Monday, November 9, 2020

CB&Q Sheep Yard in Montgomery, IL

(Satellite information is below)

Pat Torrance via
Montgomery was once the home of the largest sheep barns in the U.S. with a capacity of 75,000 animals. In it's heyday [during the 1800s], 50 men were employed there.
In the late 1800s, the Burlington Railroad built the last layover station for feeding, watering, and resting cattle and sheep on the way from the Western Grasslands to the Chicago Stockyards.
Over one million animals were handled and sheared each year.
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus also pastured their animals to graze at Montgomery, before a performance in Chicago.
The operation was shut down completely in 1981.

"It was located West of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy tracks, north of Webster Street, on both sides of Route 31, and the yards were located between Aucutt and Jericho roads, west from Route 31 to Blackberry Creek." [Pat Torrence]
[Most of the land was 1000 acres of pasture.]

The tracks were concentrated in the northeastern part of the land.
1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

The Sheep Yard lead still goes behind where the Montgomery Tower used to stand. We can still see the foundation of that tower south of Webster Street and between the yard lead and the mainline.

That lead still goes through a small yard and joins the mainline before the Aurora and Mendota Subdivisions join. The satellite image shows a rather empty yard. But a Nov 7, 2020, photo that I took showed some cuts of cars in it.
20201107 3191

And Robby Gragg caught BJRY SW1500 1518 in action with several cuts in the yard. I caught #1518 parked on its spur off the sheep yard lead. I wonder what is in the white box on top of the cab. An air conditioner?  The Burlington Junction Railway is a shortline that operates this yard and the industrial spurs to the west of this yard.

In both of our photos from Webster Street, we can see a cut of cement hoppers next to the Ozinga concrete plant.

And I took a wide angle view of the old Sheep Yard grain elevator to catch some of the cars in the yard. Unfortunately, the big mixing plant building at Ozinga casts a big shadow over this scene.

Rob Conway posted
"Some of them are getting up."
I hired out on the BN in 1977. One day, while working the Streator Job from Cicero to Streator and back, I got to hear a funny story from my conductor as we rode our caboose past the "Sheep Yard" at Montgomery, Illinois.
He told me about a new brakeman who inadvertently kicked six loads of silica sand into a track with loaded stock cars. The conductor on the job chewed the brakeman out up one side and down the other and then said... "Now go down there and look at what you did!"
After a few minutes, the brakeman returned and said to his conductor... "Some of them are getting up."
[So the sand cars ran into loaded stock cars and knocked the sheep down?]
Richard Lively In the late '70s on of our TRRA engines enroute from Madison to our CD yard in E. St. Louis hit a steer on the track adjacent to the Swift packing plant. A cinder dick arrived checked out the steer and notified the packing house manager. Workers came an cleared the track. About 2 weeks later several cows got out in the same area and again one was hit on the track but still kicking. The same cinder dick arrived and shot the cow. He then pulled out his K-Barr and began cutting out a backstrap from the cow. Swift's plant manager arrived on the scene and asked what was going on. The cinder dick replied, "The last one was yours but this one is mine." I can't recall if he kept the beef but TRRA promptly fired him. [A "cinder dick" is the railroad police?]
Brian Corcoran Once told my brakeman to ride a car, down to the block, at a Sunoco refinery. A few minutes, later I was going to shove in, with a cut of cars, and I asked him, how far down he was, he replied, “farther than you wanted” Yup , through the block, stopped about 10 feet, from going for a swim.
J Pete Hedgpeth Now..there's a story..Seems like there's almost always somebody with a sense of humor to 'pull the trigger" and create a laugh...Well, here I's one. Without the preliminary details there was a derailment of a locomotive on account of a brakeman failing to line a switch properly and the cut was shoved through the switch and when the engine started back the front truck derailed...In telling of his reaction the engineer who always had a humorous comment available. Ernie said When I started back I heard a noise.....I stopped right quick..'ID HEARD THAT NOISE BEFORE"...
Robert Owings old time yard engineer with about 50 years on the RR. Was having a bad day and missed several signals from his young conductor. Conductor got pissed and climbed up on the engine hollering “Damn it Charlie, just how far can you see?” Old Charlie looked him in the eye and said “well son, I can see the sun and it’s 93 million miles away!”

Burlington Bulletin #25 has an article on "Stock Cars and Livestock Traffic." [comment]

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