Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: CrazyIvan25 ()
Date: February 27, 2013 04:03PM

Why are there so many RR tracks all over the streets and sidewalks around Cermak and Halsted? I got curious after checking out the picture from the flickr gallery.


Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: Bill_Baar ()
Date: February 27, 2013 07:14PM

It's the Central Illinois Railroad http://casr.dhke.com/casr204.htm serving the Lumber District (PDF file) http://www.cityofchicago.org/dam/city/depts/zlup/Historic_Preservation/Publications/Cermak_Road_Bridge_District.pdf Photos of the CB&Q serving it here http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/locoPicture.aspx?id=107745 and a video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br3E8NSjecw

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: pizza logger ()
Date: March 02, 2013 12:19PM

until watching that video of the trains in action i thought that they were long abandoned from a time when there was still industry in the area.it's awesome that the tracks are still in uses

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: rags or old iron ()
Date: March 04, 2013 02:49PM

Up until very recently they stored and used 2 locomotives at Cermak and Canalport, now an electric contractor is using the space.

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: mkmcclure63 ()
Date: March 26, 2013 01:14AM

Those two locomotives were, until recently, very well maintained. They are now scraped.

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: Anonymous User ()
Date: January 03, 2016 06:01PM

mkmcclure63 Wrote:
> Those two locomotives were, until recently, very
> well maintained. They are now scraped.

Sorry to wake the dead, but I am happy to report that all 3 of the locomotives that were stored on the Lumber District until 2013 or so were not scrapped and all eventually found new homes. They were all bought by Motive Power Resources, an Illinois based locomotive rebuilder and affiliate of the Burlington Junction Railway. Motive Power Resources has since leased all 3 of the locomotives out to different rail served industries.

The #1208 had been on the Lumber District the longest and was the first to leave. Many speculated that this locomotive would be scrapped, as in later years it served as a parts source for its siblings. It had been based on that line since atleast 2004, and worked the line solo until late 2007 when number 1206 arrived and eventually took over. I only saw this engine move under its own power once, when I began studying the line in early 2008 it was still in service and was kept idling 24\7 through the winter. It was finally retired by Spring of 2008 after apparently catching fire and losing power to 2 of its 4 axles. It never ran on the line again under its own power, it was covered in graffiti. It was eventually treated to a hastily applied baby blue paint job, stripped of many parts, and parked across the street on a spur track. BNSF pulled that spur up once Motive Power summoned the locomotive to their shops in Burlington Iowa. In Iowa the locomotive was restored to service and sent on lease to switch the Tate and Lyle plant in Decatur, Il.

#1206, the most famous of the Lumber District Residents, was the next to go. It received minimal modifications before being dispatched to the Sunny Farms Landfill in Fostoria, Ohio. It can still be seen there today switching cars in the same paint scheme.

#1209 was the last to go, and was likely in the best condition of the three locomotives. It arrived on the Lumber District less than a year before Central Illinois would call it quits. It was based on the adjacent and little used Illinois Northern Trackaage around 26th and California. BNSF has since abandoned and pulled this line up. 1209 was based on this little used line for some time. It arrived on the Lumber District and soon was pressed into service when #1206 broke down. Once the 1206 returned to service, the 1209 was repainted in a black and orange Western Pacific inspired paint scheme. The Central Illinois would only continue operation for a few months after this. 1206 was used the most frequently, but on a few special occasions, the locomotives were coupled cab to cab and run in tandem. It was also dispatched to Tate and Lyle and works alongside sibling 1208 there in Decatur.

All 3 of these locomotives (along with a fourth #1207) were Chicago veterans. They were built in Lagrange Illinois for the Belt Railway of Chicago in 1951. They served the Belt for nearly 50 years. New management arrived in the year 2000 and all older motive power was quickly purged from the Belt's roster. All 4 of the locomotives were bought by DOT Rail Services, Central Illinois Railway's former parent company. All four were then sold to Motive Power Industries in 2011. All four are still on Motive Power's roster as far as I can tell.

Interestingly, the two adjacent but disconnected lines formerly operated by Central Illinois, the Lumber District and Illinois Northern, were at one time connected. The Illinois Northern apparently used to cross the 4 North-South tracks at 26th and Western to serve the International Harvester Plant that was at that intersection. They also allegedly served the tracks running down to Domino Sugar and the refrigerated warehouse just east and Southeast of that intersection by the river. The Illinois Northern roundhouse was apparently in the vicinity too. These tracks are now served from the east side of the tracks via the lumber district, and the crossing has been pulled up. Tracks existed on both sides of the intersection until very recently when the Illinois northern was officially abandoned.

Those tracks that run east and then turn south to serve Domino Sugar between Leavitt and Hoyne around 2700 south were originally served by the southern-most girder bridge over Western Avenue just south of 26th street and Blue Island. I don't remember if any tracks are still intact there, but they were until atleast the early 90s. Now a Lumber District crew would bring its train to that junction, uncouple the locomotive, pull up, and back down that track around a very tight curve.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2016 06:16PM by franklinc55.

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: 222psm ()
Date: January 04, 2016 10:38AM

Wow, great information, I always wondered about the history of those tracks.

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: Dunning1 ()
Date: January 04, 2016 12:34PM

Before moving the office to Rosemont about ten years ago, I used to run through that area all of the time. I often wondered about those engines and tracks, and kind of figured that they were related to the lumber trade down there. For some reason, I have always found Canalport to be an interesting street, and ran down it often. By the way, is the marina, which I believe was on Union down there at the river, next to the cement yard, still going? Went down there for lunch a few times.

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Date: January 09, 2016 02:06PM

still there?

Re: Railroad tracks Cermak & Halsted area
Posted by: Jeff_Weiner ()
Date: February 07, 2016 06:16AM

The traffic signals along Cermak in this stretch are interconnected to the railroad's track circuits, and one location has to gates or flashing lights, but the signals go into preemption just the same. I think it's Throop, but I can't say for sure.

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