Saturday, May 21, 2016

Milwaukee's Bensenville Yard

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
[A reminder that O'Hare did not exist before WWII.]

1943 Jack Delano from Photogrammer, enhanced by Chester Hartwell

Anton Wenzel posted in Facebook, around 1970
John Smith posted in Facebook
Anton Wenzel posted in Facebook

Anton Wenzel again posted two photos. This time the comment was "Bensenville, IL early 1970's - Milwaukee Road."


Kenneth Gear posted
Milwaukee road FP-45 No. 2 in the roundhouse at Bensenville IL on June 23, 1982.
Jack Franklin posted

Photo by Jerry Jackson from Facebook comment
The referenced Facebook link for this photo contains other interesting info such as where the diesel engine house used to be.
David M Laz posted
[David's comments were wrong. I summarize the comments on this posting.
This is a Jack Delano photo taken from a light tower with the old Wolf Road Bridge in the background.]
David M Laz posted
Today I am in the rail yard mood! Let's take a look at some of them and what goes on in them! and thanks to Patrick McNamara for correcting me that this is the Bensenville, not Proviso yard with I 294 in the background
Lance Wales posted
John Smith posted three photos:



Jerry Jackson posted
The backside of the Bensenville engine house, looking through the ghost of the former roundhouse in 1989. GP38-2's 4402 and 4403 left and right, the turntable straight ahead.
John Meneely posted
Jerry Jackson commented on a posting by Jeff Kehoe
[From the context of the comments, I assume this is the hump tower.]
Stven J. Brown posted
Soooo grainy! For some reason, I had high ASA print film in the camera and took this grainy image that hit the cutting room floor years ago. I picked it up in my peripheral today and decided to run it through the scanner to see what it looked like. I kinda like it! It won't make it in print but its probably fine for FB.
Metra F40PH 102 westbound on the Milwaukee Road West Line about to duck under the CNW in the middle of the Soo Line Bensenville Yard in 1989.
[It looks like at least the bearing and abutment, probably the whole bridge, have been rebuilt since 1989.]

Mark Llanuza posted
Its well below zero at Bensenville IL 1975 with a Erie transfer run waiting for,its crews to rest before taking back to Huntington and Marion.

1953 with retarders in the foreground.

Sj Nelson updated
Jeff Kehoe Those 'farms north of road' became O'Hare!
Mark Llanuza posted
Its Feb 1976 its a very cold day with Erie and Milwaukee Rd side by side at Bensenville IL .Only a few months to go and the Erie will be no more .The Milwaukee last 9 years later.
[The Erie engines must have delivered an interchange train because their yard was 51st Street.]
Donny Albertson posted
Some bandits at Bensenville on 24MAR1990. No pure MILW units to be seen.
Jerry Jackson commented on Donny's posting
About 8 years earlier.
Jerry Jackson posted
Taken way back in 1980 at the Milwaukee Road's Green Street Engine House in Bensenville, IL.

Jerry Jackson posted
Good Night, Bensenville. If you squint, the SOO and CP seem to disappear. Early '90's.

Mark Llanuza posted
Its late evening at Bensenville IL yard with three E-units waiting for there crews to take back a train to 51st yard in Chicago Dec 1973
Curt Regensberger What route did they take to Bennsenville?William E. Poole Over the IHB , via Hammond,Indiana .Hohman St Tower into CALUMET CITY yard, exited at C.P.Cal Park. 
I delivered the Cal City as a EL. employee. Then in 1974 I was severed off. Hired out on the IHB. I recrewed. The same train as a IHB EMPLOYEE.
Curt Regensberger Where was the biggest bottleneck how long did it take.William E. Poole Depends upon traffic flow, from & thru CC yard.
Sj Nelson posted two photos with the comment: "Scott Sennett allowed these photos to be shared: The hump at Bensenville taken by my father who worked as an engineer."

Jerry Jackson commented on the above photo
Jerry Jackson posted two photos with the comment:
SOO LINE SD40A 6407 was caught on film twice by me back in 1989/90. There was so much action around the engine house back then that just going for a sandwich and coming back would give you different subjects to shoot.


Jerry Jackson updated
The format needed for a good cover page on here isn't easy to find. When I found this scan that I hadn't processed as yet, It leaped out. I tested it and couldn't say no. Tons of details in this shot. Milw Bay window caboose, a baggage car and a SOO caboose.
Jerry Jackson posted four photos with the comment: "Just a few examples of that wonderful spot, The Green Street Enginehouse. I lived 5 blocks away in the late 80's, on E. Crest. Every day there was something new to see."

