Wednesday, June 19, 2019

1957 COFCO/Nidera/Continental B House/Central Soya/Glidden Grain Elevator along Calumet River

(3D Satellite)

(Duplicate alert: please go here for additional information.)

COFCO is a Big Ag company that has an emphasis on global trade. ADM and Cargill seem to export from Toledo, OH. I think it was owned by Nidera, but the link I had for them no longer works.

Chicago & North Western Historical Society posted
Matt Holman Irondale, Chicago, Illinois- Central Soya’s B House Elevator built in 1956.
Bob Lalich I grew up near Irondale and did a double take when I saw the photos. This elevator was Continental Grain in the 1960s and later years, but Matt Holman is correct. The number of silos and windows on the center structure match perfectly. There is another small detail that helps nail the location. A small portion of the roof of Republic Steel's soaking pits can be seen just to the right of the elevator. Republic Steel was directly across the river from this elevator. Good job Matt!
Bob Lalich Matt Holman correctly identified the location in his comment. The elevator is still standing today on the west bank of the Calumet River at 117th St in Chicago. Judging the date by the cars seen here, the photo was taken in the late 1950s. According to a 1956 Directory of Industries for the Chicago Switching District, the elevator is listed under Glidden Co, and was served by IHB, PRR and CRIP. The Cargill (former CNW) elevator is out of frame to the right. It appears that the perpendicular spur is being used to unload grain doors for boxcars, or something similarly flat.

Dennis DeBruler commented on the CNWHS post, 20160521 3308c
The best shot I could get from public access, 2016.
Dennis DeBruler I was wrong. The street view car shows me that I should have gone south and then east on the access road. The street view caught a lot of ground storage. The current satellite image shows it is empty.!3m6!1e1!3m4...
Dennis DeBruler Glidden was a paint company that had a scientist, Dr. Percy Julian, who figured out how to extract the oil from soybeans to make paints. Glidden let Dr. Julian continue with his research, and he developed several uses for the oil, both industrial (for example, adhesives) and food products. The plant and first elevator was up by Milwaukee Road's Gaiewood Yard. Since that plant was landlocked, they built this much larger storage elevator where it had the water transport options of barges on the Illinois Waterway and "salties" on the St. Lawrence Seaway. So this elevator stored soybeans.
Central Soya bought the soybean operations of Glidden in the early 1960s.

1990s photo provided by Greg White

1 of 80 photos posted by Michael Siola
Dennis DeBruler shared
This is the first waterfront photo I have seen of this elevator because you need a boat. The core of this elevator was built in 1956 for Central Soya. It was Continental Grain in the 1960s and later. It is now owned by COFCO, a Chinese company. I wonder if they still use their marine legs to unload barges. Most Great Lakes elevators no longer use their marine legs because the ships now have self-unloaders. I presume this elevator unloads barges that come up the Illinois River and loads salties for export to China. The two barges by the elevator are low in the water so they are loaded. In the right background you can see an unloaded barge. The US Army Core of Engineers is supposed to maintain a 9' depth in all of the waterways. The empty barge is beside some silos used by a zinc company.

Dennis DeBruler commented on his share!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...

They had a lot of ground storage when the street view car went there.
Street View
The end of travel down this road for the street view car.
Street View, Oct 2018
 I accessed the following street view when adding Marty's post below. I'm surprised that the two ground piles are still full in June. That is late enough in the season that I would expect ground piles to be empty. Is this delayed shipment because of the tarrif war with China?
Street View, Jun 2019

Marty Gatton posted ten photos with the comment: "On the grounds of the silo at 117th and the Calumet River...   8am Tuesday March 31 [2020]"
Larry Hegstad Didn't they have fire down there last night?
Marty Gatton Larry Hegstad this morning.
[I couldn't find anything more about the fire.]










Fire continues to be a hazard in grain elevators.
Marty commented on his share
Grain bin, not a silo.... [around Jan 2020]

Dennis DeBruler posted a link to these notes on 6/19/2019.
Brett Ellis Rode in with many loads to B&C house and even more to Cargill. There was also the Gateway elevator and the old Norris Grain elevator which became Pillsbury in the area. Oh, I forgot General Mills too. I read at one time it had the largest capacity in the US. Being a delivery point for
cbot if course was a factor.
Brett Ellis Dennis DeBruler the very little that's left. It was a massive elevator with a huge flat storage building also. I read at one time it had the largest capacity in the US. Being a delivery point for cbot if course was a factor.
Dennis DeBruler This elevator was the Continental B House.
I finished researching the C&NW Irondale Yard today:
Former C House:,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3

Brett Ellis Dennis DeBruler b house is still there, now Nidera. Cargills terminal is gone and c house is vacant and sits next to the old gateway elevator.
Brett Ellis Nidera was bought by COFCO which is China.
Brett Ellis Cargill was making Soybean oils and biodiesel I think last I knew at their old sight.


  1. I worked for Continental Grain Company as the Superintendent of this facility which was referred to a B House and the facility that CGC leased from the Illinois Port Authority that was referred to as C House beginning in January 1994 through April of 1997. They were both huge storage facility but very capable of handling grain via truck, rail, barge, lakers, and salty's. Both facility still had the box car unloaders in place but were out of service. Good times!

  2. I will be happy to share any information that I can about the grain industry in Chicago. It's my understanding that at one time there were 14 grain elevators operating in Chicago. If I can be of service please contact me via the email address of

  3. Brett Ellis - which elevator was operated by Pillsbury?

  4. The Norris grain facility. Now gone