The Land Owner, February, 1874
Bird’s-Eye View Showing the Route of the Belt Railway Around Chicago, Suburbs, Trunk Lines Crossed, Etc.
THE CHICAGO TRANSFER RAILWAY.
Our title page this month is devoted to a bird’s-eye view and a sectional map of the projected “belt” railroad, for the construction of which a stock company has been formed in this city, under the name of the Chicago Railway Transfer and Clearing Company, with Hon. B. F. Allen, of the Cook County National Bank, as President.
This much needed improvement is in the hands of responsible men, who will n ot stop short of a complete and thorough success. The route which the “Belt” will traverse has already been surveyed by Mr. Frederick W. Clarke, Engineer of the company, from whose drawings our illustrations are mad. The importance and necessity of the enterprise being conceded, the route shown has been adopted by the stockholders.
NEED OF SUCH A ROAD.
The number of railroads doing business in Chicago is daily increasing; each new road built West, North-West and South-West adds the volume of traffic to this city, and in like manner to the trade from all points at the East for through freights beyond this city. There are at present eight general points where these through freight cars are transferred. Each road brings its train of mixed cars—that is to say, a train from Iowa or Wisconsin is made up of cars consigned to Chicago elevators, others for New York by the Michigan Southern, others for the same point by the Michigan Central, and still others for the Pennsylvania road. These trains have to be broken up in the yard, and the cars are consigned to the several Eastern roads have to be hauled to the respective yards of these roads. When these cars are thus delivered, the receiving road has to haul them backward and forward until they eventually find their places in trains for the East. Westward bound freight has, in like manner, and the cars have to be delivered at the various stations to which they are consigned. All this has to be done through the city, and the distances to which these cars have to be hauled, after their arrival here, in order to deliver them, will average three miles, and the time occupied before the transfer is actually made, will average two days. So difficult, confused and uncertain are the means of making and receiving these transfers, that the average detention of a car through freight is from five to seven days, or nearly as long as it will take to make the run between Chicago and New York. Each line has from three to ten engines engaged in this work, which is of necessity slow and uncertain, owing to the limited track facilities and the widely separated yards of the various lines.
The use of the Belt Railway will obviate the necessity of transporting cars upon some of the crossed by it, from 12 to 20 miles, which will enable them to proceed on their journey the day of their arrival in the city. All this immense freight traffic being thus handled outside of the city, the street crossings in town will be relieved of all but the passenger trains, and the expense of erecting viaducts will be saved to the city, as the passenger trains pass out less frequently, and are less dangerous. It will thus be seen that the Belt Railway is one of the pressing needs of the day, and the construction will be heartily co-operated in all by interested parties.
Enlarged View of Chicago Railway Transfer and Clearing Company Route
DELAYS AND COST OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM.
In this cost, is not included the loss from injury to cars. It is well known that cars are more injured in making this transfer through the city, owing to the crowded state of tracks, the crossing of bridges and the multiplicity of switching, than in making a run of 1,000 miles. These cars are often, from necessity, placed on side tracks of “foreign” roads, and as no report can be made as to their constant changes and movement on these side tracks, they are kept an unreasonable long time. To the loss from actual damage must be added the even heavier loss of time. The mileage paid does not compensate the various companies for this loss of time, because cars can earn $10 a day at least, on a “home” line, and these cars lose a very large portion of their time, by the long delays in the transfer at Chicago. Each day thus lost is a direct loss to the owner; and these delays render it necessary to have a larger number of cars than would be needed if the transfer were made without delay, and the cars kept substantially in motion all the time.
As the number of roads increases, and the country beyond Chicago is brought more largely into the reach of railroads, the necessity for some relief in the business of transporting cars in Chicago becomes obvious.
AN ALL-SUFFICIENT REMEDY.
It is proposed to furnish an all sufficient remedy for this, whereby the cost can be reduced, the cars handled without damage, the transfer made expeditiously, and in a manner to enable the receiving roads to forward them without delay. The general purpose is to construct a line of railway from South Chicago, and extend it completely around the city, outside the corporate limits, thereby intersecting every railroad now, or that may hereafter enter the city. At each of these intersections the Transfer Co. provides ample sidings for the reception of all cars intended for other roads, and for the delivery of all cars received from other roads; and delivers the cars to the lines to which they are consigned promptly on their arrival. These sidings are to be of easy access to the incoming and outgoing trains. It will have a sufficient number of engines to enable this transfer to be done safely and expeditiously. It will be possible to make a daily transfer of all the through cars arriving in this city, as well as of all the cars loading and unloading at lumber yards, or other places on side tracks; and this at a cost much below the present actual cash expenditure for the insufficient service, and in a manner and time impossible under any other system.
BELT RAILROADS ELSEWHERE.
Chicago is now about the only great city in the world that has not a distinct circumambient line of rail, for the facilitation of its immense traffic. Paris, London and Boston have such roads in successful operation, and even Indianapolis is about completing a similar track.
