Old Chicago Union Station Concourse

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Posted by Davechi on Thursday, November 08, 2018 5:33 PM
There is a way to cheat when modelling the Northern or Southern approaches of Chi Union station. One can just make all of the tracks through, because nothing of them can be seen from the outside other than just maybe 50 feet in at each end and even less along the Chi River. When one wants to run prototypical operations, then just consider the West-most 8 tracks blocked and the 2 East-most tracks through. When one wants to just relax and watch Metra and Amtrak (or the TCZ and CZ and E-unit led Budd bi-level commuters, plus the Pennsy Broadway limited, plus the occasional through freight or freight transfer, back in the day) run contiguously, exactly as viewed from Roosevelt road, then just use all or most of the tracks as through tracks. I am planning on having a photographic backdrop either projected or a super enlarged photo of the city, from the Polk St. bridge looking North and the Randolph St, bridge looking South (on the North end). The area where the trains pass through will be darkened and cutout (it doesn't have to be very long). It will look like the real thing when viewed from each end of the room facing oppositely. The HO scale length from Roosevelt RD to the Polk St. bridge is 19'. I will be doing this scale, everything else will be compressed. This will literally look like the greatest train watching point in North America with everything running contiguously (I.E Roosevelt Rd.). Thanks much, Dave S.
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Posted by Davechi on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 8:40 PM
Oh, thanks again: I have just found out that the "New post office" was built around 1996 and used starting 1997. The big question is, was there ever a freight train or transfer after that time period? I am modeling the "modern look " of this area and was hoping it wouldn't be totally wrong (for the purpose completing my loop) of having an occasional freight train passing through the East most tracks of the train shed. All 10 tracks will appear to come right out of a darkened area (in my projected photo of Chicago from the same exact angle of viewing it from Roosevelt Rd) under the Polk St. bridge (and eventually going into the darkened area under the Randolph St. bridge to the north). The vast majority of my trains will be Metra and Amtrak.
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Posted by Davechi on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 7:18 PM
Do you know it was after the current configuration of the south approach tracks (I.E. after the extension of the building up to Polk St.)? I think this happened around the mid to late 90s.
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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, November 07, 2018 11:40 AM

I think I read somewhere that freight use of the bypass tracks stopped sometime in the 1990s.  Probably due to changes in interchange patterns and mergers, along with Amtrak charging for their use.

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Posted by Davechi on Monday, November 05, 2018 7:43 PM

rcdrye

The bypass tracks at Union were mostly used by short transfer cuts - seldom more than 10 cars or so, so they wouldn't seem very busy, even though a lot of different carriers used them.  Just about all "bypass mail" handled by the Milwaukee and North Western moved on the bypass tracks, including Flexi-Vans off the New York Central.  By the late 1960s a lot of the traffic that had formerly used the bypass tracks was gone, or in the case of Milwaukee mail, moved in the late evening and early morning.

IC's Central Station was laid out as if it were a through station with a ladder on each end of the platform tracks, even if the north ladder led to a stub.

 

rcdrye

The bypass tracks at Union were mostly used by short transfer cuts - seldom more than 10 cars or so, so they wouldn't seem very busy, even though a lot of different carriers used them.  Just about all "bypass mail" handled by the Milwaukee and North Western moved on the bypass tracks, including Flexi-Vans off the New York Central.  By the late 1960s a lot of the traffic that had formerly used the bypass tracks was gone, or in the case of Milwaukee mail, moved in the late evening and early morning.

IC's Central Station was laid out as if it were a through station with a ladder on each end of the platform tracks, even if the north ladder led to a stub.

 

rcdrye

The bypass tracks at Union were mostly used by short transfer cuts - seldom more than 10 cars or so, so they wouldn't seem very busy, even though a lot of different carriers used them.  Just about all "bypass mail" handled by the Milwaukee and North Western moved on the bypass tracks, including Flexi-Vans off the New York Central.  By the late 1960s a lot of the traffic that had formerly used the bypass tracks was gone, or in the case of Milwaukee mail, moved in the late evening and early morning.

