Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Grainland Cooperative

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A TP&W eastbound freight passes Grainland Cooperative’s Cruger elevator on January 28, 2012

Grainland Cooperative owns and operates the largest grain elevator on the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway. The facility, much expanded over the years, was built by Farmers Grain Cooperative of Eureka in 1965.

For many years, railcar loading was limited to five at a time. This changed in 1998 when the elevator track was rehabilitated, an engine track was built (for the ex-Union Pacific switch engine acquired that year) and then Farmers Grain Cooperative of Eureka leased TP&W’s Cruger Siding. This increased railcar loading to 35. Creative switching now allows 40 cars to be loaded.

Farmers Grain Cooperative of Eureka merged with Secor Elevator Co. in July 1999 to create Grainland Cooperative. The company expanded when it merged with Minier Cooperative Grain Co. in August 2014.

Typically, corn is shipped to ADM in Peoria or Creve Coeur, and at times Aventine Renewable Energy in Pekin. Soybeans go to Incobrasa Industries in  Gilman.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Gavilon Fertilizer LLC

The Gavilon Fertilizer LLC’s Creve Coeur facility was built by Tuloma Gas Products, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Co., in 1965 and 1966 on land purchased from the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway.

Late winter 1966 marked completion of three storage tanks which could hold 12 million gallons of anhydrous ammonia. By November, three more storage tanks, together holding 2.5 million gallons of super-phosphoric acid, were in operation. Three tracks built for this facility are seen below on October 4, 2012.

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A processing plant (seen below, October 4, 2012) to convert super-phosphoric acid to nitrogen-phosphate solution began limited operations in late 1966, with full operations in early 1967. Super-phosphoric acid was shipped to Creve Coeur from Texas Gulf Sulphur Co.’s Lee Creek, North Carolina plant.

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Tuloma’s plant shipped nitrogen-phosphate solution to Congerville, Galva and Saunemin to be cold-mixed with potash then distributed to 170 retail outlets.

Standard Oil merged its subsidiaries Tuloma Gas Products and American Oil Co. (Amoco) on July 1, 1968. Operations remained stable for the next 15 years. Then, Standard Oil sold its Fertilizer & Pesticides Division to Scoular Grain Co.’s Cropmate Co.  on September 1, 1983. In 1985, ConAgra’s United Agri-Products (UAP) acquired Cropmate, and about 1991, sold the ammonia storage operation to Koch Nitrogen Corp.

By 2000, Cropmate’s Creve Coeur terminal had been re-branded as UAP Fertilizer, but then in 2003, ConAgra sold UAP to investors. The Creve Coeur terminal, however, continued to operate under the name “ConAgra Fertilizer Company” until 2008 when it was acquired by Gavilon.

Koch apparently discontinued operations at its adjacent ammonia terminal some time after acquiring bankrupt Farmland Industries’ fertilizer operations in 2003. That company’s Henry terminal was deemed sufficient to serve the region. Rail shipping or receiving had ceased at the Creve Coeur facility by the late 1990s, however.

In the winter of 2007, the Koch facility received a number of tank cars loaded with soybean oil. This product was stored there until shipped to a bio-diesel plant. I never did find out who the consignee was, but by 2011, Gavilon had clearly taken over operations. That’s when a big increase in ammonia shipments from Dakota Gas in Beulah, North Dakota began.

Today, Gavilon’s Creve Coeur operation is an ammonia storage terminal, though one may see nitrogen fertilizer solution and phosphoric acid plus dry products such as potash, phosphate and urea as well. It is a fairly regular, year-round customer for the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad.

– David P. Jordan

Santa Train To Visit Peoria-Fulton County Kids Dec. 6!

2014 Santa Train Flyer

Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 6. Santa Claus will be riding the Keokuk Junction Railway to visit children in Mapleton, Glasford, Breeds, Canton, Cuba and Smithfield.

For railfans, an added treat is that the train will be powered by a matching set of passenger F units – FP-9 1752, F-9B 1761 and FP-9 1750. The caboose in which Santa will be riding has been repainted, and adorned with a PIONEER LINES logo.

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This year marks the seventh in a row in which the employees of the Keokuk Junction Railway have volunteered their time and resources to run the Santa Train. The weather looks fine with a high of 42F. So come out and help create the biggest crowd in the history of this train!

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Galena Road Gravel Co.

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Sand hoppers await loading at Moffitt Street in Chillicothe, Illinois on April 7, 2014. Note train on BNSF Railway overpass in the distance.

The first customer attracted to the Lincoln & Southern Railroad not previously served by former owner Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad was Chillicothe’s Galena Road Gravel Co. Construction sand trucked from a nearby quarry was first loaded onto railcars at the Moffitt Street location about 1988.

And they’ve been doing it ever since. Sand hoppers carrying “CPC” markings (Chicago Port Railroad), denote their destination, Ozinga Illinois RMC at Mokena. Operations are suspended during the cold weather months (typically November through March).

In 2005, the siding used for sand loading was extended north past the BNSF overpass. Carloads of sand to RD Concrete in Rock Island (c/o Country Stone & Soil), the reason behind this expansion, did not last long.

Typically, the Iowa Interstate Railroad, operator of the L&S from 1987 to 2006, and now owner of this stretch, drops empties here using a Peoria-bound local, which then picks up loads heading back north. Extra runs are made to Chillicothe (from Bureau Jct.) as needed.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Rail Users 2014 – Fort Transfer Company

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On September 10, 2013, TP&W’s Morton Job prepares to push three tank cars spotted for unloading at Fort Transfer out of the way to deliver a lumber load to Morton Buildings

Fort Transfer Company probably saved the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway’s Morton Industrial Spur from abandonment.