The Chicago Railway Transfer and Clearing House Company was chartered in August, 1873. The officers were soon afterwards elected and the subscription books were opened, when stock was rapidly taken. The officers are as follows:
President, B. F. Allem; Secretary and Treasurer, D. N. Welch; General Superintendent, H. B. Latrobe; Chief Engineer, Fred W. Clarke.
as will be seen from our bird’s-eye view, the initial point of the Belt Railway is South Chicago, from which point west, five miles, the road is already constructed. It will be seen at once by a glance at the map that this is is the proper point of all others from whence to begin a circumambient line of rail about the city of Chicago, for at this growing town center several of the great trunk lines to the east and south, and, should the present Congress authorize the construction of a grand trunk line from the seaboard to the West, it too will pass through South Chicago.
The Railway Age Monthly and Railway Service Magazine, May, 1881
The Chicago Belt Transfer Company—Statement of its Plans
The following official circular is issued:
The Chicago Belt Transfer company has been organized to take the place of the Chicago Park & Transfer railroad company to adapt the charter to the greatly enlarged scope to which the enterprise has developed, since it was undertaken somewhat more than a year ago. Statistics and arguments in favor of such a scheme have been given in the pre s and by circular so fully that it is not now regarded as use :ssary to reproduce any of them.
The object of this circular is to outline the plan and means of execution.
The plan includes the following departments:
1. The construction of a belt road for the transfer of freight, passengers and express with proper depots and transfer yards.
2. The operation of a freight clearing house in connection with the transfers.
3. To afford the rapid transit facilities now demanded by the extraordinary increase of Chicago manufacturing interests, and to extend these facilities to the great extent of unoccupied land which will be opened by the construction of this road.
As indicated by the accompanying map, the belt will intersect every road leaving Chicago, and at each junction will be a depot, transfer yard and warehouse. And at some convenient point will be the clearing house, general offices, repair shops, and a large yard where any excess of cars can be stored or classified. The length of the road will be about thirty-four miles, with from two to four main tracks and the necessary sidings; and this company will provide its own equipment. In this way twenty engines can do the work which now requires the use of four times that number.
A belt road is in successful operation in Indianapolis; companies have been incorporated for uch projects in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Denver; the New York Central has con structed a circular track around Rochester; and the Peoria & Pekin Union railway company was organized to handle the terminal business of the two cities named in its title. It is scarcely necessary to assert that the demand for such facilities in Chicago vastly exceed that of all the other places above named.
The movement of all freight would be under the direction of the proper official at the clearing house and its arrival would be telegraphed to him, and acompletc record of the same kept, the company delivering the freight being credited with the amount of their accumulated charges, which sum, with the charges of the belt road company, would be debited to the company receiving the property.
The balances being ascertained, the collections and payments will be made in a way similar tothat of the clearing house for the banks. It is believed that the application of this system to the roads would finally become as indispensable to them, as it now is to the banks. Such an institution has been established in Boston for the New England roads, which is pronounced a success. The Boston Journal, in referring to its uses, says:
The New York Central claimed that the Boston & Albany had upward of 2.100 of their cars east of Albany. while the Boston & Albany claimed that the number was but a comparatively small portion of 2,100; * * * the clearing house was able to establish the fact that the total number of cars in all New England at that time which belonged to the New York Central did not exceed 700 in number: while upon the other hand 800 of the cars of the Boston & Albany were upon the tracks of the Central road. * * * Mr. Hill has recently established a clearing house in Albany.
By the construction of this road a great deal of the outside land will be brought into close communication with the city, and will be made the most valuable manufacturing land in Cook county, for only on this road can the manufacturer obtain a direct connection with every other road, thus giving the option of competing lines and rates. Here he can have more ground room than in the city, and at less expense; here he can have his coal delivered in his yard from the car, thus saving the cost of teaming; here he can load his shipments at his door, and thus avoid the delays at the crowded city warehouses. Attention is here called to the fact that the most valuable outside property is in Hyde Park and Lake; that in these townships the manufacturing is greater than in all others bordering on Chicago, also that these two townships are traversed by eleven of the seventeen roads entering Chicago. The following is a list of the manufacturing establishments located in Hyde Park, as shown by Mr. Hobart, president of the board of trustees, in his annual report.
Puilman’s Palace Car Co.. Pullman; railway cars.
Alien Paper Car Wheel Co., Pullman; paper our wheels.
North Chicago Rolling Mills, South Chicago; pig iron and railway iron.
Robert Atchlson, Perforated Metal Co., South Chicago; wheat dressing screens, grates and mantels.
J. H. Brown iron and Steel Co., Brown‘s Mills. Irondale; nmls and merchants‘ iron.
Chicago Car Axle Co.. South Chicago; locomotive and car axles and heavy forging.
Patzack‘s Case Factory, Grand Crossing; sewing machine cases.
Western Watch Co., Grand Crossing; watch movements.
Sherman & Marsh, Grand CrOsIng: barbed wire fence.
Chicago Tack Factory, Grand Crossing; tacks.
Chapman. Green & Co., Grand Crossing; manufacturing chemists.
Wilson Sewing Machine Co., Grand Crossing; sewing machines.
Chicago Linseed Oil Co., Grand Crossing; oils.
Duffy Tool Works, South Chicago; tools, etc.
Non-perishable Egg Co., South Chicago: compressed eggs.
Horse Shoe Works, Park Side. Seventy-first street; horse shoes.
Mason & Davis, Grand Crossing; foundry.
