Friday, March 4, 2016

Milwaukee's Galewood Yard

I had never heard of Galewood, then I read about it twice in one afternoon.

The first time was in the caption of a Marshal W. Beecher photo on page 33 of Trains Magazine's Special Collector's Edition: "A westbound Canadian Pacific train passes through Galewood during its complex trip across Chicago in August 2009." I can not reconcile the curve in the tack and the Willis/Sears Tower in the background with a satellite image. But the map on page 18 of that issue shows it is along the now Metra tracks between the BRC junction and Tower B-12.

The second time was when I saw this Facebook posting:
Steven J. Brown posted
Soo Line 1003 is at Hanson Park heading to Metra's Western Avenue yard from Galewood after a charity event for the Chicago Shriner's Hospital for Children - August 12, 2017.
At first, I thought the silos were part of the Glidden/Central Soya Plant. But these silos still exist, so they can't be part of the Central Soya Plant. The Central Soya silos were east of the yard and just west of Laramie Avenue. Some of the photos of the yard include both sets of silos.
This pix is the tail end of the Galewood Yard, and the abandonded silos of the old Central Soya/Glidden plant (which is long gone) in an "urban forest". Originally a sorting yard for the Milwaulkee Road, it also was the location of a Montogomery Ward mail-order shipping operation.

Val Ginter comment on David's posting
My shot from ten years later...not as good a camera, though. I think it was one of Walter D. Teague's Baby Brownie Specials.
Val Gintner comment on another posting
I took this shot in 1951 with my Kodak Baby Brownie Special. I used to ride over the bridge on my bike. My speedometer said 25 mph. I think that's Central Soya on the left.
Jack J Billy Central Soya is on the right. On the left is the Troch Coal bins at Long Ave.
Val Gintner comment on another posting
 This is looking west on the same day.
Jack J Billy posted
The Milwaukee Road Galewood Yard,1964.
Mark E. Vaughan There was a huge freight house there for less-than-carload freight. Several connecting railroads sent cars directly there for distribution over the MILW network.
Jack J Billy Montgomery Ward's shipped out of there.
Jack J Billy posted again and included a link to this page
Like the CP+Metra/Milw Bensenville Yard, Metra owns the mainline tracks past the yard and Canadian Pacific owns the yard tracks. Like many rail yards that existed to serve industries before trucks and roads were developed, this yard was a lot bigger in the past.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
The large plant north of the yard on the west side was a Zenith plant. The plant south of the yard in the middle of the photo was an American Can Company.

Some of the industrial buildings in the area have the telltale signatures of rail service such as road crossings and curved buildings.

Below is a tree-filled curved-building, which is a signature of another abandoned industrial spur.
An industrial building has been replaced by an elementary school, but the curve in the parking lot probably reflects the different ownership of an industrial spur. This rail yard probably also served the industries along the Bloomindale Line and fed the yard on Goose Island.

I see this yard also served a branch that went north and served industries west of Narragansett Avenue including Radio Flyer and these industrial spurs (below). (One spur went all the way over to Normandy while the curve of the building in the middle indicates a branch spur went down the middle of the block.)

Judging from the satellite image, the yard was at grade level so most of the land has been redeveloped as an industrial park.


Jeff Nichols posted
Galewood Yard of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad,1939. LOC
Dave Leucinger You can see the transition from the older, wooden box cars to the newer steel cars.
Jeff Nichols Jack Delano
Jack Delano's photo must be facing east from the Central Avenue overpass, which was a truss bridge in 1938. But the 1939 photo with sheds on both sides of five outgoing tracks is more consistent with Jack Billy's 1964 aerial photo (further above) than with this 1938 aerial photo.
Closeup of Freight House

Ray Zirkle posted
Paul Webb shared
[Several comments identify it as a Jack Delano photo of Galewood.]

Michael Melone posted five photos with the comment: "Killing time at work, waiting out the rain. Sometimes seems like nothing but Metra some days, but freight is moving while I’m sitting. Caboose has been here for long time, but pretty sure it’s isolated now after lumber company closed. Not sure of official/unofficial name of area, but at Grand and Central ave in Chicago."
Mark Simmons It called Galewood yard.
1, cropped

2, cropped

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4, cropped


Evidently. because of the access road left south of the southernmost track and the length of the tracks, the circus used to park their train on that track when it came to town. Harold A. Driscoll took several pictures in 1998 of the train parked in the yard. Of particular interest is a photo that shows they uncouple the four large animal cars from the train. Is that because they want to move the smell or noise or both away from the rest of the train? Actually, I think the rear of the train is supplies and equipment. The living quarters cars are near the front.


  1. Zenith bought the Western section of the yard in the late 50's and built a huge plant just North of Amundsen Park. Their older plant was on the other side of the tracks.

  2. I was a teenager in the mid 1960s living next to Sayre Park. A next door neighbor was employed by the Milwaukee Road in management position. He was able to arrange for me to have a summer job working at the Galewood yard. Initially it was a night-time job sweeping out boxcars that had been loaded with corn. The remnants of the corn had to be swept out onto the ground where the awaiting rats made quick
    work of it. During the day these same boxcars would now be loaded various freight items destined for Montgomery Ward stores throughout upper midwest towns of Minnesotta, North and South Dakota.
    The following summer I was “promoted” to daytime at the “candy house”. It was located just about 1/4 mile west of the main loading docks. Along with candy from Brach and Cracker Jack it handled all sorts of other food items.