Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Michigan Central Grain Elevators (Norris and Kensington) and Coaling Tower

(Satellite, just the newest silos of the elevator still remain)

The title of these notes used to be "Grain Elevator along C&WI in Lake Calumet Area." Now that I know it was a Michigan Central elevator, I have completely rewritten the notes. The old version is archived here.

A grain elevator is in the background of some of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Disctrict's photos of the construction of the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant.

MWRD posted Nov 2018
Historical photo of the week: An elevating grader removes topsoil during the beginning of excavation for the MWRD Calumet treatment plant in Chicago near 123rd St. on the north side of the facility site on Nov. 18, 1920.
Joe Falco: To the left of the nose of the tractor is the beginning of the upward slope of the "High Tracks" that go up and over the Illinois Central tracks and form the north boundary of Kensington park aka Morandi's Field. Those Norris Malted Barley (beer) grain elevators were ancient, abandoned and scary and a source of wonder for us kids when we used to explore the area now known as Kensington Marsh. This narrow piece of land is intriguing as it's been closed off between the two tracks, with little disturbance outside of some illegal dumping. The Indian Boundary runs through the middle of this "Lost World" and would be a prime site for an archeological survey. Oh, and there are (were) little, white freshwater jelly fish in the ponds. They are invasives from Chinese landscaping plants, and have spread throughout the Midwest, just like carp. There were also pheasants, muskrats, beaver, rabbits, snakes and turtles, back in the 1970's when we used to ramble around there. I think it might also be a site where the mysterious Thismia Americana still exists, a pre-historic plant that lives without chlorophyll, perhaps a missing link between fungi and chlorophyll plant development. This is a great photo!
Melissa Carrillo shared
MWRD posted Jun 2020
[Bob Lalich identified the structure on the right as the coaling tower in MC's railyard.]

MWRD posted Apr 2021
Construction of the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) on September 29, 1921. The Calumet WRP is the oldest of the MWRD’s seven WRPs and has been in operation since 1922, serving residents and businesses in the southern portion of Cook County. At the time of its opening, the 16-mile Cal-Sag Channel had just become operational. By 1928, the plant served a population of 155,000. At present the plant’s service population is over one million people in an area of about 300 square miles.

The above photo also has a view of MC's coaling tower.
Dennis DeBruler commented on the June 2020 post, at photo resolution 

MWRD posted
A view of construction at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) on August 30, 1926.
Dennis DeBruler: This photo not only shows the grain elevator back when it still had its wood building, it shows a steam locomotive on the C&WI tracks.
41°40'14.0"N 87°36'43.1"W
41.670546, -87.611964

Erik Gilmore commented on the Nov 2018 post
It looks like a few of those silos survived.
Dennis DeBruler So that elevator was served by the CW&I, not Lake Calumet.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3 Now that I think about it, the MWRD photo shows the elevator was built before 1920 whereas the Illinois Waterway was not built until the 1930s. This demonstrates the economy of bulk shipment by barge because the grain elevators moved from railroad access to waterway access.

Dennis DeBruler commented on the Jun 2020 post
Bob Lalich Do you know which railroad operated this grain elevator? It does not appear on the 1901 Sanborn Grain Elevator map. It looks like it could have been served by IC from the north or by a C&WI owner from the south. It would not be the MC because they had two elevators on the east side of their yard. Although only one still seems to be standing by 1929. The topo shows that MC served the WRP.
1929 Calumet Lake Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Some context for that area.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

David Daruszka commented on the Nov 2018 post

Bob Lalich posted a C&WI map that shows that the Norris Elevator was served by Michigan Central.
Bob Lalich commented on the Jun 2020 post

And the 1901 Sanborn Maps shows that the Kensington Elevator was in their railyard.


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