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Proviso Departure: 1943

Proviso Departure: 1943

Chicago, April 1943. More of those yellow Proviso rails. "General view of one of the departure yards at Chicago & North Western RR's Proviso Yard." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the OWI. View full size.


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East 5 looking west

F.S. Adams - This picture was taken facing west. Yard 4 is east of this vantage point. If you look closely you can see the CRO towers at the west end of this yard 5 so those cars (far background beyond the Wolf road bridge) are ones being pushed to the Hump. The steam locomotive in the foreground is most likely one of the pull down crews that will couple and then pull tracks east into yard 4.

As a side note the only people I ever heard refer to yard 5 as the "bowl" were clueless trainmasters. Any rail spending time in this yard knew that it was downhill all the way from the west end. I can speak with some authority having spent many years working as a skateman being responsible for keeping those freight cars from running out of the east end. No "bowl" grading existed.

East Five

The location as stated by Anonymous Tipster is the east, or "pulldown" end of Yard 5 which was the classification bowl. The cars in the background would not have been being pushed to the hump for classification, as they would have already been "humped" or classified into Yard 5. More likely they were being handled by one of the "pulldown" yard engines which would couple up all the cars on the classification track, then pull them into Yard 4 which was one of the departure yards.

Yard 5

This shot was taken from the light tower at the east end of Yard 5 facing west. Mannheim Road bridge is east from this location. Near background is the Wolf Road bridge. The far background shows freight cars being shoved up to the "hump" for classification.

What is the second bridge beyond?

I have passed over that yard many times on Mannheim Road. Is that the bridge in the far background?

I don't see a catwalk on any aerial photos I can find, any clues?

Also, is this view facing west? I think it is from the Wolff Road bridge comments.

I'm kind of a freak for noticing sites and then wanting to know their history. After seeing all the Proviso yard pics here, I thought "that might be the huge rail yard I have driven over many times" and so it seems to be!

Plus, being a WWII buff makes it more interesting.

Proviso Yard

I grew up in Bellwood in the early fifties and I spent many hours as a brat, chasing around through the East end of Proviso Yard. It was a very short bike ride in those days.

The bridge in the background appears to be the Wolf Road bridge, which was torn down before my time, but the remnants of the south end of the bridge were used for Soap Box Derby races before finally being leveled for an industrial park. Proviso is in the middle of this Google Map.

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Proviso Yard

Great photo. Amazingly, as railroad locations go this location is remarkably similar today -- Proviso Yard is still over 60 tracks wide and busy as all hell. Of course it's now Union Pacific and there's no steam -- though as of a few years ago several coaling towers were still standing along the line toward Chicago.

From Google Earth I believe this was photographed from 41deg 53'49" N, 87deg 53'45" W, and facing west. There is today a catwalk over the tracks there -- if it was there in 1943 it was almost certainly where the shot was taken. The small yellow building in the foreground is gone, and the tracks have been slightly reconfigured.


Great photo, & I'll bet they were really busy with transporting material for the war effort.

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