Friday, October 25, 2019

CRL/C&NW Irondale Yard and Cargill/C&NW Grain Elevator

(Satellite information is below)

CRL = Chicago Rail Link

This was one of two Irondale elevators along the Calumet River. The other one was just south of 108th.

(Update: the comments on this post discuss how C&NW locomotives served this yard and other interesting tidbits. But Google's new software has destroyed my productivity enough that I'm way behind on other notes, so I don't have time to rewrite these notes to incorporate this new information. I invite you to peruse the comments yourself.

A Bob Lalich comment on a post summarized the routing: "CNW was a part owner of IHB for a good period of time. I believe most CNW traffic for Irondale Yard was routed over the IHB. IHB, PRR and Rock Island were the owners of the Calumet Western RR, which the IHB used to access Irondale.")

The Irondale Yard supported a Cargill/C&NW grain elevator. There was an Irondale Grain Elevator, but it was in the southeast quadrant of 106th and the river.
John W. Barriger III Flickr

Arturo Gross Flickr 2000 Photo of a CWP&S SW8 working at the former C&NW Irondale Yard. My uncle, Doug Weitzman, mentioned that C&NW had an isolated operation on the south side of Chicago and would move locomotives to and from it as merchandise freight. But a comment on Trainorders indicates a C&NW hostler would take a relief locomotive to this yard as an all day job. Until 1960, C&NW was a part owner of IHB. And IHB was a part owner of Calumet Western, which accessed this yard from the south.

"The CNW Irondale Yd. was a joint venture with the PRR." [ghemr comment on Trainorders] On the other hand, Bob Lalich commented on a post: "Even though the elevator photo is in the Barriger album of PRR Chicago terminal photos, it was built and 100% owned by CNW. After the sale or lease to Cargill, CNW retained exclusive switching rights."

Comments on the following post confirm that C&NW's Irondale Yard is now operated by CRL.
Evie N Bob Bruns posted
CNW 4410 sitting next to yard office at Irondale 2/23/1988.
Evie N Bob Bruns CNW switched numerous industries there including the large Cargill Elevator and was just south of Wisconsin Steel.
Bob Lalich Evie N Bob Bruns - CNW only switched the elevator. Wisconsin Steel was switched exclusively by Chicago West Pullman & Southern, both of which were owned by International Harvester.
Dennis DeBruler Arturo Gross caught part of the yard office:

Bob Lalich Dennis DeBruler - the Central Soya elevator was built in the 1950s and was north of the Cargill/CNW elevator.
Dennis DeBruler Bob Lalich My Dad used to work for Central Soya, so when I discovered this elevator, I dug deeper:

Bob Lalich Flickr, Dec 1986
CRL Irondale
Years after the Rock Island ceased to exist, this CRL locomotive still wears its Rock Island paint and logo, 12-86.
[The Central Soya/Glidden Grain Elevator is in the background.]

Bob Lalich commented on Bob's post
South of 112th St, there was a yard for the coke plant off the C&WI, a joint IHB/PRR yard, and the CNW yard. Here is a map of the CNW yard.
Dennis DeBruler I see the Pennsy+IHB+RI subsidiary of Calumet Western RR still had its bridge over the river back then. It is so neat when the pieces of a puzzle start fitting together.

Dennis DeBruler Bob Lalich Are all three of these yards now owned by Chicago Rail Link?
Bob Lalich Not sure who owns what is left of the old coke plant yard. The BRC still connects to it. I believe the old Calumet Western Irondale Yard is CRL. Not sure about the ex-CNW yard, but it seems likely CRL has ownership also.
Dennis DeBruler Jeff, according to Bob's comment, the map location you indicated would be the C&WI yard for the Interlake/Acme Coke plant that was across the street. You can still see concrete remnants from that Coke plant. The yard on the right with the lighter ballast would be the top of the IHB+PRR yard. Irondale Yard was south of 117th.!3m1!1e3...
Wow, the yard office in Bob's photo still exists. But it looks like the windows have been boarded up.
Marty Gatton Dennis DeBruler yard office is still open and being utilized by a rail car repair/maintenance company.... believe it to be CRL related

David Daruszka uploaded, p23
Andre Kristopans What was the intended routing from Proviso to Irondale Terminal? Via BRC? I was under the impression the Rock Island had something to do with that place too.
Bob Lalich CNW was a part owner of IHB for a good period of time. I believe most CNW traffic for Irondale Yard was routed over the IHB. IHB, PRR and Rock Island were the owners of the Calumet Western RR, which the IHB used to access Irondale.

