Monday, January 22, 2018

Lost/ComEd Ridgeland Generating Station

(Satellite image below)
I knew ComEd had the Fisk and Crawford Generating Stations along the South Branch and Canal. The comments on the following photo taught me that ComEd had a third generating station along the waterway --- Ridgeland.
Jerry Jackson posted
I'll bet the guy in the 76' AMC Hornet could care less about this train and wonders if his spare is any good. I, on the other hand, wore a glove. Driving up the Stevenson Expressway, just past Harlem Ave. I saw this cool lash-up just after it had crossed the DesPlaines River, rolled the winder down and took as many as I safely could. This one was the best of the grab shots. The train is headed towards Nerska/Corwith. January 1988.
Mark Bilecki Sr. No thats not Ridgeland station , thats the Metro Water Reclaimation plant in the background. Ridgeland was directly north of where the photo was taken.
The plant existed in 1938:
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

The canal has been removed and the cooling pond was moved. A 1951 aerial shows construction activity. A 1972 aerial shows the land looking similar to what we see today. The plant itself doesn't seem to change much until we get to a 1988 aerial and see that it is gone.

Three sources say it was built in the early 1950s:
  • JohnnyBigboy1425: "It was the most Modern Power plant in the world when it came on line in the 50's. People from all over the world would come and see it's operation."
  • IEEE: "Newest addition to the Commonwealth Edison Company is the Ridgeland Station with an ultimate capacity of 600,000 kw. The result of long-range planning, the station has many modern features including centralized control, cyclone-fired furnaces, and hydrogen-cooled generators."
  • Chicago Tribune: "The first completely new electric generating station built in the Chicago area since 1929"
So why do I see the same buildings with the same smokestacks exist in the 1938 aerial??? My current working assumption is that it was built as a coal plant and converted to an oil-burning plant in the early 1950s. JohnnyBigboy1425 also stated: "When I worked there, in the operating department it was an oil burning plant, it had been converted from coal some years before I started working there." Because OPEC very successfully increased the price of petroleum products in the 1970s, JohnnyBigboy1425 says it was dismantled piece by piece and reassembled in Florida. It must be the Florida plant that rmurwin is referring to with his 2014 comment: "This power plant is still in operation, albeit heavily modified. It now burns biofuel (wood). Ferndog confirms it was closed in 1982 due to high oil costs.


  1. The siding is still there and it is a Comed substation and storage for large transformers.

  2. I went past Ridgeland station every day on my way to Dresden station. It had strange stacks - I was told that they were a special design that mixed and dispersed the flue gases better to reduce effects on planes coming into Midway.
    Ridgeland station was the site of a catastrophic turbine failure during overspeed testing of unit 4 LP turbine. December 19, 1954. Two were killed and five were injured. Taught everyone a lot about metallurgy and brittle fracture.

    1. I worked there when they did the asbestos removal in 1985 those two engineers were still hanging around on the turbine floor replaying the blow up over and over it was real scary

  3. I worked as a project engineer for Ridgeland, Fisk, and Crawford stations. The plant did not exist in 1938.