Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CSX/PRR's 59th Street Yard


Update: some pictures of PRR's Q1 and Q2 steam locomotives include glimpses of the coaling tower.

This is now a CSX intermodal yard.

Marty Bernard posted
Penn Central Selling a Piece of the PRR
PC 1481 (ex-PRR F7A) at 59th Street Yard, Chicago, IL on April 9, 1970. Note writing on side: "Ship to Electro-Motive Div. GMC, McCook, Ill., P.O. 7265"
A Roger Puta photo.
[You can see the turntable and roundhouse on the right side of the picture.]

1915, p. 386
The 59th Street Yard was built by the Pennsy/Panhandle/Chicago and Great Eastern. It extended from 63rd Street north to Garfield Boulevard with 59th Street being the only street that crossed the yard. The B&OCT ran along the west side of the yard because they both shared the Western Avenue Corridor. Note that the Englewood Connecting Railway (also Panhandle) leaves the yard just north of 59th Street and goes East to Pennsy's mainline between Pittsburgh and Chicago --- Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
By 1938, the yard had been elevated and the northern part cut back so that 56th, as well as 59th, Street could pass under it. And the land between the yard and Western Avenue had become an industrial area. The elevation project expanded the width of the corridor to an entire block all the way south to 71st Street.

The half between 63rd and 59th was expanded to the east to build an engine servicing facility including a large roundhouse.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
When the Panhandle was abandoned, B&OCT must have acquired this yard. It is now one of CSX's Chicago area intermodal yards. [Confirmed by a comment by Mark Hinsdale below.]

John Ryan provided five pictures that he took late summer 1977 or 1978:

1: south view from yard office

2: north view from yard office

3: east view from yard office

4: south view from hump

5: north view from hump
Update: Mark Hinsdale posted five photos with the comment:
"59th Street"
In the Pennsylvania Railroad and early Penn Central years, Chicago's 59th Street Yard was the primary yard facility in Chicago. It once boasted a hump as well as a sizable locomotive servicing center. By the time Conrail became a reality, the facility was on its last legs, with most of the work having been transferred to Elkhart, Ashland Ave, or Colehour. Conrail had no use for the former PRR "Panhandle" artery entering Chicago from the Southeast, and soon took direct aim at eliminating it and the once large yard at 59th Street. Today, the property has been re-purposed as a vital CSX intermodal facility, but in 1977, Conrail's fading presence was still on display at 59th Street. Here arre a few of the "gems" that could be seen on the weed and diesel fuel choked engine tracks at 59th, some forty years ago.
1: Scott Williams This engine pulled the last EL/CR Cleveland to Youngstown commuter train on 1-15-77.
James Ridgway Jr. Both engines came east and worked NY&LB until retirement,
When NJT got enough E8s rebuilt...
Wayne Hudak commented on the above picture: 4014 also worked the Valpo Dummy for a short stint, seen here at Valparaiso IN summer 1977.

2: James Ridgway Jr. Obviously,
Never got Penn Central.
From PRR to CR...

3: Mark DuVall SDP45 trail!


5: Thomas C. Ayers CR #4063 = NYC #4063; Built during June of 1953; S/N: 18346.
James Ridgway Jr. Only Conrail E8 to keep it's portholes until the end...
Harvey Kahler Running in freight service? Until discontnuance, Panhandle passenger trains ran down Berenice cutoff out of Union Station.
David Daruszka commented on Mark's posting
This 1920 Sanborn map show the roundhouse darkened out, indicating it may have already been abandoned or demolished.
David Daruszka commented on Mark's posting
This later 1950 map shows a new roundhouse.

On a posting by Alexander Gerdow, we have the following comments:
Stuart B. Slaymaker So, it was a 6-mile deadhead to and from the roundhouse?
Bob Lalich Yes, that was fairly common in Chicago in the steam era. Locomotives off trains calling on Dearborn Station deadheaded to 51st St Yard on the C&WI, or even farther to their own yards, for servicing (except ATSF). NKP locomotives were serviced at Stony Island Yard, around 12 miles from LaSalle St.
Bob Lalich This is the coaling tower at 59th St.
Bob Lalich commented on a posting
Here is a mid-50s photo looking south (RR east) at 71st St crossing the 59th St Yard receiving tracks. PRR company photo courtesy Joe Stefanelli and Jack Tomisek.
Bob Poortinga Is that Belt Jct (75th St) tower in the background?
Bob Lalich That is right Bob Poortinga.
Scott Malec Wow, the crossing gates don't look that much different from the ones you see today. very interesting.
John LaRochelle What a great photo from the past. In seventh and eighth grade I spent some time after school taking to the crossing gate operator at the pictured small shack. The semaphore signal indicating caution, next signal at stop, was the approach to the BRC/Wabash crossing at Forrest Hill, controlled by the B&OCT. Since it's all Chessie today, there is a right and left conection to the BRC. The PRR Panhandle route has been removed from those points east. One time saw the eastward B&O Capitol Limited stop for about 5 minutes for the stop and stay at the tower and there was no cross traffic. Operator must have had to put the machine in 'time' to correct a wrong line-up. Was up in that tower once when I was an N&W operator at Landers Yard.Lee Kazee B&O CT be on to right of the PRR