[Now I know where the sand goes.]


John Rynd commented on a Jerry Jackson posting
Look at this! Same sand towers on Green Street taken by me in 1961.
David Parker posted
Bensenville Diesel Shop. July 28th 1985 (Photo by David Parker)
Jim Arvites posted
An aerial view of the Milwaukee Road's Bensenville Yard and Roundhouse taken in 1943 at Bensenville, Illinois.
(Jack Delano Photo)
Jon Roma Now this is one of the Jack Delano shots I haven't run across before! I'm thinking this view looks westward.

Steven J. Brown posted
Metra F40C 612 passing through the Soo Line yard about to duck under the CNW in Bensenville, Illinois - April 1989. The abandoned bridge was Wolf Road from when it passed over the yard.
William Lloyd Former 52.
Dennis DeBruler So it is heading outbound.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3

Steven J. Brown posted
Chicago and North Western SD40-2 6826 (built 1974 to UP 2974 then SD40N 1768) at Bensenville, Illinois - March 1990.
[Given the freight cars on the right side of the photo, I presume this is where the C&NW crossed the Milwaukee in the middle of the Milwaukee's yard.]

Dave's post

More comments on Dave's post

Marty Bernard posted
4. SOO GP40 4612 (ex-MILW) and SD40-2 762 at Bensnville on June 14, 1989

Some comments on a post about the demise of CSX/NYC hump yard in Buffalo, NY.
Jerry Jackson posted five photos with the comment: "Bensenville Wash Rack Wednesday: The first photo shows Milwaukee Road's idea of a wash rack back in what I believe is 1982. The pipes, etc can be seen in the right hand side of the first picture. CP 5401 is an ex-QNSL SD40 #205 which later, post-CP became DME SD40-3 6088. The GO Transit unit is an ex-RI GP40 #724. These were taken in 1991, IIRC. SOO SD60 6007 just looked pretty sitting outside the rack in July 1988, so I included it."





Michael Riha commented on Jerry's post
1969, John Riha photo

David Daruska shared link to an article about Canadian Pacific donating its 110' turntable in Bensenville to the RRHMA in Silvas, IL.

RRHMA posted four photos with the comment:
Last week in Bensenville, Illinois #RRHMA volunteers oversaw the removal and transportation of a turntable generously donated by our good friends at Canadian Pacific. This turntable will travel to our shop facility in Silvis, IL for eventual installation and use. Crews from TN Track Services, Smith Specialized Heavy Hauling Inc Official and Cranemasters, Inc. worked together with CP officials to safely carry out the job, and the turntable is on its way south! RRHMA would like to thank CP for this amazing donation, which will help us carry out our mission of preserving and interpreting rail history in the Midwest!
Jesse Eaton: Will the challenger fit on it???
Michael Clark: Jesse Eaton the old space in Silvis could accommodate a 4-8-4 Northern. As that was the longest steam Rock Island had at the time it was sufficient. The new table will require additional space. A Challenger class is 122' long. If you look at the rear tender there's substantial overhang from the last axle to tender rear. The donated table is 110'. So for engine and tender to fit about 8' would need added. Not that it can't be done. As the table ends have the motors, wheels, etc I suspect the middle of the two parts could have an additional section fabricated.
Interesting fact. Even UPs turntables wouldn't fully fit Big Boy and the tenders overhang the end by several feet.


[It appears that the Cranemaster crane pulled, rather than lifted the turntable out of the pit.]


A new highway is planned to go over the location of the turntable. So I'm saving an image of where the turntable was.

RRHMA posted three photos with the comment: "Over the past few weeks, we've had the distinct pleasure of working alongside our friends at Canadian Pacific on a project to remove and transport a turntable from Bensenville to our #RRHMA shop complex in Silvis. CP's gracious donation of this turntable, and the hard work of Cranemasters, Inc., Smith Specialized Heavy Hauling Inc Official, and TN Track Services, culminated in the arrival of the turntable (disassembled for the time being!) to the shop last week- check out these photos!"
Heavy? Sure, but that's why the folks at the Rock Island installed a crane in the shop! Here, we see the new #RRHMA turntable being removed from its trailer. Thanks to Smith Specialized Heavy Hauling Inc Official for the skilled delivery, and of course to Canadian Pacific for the donation of this amazing- and historically relevant- turntable!

One last photo of the new #RRHMA turntable in Bensenville, seen here being lifted from its pit. Thanks to Cranemasters, Inc. for the incredible job of safely and professionally removing this heavy, historic relic!

