Saturday, January 23, 2016

Riverdale (Hales and Hunter) and Arcadia Feeds Grain Elevators

Hales and Hunter was on the south side of the east end of the IHB Blue Island Yard whereas Arcadia Feeds was on the north side of the yard.

(Update: there was also a grain elevator and a cold storage warehouse next to IHB in Indiana.)

Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail power backing down to their outbound train on the east end of IHB's Blue Island Yard in Riverdale, Illinois - June 19, 1977. CR/PC U23B 2770 (built 1973), CR SD45 6070 (built 1967 as EL 3605) and CR/PC SD45 6226 (built 1968 as PRR 6226, became CNW 6549 to SP SD45M-2 8613 to NREX 8613).
Steven J. Brown shared
Mike Breski posted
S Stands for Switcher (10 of them that is!) 📷 Date: 10/3/1974 Location: Riverdale, IL Map 📷 Views: 1123 Collection Of: Sam Beck Locomotives: IHB 8725(NW2) IHB 9204(SW1500) IHB 9207(SW1500) Author: Tom Golden.
East end of Blue Island Yard taken from School St overpass
Hales and Hunter grain elevator on the left torn down 2015.
Arcadia Feeds grain elevator far right. (behind the trees.)
Stewart Ave Tower on the right Closed 1989.
Dennis DeBruler This explains why I have seen both the names Hales & Hunter and Arcadia with respect to grain elevators near Blue Island Yard.
[Near the bottom of this page are Global Earth images from before and after the demolition.]

More pictures and info concerning this elevator. Of note is the referenced SubStreet page. I read the elevator was closed in 1962 and many Riverdale administrations promised to tear it down. It was finally removed in 2015. More videos of the "big boom": 1, 2

One comment indicated that this grain elevator had been used for fire fighting practice.

Move this video to -2:32 (or 1:44 into the video) for the start of the explosion that topples the tower. If you go to the Hales & Hunter Grainery Group you can see pictures of them first taking down the silos with wrecking balls. And it has some more videos.

Video, move to -2:32 left to see start of explosion
Bird's Eye View
John Frazier posted
IHB rolling east past you know what
Dale Pruim: Hales and Hunter Elevator !

In the background of a railfan picture in the IHB Blue Island Yard.
Mike Breski posted
• IHB Photos by Paul Meyer 
•Two NW2s idle with wood caboose 156 near Riverdale
(from IHB Archives)
Jack Delano from 1943.
Mike Breski posted six photos with the comment:
Located next to Indiana Harbor Belt RR Blue Island Yard at 140th & Halstead Riverdale il.
From Tumblr:
Text 19 MAR next up: the hales and hunter red comb feed mill in riverdale, illinois
I’ve known about this building for years, and just found out that it was slated for demolition starting on Monday, March 18. I quickly got over there for some final farewell shots, and now I bring them to you.
I found some really interesting articles about the location here, and here, and will post them in their entirety in case they are deleted.
The tower complex was built in 1917, and due to lack of materials during WWI, the craftsmanship was lacking to say the least. At least two people have died here. The first person died back in the 30s roughly. He was an employee of the mill and was crushed when a grain chute was opened above him. The second victim was a paramedic coming to the aid of an urban explorer who was injured in the building back in 1981. The paramedic fell nearly 7 stories to his death.
The grainery has been closed since 1962.
Although the building is supposed to already be undergoing demolition, no work has been done as of this writing. 4 days ago there was a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of demolition, but rumor has it that this was just a political move to garner votes as election season draws near.
Full articles after the break
The Hales and Hunter Mill: Asbestos is not Chicken Feed
“Ninety-three years ago I would have been able to walk up this thing… brand new and shiny,” I thought, looking down what used to be a sturdy steel staircase, “not anymore…”
Mind back in the present and focusing on the abandoned feed mill around me, I stepped lightly from a steel girder onto thinly poured concrete. It popped and cracked sharply beneath my weight. Clearly, this was a place that would keep me on my toes–literally–testing whether the next step would send me to the ground.
“This building seems a bit too eager to murder you,” my brain said to my legs as the floor ruptured again causing me to instinctually grab the window frame next to me, long left open and long without glass. Somewhere in the slums nearby an ice cream truck mockingly blasted its incessant jingle, its sound ricocheting through the spaces where walls once stood.
Bits of machinery, brickwork, and concrete consistently rained into the urban forest as I worked my way higher through the complex’s well-aged workings… two mill buildings, three sets of elevators, and ruins of several other buildings that resembled warehouses, offices, a power plant. Outlines of yet more buildings marked the exterior of standing structures, hearkening back to a prosperous time at the edge of living memory, when this was part one in a string of grain elevators, flour mills, and other agro-industrial buildings.
Inside, a bit of yellow sunlight lit the floating dust around the hole in the floor I was crawling through, those glowing particles hovering above the floor that was formerly accessed by a nearby spiral staircase, one that seemed too rusted and twisted to be part of the building around it.
At the top of the staircase, a dilapidated sign still brags about the famous “Red Comb Feed” that was produced here, this ruin that used to be called “The Hales & Hunter Company.”
The earliest mention of Hales & Hunter I could find was in a chicken feed catalog from 1906, but it is clear that the construction of this complex had not wrapped up before the second half of 1917, presumably with the central brick building that is in such terrible condition today.
One might assume, given the state of the walls (not that there are many to judge) that the only reason this structure still stands 186 feet tall is due to the thousands of pounds in steel equipment still bolted to its superstructure.
They seem to serve as a sort of skeleton: a role reversal.
Before ground broke here, Hales & Hunter was The Edwards & Loomis Company, but the company changed its name soon after construction started on its Chicago plant to Hales & Edwards Company. It adopted the name we call it by today some time later.
Construction of the complex was actually delayed from its projected opening date of January 1, 1917 because of national steel shortages. You see, this was the time the American military was building its forces up in preparation for its entry into World War I. The brick building that was to constitute the main feed mill on the site had only 5 of its planned 12 levels completed when the contractors ran out of good steel.
This stunted construction might have been a contributing factor to the extremely shoddy build quality; it is possible that the steel shortage (and other shortages like it due to the war effort) motivated the builders to make girders thinner, meaning they would be able to hold less weight. Hence the thin concrete floors and warped steel superstructure.
When the plant finally opened later on in 1917, it had a footprint of almost 12,000 square feet and was outfitted with modern, automatic equipment that is found in modern grain elevators.
The transfer elevator, a shorter brick building that opened before the rest of the plant in 1916, featured three steel roof grain bins, could load 24 train cars in an hour and take on materials from 4 train cars in the same time. Hales & Hunter also boasted a drying plant (essential for any operation involving grain to prevent it rotting in the bins) that could dry 50,000 bushels daily and store 1,000,000 bushels.
On April 30, 1917, as the work was being completed in Chicago, Hales & Hunter’s old plant suffered from a major fire. Its twin elevators burned for 30 hours. Firefighters reported that the grain bins “acted as flues” that fed the fire, eventually consuming the iron and wood buildings. No doubt, the loss of the plant encouraged the new construction to hurry to continue operations.
By the next year the company had not only finished the complex as planned, but was already expanding and upgrading plant equipment.
‘Mammoth’ is as great a word for Hales & Hunter today as it was in 1918… that much was clear, if none of the history of the site revealed itself to me while I wandered those fragile hallways and skyways. Lovers of spiral staircases ought to treat Hales & Hunter as they would a cemetery, considering the rusted carnage of swirling, yet practical works of art.
Funnels, bucket elevators and screw-drives were half bolted, half twisted, sometimes severed and had fallen off of, onto and into in every building. Half of the building seemed to flout gravity while the other half made up doubly.
It is hard to say how long, exactly, the buildings have been vacant; they were discarded slowly, like its neighboring mills and elevators. One by one, they went out of service. I can tell you that Cargill bought the Hales & Hunter Company in 1968 and the last mention of its products I could find dates to the mid-1980s.
Drawing conclusions from the buildings’ respective conditions, graffiti found inside and the business facts, I would conjecture that Cargill shifted all operations from this location to another between 1969 and 1973. One photograph from 1976 (above) shows windows missing, graffiti on the elevator, and a flatbed truck in front of a smokeless power plant stack.