It will be the endeavor of this company to so build up the ad joining land, and to so thoroughly provide cheap and rapid transportation that Chicago may finally rank in manufacturing as it does in grain, lumber and live stock.
George L. Dunlap,
0. L. Bonney,
Engineering News, February 8, 1890
(Reprinted in Chicago Tribune, February 22, 1890)
The Chicago Union Transfer Ry. Co.
We illustrate herewith the yards which are now under construction in the vicinity of Chicago to facilitate the transfer and exchange of freight and freight cars between the various railways terminating at that city.
It is not often realized what a large proportion terminal charges bear to the total cost of transportation under modern conditions of traffic. The attention of inventors and engineers has been largely concentrated on the problem of reducing the cost of transportation by improvement of the roadbed and rolling stock; and the cost of hauling a ton a mile on our railways of heavy traillc has now been reduced to considerably less than one-half cent. But at the same time comparatively little attention has been paid to expediting and economizing the transfer of freights at terminals, and the expenses of switching, making up trains, distributing cars on sidings, and similar work has grown to be a very serious one. –
The simple facts are that at our chief railway centres we have outgrown the systems of transfer which were proper enough in the early days of railroading when traffic was light, and when the proportion of through freight to local was vastly less than it is today. The necessities of the case have led to the establishment of belt lines of railway about almost every city of commercial importance by which cars can be transferred from one railway to another, or through trains can be run without passing through the city at all. In this way the delays and dangers due to grade crossings and numerous switches and frogs are avoided, and the movement of freight is made more rapid and economical.
But with the growth of traflic, even the facilities afforded by belt lines may become insufficient. This is the case at Chicago, where two belt railways. the Chicago & Calumet Terminal and the Chicago & Eastern Indiana, are now in operation. In May, 1889, Messrs. J. M. Whitman, of the Chicago & Northwestern; J. C. Peasely, of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and Jas. McCrea, of the Pennsylvania Co., estimated the amount of business passing through Chicago (not including business for city delivery) at 1,500,000 cars per annum, or over 5,000 cars per day. The cost of handling this business it is impossible to estimate, but it is known to be enormous. The Chicago & Northwestern alone has 87¼ miles of sidings within the city limits of Chicago and has 43 locomotives engaged in switching and transfer work by day and 24 by night, or 67 in all. The delays due to the frequent grade crossings of railways and city streets make the work of transfer exceedingly slow and expensive, and the increased travel on the streets and fast growing traffic to be handled are rapidly making the situation worse
The above relates only to the cost of transferring cars. Freight passing through Chicago in less than carload lots is largely transferred by teams from one station to another at a cost of teaming alone of 30 to 40 cents per ton, or as much in all as the cost of hauling the freight for 75 to 100 miles on the open road.
The tracks and sidings over which the work of transfer is now carried on are located on land worth from $200 to $5,000 per front foot. Trains pass frequently over crowded streets at grade, and hence must move very slowly; but even then the ordinary street travel is much hindered, and about 175 persons yearly are killed on the grade crossings of the city.
So much for the difficulties and evils of the present system, which it may be said are generally appreciated by the managers of the railways interested. Let us now examine the plan by which it is proposed to obviate in great measure these various evils.
The Chicago Union Transfer Ry. Co. has purchased a block of land of nearly 1,200 acres just west of the city limits and lying between the two belt railways which now tap the various railways terminating in the city. This tract is a nearly level plain lying about 33 ft. above the level of Lake Michigan, with a slope toward the east of a little over 1 ft. per mile. On this tract are to be laid out a system of yards divided into 20 separate divisions, as shown upon the map, one for each of the companies taking part in the enterprise. There will thus be over 1,000 miles of track, giving storage room for 160,000 cars (70 per cent. of the total now owned by the various companies), so it will be seen that the plan provides for future growth of traffic as well as for present needs.
These several yards are to connect at their inner end with a circular belt line railway 3 miles in length, and at their outer end with a second belt line about 13 miles in length. As seen by our map, each separate siding may be entered at either end, and the operation of singling out a particular car will be a comparatively easy one.
By the Chicago & Calumet Terminal and the Chicago & Western Indiana Belt Line Ry. the yards will be in communication with all the railways entering Chicago, and independent lines to reach the yards may be constructed as found necessary.
Besides the storage tracks, it is proposed to give each company space enough for the erection of freight houses, engine houses, tool and repair shops, storehouses and warehouses as may be found desirable. The arrangement will also greatly facilitate the establishment of a system of joint inspection for cars. For the transfer of freight in less than carloads a union freight depot will probably be provided, effecting the transportation at the least expense in time and labor.
The projectors of the Chicago Union Transfer Ry. Co. do not claim to have been the first to discover the application of the clearing house principles to the railway business. The credit for this is probably due Mr. J. J. Hill, president of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Ry. Co. As early as 1830 Mr. Hill. conceived the idea, which was afterwards put into successful operation at a point half way between St. Paul and Minneapolis, where the Minnesota Transfer yards were established. The business at these cities is much smaller than at Chicago, but, doubtless, the projector at that time little realized the magnitude which the business at Minnesota Transfer would reach in less than ten years. In the year ending June 30, 1889, there was handled at Minnesota Transfer 2,822,048,103 lbs. of freight, at an average cost, including interest on plant, salaries of president, secretary, solicitor, United States customs, superintendent, agents, cashiers, clerks, messengers, yardmasters, car clerks, switchmen, flagmen, sectionmen, engineers, firemen, warehousemen, clerks and laborers, fuel, station supplies, repairs, maintainance, insurance, taxes, personal injury, loss and damage to freight, etc, etc., less than 12½ cents per ton. Of the total 2,822,048.193 lbs. 491,221,048 lbs. was handled through the freight houses, being reloaded.