IC's Central Station was laid out as if it were a through station with a ladder on each end of the platform tracks, even if the north ladder led to a stub.

 

Does anyone know the last time a freight or frieght transfer ran thru the Chicago Union station's thru tracks? Was it in the "modern era" (I.E. after the "extension" beyond the old post office up to Polk St. (maybe around the mid 90's)). I am going to model the way this looks now because it is easier and I am going to have a (probably projected) photo back drop up to the Polk St. bridge and the city, including the Sears tower. It will be scale HO all the way to Roosevelt Rd (19 feet), including the byzantine maze of switches and double slip switches. Everything else will be greatly compressed. I want to do the North (Milw Rd.) approach also, when the tracks were still exposed up to Lake St. I will probably use another photographic back drop. I am planning to "cheat" and have all the tracks thru so I can do contiguous running if I so desire. Neither part of the actual station (either the Grand Hall or the concourse bldg.) will be visible.  Thanks Much, David Schmieding

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Posted by mrrdad on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 11:45 PM

3rd rail

Ed, I am excited that you are going to do Grand Central! You mentioned that you had some photos, diagrams, etc.. You might already have these, but if not, there are a couple of magazines with good articles on G.C.  The best one is the September 1969 issue of Trains Magazine.. Excellent article by George W. Hilton. Really dives into the architectual aspects of G.C.  Second one is the Issue # 28 (Jan/Feb/Mar 1996) of "The Railroad Press". ( I can't locate the publishers name on the frontispiece, but, there is an address.. 1150 Carlisle St. Suite 444 Hanover, PA 17331). 

  I think I speak for all here, We'd love to see photos of how this project goes.. If you have the space, you really should include the drawbridge over the Chicago River as part of the whole scene.  So, good luck, If I had the space, I'd do the same, but I don't......... 

P.S.  Last time I was up in Sears Tower in Chicago, I could still see the outlines of G.C. But that was about 20 years ago. I think they have built Condos there since then.... 

 

Todd 

 

 

Hi Todd,

Thank you for the information. I most definitely plan on including the drawbridge. I should be starting the build of the train shed within the next week or two. I'll definitely post pictures as I go.

 

As far as the site of G.C. goes, there are some developing going on there finally. A lot of that land is still vacant though.

 

Ed

Modeling the B&O Chicago Terminal Railroad in the 1950's

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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 8:57 PM

Ed, I am excited that you are going to do Grand Central! You mentioned that you had some photos, diagrams, etc.. You might already have these, but if not, there are a couple of magazines with good articles on G.C.  The best one is the September 1969 issue of Trains Magazine.. Excellent article by George W. Hilton. Really dives into the architectual aspects of G.C.  Second one is the Issue # 28 (Jan/Feb/Mar 1996) of "The Railroad Press". ( I can't locate the publishers name on the frontispiece, but, there is an address.. 1150 Carlisle St. Suite 444 Hanover, PA 17331). 

  I think I speak for all here, We'd love to see photos of how this project goes.. If you have the space, you really should include the drawbridge over the Chicago River as part of the whole scene.  So, good luck, If I had the space, I'd do the same, but I don't......... 

P.S.  Last time I was up in Sears Tower in Chicago, I could still see the outlines of G.C. But that was about 20 years ago. I think they have built Condos there since then.... 

 

Todd 

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 2:00 PM

B&O used the freight house between Harrison and Taylor Streets south of the trainshed.  Unlike most other downtown Chicago freight houses it only handled pickups and dropoffs, as B&O used its Forest Hill Freight Station on Oakley south of 75th to do LCL transfers.  The yard there still exists, used by CSX as an intermodal yard.  B&O split the incoming LCL and some carloads into several jobs that handled interchange to other carriers and some shippers that had their own sidings.  Soo Line interchange was handled at the Soo Line freight house by the same job that handled Polk St. CGW interchange was handled by a different job that served the Robey and Cicero Districts, interchanging at CGW's Cicero Avenue yard.

