Archive ID: 1982-168-8

Grain elevator fire at 102nd and Calumet River

Date Created: 1937

Donor: Donald Arsenault

Media Type: Photograph


The most spectacular fire involving grain elevators on the Southeast Side occurred on May 11, 1939 on a slip near 102nd and the Calumet River. An explosion occurred at the Rosenbaum Elevator A near Commercial Avenue on the north side of Slip No. 2 on the Calumet River. The fire spread to Elevators B and C progressing eastward toward the river. The fire then jumped the 100 foot wide slip to the south and ignited the Norris elevators No. 1 and No. 2. By the time the fire ended 5 elevators were destroyed and 9 individuals were killed. 20 railroad freight cars were also burned in the 4 million dollar blaze. The Chicago Fire Department had two fireboats at the scene which helped put the fire out relatively quickly. Crowds estimated at 25,000 watched firemen battle the blaze. Fires at the site continued to break out sporadically and the remains of the fire gave off a stench for several months. This image is part of a collection of 8 photographs taken of this terrible fire. The view is from the Calumet River and was taken at the peak of the fire. It shows several grain elevators engulfed in flames.

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Disasters   Historic Events   1920-1939 (Depression Era)   Other/Unknown   Other/Unknown   Photograph   1982-168   Buildings   Calumet River   Firefighters   Firemen   Fires   Grain elevators