Santa Fe Grain Elevators

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Santa Fe Grain Elevators as Seen from the Stevenson Expressway

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Santa Fe Grain Elevators

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Sanitary and Ship Canal near the site of the Santa Fe Grain Elevators


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Santa Fe Grain Elevators

With the flow of grain shipments into Chicago along the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the railroads, and later the Sanitary and Ship Canal, the need arose for storage facilities to hold this produce until it was sold at the Board of Trade. This need was met was met with the construction of grain elevators. These facilities some upwards of 15 stories high rose along the Chicago River and the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Arriving by train and barges, wheat, corn, barley, and other crops were store in these elevators until sold. At the present time only 2 elevators are active–Archer Daniels Midland and the Illinois international Port Grain Elevator.
Many of the original facilities are no longer standing. Many stand vacant and deteriorating,too expensive to demolish.
The first grain elevators were developed in Buffalo, New York. However, they were improved in design and utility in Chicago by a grain merchant Ira Munn. He made his fortune building several grain elevators. He also was one of the first presidents of the Chicago Board of Trade.
One of the largest grain elevator complexes was owned by the Santa Fe Railroad. It was built in 1906. It is located on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. It is near the Damen Street exit of the Stevenson Expressway.
The Santa Fe facility was a huge complex. There were 35 concrete storage bins. There was a 1500 HP electric plant. It had 8 vessel loading spouts. The total capacity was 400,000 bushels. It could process 75,000 bushels per hour.
The site contains multiple silos measuring over 100 feet high. There is a cement building measuring 15 stories. In 1977, there was a massive explosion and fire at the site.
With the abandonment for years, the fire and explosion, the vandalism, the silos were converted to a shell of their former appearance. The site is currently owned by the state. Many attempts have been made to sell it without success.

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15 Story Concrete Building Left. 100 Foot Storage Bin Right

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