http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2016/03/b-forest-hill-yard-and-freight-house.html

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, July 30, 2018 11:49 AM

There's a good diagram on this web page that shows track connections and some of the freight houses.  From what I remember the B&O freight house wasn't located in the Grand Central footprint in later years, though at one time there were both in- and out-bound freight houses. You can see the Pere Marquette and Chicago Great Western team tracks.  CGW's freight house was located along the river.  Soo Line had its own freight house at Canal Street west of the Chicago River. Rock Island's team track/barge transload was just south of the bridge, but there was no track connection to the Rock Island.

http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2016/02/strauss-trunnion-over-south-branch.html

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Posted by mrrdad on Sunday, July 29, 2018 3:01 PM

I posted a message to this thread several days ago, but it seems to have never made it here.

As recommended, I am moving away from modeling Union Station. I have been working for month and I have been having a hard time finding good photos and a documentation. My intentions all along have been model a Chicago railroad from the mid-late 60's focusing on passenger service, but I would like some freight service as well.

I have found a good amount of photos and documentation for Grand Central Station. I like the train shed and limited number of lines to it. I also know there was a freight yard just to the south (Rock Island 12th St.?), but I'm not finding much good info on freight houses or freight yards.

Research eats up so much time on this.

Ed

Modeling the B&O Chicago Terminal Railroad in the 1950's

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Posted by mrrdad on Friday, July 27, 2018 11:32 PM
Thank you all again for your contributions. I cannot tell you the number of hours I have spent researching the Chicago railroads of the 1960's over the last few months. I have learned a lot! I am now considering modeling Chicago's Grand Central Station. I have found more information, better pictures, and some drawings that would help be get a more accurate representation than I would with Union Station. Ed

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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:48 AM

Rich, I am totally with you brother! Always Too many ideas, and never enough space!!!  Just to accurately model just a small local yard actually would take up about an 8'X10' area, and that is just the trackage, scenery excluded.  I'd buy Lotto Tickets, but they say that is a fools game. I've even heard it referred to as a tax on stupid people..   Anyway, I'll live with my small/medium size layout for now. Hell, I have enough trouble just trying to get this new DCC system figured out. Yep, I'm "OLD-SCHOOL" Most of my motive power is "Pre-DCC" and right now I have both capabilities on the power board, but that has issues as well. I have rouined one DCC P2K switcher due to a power overlap. It will still move, but the sound circut is toast. Good candidate for the bone-pile next to the shops.. 

Todd 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 9:53 PM

Chicago and Joliet fit at the opposite corners of a square about 25 miles on a side.  In HO scale you would need a warehouse 1500' on a side.  Like it has been said, make no small plans.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 4:25 AM

3rd rail

Well, I'll tell ya... There isn't a single Chicago Passenger terminal that I don't like. If I had a 200 ft.X1000ft. pole barn to construct a layout in, I would do the entire "Loop" area.Circa 1950. Everything from Englewood on in. Might even throw in the stock yards... Delete the smell effect though... 

3rd rail, we must be long lost brothers...or at least possess some form of matching DNA. I sometimes muse about buying a big old warehouse and converting the big open space into a gigantic model railroad layout.

It would feature all six downtown Chicago passenger stations and the trackage would run south to Englewood Station and southwest to Joliet Union Station.

No selective compression.

Rich

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Posted by 3rd rail on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 1:56 AM

Well, I'll tell ya... There isn't a single Chicago Passenger terminal that I don't like. If I had a 200 ft.X1000ft. pole barn to construct a layout in, I would do the entire "Loop" area.Circa 1950. Everything from Englewood on in. Might even throw in the stock yards... Delete the smell effect though... 

