Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bone Yard

Pielet Brothers Scrap Iron & Metal Company, McCook, Illinois, September 16, 1989. We’ve all heard stories about places where elephants went to die. Pielet Brothers scrap yard in McCook, Illinois was a place where locomotives went to die.

My late wife Patti and I had been invited by the Chief of Security to come to Electro Motive Division (EMD) at McCook enjoy the 50th Anniversary celebration of the “Diesel That Did It!” – FT 109. We were very excited as we flew out of Portland to Chicago. Indeed, those were the days in which air travel was actually “fun!” For the both of us, this would mark the first time we had gotten beyond the airport terminal transiting through Chicago!

We stayed in McCook, so it was an easy task to secure a rental car, and make our way to 55th Street, home of EMD. As we approached the plant, I noticed these derelicts rusting away in the brush just off the road. At the time, I had no idea where I was at, but what a sad sight to see these magnificent machines suffering a painful and worse – a public death, just blocks from a factory full of the excitement that surrounds the birth of a locomotive!

Organized in the 1940’s, Pielet Brothers was the exclusive scrapper used by the General Motors Electro-Motive Division when they started their locomotive trade-in program in 1954. Pielet Brothers owned a group of associated companies, the most famous of which for locomotive fans was the salvage yard located at Joliet Road and 55th Street in McCook, Illinois, adjacent to EMD's LaGrange plant.

It was said that at the McCook yard, two men were capable scrapping a single locomotive in a single day. This location was the final resting place for thousands of locomotives traded to Electro Motive Division.

Over the years several ownership changes and environmental concerns resulted in the last “company” operating in this location, known as B&B Scrap, was closed and abandoned in February 2000.

3 Comments - Click here:

SDP45 said...

Neat subject. I have heard of this place, but never have seen any inhabitants. Thanks for the peek.


mathue said...

A possibly interesting shot of the C&NW GP7 all in pieces in better days.

B Wallace said...

As someone who grew up in West Suburban Chicago I have driven by Pielet Bros many times. When the Trade Ins would come into EMD they would be stripped of any reusable parts that could be rebuilt and used on the new locos that they were replacing or become service parts some Locos were even re-trucked after their old trucks were salvaged and the hulks placed on freight car trucks to make their final trip to Pielet next door Alcos, GE's and Baldwins were sent there intact as they had no reusable parts to EMD their agreement with Pielet was that the entire Locomotive had to be scrapped not resold or any parts salvaged for resale.

Pielet had very heavy 24 Hr security any intruding railfan was quickly shown out or arrested even taking photos from the 55th St Bridge which was on public property and had a great vantage point of the whole yard
would probably have a very quick visit from the McCook IL Police to be ushered away apparently Pielet like Naporano hated railfans.

Over the years I have seen 1000's of Locomotves there either inside the yard that one could see from the Bridge or on Sidings nearby waiting for their execution I have seen 100's if not 1000'of early geeps. E's and F's plus models of all the other builders.

Some that come to mind virtually all of the Amtrak SDP40's some only 3 years old as trade in on new F40's after they had been stripped of parts for reuse on the F40's. Amtrak called it a "Locomotive Rebuilding Program" The EMD Experimental Electric Demonstrator that was built with Conrail as a potential customer but resulted in no orders, A long row of SF U30C's parked nearby on a SF siding some in relatively new SPSF Paint the C&NW Alco C-628's (ex N&W) and everything else you could imagine.

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