The financial plan‘by which this enterprise is to be carried out is quite novel, and seems to be fair to all concerned. The capital stock of the Chicago Union Transfer Ry. Co. is fixed at $2,000,000, divided equally into common and preferred, the latter entitled to cumulative 5 per cent. dividends. The stock will be issued in blocks of $50,000 common and $50,000 preferred to each of the 20 railway companies entering Chicago; and the company will be under the joint management and control of the railways for whose benefit it is projected, all profits from its operation accruing to these various companies. When the consent of the various companies has been obtained, it is proposed to acquire outright the two belt railways already in operation, if they can be secured at a fair price; if not, such tracks as are necessary to connect the railways with the central transfer yards will be built.
The Chicago Union Transfer Ry. Co. will build on its own property about 25 miles of double track, and a little over 5 miles of four-track railway as shown on the map, which are to be used in common, and will assign to each company ground for a yard to be owned or occupied by it in severalty, on which it may build such tracks, buildings, etc., as in its judgment may suit its‘requirements. All this being accomplished, such leases or contracts will be made with each individual company as will allow it to run its trains directly to the “clearing house” yards, and the interest and expenses of the Transfer Co. will be collected from the railway companies on a wheelage basis-thus each dmpany will be able to do this transfer business with the greatest liberty of individual judgment, at net cost.
Besides the gain to the railway companies, it is pointed out that the city of Chicago will greatly gain by the reduction in the trafllc over its grade crossings and the consequent danger and obstruction of streets. The 400 locomotives which now contribute their fair share to the volume of smoke which hangs over the city will be largely transferred to a point outside the city limits. The merchants and manufacturers will secure much more prompt transfer of their goods than is now possible.
The plan has already been approved by the chief officers of the Pennsylvania, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, and Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City railways, and it is believed that such general approval will be secured that the cutest rise will be carried through without delay.
Engineering News, September 9, 1892
THE CHICAGO UNION TRANSFER RAILWAY.
In our issue of Feb. 8, 1890, we gave a map and description of the proposed transfer yards of the Chicago Union Transfer Co., together with some general details of the enterprise, which has for its object the removal of the enormous transfer business from the streets of Chicago and its concentration on a tract of land lying west of the city limits. In Chicago, as in other large railway centers, the business of the railways has outgrown the systems of transfer which were designed when traffic was light, and, more especially, when the ratio of through freight to local freight was vastly smaller than it is now. Many of the railway terminal yards are now located within or near the city limits and in many cases are so crowded that it is impossible to provide for the ever increasing business. This has brought about a demand for new yards or less expensive land and where the public and the necessary transfer business will less embarrass each other.
To provide the additional facilities required the Chicago Union Transfer Co. was organized as described in the article before referred to. As yet, how ever, little has been done toward carrying out the plan as proposed owing to the difficulty in getting a sufficient number of railway companies to approve it.
In brief, the scheme included the construction or a belt line railway of two or more tracks partly en circling the city and crossing all the railway lines centering there, and the building of large transfer yards as described in our former article. Recently a committee, with W. S. Jones as Chief Engineer, was appointed to submit plans for the proposed belt line, and from its report, issued last week, we abstract the following details and map of the line.
Before taking up the construction of the belt line proper it is interesting to note some of the conditions which demand its construction. By referring to the map it will be seen that more than 50% of the entire population of the city of Chicago is included in the area covered by the heavy shading, and in this district all the railways have their passenger and freight terminals. Within the area covered by the lighter shading nearly all the transfer business of these railways is carried on. The several railways entering the city have within its limits 246½ miles of main track; 2.30½ miles of second track, also main line, and 900 miles of yards and sidings, making a total of 1,377 miles of track, covering about 7,000 acres of land.
According to the data collected by the committee about 40% of the entire tonnage of the railways terminating at Chicago is handled within the city’s limits, or nearly 50,000,000 tons for the year 1890. In Tables 1 and 2 taken from the report, are shown the absolute growth and the increase per cent. in the freight traffic of these lines since 1880.
From these figures it will be seen that the increase in freight tonnage since 1880 has been 131%. In 1890 the freight tonnage of these roads was 119,284,935 tons or 17.2% of the entire tonnage of all the railways in the United States.
In Table 3 are shown the receipts and shipments at Chicago of a number of the principal commodities during the year 1891:
In addition the report shows that during the year 1891 the C. & W. I. Belt transferred 580,871 cars, the Chicago Railway Transfer Association 582,487 cars, and the St. Charles Air Line 180,837 cars. Of the direct transfers the C. & Now’n. Ry. made 404,551, the C., B. & Q. R. R. 150,606, which aggregates 1,899,352 transfers. From other data and estimates, the direct transfers made by other roads are estimated to reach about 2,500,000 cars, making the total for 1891 nearly 4,400,000 cars handled.
