Re: Video: Erie Railroad Carfloat Operations in Chicago, 1920

Charlie Vlk

Dave and All-

The Erie had a freight house at 14th & Clark Street on the east bank of the south branch of the Chicago River which was south of the passenger terminals and the main business district of Chicago.

Prior to establishing their car float transfer on the river the railroad had to hand over all their LCL traffic to teamsters or the Chicago Tunnel System.   There is was direct route from the south side on the east side of the Chicago River to the north except via the terminal railroads.

The Erie established a car float connecting to their tracks at 14th & Clark streets near their freight house and on the north branch of the Chicago River at Kingsbury & Erie Streets had a CMSP&P connection and Webster Street which had a connection to the C&NW.     There was also a dock at Market Street & Washington on the south branch adjacent to the downtown area.

It is likely that the Kingsbury Street facility was used primarily to receive and deliver LCL to the nearby catalog centers of Sears and Montgomery Wards.

It and the Webster Street facility further north could accommodate carloads to and from industries served by the CMSP&P & C&NW.  The service was successful and cut days off of the handling of cars to and from the north side for the Erie.

The Erie’s Chicago River car float operation lasted from 1913 to 1938 .

The above information was gleaned from Erie Railroad Historical Society articles which include maps, drawings of the car float depots and the gas mechanical switcher(s).

There was a direct rail link between the IC/MC and C&NW over a swing bridge at the mouth of the Chicago River but little is known about it (at least by this researcher) but the pressure of river traffic caused its removal at some point.

While there was the St. Charles Air Line which served as an important early transfer link between the IC/MC and CB&Q/G&CU (C&NW) its importance as a interchange line dwindled as switching yards moved out of Chicago (Hawthorne and the Q, Proviso on the C&NW, Markham on the IC, Bensenville on the MILW, etc.) and the terminal roads took over the interchange traffic.

Charlie Vlk





From: <> On Behalf Of staplindave via
Sent: Monday, October 12, 2020 3:57 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Video: Erie Railroad Carfloat Operations in Chicago, 1920


Anybody know where the Erie car float went from and too in Chicago?  Was it meant to sort cut the terminal railroads?


Dave Staplin

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