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 Post subject: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:35 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
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I am in Chicago for a few days with family (sorry - no time to go to IRM or Fox River this trip). Are there any visible remains of the Chicago Tunnel access points at street level on major thoroughfares in the area of the Loop?

Thanks!

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:04 am 

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I recall the mappage and I think low level access only happenned way out away from the loop.
The only other idea is it accessed downtown buildings and there may be elevators to it but since it is not used, may be inaccessible since they would be behind stock room areas.
I have the book on it somewhere so I'll poke later. I've always wondered if somebody would/could/have done tours of it, in the past it had been used for various things, today, it is just stuck, used for telephone and power delivery.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:17 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Short answer, No.

Longer answer... I knew someone who did his own "tours" some years ago, before the big flood. Access was not easy, nor was it legal. The remains of the system was deeded over to the City of Chicago years ago, and I'm sure the Public Works Dept. wishes it would just go away. I'm not aware of any basements with visible track, and if there still are, they would be off limits anyway. The track level basements were deep, at least two levels down, and some buildings have essentially abandoned that level - I recall when IRM hauled a couple freight cars out of the Steele Wheedle Building (sp?) the elevator had been reconfigured to no longer descend to that level, and they had to chain the cars to the bottom of the elevator car. This was a good twenty years ago and the building long gone.

There was a stretch in use as a cable way between the two CTA subways, but the tunnel had solid steel doors at each end so was not visible.

This line is truly Chicago's best kept secret.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:26 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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Many, many years ago, I got a job with a bank in downtown Chicago. As an orientation, they took a number of us new employees on a tour of their facility. We eventually went down into the buildings basement and then into the subbasement (Lower Level 2) and there was some type of hatch open and through that hatch, you could see a rather well lit area with some type of track at an even lower level. This was certainly the buildings "connection" to the Chicago Tunnel Company. My guess is that they had brought in coal there for the buildings power plant and removed ashes. I do not know if the 1924-built building still had a coal fired plant at that time (about 1959) or whether the Chicago Tunnel Company was even still in operation then.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 8:42 am
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Location: Haslett, Michigan USA
All you can do is get a copy of the excellent book Forty Feet Below and see how many of the three or four warehouses that gave access to the system are still standing. I suspect Google Maps will tell you they're gone, like the Steele-Weddell Building. As for the tunnel itself, you'll have to be satisfied with the sunglasses scene in The Blues Brothers.

Now I realize I forgot to ask to see the tunnel train when Honest Nick gave me and my kids a guided tour of IRM. Now I gotta go back.

Aarne Frobom
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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:58 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Just a few more comments. I don't think there was any "public access" even back in the day. Downtown Chicago is truly flat as a pancake, and the Tunnel Company was consistently forty feet below street level. All access was by elevator; either taking the freight down to the trains or, in the case of the cinder disposal stations, bringing the train cars up to grade level. That's the origin of the line to the Field Museum, it was originally surface track for cinder disposal, as the new park was filled in, a tunnel liner was constructed on the surface, then buried in the last phase of construction. The Field Museum tunnel still exists, used to route a water main and other utilities to the building. The distant end used to end at a capped over elevator that connected with a line that came under the Illinois Central (itself below grade). The equipment was rescued when construction on Lake Shore Drive called for the cap to be removed from the elevator shaft. After the abandoned rolling stock was removed, the elevator shaft was filled solid, and is now under the roadway.

There were also apparently elevators that brought Tunnel Co. cars up into some of the railroad freight houses, but of course, those are all long gone.

Coal delivery was by chute from the coal vendors; the Tunnel Co. cars never came to the surface.

The Tunnel Co. operation was so well hidden, that while its existence was general knowledge to people of my parents generation, when I was growing up back in the sixties, most adults thought it was still operating.

Bruce Moffat's excellent book, Forty Feet Below does make mention of public tours during the twenties. Access was via elevator in the Tunnel Co.s office building, once down to tunnel level they walked the tour around a corner to a junction intentionally mislabeled State & Madison.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:20 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:09 pm
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Aarne H. Frobom wrote:
All you can do is get a copy of the excellent book Forty Feet Below and see how many of the three or four warehouses that gave access to the system are still standing. I suspect Google Maps will tell you they're gone, like the Steele-Weddell Building. As for the tunnel itself, you'll have to be satisfied with the sunglasses scene in The Blues Brothers.

Now I realize I forgot to ask to see the tunnel train when Honest Nick gave me and my kids a guided tour of IRM. Now I gotta go back.

Aarne Frobom
Palace Hotel Ballroom


That scene was actually not shot in the tunnels, the City would not give them access.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:32 pm
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You can see the tunnels as well as the CTA's Chicago union stockyard line in the movie Union Station.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
Dennis Storzek wrote:
Bruce Moffat's excellent book, Forty Feet Below does make mention of public tours during the twenties.