Ken Schmidt posted
For as many times this made it's way down through Blue Island, it's still worth another view of BN 6153.
Here, it is East of the Hales, getting ready thread through the IHB yard at Riverdale and onto it's train back to Clyde yard on June of 1990.
Ray Van Deursen What a great shot, I remember driving thru the yard past that old mill, did the same thing over at Barr yard as well, if I did that today I’d be in big trouble!
Ken Schmidt Oh my gosh yes. CSX gumshoes would be all over you in a heartbeat. It was not long after this of course that things became more difficult, and we had to learn new ways and places to shoot from. But, I am thankful that I was in that time and place where we could still get these images.
Dennis DeBruler Thanks for including the name of the mill in your comments. This is one of the better views I have seen of those buildings.

Mike Breski posted
• Blue Island Yard •
Most of these photos were taken by Lightnin', this site's original owner. The fourth and fifth photos are by J.D. (Tuch)
Santucci who has accompanied them with some helpful comments.
A Fairbanks Morse loco works the east end of the yard. Photo courtesy of Charlie Stricker. (from IHB Archives)
Mike Breski That's the Arcadia Feeds grain elevator on the left off of 138th st Riverdale. Yes Gibson had a hump until early 80's when the IHB came close to being no more.
Dennis DeBruler Mike Breski Thanks for pointing out the grain elevator. This photo also helps me understand where that elevator was.
(new window)

Global Earth Apr 2013

Global Earth Apr 2015
I believe Arcadia Feeds was north of the main part of the yard. It was gone by Mar, 1999, which is the first available Global Earth image.
Global Earth Mar 1999
Michael Brandt posted
I got this pic from the RHS first time posting it. This is what we inherited in the late 60s, my Brothers and I used to play ice hockey just South of the Grainery and just kind of wondered in, the rest is history.

Mike Breski shared

Bill Bielby commented on Michael's post

Mike Breski commented on his share

We can see Hales & Hunter to the left of the signal pole in the following photo.
Steven J. Brown posted
Waiting for lights at Dolton, Illinois - November 1994. Train on the right is lead by CR SD60 6852, the one on the left I think is lite GTW power that will head around to the right at Dolton Jct onto the MoPac and then switch directions and go north.
Jack Morgan: Now this is a little confusing to me. Which track did the three heads govern? Any train that takes the switch (under the SD40) and further left?
Jon Roma: Jack Morgan, the three-arm signal faces away from the photographer, and governs the track at right on which the Conrail train is standing in foreground. Note the doll arm on the bracket post.The GTW power is on a track that used to be called "9 Lead" and is governed by a dwarf signal behind the photographer.


  1. I live in the next town over call Harvey Illinois... our abandon grain elevator still stands... check out some pics... we grew up playing in the and crawling through the underground passageways which would let us out n the woods adjacent to the grain elevator which us locals call HOBO CASTLE..... that was the 80s and 90s for me.... now as an adult we had the greatest Airsoft wars back there.....

    1. Where? On Google Map's satellite view, I did a quick scan along CSX/CN/GTW and CN/IC, but I could not find it.