Saturday, May 13, 2017

Railroad on Goose Island and Big Bay Lumber

I knew Milwaukee had a lot of track on Goose Island, but I did not realized that over half of the island was covered by track.

1929 Chicago Loop Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

I was also surprised how much track was still on the island in 1978. And I see that Ogden still went over the island.
1978 Chicago Loop Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

safe_image for Goose Island’s industrial past and tech future
Aerial view of Goose Island looking south, circa 1960.

By 1886, fire insurance maps showed that the island was home to:
13 lumber yards
11 coal yards
three stone yards
two slab yards
two sand yards
two grain elevators
several tanneries
a varnish company
a mattress factory
a shipyard
a roofing manufacturer
a paint works
a malt house
a box factory

Will G Benson posted 11 photos with the comment: "A late Throwback Thursday as I set the Wayback to... June 24th, 2014.
A detailed look at one of Chicago Terminals runs on the final miles of the Chicago and Evanston Railway in one of the final years of the C&E lines operation."
Me and my friend had gotten word that CTM would be doing a big transformer move out of the Finkl steel mill, as the plant was preparing for shutdown and movement to the south side. In this first image, CTM 900 crosses over the swing bridge in the neighborhood of Ranch Triangle.

To our surprise, the transformer move didn't take place. Instead we were treated with the usual operations that were happening at the time. The local goes across the same bridge but with three gondolas loaded with scrap metal from a local junkyard.

With the scrap gons back at North Avenue Yard, the crew could now complete the task of swapping an empty centerbeam with a loaded one at Big Bay Lumber. Here, the short train is crossing North Avenue as it approaches the bridge to Goose Island.

The flagman is hard at work protecting the Division Street intersection. The load was left back north in a siding.

Intersection crossing success!

They have made it to their destination and have coupled to the empty. Now they shall return to the siding to grab that load.

This is my favorite image out of this set. With big skyscrapers looming in the distance over a small SW8, you really get to see what terminal rail operations in a big city are like.

The small journey north begins.

The load is being spotted on the main for easy unloading.

Apparently, a bus route goes right down Cherry Avenue.

We got a friendly wave from one of the crew members as they get a move on from Big Bay.

And with the train rolling over the swing bridge we started with, their duties are almost at an end. Little did we know that this operation altogether was also nearing an end. in 2015, Big bay Lumber, the final customer on the line, would go out of Business. For the first time since the Chicago and Evanston was opened in 1885, the tracks of northern Chicago's urban sprawl lay dormant..

Edward Jarolin posted three photos with the comment: "Big Bay Lumber on Goose Island in Chicago was in business for 97 years closing its doors in 2015. The street running rail service was provided by the Milwaukee Road, Soo, CP and finally the Chicago Terminal. A little Google Mapping turns up these views. In later years the big centerbeam flats would be spotted in the street for unloading."


Gabriel Johnson No other customers on this street ruining line?
Edward Jarolin Big Bay was the last customer on the island. A little further north on this line, but not on the island, Finkl Steel closed their facility earlier this year. The area is becoming quite upscale, so the buildings and tracks that served them will likely be quickly replaced with residential and commercial buildings. For info on street running in Chicago, past and what little may be left, check out :

Brian Westgate Is there anything left then on this division of the Chicago Terminal?
Dennis DeBruler commented on Edward's post
Only if this scrap yard still gets rail service. This is the south end of the yard where the "mainline" to Goose Island leaves Kingsbury Street and goes through the yard.
Dennis DeBruler The location of the scrap yard:,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3. It was active on a Saturday. I had walked up to Cortland and back down to Goose Island via Elston Avenue. At times I could hear the metal being ground up.
Paul Strubeck That is General Iron. They get a car once in a blue moon, or did, but the majority of what they do goes by barge. Unless they have something up there sleeve, I think this line is done.

Paul Strubeck commented on Edward's post
[I was surprised by how long the cut of cars was. I see at least a half-dozen cars.]

I have tried organizing individual railfan photos from North to South. There are a lot of photos working the Big Bay Lumber company because it was the last industry still rail served on the island.

Tommy Thompson posted
Chicago Terminal having just crossed North Avenue- April, 2012.
[See Milwaukee Z-2 Bridge for more photos of trains on the bridge.]

Bill Latimer posted
“Milwaukee Road C&E South Line (aka Division Street Job) at work on Goose Island. They’ve just delivered some tank cars to National Byproducts on Blackhawk Street and are heading back out of the spur in Chicago on a warm August 27,1986. Photo by John Smatlak.

