Sunday, March 6, 2016

B&OCT's Forest Hill Yard and Freight House

This topic has been moved from the Towns and Nature Blog.

Scott Griffith posting
I asked where the pictured building was, and I got the answers:

Henry Freeman 76th & Oakley Ave. The office building in the photo housed the Local Freight Agency of the B&O (F. Francesconi, Agent). Effective Sept. 1, 1949, the B&O and the B&OCT Universal freight house operations were consolidated at this station as part of the B&O's post-war efforts to increase LCL traffic with their Timesaver service. For the month of Sept. 1952, tonnage handled at Forest Hill was 23,068,714. The facility had 11 tracks with a 132 car capacity. The adjacent Forest Hill yard had a capacity of 222 cars

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
The yard was small by Chicago's standards. B&OCT's big carload classification yard was Barr Yard. I zoom in to the freight house.
The white roof on the left is the freight handling part. This is the first time I have seen a U-shaped house. Obviously, boxcars are in the middle and trucks are on the north and east sides. I guess boxcars can also be on the west side. So the west side would be incoming and the middle would be outgoing.

Henry Freeman Dennis, This is a transfer house. LCL (less than car load) shipments came from B&OCT-served freight houses around the city. A single outbound car might have shipments for 20 or more cities. Another car had shipments for, let's say, 10 cities. And so on and so on. A transfer house was used to move the shipments from one car to another so that when a car departed Forest Hill it had shipments for only one city. If you couldn't fill a car with shipments for a single city, then you filled it with shipments headed in the same direction, such as Cumberland and beyond, and let it get combined into a single car further down the line. Think of it as what FedEx does every night in Memphis. In the 1950's, the B&O had a fairly large transfer house operation in Cumberland where shipments headed east (or west) would be combined from cars coming (or going) by way of either the Chicago or St. Louis mainlines. When built, the inside of the "U" at the Forest Hill transfer house was four tracks across and held 15 or so cars on each track. The cars would be lined up door to do with a ramp laid down between the doors. Freight house men with a hand truck would move the boxes from car to car. Freight would also arrive (and depart) from here by trucks for local delivery and sometime in the 1950's the B&O added capacity to handle TOFC (Trailer on flat car) traffic as well. In the mid-50's, this facility handled approximately 350 tons of LCL traffic daily requiring a workforce of about 85 persons. In the 50's, it had 11 tracks with a capacity of 134 cars and accommodations to handle 125 automotive trailers at one time. All B&O-shipped merchandise inbound and outbound for the Chicago District was handled through this house. Cars would be dispatched on the TimeSaver train or Train 94 (which could have an advance sections) depending on destination. Inbound traffic would be loaded on trap cars or or automotive trailers for direct movement to carriers handling traffic beyond Chicago. I hope this helps.

Henry Freeman Here's one more bit of information about how LCL traffic moved. TimeSaver freights were dedicated to LCL, forwarder and piggyback traffic and some perishables. They traveled at passenger train speeds.
The EB TimeSaver departed Robey at 7:15 pm, stopped at Forest Hill and departed there at 9:45 pm, clearing Pine Jct. at 11:00 pm. It had two blocks:
-- X-2-P (Willard and beyond perishables)
-- X-2-M (Willard and beyond merchandise, forwarder and TOFCEE).
The WB TimeSaver was by Pine Jct. at 2:30 am, arrived Forest Hill at 3:30 am and arrived Robey at 4 am. It was blocked as follows:
-- Y-25-DM (Forest Hill and Barr Yard Districts, including Wabash and BRC merchandise forwarder)
-- Y-25-NB (12th St. and downtown districts, including CRI&P, B&A Cartage, Blue Ribbon Express, Baker Castor Oil, Central States Forwarding, Hershey Chocolate, Inland Shipping, Lakewood Terminal, JP Lynch Trucking, Midland Shipping, Paramount, and Westwood.
-- Y-25-NC (Robey St. and Cicero Districts, including CB&Q, C&NW, CMStP&P, CGW, GTW, GM&O and IC)
-- Y-25-NA (Republic Carloading and Distributing Co. – ATSF Delivery)
-- Y-25-N (ATSF Delivery)
Note: When two sections were operated from Cumberland, Symbol Y-25-N was dispatched in the First Section. When two sections were operated from Willard, Symbols DM, Y-25-ND, Y-25-NB, Y-25-NA and Y-25-N were dispatched in the First Section.

Update: John Holland posted a question about a B&O intermodal yard around 79th and Western. The answer was B&OCT Forest Hill Yard. The following comments were made by David Daruszka.

Originally it was built as a freight transfer terminal. After the transfer house was demolished it was turned into an intermodal yard. It has been unused for many years and may only be used for rail car storage at this point.

Looking north towards the Forest Hill interlocking with the Wabash. Freight yard is on the left.

 Looking southeast across the Wabash tracks.

Steven J. Brown posted
Norfolk Southern SD40-2 (ex-SR) at Forest Hill Tower in Chicago crossing the former PRR Panhandle line. April 17, 1988.
Crew Heimer posted four photos with the comment:
Starting to scan slides. Here we have a Conrail Derailment at 49th St. in May 1978 and Forest Hill during the 1977-1978 winter (80 inches of snow versus average of about 40). That is the Crossing gang truck and Pat Benoir was foreman at that time. So much snow at Forest Hill that the speed swing loaded it in gondolas and it was shipped to the southernmost point on Chessie - Newport News, VA.
[A reminder that Pennsy's Panhandle route used to parallel the B&OCT route through here.]




Clifton Linton posted nineteen pictures to provide a 360-degree view of what it looks like today. Parts of it do have the track spacing indicative of a former intermodal yard. I wonder when Bedford Park was built.

B&OCT realigned their mainline by turning east at 83rd Street rather than at the south edge of Landers Yard to create access to this north/south yard. Scott Griffith posted another map that has some more interesting comments about the changes in this area.

A Facebook posting with lots of interesting comments

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