Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by Tadman
I've heard mentions of a South Chicago yard on the South Chicago branch of ME, but I've never found it. However, when I drive down Highway 41, I notice some catenary supports parallel to Baker Avenue, just north of 87th street. If you look at google maps, and switch to satellite view, it appears to be a former railyard - is the the IC south chicago yard? Or was this a B&O yard from serving USS South Works? The plant on 87th is a steel fab plant, and was served by rail at one time but is no longer served by rail.

  by doepack
The catenary supports are a dead giveaway, for that is indeed the former South Chicago yard of the IC, used for layover of commuter equipment. The yard was pretty small IIRC, and it's been said that some trains would begin and end their runs here instead deadheading to/from 91st St., but I've never been able to get a hold of an old IC commuter schedule to verify that. Nowadays of course, all South Chicago equipment is stored overnight at Randolph St...

  by PRRGuy
I've seen those same supports from the Skyway..wondered what those were from.
  by fauxcelt
When I was either seven or eight years old, we (my parents and my two younger sisters) rode the bus to the Ninety-Third Street station on the Illinois Central's South Chicago branch and then rode the train into downtown to visit various places such as the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Prudential Building. I am not sure whether or not I can remember a train yard just north of Eighty-Seventh Street but I do remember that there were at least four tracks at Ninety-Third Street. Two of the tracks (which had catenary and wire above them) were on either side of the wooden station platform and these two tracks didn't go any further south than Ninety-Third Street. The other two tracks, which didn't come close to the wooden station platform, continued south of Ninety-Third Street to connect with some other railroad. I cannot remember whether or not there was catenary wire and supports for the wire above these other two tracks but I do seem to remember that these other two tracks were somewhat overgrown as if they weren't used regularly or very often. This was during the 1960's when this branch line was still run by the Illinois Central (pre-Metra) with those green cars that had full pantographs on the top of the cars. We had to go to the Prudential building to look at Chicago from the public viewing deck on the top floor of the building because the Sears Tower hadn't been built yet.
In 1981, when I was in Chicago during a four or five hour layover between Amtrak trains, I took a ride from downtown to Ninety-Third Street on the South Chicago branch just for the heck of it to see how much it had changed and I was amazed by the changes. There were only two tracks at Ninety-Third Street now and they stopped at the station (which was still made out of wood). The other two tracks had been removed and they no longer continued south of Ninety-Third Street. In 1981, I guess these two tracks had been removed recently because nothing else had been built on the former ROW yet and now when I look on Google Maps (in 2009), I see a parking lot where the tracks used to be. I liked the double-decker cars with half-pantographs. This was an interesting trip and I am glad that I had the opportunity to do it. I have been back to Chicago once since then but I haven't taken a look at the South Chicago branch.
  by doepack
Thanks for the insight. I think you'll be interested to know that the terminal was moved to a more modern facility at 93rd St. (with an entrance at 92nd) about 7 or 8 years ago, the parking lot you saw on the old ROW is now part of the new station. Within a year or so afterward, all of the stations along the branch were rebuilt with concrete replacing the old wooden platforms, and the old 91st St. terminal was demolished completely and not replaced with the opening of the new facility two blocks south. The neighborhood hasn't changed much, it's a bit more gentrified in the Jeffery/Stony Island corridor, but is still largely Hispanic on the south end. You'll see some newer stainless steel equipment running through here, but the Highliners still dominate (though in Metra blue, the orange & black of the IC has since faded into history...)
  by Tadman
It's got to be different in that area from 1981 - the USS South Works was full-size at 1981, and is completely gone now - it's a field. South Works is a few blocks to the east of the branch on the lakefront.
  by fauxcelt
Thank you for your responses Doepack and Tadman. It sounds as if I might want to re-visit the scene of the crime again to see all of the changes which you mentioned if and when I have the opportunity to visit Chicago again.
When I was born, we lived in Hyde Park in an apartment on 54th Place a few blocks from the University of Chicago because my father's job was doing weather research at the University. He wanted to live close to his job so he would be able to get to and from work no matter how bad the weather became during the winter. We did have a car but we would use the IC commuter trains or the "L" if we were going someplace where it was difficult and/or expensive to find a parking place. If we were going to use the IC commuter train, we usually caught the train at 55th Street. One of my parents would buy the tickets and we would go through the so-called "iron maiden" turnstile and walk up the stairs to the wooden platform to wait for the train.
I also remember riding on the orange cars of the Chicago, South Shore, & South Bend at least once when I was a boy.
After my two younger sisters were born, we had to move out of the apartment and buy a house on Merrion Street between 95th and 99th Streets. My father could no longer walk to work. Instead, he had to walk over to Van Vlissingen to catch a Jeffrey Avenue bus to get to and from work. I think it was the 95th Street bus which we used to get to the 93rd Street station on the South Chicago branch.
We had to leave Chicago in 1971 when my father lost his job at the University of Chicago due to academic politics. Since my mother was originally from Arkansas, we moved there because her family seemed to think they could help my father find a job.
On Labor Day weekend in 1982, while visiting with a friend who had moved to Chicago, I had the opportunity to ride on one of the orange cars on the Chicago, South Shore, & South Bend shortly before they were permanently retired. I posted a report of this trip on the Chicago, South Shore, & South Bend page under "Orange Cars".
I still live in Arkansas and would like to visit Chicago again one of these years during the summer because my wife would like to see where I grew up.
  by CarterB
The South Chicago Branch at one time connected onto the B&OCT IIRC South of 93rd St.? Didn't the B&O also have a fair sized yard at about 87th St? Also a quite large Roundhouse at about 87th and Burley, later replaced by a smaller one east of Burley and north of 87th?? Foundations of which still visible today?
  by doepack
CarterB wrote:The South Chicago Branch at one time connected onto the B&OCT IIRC South of 93rd St.?
Sort of, but it actually connected to the Rock Island's South Chicago branch. Today it's CRL property (between here and Gresham Jct. to the west, with BRC & NS sharing the ROW alignment for a couple of miles), but B&OCT did historically have trackage rights over this segment, and I think they still do, though not 100% certain about that...
  by eas524
While looking up my family ancestry on ancestry.com I came across my Great Grandfather's World War II Draft Registraion card. On the card it says he worked for the Chicago Rock Island on the 87th street roundhouse. I don't know any other information about the railway at this time but hope I can learn more and post what I find.
  by Tadman
I believe there's a Rock Island forum here, I'd check there first. 87th is the Gresham station, and the place where the Beverly/Suburban branch diverges as well as the South Chicago branch. There must've been a roundhouse there at one time, although I'm not aware of it.