Rob Olewinski Cmraseye posted
Last fight....last of the street running soon to be gone, for now, claimed by the stored tank cars to remind the City who still owns the right of way as construction in the area pushes in....
Gary Sprandel Chicago Terminal IIRC. former MILW Kingswood branch. Daley and Rahmbo have been gentrifying the area big time. What Rahm wants Rahm gets but it looks like he's not getting it easy.
Rob Olewinski Cmraseye more here:
Aaron Grace Don't fret too much. As long as ChiTerm insists on using it for car storage, the tracks stand a surviving chance. In fact, you have to wonder if they put all those cars there like that purposefully to keep the track from being tampered with by the city, as if the railroad has some type of long-term plans for the track. Frankly, I love the sight of the cars in the middle of the street like that.
Rob Olewinski Cmraseye I do too, but this is exactly what happened to the trackage up to Peerless. The other thing is maintenance of the bridge. I had heard all the electrical cabling had been stolen, Erik Fox how did you close and open the bridge on the 20th??
Rob Olewinski Cmraseye this was the Peerless siding:
Ray John Big Bay Lumber went under. General Iron [the scrap yard] hasn't used the RR in a while, Sipi is once in a white, but not on the island. big developers and the city want to buy the ROW. they know CTR has the upper hand if they want to keep it. politics at its finest.
Ray John I know CTR would love to keep it, but honestly, they city don't want industry. therefore its just costing them money to maintain, per say. getting a good chuck of money for it now is smart. invest in their money maker in EGV/B'Ville
Tom Skowronski You know, you have to get rid of all that ugly industrial stuff for new high-end residential crap. Except then, where will the new residents work?? You wonder why there are no jobs? Sorry to rant,but the reason, of course that the Kingsbury branch will soon be dead is lack of customers. The flight started in the '60's and the lack of business soon caused the old bobtail swing bridge at the south end feeding from Union Station to come out, I think, in '72. We who also love the Q's Lumber District (for a while, Central Illinois) better commit it to film/pixels because the City wants to gentrify all that,area too.Although not directly a customer (there was a rotary dumper in the back), they already killed the Fisk generating station. All that area is too close to the Loop and the land too valuable to use as industrial. That's what ALL cities call progress.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Rob's post
I read the Z-6 Bridge had been repaired after the copper vandals stripped it. When I heard the lumber yard quit getting cars, I made a trip in the winter of 2015 to grab pictures before the track disappeared. Here is a shot northwest up Cherry from Bliss. The cars you see setting on Cherry is gridlock at Division Street. And I never did see a clear shot acrosss North. It had gridlock in both directions.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Rob's post
I had my daughter drive me around Chicago so that I could grab pictures of bridges, etc. Here I'm looking southeast from Diversity. In May 2015 the lumber yard was still receiving cars. But they didn't bother to use their siding. They unloaded them from street parking.

Robby Gragg commented on Rob's post
Here they are back in 2012 running light to pick up a car at the now closed Big Bay Lumber

Larry Amaloo posted
ILSX 900, an EMD SW8, rolls down Cherry Avenue crossing Division Street in Chicago Illinois on the Chicago Terminal Railroad. Taken on 11-7-14
Daniel Rappoport Why did they leave the cars on the runaround in the middle of the street for unloading rather than spotting the cars into Big Bay Lumber?
Jeremy Lowth Pretty sure that siding was out of service. Big bay always wanted the cars in the street straight across from their docks.
Fred Van Dorpe The last move off Goose island itself, was on 10/2/17 when they removed 33 tank cars off the Island. Earlier this year they moved a few reefers off a portion of the trackage where the Finkl steel was, and that is what people refer to as the "last official move." But they have started up the sw8 and spotted cars to sipi metals right by CY tower a few times after that reefer move. So what is or isnt the last official move is debatable.
Joshua Oshinski Sometime in early to mid September [2018] was the last move.

Nikki Burgess posted
A rainy dawn on Goose Island on Chicago's near north side finds a Wisconsin Central lumber flat patiently awaiting unloading on Cherry Avenue. The city skyline looms through the misty morning. Sadly, this trackage, one of the more out-of-the-way corners of the old Milwaukee Road, is out of service now.
Blair Hooistra comment on above posting
My Goose Island shot. Right about where you shot it. May 18, 2014.
[This is further north than I have ever seen a car parked because you can also see the spur that used to go into the lumber company.]
Tommy Thompson posted
Spotting Big Bay Lumber on Goose Island. April 2012

Nikki Burgess posted
A Wisconsin Central lumber flat rises out of the Chicago mist on Goose Island. This track may be abandoned now; I am uncertain. This shot is several years old now.

I don't know where the Goose Island brewery was, so this photo is out of sequence.

Mike Mihaly Janusek shared
This is one of my all-time favorite Milwaukee Road photos that I have. I had scoured Goose Island street trackage for some time previous to this shot. Then, years later, I was visiting the Goose Island Brewery in 2004 and I walked into the street nearby and this little freight consist was rolling down the street ! I could not believe the timing.... My father was with me and he took this shot of me while I was shooting the same way freight. !!! I had not even known that that the Milwaukee owned the Goose Island trackage... Such a pleasant surprise.... This was, of course, after the Soo take-over, but this unit was not re-painted except for the gaudy word, "Soo" painted on the side, if I remember correctly...
[Note, it is pulling cars of lumber.]
In the lower-right corner of this image is the southern turnout for the runaround siding. At the north end we see the other turnout for the siding, a truck parked in a curve of a building and an industrial spur leaving the road and going into a parking lot.
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(new window)  Kingsbury Job 1999 Soo Line Geep running on Cherry Street south of Division Street to service Bay Lumber. There are lots of videos of rail action concerning the Kingsbury Job. I picked this one because it shows the operation of a turnout embedded in the street. And it show the train heading back north across Division Street. That street is gridlocked westbound every time I visit. I leave the island by heading south. It also has a caboose. At the end, you can see the traffic on North Avenue, but you can't see the Z-2 Bridge. I think he needed to move the camera further to the right to see the bridge.

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The Chicago Tribune wrote about the "railroad trolls."

Kris Rumbut posted 20 photos of Chicago Terminal pulling out their stored tank cars on 10/2/17.

Rail cars roll off Goose Island, but 'railroad troll' to bring them back

Looks like they replaced the tank cars with refers, but the last run was done on 2-15-2018.

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