The Central Electric Railfan Association (CERA) did an expanded follow-up post-flood:

https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Bulletin ... 915348357/


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 6:05 pm
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Unfortunately, you are 17 years late. In Sept. 2000 CERA had a freight tunnel tour.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1nELz2

(Just the flyer & ticket. I'll add my photos as soon as I can find the slides)

The walking tour was amazing. Access was through the City Hall sub-basement
(where years before ashes were delivered to the tunnel company).
We walked west to the river and saw the new doors installed after
the flood. Also saw several sealed-up sub-basement doors to other
buildings. The spookiest part was standing near Lake Street with the
lights out and hearing the subway trains rumble -above- us.

I'm not aware of any more recent tours. CERA had another one scheduled a
few years later, but it was cancelled, I suspect due to post 9/11 security paranoia.

Chuck Amstein


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:19 am 
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I believe the locomotive and some cars from the Field Museum branch are at the Illinois Railroad Museum in a suburb of Chicago.

In a few subway stations you can see bricked-up or cemented-up arched passages in the wall of the tunnel. I've been told these are where the original freight tunnels were cut off by the subways. The freight tunnels were rebuilt in some areas to run below the subway, and the abandoned stub lines were sometimes used for utility runs.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:30 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
buzz_morris wrote:
You can see the tunnels as well as the CTA's Chicago union stockyard line in the movie Union Station.


Oh, the wonders of Hollywood, and the perils of using old movies for historical research. I had a few minutes waiting for Grandma and Number One Grandson to show up yesterday, so poked around the web and found Union Station on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJEC06Zi2qM

The Stockyards "L" scene starts about 14:00. I had just read a summary of the seating arrangements in Chicago "L" cars in the latest IRM newsletter, the Rail & Wire. The leather seats in the movie caught my eye, also an interior partition, like a smoker bulkhead. The answer is revealed at 15:59, when the "stockyards branch" car pulls away from the train, a pilot is briefly visible on the car left behind. At 16:45, our characters detrain on the street, from what appears to be a P.E. car. While some of the exterior shots may be on location (they also my be stock footage) the interior shots were obviously done in Hollywood.

Wikipedia does say that most the filming was in LA, with LA Union Station filling in for Chicago.

Which leaves me wondering about the Tunnel Co. scene, which starts at 49:15. The tunnel looks nothing like standard Tunnel Co. construction. The brand new side boards on the flatcar look like a prop. Now, it may be that this was filmed on trackage in the basement of one of the buildings rather than in the tunnel, but look at the track starting at 50:19, it's waaay wider than two foot gauge. While if these are props, they could have been filmed anywhere, I'm wondering if this wasn't done in the basement of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, using the haulage train for the "coal mine" exhibit. I tried to check the end credits to see if the MSI is listed, but YouTube does not include the entire credit.

I'm of the opinion we're still not seeing the real Chicago Tunnel Co.

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Last edited by Dennis Storzek on Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:14 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:27 am
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Location: Winters, TX
I just checked the filming locations on the Internet Movie Database and there is no mention of anything being filmed in Chicago. I assume that doesn't include stock footage. You're quite correct about the PE car, it is #963. After the movie, it was made available for preservation but sadly there were no takers. Or at least any takers with money.

Hope someone can solve the mystery of the tunnel scenes.


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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 5:52 pm
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Location: Apple Valley, Minnesota
Dennis Storzek wrote:
Wikipedia does say that most the filming was in LA, with LA Union Station filling in for Chicago.


This topic came up several years ago. IIRC LAUPT had a tunnel system through the complex for transferring baggage, express, train provisions, etc., to/from the platforms. That's where those tunnel scenes were shot. Perhaps a California person in the know can dig up that info and reference the previous discussion thread.

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Chicago Tunnel Company - Visible Remains in Town?
PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:31 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2094
Location: Northern Illinois
Charlie wrote:
I just checked the filming locations on the Internet Movie Database and there is no mention of anything being filmed in Chicago. I assume that doesn't include stock footage. You're quite correct about the PE car, it is #963. After the movie, it was made available for preservation but sadly there were no takers. Or at least any takers with money.

Hope someone can solve the mystery of the tunnel scenes.


Sounds like Jim Vaitkunas just did. I wonder if the station system ran with mine motors and overhead wire, of if those were props.

Now, during the stockyards "L" scene, some of the interior shots have scenery visible through the windows that look like it was taken on elevated trackage, one with a bit of platform visible. Also, there are a couple shots of a curbside stairway, and support columns in the street. Then again, I seem to recall that P.E. had a very short segment of elevated, a mile or less, but I have no idea if it looked anything like the Chicago "L" structure. Did the P.E. elevated last long enough to have been used in the filming?

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