In January 2002, the railroad embargoed the sole remnant of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway’s Pekin District due to poor cross-tie conditions. One customer, Morton Buildings, began transloading lumber from railcars to trucks at East Peoria. Come later summer, Nestle/Libby’s USA would’ve had to make other arrangements.

But the Morton-based trucking firm distributed liquid herbicide for Syngenta Crop Protection and began receiving tank cars the company’s St. Gabriel, Louisiana in February 2002 (about 400 a year were expected). After considerable track work, the line was restored to full service in late March.

The TP&W delivers herbicide to Fort’s facility, 225 S. Maple St. There is no siding or spur, tank cars are unloaded on the main track. Whenever a train must switch Morton Buildings (located further west), they must push these cars out of the way and then re-spot them when done.

– David P. Jordan

Frontier Airlines Dumping CIRA!

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I predicted this in an October 22 post.

This seasonal change is expected to become permanent. And CIRA officials should hope that is it, because CIRA could lose Frontier altogether…and I’m willing to bet they will.

And it took a little more than a month for my prediction to come true. Bloomington-Normal’s Central Illinois Regional Airport is in fact losing Frontier Airlines. The Pantagraph has the story here.

…the airport’s three weekly flights to Denver will effectively cease when a previously announced seasonal stoppage of service begins Jan. 7. Twice weekly service to Orlando, now halted for the season, will resume Dec. 5 and end after April 27.

This will hurt Bloomington-Normal at a time when declining fuel prices are increasing airline profits. CIRA passengers filled 90 percent of Frontier’s seats, but its jets are more valuable in bigger markets. The airline’s new strategy is to de-emphasize the Denver hub and serve bigger cities on a point-to-point basis.

Unless CIRA can convince existing carriers to increase service and/or new carriers to enter the market, passenger traffic will dip below 400,000. The relatively new (2001) terminal is going to be emptier than ever, and the addition of three more jetways (and replacement of two older ones) in 2013 is going to seem a waste of resources.

The airline industry can be frustrating for small cities. Hopefully, new opportunities will arise in 2015 and CIRA will find a way to soften the loss of one of its carriers.

– David P. Jordan

Flight Cut, But Bigger Jets To DFW March 29, 2015!

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NOTE: Thanks to commenter EJK, I can report this well ahead of the local media.

This bit of news has some good news and bad news. Envoy Airlines dba American Eagle is going to reduce daily roundtrips on its Peoria-Dallas/Ft. Worth route from three to two effective March 29, 2015. But at the same time, it will replace the 50-seat Embraer 145’s with 65-seat Canadair CRJ700s.

The following schedule will end after Saturday, March 28, 2015:

Arr. 1145 Embraer 145 / Dep. 0955 Embraer 145
Arr. 1705 Embraer 145 / Dep. 1515 Embraer 145
Arr. 2135 Embraer 145 / Dep. 1945 Embraer 145

The following will begin Sunday, March 29, 2015:

Arr. 1453 CRJ700 / Dep. 0730 CRJ700
Arr. 2239 CRJ700 / Dep. 1528 CRJ700

American Eagle’s CRJ700s have a two-class configuration with nine first class seats and 56 in economy class.

– David P. Jordan

Gritty, Industrial Railroading Part X

Some of you have already seen this on Facebook, but I thought I’d share it here as well.

The Tazewell & Peoria Railroad is busy all day long and some switch jobs work all over the area. Case in point, one crew using TZPR SW-1500 No. 1521 delivered ten cars to the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway in early Saturday afternoon. A few hours later, I caught the same crew/engine working Caterpillar’s Rubber Processing Facility (RPF) in Peoria and then switching flat cars (including two bound for the scrapper) at Greenbrier Castings.

Video lasts 10 minutes, 21 seconds.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Evonik Industries

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Evonik Industries’ Mapleton Chemical Center, November 21, 2012

Chemical plants can have multiple owners. Evonik’s Mapleton facility is a perfect example. Built 52 years ago by Archer Daniels Midland Co., ownership passed to Ashland Chemical in 1967, Sherex in 1979, Witco in 1991, Goldschmidt in 1999, Degussa-Goldschmidt in 2000, Evonik-Degussa in 2006 and Evonik Industries in 2007.

Beef tallow is the primary raw material used by Evonik, but lard oil, peanut oil and Methyl Chloride also arrive by railcar. Evonik ships amines, fatty acids and surfactants on a regular basis.

Served by the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway, Evonik has access to multiple carriers. Tallow arrives mainly from Union Pacific origins while Methyl Chloride and small amount of animal fat originate on BNSF railway. Much of the outbound traffic is delivered to the Union Pacific.

– David P. Jordan

Peoria Area Rail Users 2014 – Emerald Polymer Additives LLC

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Emerald Polymer Additives’ Henry, Illinois plant – November 9, 2012

BF Goodrich opened this plant just north of Henry in the spring of 1958 to produce anti-oxidants for petroleum, plastics and rubber industries. In 1965, Goodrich added Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins production facilities, doubling the size of the complex.

In 2001, BF Goodrich sold its Performance Materials division to investors who created Noveon, Inc. This was the original 1958 plant; Goodrich had already spun off the PVC resins plant to The Geon Company in 1993. Lubrizol acquired Noveon in 2004 and just two years later, Emerald Performance Materials acquired certain Lubrizol assets, including the Henry plant.

Served by the Iowa Interstate Railroad, Emerald Polymer Additives LLC’s Henry plant receives sodium hydroxide solution, chlorine and other chemicals in tank cars. All outbound shipments appear to be by truck only.

– David P. Jordan