The #RRHMA turntable's controls are housed in this doghouse, which also safely arrived at our facility in Silvis by truck, thanks to our friends at Smith Specialized Heavy Hauling Inc Official.

Jerry Jackson posted eight photos with the comment: "I've been reluctant to post these photos of Milwaukee Road's Bensenville engine service area because I cannot recall the exact year the first 4 or 5 shots inside the service area were taken, plus the terrible condition of the photos, but I'm biting the bullet. The most interesting thing to me was the way that the pump house for the water tower was trimmed out around the frame of the pump pulley's tower. Most of these were marked 1980, that date may be off for some of the photos. Milwaukee experts, please comment."
Lance Wales: I would say 1980 is correct. Noticed that the pair of his nose GP9s, 317 and 318, have the access doors under the cab gone. Is there where the batteries were? I got 318 sitting at Rochelle, IL for use working DelMonte in the spring of 1979, so likely it is after that.
Jerry Jackson: Lance, the shots of 318 and 317 with the battery doors missing are on the dead line at Bensenville.
Joseph Tuch Santucci: You’ve documented the past in scenes that can never be repeated. I think they’re all great. If you have more post them by all means. We’re not like those stuffy, must be perfect photo sites. We love the history and the memories.
Justin Gillespie: Nice. I prefer the non 3/4 wedge locomotive shots. These are great.
Dennis DeBruler: I prefer these types of photos to those that fill the frame with the sheet metal of a locomotive. These help one visualize what the yard looked like.




5, cropped




Mike Breski posted an Alan Fricker yard photo with the comment: "The IHB train is a transfer run going back to Norpaul yard."
Rick La Fever Depending on the contract between IHB & MILW, the IHB units may have caboose hopped from Norpaul to wherever the interchange point was. IHB would then pick up their train to take back to their yard. Likewise, the MILW FM switcher would do the same thing in reverse! Eventually, the railroads combined these runs and would alternate the movements every 6 months.
Rick La Fever After zooming in the picture, I believe this was at Bensenville while the intermodal ramp was under construction.

Pictures 3, 4, 5, and 12, in this Tribune collection concern this railyard.

Rich Savaglio posted 10 photos of SOO engine 4443 being turned around by the turntable.

Arturo Gross Flickr 1996 Photo near the hump tower

Arturo Gross Flickr 1992 Photo of the west entrance   His first slide. (source)

Bob Lalich Flickr 1987 Photo, w/b departing
Run through freight to the MKT at Kansas City.


  1. my father worked for the milwaukee from 1940 until 1985 ,with 4 years off for WW 2. i remember riding the turntable as a child. when i was 12 or 13 i bought an old car for $25.00 . i would drive on railroad property from bensenville to franklin park. some times i would be stopped by the railroad police ,or as they were known the ,gum shoes. all i had to do is mention my dads name and i was on my way.many years later i was at the r.r. crossing at york road when a diesel train was hauling all of the old steam locos out of the yard huge freight ,passenger,and small yard engines . some were sitting on flat cars, about 50 of them.i later learned they were being scraped, it was a sad dad was an electrican, and he loved the milwaukee road ,his name was george bonner

    1. My father worked for the Milwaukee from around 1970 until it became part of Soo Line (a later subsidiary of Canadian Pacific). He continued to work at CP until about 2005. Was part of the RR Police dept that would "sometimes stop you when you drove on the property", so no hard feelings I hope. If my father ever caught me doing anything sketchy around railroad property I would have been beaten for sure. He had seen a lot of things in his job (some horrors he even told me about when I was barely a teenager with unforgettable details). So of course he told me to never, ever screw around where trains are running. He started out in Iowa (had to move to Ottumwa FROM Chicago for the job). He was a Lieutenant there (but I imagine started out as special agent?). His job moved him back to Chicago 10 years later, in 1980. He served as a Captain for many years, then eventually was promoted to Chief of Police, working mostly out of the office there at the Bensenville yard when he wasn't travelling. He was in charge of the police dept (a.k.a. security and special services) for numerous states surrounding the Illinois area so hence the frequent travelling. I made the trip up to his office a few times with him (or to pick him up there). I don't know if that office is still there in the yards or has been since re-purposed for something else. I do wish I could see it again if it is still there. Pretty mundane office, what you would expect of a 1970's / 80's railroad detective's office. Ashtrays, file cabinets, a locker for shotguns, and alot of wood paneling. With a noticeable layer of diesel soot on the outside the building if memory serves. I don't think I have been up there IN the yards since before the huge walk-off rail strike in 1994.