Commenting on these figures the report says:
The necessity for taking immediate steps in some definite direction looking to the construction of an adequate transfer system, may be readily realized by a consideration of the growth of the railroad systems which terminate in Chicago. Another reason for taking soue steps looking to the relief of the railway business here, is the constant, and at present unavoidable delay in handling cars, coupled with the unnecessary delays on team and industrial tracks. The delays from this last cause will aggregate 1,500,000 car-days per annum, while delays arising from existing yard locatious, inadequate and transfer facilities, will reach, at a low estimate, 5,000,000 car-days per annum. The average earnings per car-day in the United States, as deduced from the reports of 1890, is $1.90; the average time consumed in loading, shipping, and unloading a car is 4-10 days for each load, which would make the earning capacity of a car on a long haul, or during the busy season, over $8 per day. It is not claimed, however, that all this could be saved, but we leave it to the operating departments of the various railroads to make their own estimates from the above data.
We believe that the construction and use of this or some other similar system of transfers would not only have the effect of facilitating transfers and reducing delays, but it would also result in relieving from active service from 25 to 50% of the switching engines and crews now in use, thereby effecting a large saving to the roads annually. One manager says, that if a general system of transfers, such as herein contemplated, were adopted, more than 25% of the switching engines now in use on his road would be relieved, thereby effecting a saving of $100,000 per annum to his company, and that with this system it would be impossible to have a blockade.
The general location of the belt line is plainly shown in the accompanying map. Its total length from lake to lake will be 63.78 miles and in this distance it will cross and connect with 23 main lines of railway entering the city. Some of the principal physical features of the line as planned, are shown in the following table:
The right of way will be generally 200 ft. wide, being less than 200 ft. only at such points as it is reasonable to suppose that industries will not be located. In no place is the right of way to be less than is required for four tracks. As it is intended to furnish only such facilities as are required at the present time, leaving the additional facilities until required by the increase in traffic, only the following tracks are planned for construction: A double track line from the Milwaukee Division of the Chicago & Northwestern Ry., to the Wisconsin Central R. R.; a four-track line from this last point to the New York, Chicago & St. Louis R. R., and a double track line from here to the Baltimore & Ohio R. R.
The width of embankment for double-track rail way will be 28 ft., and for four-track railway, 56 ft. The width of excavation of double-track rail way is to be 32 ft., and for four-track railway, 60 ft., with slopes in earth of 1½ to 1, and in rock of 1½ to 1. All culverts to be of stone, or stone and iron, and all bridges are to be constructed of masonry abutments, and steel superstructure. All railway crossings, where possible, are to be overhead or under. Railway crossings at grade are to be interlocked. Both overhead railway and highway crossings are to be carried on steel columns, with masonry piers and steel superstructure. The track is to be laid with 80-lb. steel rails and the best pattern of rail joints, with oak ties, and gravel ballast. The total estimated cost of the line is $5,500,000.
The financial plan by which this enterprise is to be carried out as explained in our previous article, is to have each of the companies whose lines enter Chicago subscribe to the stock of the Chicago Union Transfer Co., and thus receive all the profits of the enterprise. So far only a part of the roads have approved the plan but it is hoped that the remainder will soon do so. If the united action of the companies cannot be secured some other plan will be devised to raise the money.
Chicago Tribune, February 23, 1902
A great distribution yard where all the freight cars entering Chicago can be classified for their outgoing journeys and which will serve the same purpose in the world of traffic that the clearing-house does in the world of finance, is the latest innovation in railroad circles in the West.
A system has been perfected by A. W. Swanitz of the Chicago Union Transfer railway company whereby the difficulties of the present plan of transferring freight cars from one road to another have been overcome by centralizing the work in one immense clearing yard. Under this arrangement, it is claimed, 8,000 cars can be switched and handled in a single day, and this is is an important factor to the heads of railroad companies, who have been brought to realize the time consumed and delays resulting from classification and starting of outgoing freight.
Ten thousand cars of freight are handled in Chicago every day, and of this number 60 per cent are loaded with through freight or have entered the city on one railroad and must be transferred to another. Most of these 6,000 cars must be hauled over fifteen miles of tracks in order to properly distribute them, and and this in most instances causes a delay of a whole day in making the transfer. The present system of breaking up trains and sorting cars is at best slow and unsatisfactory, and it often happens that a through car reaching the yard shortly after the company’s transfer train has left is held several hours before it can be started out for the other road.
Twenty-seven Different Yards.
There are twenty trunk lines entering Chicago, and the vastness of a system of switching and classifying cars that could handle the business of all of them can easily be appreciated. At present it is done by the various belt lines that are compelled to operate a total of twenty-seven different yards, which are from a tenth of a mile to sixteen miles apart.