Jack Franklin shared a post by Jim Prrfan
L&N meets the MO Pac at Yard Center Dolton ILL. no date.
Jim PRRFan photo Photo from 35mm slide.

Sam Carlson posted
Facebook changed something since I was here last. I'll try to caption it anyway. This is PC 6323, an Alco C630, at Penn Central's 59th Yard in Chicago during May, 1976. This was not really a safe neighborhood to be in, letting alone traipsing around with expensive camera gear, but if you wanted shots, it's what you did. The safest area was inside the yard, and nobody bothered you there. So we got plenty of photos! (Sometime I'll tell you about the time the fuel filter in the car plugged up and we stalled and had to walk quite a ways to find a pay phone to call a tow truck....)

Bill Leipart II posted the question: "Does anyone know what year the Conrail-PRR-PC 59th street yard was closed?"
Chuck Guzik One of the interesting things was how far north operations were affected. the condition of yard deteriorated so bad 1975-1976 with minor derailments, out of service tracks and all in all very poor track as far as 39th st. Northern roads delivering into 59th st sat at the semaphores on top of 47th st for hours on end siting a full yard and or a minor derailment blocking access. The old hump SB lead stored long stings of bad ordered railcars. NYC, PRR and PC cars sat there for many years. Trains moved very slow and rocked badly once they did move. The rails were sitting in sludge. Sadly traffic was up.... just couldn’t handle it and the volumes moved as stated to other yards. It was great watching the many transfers into and out of that yard. I knew something was up when I saw the bad order cars .... gone. Great post!
Bill Leipart II I do have photos here on my page. Have a look!

I did have a look; used with permission:

Photo from Bill Leipart II's Facebook page
59th. Street yard Roundhouse.

Dave Arganbright commented on a post
Dave Arganbright: I took this picture at the old 59th street roundhouse in 1978.

Photo from Bill Leipart II's Facebook pageThe Hump.
Photo from Bill Leipart II's Facebook pageThe other Hump.
Photo from Bill Leipart II's Facebook page
Photo from Bill Leipart II's Facebook pageFantastic photos of the 59th. street yard.
[I never realized that the engine servicing  facilities were at ground level. In retrospect, that makes sense.]
Photo from Bill Leipart II's Facebook page
Abandoned yard.

June 2022: CSX is spending $25m to build a container parking lot west of the mainline to support this yard and Bedford Park. [RailwayAgesource] "going from toxic to high traffic" This is the second busiest in the USA for CSX. (Bedford Park is the busiest.) [NBCvideo @ 0:08]
Chicago, p6


  1. I was so happy to see the photos of the 59th street yard. My Godfather Jim work there. I'm trying to model it in HO. Thanks for posting!

  2. I lived in Englewood,llinois and from Back of the Yards
    1948-1963.Saw 63rd.Street Englewood,Chicago,Illinois Station. 63rd.Street
    Steward Station,and Finnaly 63rd.Street and
    Graduated from Limblom
    Teachinal Hign School which was the Transportation department to and from
    The 59th.Street Hump/Service/ Round House service road.
    Brought Good Tears of
    Joy because I Loved Steam versus Coverd Wagons only R.R.would

  3. This is the last place my father worked. He was a switchman on the Penn Central RR from 1945 to 1971.

  4. In about '83 the yard around Hoyne-Hamilton Streets north of 59th on the east side of the underpass was up for grabs to the scrappers. One night I pulled in right off Hoyne 200 feet north of 59th and cut sections of rail from where the east-bound branch line headed due east. I notched the rails to sledge-hammer them into 2-foot pieces and loaded them on a Nolan cart to push them to the road. I could see guys scrapping deeper inside the yard at the same time. The cops could care less this was going on!