Kevin Piper posted
C&NW E8A 508, ex-UP 934, Chicago, IL, 3-19-73. Heading for the paint shop! GEORGE HORNA PHOTO
Doug Kaniuk commented on a post

Chuck Zeiler:   1981   1983

Juice Junkie not only shows one of the coaling towers, it is more evidence that the big yards had a gantry crane over their ash pits.

He also caught a view with parts of both coaling towers in case you need more evidence that this facility had two coaling towers.

And a closeup of the base of one of the coaling towers.


  1. Great Images. I'm looking for images of the C&NW operation in Butler Wisconsin. Any ideas where to find them? My grandfather lived there and worked for the railroad. But the story I have always heard is that when they took down the roundhouse in Butler, he bought the used bricks and spent the next 10 years chipping off the mortar and selling them. And my mother has said she broke her arm playing on the mountain of bricks. Thanks for your help!

    1. If you go to Pinterest you can find tons of photos of Butler. Just search CNW and you should find lots of them...