The new system contemplates the doing away with all these delays and inconveniences. The clearing yard is located west of the city on a line with Sixty-seventh street. It connects with the Chicago and West Indiana railroad on the east and the Chicago Terminal Transfer railroad and the Chicago Junction railway on the west. The yards occupy a rectangular piece of ground 670 feet in width and 13,000 feet in length. The general arrangement of the yard, as described in the Scientific American, is as follows:
Extending along the whole length of the north and south boundaries there are three thoroughfare tracks with double track “Y” connections at each end to the belt lines. Bisecting the yard on an east and west line is a central through track known as “Track No. 25.” In the plan showing the general arrangement it will be seen that there are two sets of classification tracks, known as “classification yards.” the tracks in these yards are 2,400 feet long and they extend the full width between the thoroughfare tracks. Midway between the two classification yards is an artificially constructed gravity mound, and on each side of it and parallel with it on the level plain are sets of receiving tracks which are from 1,600 to 3,200 feet in length. The gravity mound has an elevation at its summit of 21½ feet above the general level of the yard. For a short distance of 1,800 feet a grade of 0.9 per cent which finishes and a grade of 0.5 per cent for a distance of 300 feet further, the foot of the gravity mound tracks being several hundred feet beyond the apex of the classification yards.
Chicago Union Transfer 2-8-0, No. 102
American Locomotive Company (Alco)
Classifying the Freight.
Running diagonally across the classification yards there are double ladders, and east and west of the classification tracks there are parallel overflow tracks which extend parallel the classification ladders at the outer end of the classification yards. Parallel with the double ladder, at the inner ends of the classification tracks, are two tracks, the one next to the ladder being a “poling” and the outer one a “drilling” track. The double ladders, which connect by switches with each track in the classification yard, converge at a three-throw switch into the central track No. 25, already mentioned, which extends through the center of the whole yard. Consequently there extend over the summit of the gravity mound five parallel tracks with leader tracks and crossovers.
The object of the gravity mound is to allow the transfer of the cars to the various classification tracks to be accomplished by gravity and save a great amount of engine mileage which would be necessary if the cars had to be pushed on to the various tracks by switching engines. The method of operation is as follows:
A train coming in at either end of the yard will be run into one of the receiving tracks, where the engine will be uncoupled and will take back a made-up train from one of the classification tracks, taking it out by means of the outer ladders of the classification tracks. One of the clearing yard switching engines will then couple on to the train, back up and push it over one of the drilling tracks, which we have mentioned above as lying alongside the classification ladder. The drilling tracks and the whole V point of the classification yard are on the grade of the gravity mound.
As the train is pushed up the summit the couplers are disconnected at the proper places in the train, and as the cars go over on to the down-grade on the other side of the summit they separate from the train and run down on the central track No. 25 to the three-throw switch at the apex of the classification ladder. Here they are switched to either side of the double ladder and finally into the desired track of the classification yard. Switching can be carried on simultaneously in both directions; that is, into both classification yards. The object of the “polling” track between heavy wind is blowing against the grade or when there is snow upon the tracks.
The brakemen who ride on the cars down the gravity tracks are brought back by a light engine and car, which run to and fro either on the center track or on one or both of the tracks at the side of the classification tracks. The motive power of the yard will consist at first of six engines, four of them consolidations, weighing 185,000 pounds, and two of the six-wheeled switching engines, weighing 120,000 pounds each.
Chicago Tribune, March 15, 1912
The realization of the city plan commission’s ideas on the Chicago harbor seems probable as a result of the large railroads entering Chicago, announced yesterday by Attorney Will H. Lyford1 following a conference with Lieut. Col. George A. Zinn of the army engineers.
By the arrangement there will be an enlargement of the inner railroad belt that will furnish transfer and terminal facilities to all roads and end in the construction of a double harbor at the mouth of the Calumet river and the mouth of the Chicago river.
It is a complete reversal of the recommendations of the army engineers for concentration at Indiana Harbor, miles away from Chicago and the most important step toward the city plan yet taken. More important, from the incalculable improvement in freight transfer, facilitating work for all the systems entering the city.
Plan 22 Mile Belt Line.
In addition to the improvement of the belt line by the construction of six tracks there will be two large clearance yards constructed, both already purchased. The main yard comprises 1,000 acres to the southwest of the city, bounded by the inner belt on the east, the Indiana Harbor belt on the west, and extending from Sixty-third to Seventy-first street. This will provide for all the freight transferred from east to west, west to east, and west to south. It does not provide for transfers between east and south and another yard has been acquired in South Chicago, a quarter of a mile wide and extending two and one-half miles from Pullman Junction to South Deering.
The army engineers’ plan would have operated to the benefit of the outer belt, the Indiana Harbor line. The railroads entering the new agreement opposed it primarily because it meant a belt of approximately fifty miles, as against the present arrangement for a twenty-two mile belt biordering the city limits and expediting traffic to a great degree.
Belt Railway of Chicago No. 114
Baldwin Locomotive Works
Lines Enter Agreement.
There were four important lines that did come into the new agreement. These are:
New York Central
Baltimore and Ohio
The roads which are in the contract are:
Chicago and Eastern Illinois
Chesapeake and Ohio
“Soo” (controlled by the Canadian Pacific)
Chicago, Madison and Northern (an Illinois Central road),
By the agreement the Chicago and Western Indiana, operating the belt line, will buy the Chicago Union Transfer company and consolidate their business. All fourteen companies become equal shareholders in the belt line. The belt has paid well, but its owners, the Wabash, Grand Trunk, Erie, Monon, and Eastern Illinois, figured that the receipts in dividends would bve exceeded by the saving in their own transfers and initiated the conferences with the other roads.
