Historic Structures

Santa Fe Railroad Grain Elevator, Chicago Illinois

Date added: July 13, 2021 Categories: Illinois Industrial

This large grain processing complex was built in 1906 with a 400,000 bushel capacity and accommodation for 360 railroad cars. After a fire in 1932, the site was rebuilt with reinforced concrete silos.

The John S. Metcalf Company, consulting engineers, designed and built this facility for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in 1906. The original complex included a powerhouse, elevator with temporary storage and processing silos, and thirty-five grain storage silos. With a 400,000 bushel capacity, this complex could accommodate sixty railroad cars at the elevator and 300 railroad cars at a yard a short distance away. Equipment at the site included two driers, bleachers, oat clippers, cleaners, scourers and dust packers. Using filtered water from the adjacent South Branch of the Chicago River, boilers with a total of 1,500 horsepower generated the steam and electricity required by the machinery. The thirty-five grain silos south of this facility had a total capacity of one million bushels. In 1932, a grain dust explosion ignited a fire which destroyed the original timber and brick building. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad rebuilt the concrete processing house with fourteen reinforced concrete silos; the capacity of the facility was increased to 1,700,000 bushels. After reconstruction, the railroad leased the facility to the Stratton Grain Company.

This site contains several buildings, including a grain processing and storage building plus the grain elevator. At the western end of the site is a two-story brick powerhouse, measuring 100' x 40'. This building has a concrete foundation, brick walls and pilasters, and corbeled brick cornice. The powerhouse also has a low-pitched gable roof and brick segmental arches spanning the window openings. All windows have been filled with brick, wood, or corrugated metal. Adjacent to the powerhouse is a brick chimney 165! tall. Attached to the east side of the powerhouse is the Hess dryer house, a 40' x 25' brick building, joining the powerhouse and grain processing elevator. The elevator house is a brick, timber frame, and corrugated steel sided structure, 225' long and 56' wide. The south elevation is two stories tall and the rear is three stories tall. Mechanical works (including bleachers) are located on roof. The elevator is of reinforced concrete, 165' high and about 50' square, and sits above two tracks and a grain unloading hopper. Chutes run from the elevator to the railroad tracks and to the Hess dryer house. The elevator contains numerous multi-light windows, many of which are broken out. Silos attached to the elevator are for receiving, shipping, and processing.

South of the railroad tracks is a corrugated-metal shed containing a modern rotary car dump. South of the car dump is the grain silo storage annex with thirty-five silos. Each concrete silo is 23' in diameter and 100' in height. A conveyor, housed in a steel truss bridge with corrugated metal siding, crosses the railroad sidings and connects the elevator silos to the storage silos. Several small auxiliary buildings are at the east end of the site, including a small one-story office building, a one-story machine shop, and a one-story railroad repair shop. All of these buildings are constructed of brick.