Saturday, May 20, 2017

Retail Coal Bunkers

When studying old maps of railroad branches in Chicago that are now abandoned, many were surrounded by industry. (That is why the branch existed.) And it was common to find companies that sold various grades of coal because homes were heated and factories were powered by coal. (Gas in the 1800s was manufactured from coal and was used for lighting, not heating.)

These were retail companies that delivered coal with horse and wagon. Later coal was delivered by truck and the density of retail coal companies dwindled. The development of natural gas pipelines that could deliver gas to each household killed the retail coal company business.

People took pictures of trains, but not of coal bunkers. Fortunately, one is in the background of this picture.

Carl Venzke posted
Also note the ice company that helped supply ice for the icebox that once was in many households.

Facebook Resolution
Many of the pictures of Milwaukee's Galewood Yard include the coal yard that was on the north side of the yard by Long Avenue.  In fact, the silos still stand!
3D Satellite

Birds-Eye View
Seminary Avenue used to go past the west side of Wrigley Field
creating a triangle of land between it, Clark Street and Waveland Avenue. I had to use an older Bing image because Google Map already shows this street has been removed as part of Wrigley's (Ricket's) remodeling to put a new locker room under the ground and more lucrative real estate on top of the ground. But back in the days of street cars, this stretch of Seminary did not exist because it contain the tracks of Milwaukee's Chicago & Evanston branch. On the east side of those tracks was the west bleachers of Wrigley and on the west side was a couple of coal yards. (Wrigley was built on the land of a Lutheran seminary. [drloihj])

Chad Brown posted eight photos with the comment:
Once located at 3637 N. Clark St. The Collins & Wiese coal yard. Opened July 1920 and closed in 1960. The coal field along with its five hulking silos was demolished in 1961. Later tenants were a Henry's Drive In, Yum-Yum donuts. Yum-Yum was purchased by the team and was briefly used for storage before eventually being torn down. Was part of the Wrigley renovations which includes a Cub clubhouse and office building and an open air plaza. A not yet opened Cub-owned Zachary hotel is in the final stages of being completed is across Clark St. where a McDonald's once were. Couldn't find any pics of the coal yard without Wrigley in the photos.. But cool pics though..







I cropped the following from a higher resolution copy of the third photo that was uploaded by Stephen Karlson. It appears there were two coal companies. The wooden dock and elevator were owned by Collins & Wiese Coal Co. and the concrete silos were owned by Chicago Solvay Coke. Or is it all C&W and Solvay is the name of the company that supplies their coke?

Stephen Karlson commented on a share
 I scannned this picture from an issue of First and Fastest. The grease joint appears to be on the site of the coal dealer used to be across the street from the ballpark.
Stephen Karlson Dennis DeBruler There's another reference to coke below the Collins and Wiese sign. "Solvay" refers to one of the patented methods of coking, and it might be that's Chicago Solvay's retail silo behind, or perhaps Collins and Wiese deal in Chicago Solvay.

Roger Kujawa posted
Coal wagons,trucks,vehicles,waiting,line,largest yards,Chicago,Illinois,IL,1909.


  1. love the images, pretty fantastic.

    Coal Bunkers NI

  2. Can you tell me the year that photo was taken?

    1. With streetcars was 1935. Cubs playing NY Giants

  3. Lots more about the retail coal business in Google Books. See

  4. Great pictures the older I get the more interesting it is. What got me to your site is my interest in streetcars. I grew up on 1200 block of oakdale you have anything on LILL OIL & COAL on Racine Ave between Belmont & Addision. The Milwaukee road serviced them I think