Divert Freight Traffic.
There are approximately 30,000 carloads of freight, averaging twenty tons each, arriving in Chicago every day. Fully half the amount intended for through shipment is now brought through the city. By the new arrangement this will all be diverted at the city limits and transfer will be vastly helped.
The development of the Chicago river harbor is for local freight as well as passenger purposes. Mr, Lyford contends that the Northwestern, now operating a spur to the end of the north bank, can provide fully for this freight. He is also virtually interested in the furtherance of the city plan.
Chicago Tribune Advertisement, January 29, 1914
Engineering News, June 17, 1915
The railway traffic of Chicago includes a large proportion of through freight, and as Chicago is a terminal for all the railways entering it there is a great amount of interchange service in transferring through cars from one road to another. The freight yards of the various 25 trunk railways are widely scattered, so that the transfer of cars forms a vast and complicated system, with long hauls in many cases, involving much loss of time in the through movements of cars. In addition, the handling of these cars in the railway yards increases the congestion of the crowded city terminals, since each car has to be handled in the inbound yard of one road and the outbound yard of another road. This complication of the railway traffic at Chicago was outlined in Engineering News, Jan. 2, 1902, and May 9, 1912.
About 1890 the late A. B. Stickney, then president of the Chicago Great Western Ry, conceived the idea of establishing a general interchange yard in the outskirts of the city, where all through cars would be received, transferred and forwarded. In this way the work would be concentrated and systematized, while the local or city yards would be relieved from the handling of through cars. A novel switching scheme was proposed by Mr. Stickney for this interchange yard. There were to be circular tracks, with four outside groups of yards, tangent to the circle. Each group was to consist of five parallel yards, making 20 in all, one for each railway. Cars would be shifted from one group to another by passing around the circular track (see Engineering News, Feb. 8, 1890, and Sept. 8, 1892).
This view is from the bridge at the summit of the switching, hump. At the left, are the four approach tracks to the two eastbound hump tracks. At the right are the two westbound hump tracks, with connections to the classification. The single track in the middle is for the motor car bringing back the car-riders to the hump.
The Chicago Union Transfer Co. was organized and a site was secured (which is the site of the new interchange yard described in what follows), but owing to lack of support by the railways and to the unfavorable financial conditions at the time, the project was never carried into operation. It will be evident that the success of such a system depends on the coöperation of a number of roads, for it would be of little benefit to handle the traffic of three or four lines in this way while a dozen other lines adhered to the former individual system of interchange,
In 1902 the project was taken up by other interests, and a very extensive yard was built at the Stickney site by a private concern, the Chicago Transfer & Clearing Co. The yard was planned on the usual longitudinal arrangement of tracks, and provided for gravity switching. An elaborate electro-pneumatic plant was installed for operating the switches of the classification tracks from a tower on the switching hump. The yard and its operation were described in Engineering News, Jan. 2, 1902. The handling of local freight cars between this yard and the Chicago city yards of the several railways was to be an auxiliary part of the project. This private project also failed to receive the support of the railways, and the yard was never put into service. The company then devoted itself to the industrial development of its property and later established a manufacturing and industrial district known as Clearing.
With the continued increase of traffic and congestion of city terminals, and with the demands of the city for reduction rather than increase of space occupied by terminals, the railways began to consider for themselves the means of improving the conditions. In 1912 about a dozen of the trunk lines combined to form an organization to lease and operate the Clearing yard and the Belt Division of the Chicago & Western Indiana R.R. These two facilities constitute a great interchange system, with connections to all the railways entering Chicago. This step was described in Engineering News, May 9, 1912. The work of reconstructing and enlarging the yard is now practically completed. It is not only the largest freight yard in the world but the only one operating such a comprehensive interchange system.
In this third design the system of longitudinal movements and the use of gravity switching for classification have been retained, but the trackage and facilities have been increased materially, while locomotive- and car repair shops have been added. The yard as it now stands provides standing room for about 8000 cars (exclusive of repair tracks) and for the handling and forwarding of about 10,000 cars daily.
The general layout is shown in Figs. 2 and 3. The site is south of 65th St., between Crawford and Harlem Aves. Only one street (Cicero Ave.) crosses the yard, and this is carried by a viaduct of plate-girder spans on concrete piers. It will be seen that duplicate facilities are provided for movements in both directions, the classification for both groups being effected by gravity movements from the switching hump at the middle of the yard. (See profile in Fig. 4.)
Trains for the north and west (brought in by road or transfer engines) will enter at the east and go to the receiving yard. There the engine will be cut off and sent to the adjacent departure yard to take an east- or southbound train out of the yard. After the train in the receiving yard is marked and the switching list prepared for the switchmen in the operating tower, a yard engine will push the train to the summit of the hump, beyond which each car (or cut of cars) will run by gravity onto the tracks of the classification yard. The cars on these tracks are made up into trains in the departure yard, ready for the engines. The train may be taken by a road engine and started directly to its destination, or taken by a transfer engine to the main outbound yard of the railway over which it is to travel. In the same way trains of through cars from the north and west, destined for points east and south, will enter the receiving yard at the west end and will be worked through to the classification and departure yards at the east end.
