I have discussed and photographed some history of each of these lines on my Facebook page, including the EJ&E caboose on display off of IL-126.
But today, we're going to talk about the most obscure railroads in Plainfield, the Material Services Railroad and Chicago Gravel Company, both of which helped create many of the lakes in the Plainfield area. The ice ages beginning 1.8 million years ago left many stone deposits in the land of northern Illinois. Quarrying is active even today along the DuPage and Des Plaines Rivers, and many spent quarries have been converted into Forest Preserve land. Such is the case with Lake Renwick.
|Material Services Whitcomb Locomotive at Wilco Blvd near Lewis University W of Lockport 8-11-73 Photo: Don Crimmin|
|Material Services Railroad (in Red, with an Orange Spur), Chicago Gravel Company (in Yellow)|
|1939 Aerial Photo via Industrial History.|
Operations would continue heading westward all the way to Plainfield, IL, and very near the western end of Bolingbrook, leading me to question whether the line made it any farther northeast than Essington Rd and 135th St.
|Overhead view of the railroad from an old alignment of Renwick Rd. Photo: Don Crimmin, 8-11-73.|
|These strips are evidence of what were temporary rights-of-way to access gravel.|
|The same train leads empty gravel cars. Photo: Don Crimmin, 8-11-73.|
|MSRR Whitcomb 154 heading west toward Plainfield at Weber Rd in Romeoville. Today, this is all retail development, with a Wal-Mart on the opposite side of Weber. Photo: Don Crimmin 8-11-73.|
|MSRR Whitcomb 153 at the Wilco Blvd crossing. Photo: Don Crimmin 8-11-73.|
However, there remains much evidence of railroad operations at Lake Renwick, where the Chicago Gravel Company had extensive operations.
|Just like Lake Plainfield, strips of land are still evident on each side of Lake Renwick.|
|It was a rainy, 45 degree day, yet the lake was still frozen solid from the recent sub-zero temps.|
|Chicago Gravel Whitcomb Cab at Plainfield, just north of Renwick Rd. Image: Don Crimmin 3-8-79.|
|Image: Don Crimmin 3-8-79.|
|Some of the exposed railroad ties showing a former right-of-way, right off Lake Renwick's main trail.|
|Many railroad ties remain in the woods to this day.|
|This curve signals where a wye used to be, where the line branched off into another gravel mining site within the lake.|
|A railroad spike and plate easily visible in the brush. I wonder if digging it up a bit would reveal rails, like at Argonne?|
|The main path in Lake Renwick Forest Preserve is about 30 feet above the lake, thus some of the strips of land for railroad operations are quite easy to see.|
|Looking west onto one of the mine strips. Slightly off the beaten path, it's still quite accessible.|
|The active CN tracks split the Preserve into two. The west side is a bird sanctuary that is fenced in for some reason. Makes going under the bridge slightly creepy.|
|Immediately west of the bridge, a clearing to the Lake signifies where another wye was located.|
|A few deer here, otherwise it was desolate, muddy and wet on my visit here.|
|More evidence of the former ROW. Funny enough, with a CN train coming through about 100' east, you can still hear trains!|
|So yeah, the railroad is alive, even if this quarry is depleted.|
As always, I hope you enjoyed today's blog, thanks for reading! In addition, special thanks to Don Crimmin, who provided a lot of information on these operations, and provided historical photos.