As far as "Architectual Quality" goes, I LOVE Grand Central... Best looking head house of all of them. But, limited trackage. I believe that Amtrak picked Union for the capacity, and justly so. And we still do have the "West Hall" as they call it now. Hey, gotta' take what's given.. Old Dearborn survives as a shopping/tourist/housing complex, but we will never see another SuperChief there..   The C&NW terminal was nice too, but now it is just another generic glass tower. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, June 30, 2018 5:22 AM

3rd rail

I am going to give all my encouragement to anyone that wants to model ANY downtown Chicago Station!  I've always wanted to do Dearborn myself, but to do it right, it would take the entire basement.....     But hey, Give it Hell!!!  I'd like to see it in a future issue of MR. 

Todd  

I have made a few attempts to simulate Dearborn Station on my layout, and you are correct. It takes a relatively enormous amount of space to do justice to the Dearborn Station area. Besides the station and train shed with its 10 passenger tracks, there were as many as 11 large freight houses to service LCL freight for the five owner roads (C&EI, Erie, GTW, Wabash and Monon) and the primary tenant, ATSF.

The Dearborn Station complex was 4 city blocks wide from State Street to Clark Street and 7 city blocks long from 8th Street (Polk) to 15th Street. In HO scale, that area would be 30 feet wide by 53 feet long.

So, any attempt, short of a full basement, requires a lot of selective compression. I am currently planning to try my hand at a 7' x 30' replica complete with the 11 freight houses. And, that doesn't take into account the ATSF coach yard or the C&WI freight yard which were located between 16th Street and 21st Street all the way west to Canal Street.

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, June 30, 2018 5:07 AM

3rd rail

As for what I would model in "HO". I'd do good old Dearborn Station. Neat old place with lots of variety in RR's  ATSF, GTW, ERIE, C&EI, MONON, I may be forgetting a few...  I did see an article in an old "Model Railroader" magazine from the '80's I think, where somebody did model Dearborn Station. It was fantastic. 

Todd  

You are likely referring to Gary Hoover's Dearborn Station module on his ATSF layout. Gary came as close as anyone in capturing the look and feel of Dearborn Station in the 1950s. 

Rich

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Posted by 3rd rail on Saturday, June 30, 2018 1:27 AM

I am going to give all my encouragement to anyone that wants to model ANY downtown Chicago Station!  I've always wanted to do Dearborn myself, but to do it right, it would take the entire basement.....     But hey, Give it Hell!!!  I'd like to see it in a future issue of MR. 

Todd 

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, June 24, 2018 5:55 PM

3rd rail

Seems to me there was an article several years ago in Model Railroader Mag. about Englewood Union Station. (That is about 10 miles south of the "Loop" . That was really the place to be until the 1960's.) Now unrecognizable, it was the junction of the PRR, NYC, and C,R,& I.P.  A search through some OLD Trains magazines should provide some helpful info.  

Todd  

Sadly, Englewood Union Station, once located at 63rd and State on the South Side of Chicago is long gone. It was closed in 1969 and demolished in the 1970s.

I used to commute downtown each day on the Metra Rock Island, and I would look out the window at the northeast corner of the intersection between the Rock Island tracks and the old PRR tracks at the vacant property that once held Englewood Union Station.

More recently, a so-called CREATE project constructed a flyover for Metra Rock Island commuter trains to bypass the grade level intersection and ease freight train congestion. So, now, the old Englewood Union Station site cannot even be seen by commuters on the Metra Rock Island.

Rich

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Posted by rcdrye on Sunday, June 24, 2018 2:20 PM

The bypass tracks at Union were mostly used by short transfer cuts - seldom more than 10 cars or so, so they wouldn't seem very busy, even though a lot of different carriers used them.  Just about all "bypass mail" handled by the Milwaukee and North Western moved on the bypass tracks, including Flexi-Vans off the New York Central.  By the late 1960s a lot of the traffic that had formerly used the bypass tracks was gone, or in the case of Milwaukee mail, moved in the late evening and early morning.

IC's Central Station was laid out as if it were a through station with a ladder on each end of the platform tracks, even if the north ladder led to a stub.