Auxiliary to the main system of tracks are repair, bad order and thoroughfare tracks (the last mentioned passing both around and under the hump at the yard level). In this way all internal movements of both cars and engines can be made without passing over the hump and without interfering with the regular flow of traffic through the yard.
Each classification yard has two repair yards (one for each section). These are for light repairs only, heavy repairs being done at the shops near the center of the yard. Running around each side of each classification yard is a bad-order track. Outside of this is a track for a gasoline or electric motor car, which will carry back to the hump the car riders or brakemen who ride the cars into the classification tracks and control them by the brakes.
Fig. 1 is a view looking west into the classification yard from the bridge at the summit of the hump. It will be noted that stone ballast is used on the ladders and approach tracks, and that three rows of lamps are used for the illumination of the classification yard.
For local traffic of the Clearing industries and for certain classes of traffic which it is not desirable to send over the hump, a special group of tracks for flat switching is provided near each end of the yard.
The gravity hump will have four tracks, so that two trains in each direction can be handled simultaneously, each classification yard being so arranged or subdivided as to permit of being operated as two separate units. Each hump track is provided with two approach tracks. This Permits a second train to be pushed nearly to the summit, ready for classifying as soon as the first train has been pushed over and its engine has cleared the switch in returning for another train.
For gravity switching, an approach track of 0.6 per cent. grade ascends from the receiving yard, and at the hump the elevation is raised about one foot by vertical curves of 1500 ft. radius in order to bring the cars together and make the couplers slack so that they can be released readily. This grade ends in a vertical curve of 1500 ft. radius over the hump, beyond which is a starting grade of 4 per cent. 50 ft. long. This connects by a vertical curve of 5000 ft. radius with the classification ladder, which has a grade of 0.9 per cent., while the body tracks in the classification yard have a grade of 0.4 per cent. The profile is shown in Fig. 4.
The hump for westbound switching is 1 ft. higher than the other in order to compensate for prevailing winds by giving a greater length of the 4-per cent. starting grade. It is probable also that changes in the details of the humps will be required from time to time to meet the varying climatic conditions of summer and winter. It is estimated that 10,000 cars per day can be classified.
The yard has about 150 mi. of track in all, laid with 75 and 80-lb. rails. Tie-plates are used at turnouts and on curves. The body tracks are spaced 13 ft. c. to c. and 16 ft. from running tracks. There are about 800 turnouts, having 15-ft. switch rails and mainly No. 9 frogs. The frogs and guard-rails in the more important tracks are of cast manganese steel. No slip switches are used.
The switches of the classification ladder are controlled by operators in a tower on a bridge which spans the tracks at the summit of the hump, (see Fig. 1). The tower has two electro-pneumatic push-button machines, one for each direction, each machine operating 65 switches by means of the push-buttons. The operators also operate semaphore signals mounted on the bridge and on the approach tracks, to govern movements over the hump. This switch and signal-control apparatus has been in stalled by the Union Switch & Signal Co. At each ladder switch is a dwarf semaphore signal with lamp showing green and red for closed and open positions.
Alongside of the switching hump, with the switch and signal tower and bridge at the summit and the double-track subway for thoroughfare tracks passing be neath it, has been erected the new brick office building, which will serve not only for the yard work but for the division offices of this section of the Chicago & Western Indiana R.R.
Engine facilities are provided at each end of the yard, so that road or transfer engines do not have to run through the yard (Fig. 1). At present only a cinder pit, turntable and a 100,000-gal. tank with water crane are provided, with tracks on which the engines may stand while waiting for return loads. Later a coaling station may be provided at each end. For the yard engines there are separate facilities furnished adjacent to the shops near the middle of the yard. These include a 20-stall roundhouse, 90-ft. electrically operated turntable, 500-ton coaling station and sand house (serving four tracks), 100,000-gal. water tank and four water columns, a three track cinder pit, and eight tracks for placing engines not in service and not needing to go to the roundhouse.
The shops include the following: Repair shop (for engines and heavy car repairs), 293×172 ft.; woodworking shop, 200×60 ft.; storehouse, 230×42 ft.; six-track car repair yard and three-track caboose yaru. Industrial tracks of standard gage serve the repair yard. Electric current for yard and shop lighting, for power purposes and for the switch and signal plant is supplied from a steam-driven power station near the shops. This also sup plies compressed-air and steam for shop use, for the signal plant and for heating. Compressed air for testing brakes in the departure yards is provided by electrically driven compressors.
A local freight house for less-than-carload freight is provided for the accommodation of the Clearing district. The building is 32×65 ft., at the end of a 14-ft. platform 375 ft. long, between two stub tracks.
The present capacity of the yard is shown in the accompanying table, together with its capacity when enlarged to the full size as planned.
All the design and construction work has been under the direction of E. H. Lee, vice-president and Chief Engineer of the Chicago & Western Indiana R.R., acting with an engineers’ committee representing the twelve trunk lines which are joint owners of the project. F. E. Morrow, Principal Assistant Engineer, has had direct charge of the plans and design, and W. R. Walling, First Assist ant Engineer, has been in direct charge of construction.
Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad and the Belt Railway of Chicago
Aerial View of Clearing Yard
Belt Railway of Chicago
1 Will H. Lyford wrote a book in 1913, History of Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company