Dennis DeBruler replied to Bob Lalich's comment
A 1938 aerial matches that map pretty well. I wonder if the "soya plant" was a Central Soya/Glidden Paint plant that shared the rail facilities or if Cargill was already into the soybean oil business back then. Central Soya/Glidden Paint did build the elevator that is now the core of the COFCO elevator,
[1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP]
Dennis DeBruler I see the Pennsy+IHB+RI subsidiary of Calumet Western RR still had its bridge over the river back then. It is so neat when the pieces of a puzzle start fitting together.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob's post
The 1953 Calumet Lake @ 1:24,000 Quandrangle explicitly labels Irondale Yard. Unlike most big grain elevators, these loop tracks were probably used to unload trains rather than load them.

3D Satellite, Google Maps still labels it Chicago & Northwestern
[It looks like the yard office in Bob's photo still exists, but the windows have been boarded up.]

In this 2012 Chicago yards map, Irondale is on the west side of the river whereas 100th Street and 110th Street Yards are on the east side of the river.

Michael Miller asked an IHB Facebook group: "Did the IHB switch Wisconsin Steel or interchange with the mill owned Chicago West Pullman & Southern? If so was there a name for that interchange?"
Bob Lalich answered: "IHB interchanged with CWP&S at Irondale Yard, just south of Wisconsin Steel. IHB reached Irondale Yard via the Calumet Western, of which they were a part owner along with PRR and Rock Island. CWP&S had exclusive rights to switch WSW. Both were owned by International Harvester."

Judging from a satellite image, Cargill has replaced its elevator with an ethanol plant. (I spend some time poking arround their web site trying to find information on this location. But I couldn't even find anything about ethanol. The Biofuels section talks about biodiesel. I did discover that Cargill operates over 600 ocean going vessels. But I don't know if they export ethanol from here or if the plant is just a way to reuse the land they own.) (Update: Brett Ellis commented on a post: "Cargill was making Soybean oils and biodiesel I think last I knew at their old sight."
David Daruszka posted two images.
Dennis DeBruler shared with the comment:
In Chicago, rustic means old, but not small. Fortunately, the explosion that broke windows 5 miles away and was heard for 40 miles happened after the 150 employees went home. Six of the nine watchmen were killed. At the time of the explosion, this 1917 C&NW elevator stored, in terms of millions of bushels, 5 oats, 1.5 corn and 2 wheat. It may have been the largest in the world when built. When did slip-form construction start? It strikes me that 1917 would be rather bleeding edge for that as well.
Fig 3 surprised me not only because of the number of silos destroyed by the explosion but because the storage part of the elevator was as deep as it was wide.
The elevator was bought by Cargill. It appears they have sold the river side and built a "technical oils" plant on the remaining land.…/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x880e2740…
Dean Taton Chain reaction explosion I imagine. Whatever triggered the 1st one, put dust in the air, and, voila!!
Brett Ellis This became Cargill later. 20 million in storage total. Later a large steel tank and extremely large flat storage building were added.
Bob Summers The first slip form concrete elevator was a single tube to prove the concept - PV in suburban Minneapolis just before the turn of the century (1900) so those elevators built in the first couple of decades of the 20th century were still perfecting the techniques.


In 1938, this Cargill elevator was the furthest inland along the Calumet River. It looks like they had recently filled in some swamp area on the south side of Calumet Lake. None of the slips that we see today were built yet on the west side of the lake. The other elevator down here was serviced by a railroad (C&WI) instead of a waterway.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
[Note that Ford has already built its assembly plant south of the river between Torence Ave. and the Nickle Plate. It was built to help make Model Ts. It was used to make Tartus. Now it makes just SUVs.]

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

During the 1930s, Chicago lost most of the grain handling business. All of the elevators along the South Branch had been removed to make way for straightening the river. The IC still had one of its elevators along the Main Stem.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
When the St. Lawrence Seaway was built, Chicago got back into the grain handling business.

Some comments on this post contain some details about this elevator.

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