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Posted by 3rd rail on Sunday, June 24, 2018 12:05 AM

Seems to me there was an article several years ago in Model Railroader Mag. about Englewood Union Station. (That is about 10 miles south of the "Loop" . That was really the place to be until the 1960's.) Now unrecognizable, it was the junction of the PRR, NYC, and C,R,& I.P.  A search through some OLD Trains magazines should provide some helpful info. 

 

Todd 

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Posted by 3rd rail on Saturday, June 23, 2018 11:56 PM

At the risk of sounding "nitpickey" The ICRR that went "Through" Central Station did not ever go further than the Chicago river. Those last few miles ended up at freight station, and express spurs. Unless I'm missing an I.C. passenger train that went north out of Chicago.  Hey, I'm not trying to be a pain, just trying to set things straight for a modeller with a question.  The only ICRR tracks that went PAST Central Station were the Suburban tracks that ended at Randolph Street. But those were the IC Electric, Totally removed from IC long distance trains. 

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Posted by mrrdad on Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:17 AM
Thank you all for your participation in this thread. I've really enjoyed reading all the responses. The model layout will be a rather large two tier layout with a helix that will take the trains from one level to the next. Union station will be at one end of the layout. There will be small sections of mainline track that will come out of one side of the concourse that will only be there for cosmetics. Then the functioning tracks will come out of the other side of the concourse. This will not be a continuous "looping" layout. Real trains do not run in circles :) Ed

Modeling the B&O Chicago Terminal Railroad in the 1950's

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:27 PM

Y

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 2:07 PM

Spending some time at Union summer 1952 and then again 1967-1970, I just don't remember the bypass tracks being used very often.

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:17 AM

3rd rail
ATSF, GTW, ERIE, C&EI, MONON

Wabash, C&WI - C&WI was owned by all but the AT&SF, which was a tenant.  AT&SF had a wonderful coach yard nearby.

The "bypass" tracks around Union Station hosted freight, mail and passenger transfer runs of incredible variety.  Just about anything running in the Chicago area could be seen there.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 12:21 AM

The problem with Union in model railroad is that you need really two model railroads, one for each side of the station, unless you want most of the tracks to be dummies and simply use, most of the time, the through tracks.  Dearborn would solve that problem, of course.  But modeling Central permits a continuous procession of trains in both directions, allowing one person to run a lot of trains simultaneously, something that cannot be done with Dearborn.

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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:11 PM

Well Dave, I really liked the old I.C station too, but as the O.P. stated, he wants to model old Union. You might be forgetting that Union was also, a "Through-Station" in track layout, if not in normal operation.It wasn't until the early 1970's when Amtrak ran a train from Milwaukee to St. Louis, Through Union Station. Alas, that didn't last very long. I also agree that the late Ed DeRouin penned the ultimate book on CUS. As for what I would model in "HO". I'd do good old Dearborn Station. Neat old place with lots of variety in RR's  ATSF, GTW, ERIE, C&EI, MONON, I may be forgetting a few...  I did see an article in an old "Model Railroader" magazine from the '80's I think, where somebody did model Dearborn Station. It was fantastic. 

 

Todd 

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 12:31 AM

Still recommending Central Station if you want to model a Chicago "terminal."  It is desgined as a through station, so it is adaptable to many kinds of model railroad layouts.  The variety of equipment in the period of steam-to-diesel transition is terrifice, with the steamlined Panama and City of New Orleans with E-units and the odd articulated Green Diamond to St, Louis.  The other IC and most NYC System trains would be steam with heavywieght equipment; but possibly one of the Central's would be lightweights with an E-unit.  Freight to IC's Riverfront yard passing cloase to the stiation.  On the electrified tracks closes to Michigan Blvd. electric original MUs of the IC, motor-trailer pairs in trians, and the South Shore with both short and lengthened and modernized MUs.  And I almost forgot, the Roosevelt Rd. streetcar extension to Grant Park crossing over all the platforms and tracks with its own upper-level platforms and stairways and lighrweight one-man double-end streetcars and also deck-roof older cars like 144 Union.

Into Central, the NYCentrql also handled through cars from south of Cincinnati from several railroads, including the C&O and Southern.

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