Laramie Yard is seen in an aerial view looking east in early 1958, not long before the closure of the Garfield Park Line and the opening of the Congress Line, visible in the expressway median on the right. The cars on the loop track and stored in the upper left are newer 6000-series cars, but a number of retired wood cars are also stored in the yard, on the right. In less than two years, the yard would be gone. For a larger view, click here. (CTA photo)

Laramie Yard
Laramie Avenue and Harrison Street, Austin

Service Notes:


Metropolitan Division, Garfield Park branch

Quick Facts:

Address: TBD
Established: 1902
Shop Area: unknown
Yard Area: unknown
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Demolished

In June 1900, the Chicago City Council authorized an extension of the Garfield Park branch of the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad to 52nd from 48th (Cicero) Avenue. Work was delayed when a land owner refused to sell his parcel, which unfortunately was across the street from the 48th Avenue terminal. Eventually, he sold and work progressed.

The four-track inspection shop at Laramie Yard is seen looking east. The platform on the turning loop and overhead bridge connecting the shop and platforms are visible on the right. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

In mid-July, 1902, it was reported that occasional service was being run to 52nd Avenue, with regular service to the station inaugurated August 25, 1902.

The new terminal at 52nd (Laramie) Avenue included a turning loop and a four-track inspection shop to replace the one at 46th Avenue. Although a few storage tracks were also provided, most cars continued to be stored at 46th Avenue Yard. This continued until 1906, when additional tracks were added at 52nd Avenue Yard.

The maintenance shop was located along the north edge of the yard, just east of the turning loop, along Harrison Street at Leamington Avenue. The shop had four tracks inside for inspections and repairs, each of which could accommodate two cars.

By 1953, Laramie Yard had storage space for 210 cars.


CA&E Lockwood Yard

While the bulk of the yard, where "L" trains were stored, was to the east of Laramie Avenue, there were also storage tracks for some cars west of Laramie Avenue. Initially, this consisted of a few sidings immediately west of Laramie Avenue that included a freight house for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, which actually owned the Garfield Park tracks west of Laramie.

In the early 1920s, CA&E management was engaged in a track and infrastructure improvement program, and as part of this constructed additional yard tracks immediately to the west, on the west side of Lockwood Avenue (one block west of Laramie). Five sidings with a total length of 1,830 feet -- four tracks projecting westward from the switch off the main line, and one projecting eastward, parallel to the north side of the main line -- were built on CA&E-owned property. The storage was needed because, as commuter business grew for the CA&E, so did deadheading passenger equipment for rush hour trips (since more cars are needed in one direction during rush hours than the other). As the CA&E's terminal at Wells Street downtown Chicago had no room for midday storage, a location closer to downtown Chicago than the main yard at Wheaton was needed to reduce deadheading mileage. The location west of Laramie, which became known as Lockwood Yard (sometimes referred to as "the Orchard" by CA&E employees), was well-suited because it got the cars off of rapid transit property and onto CA&E property with minimal mileage. Additionally, the small freight yard already there provided a logical location for expansion. The small Lockwood Yard, used primarily for the midday storage of commuter equipment between the morning and evening rushes, saved more than 30 deadhead miles daily.


Decline and Closure

Laramie Shop remained in operation until June 22, 1958, when the Congress Line opened. Inspection work was temporarily done at various locations on other lines until the new Desplaines Shop opened on July 27, 1962. The crew reporting was moved from Laramie Yard to Desplaines Yard on June 22 as well.

However, Laramie Yard remained connected to the Garfield/Congress line after June 22, 1958, but only from the west end of the yard. The former Garfield Park main line tracks were cut off at the east end of the yard, west of Lavergne Avenue. East of Lotus Avenue (approx. 1/4-mile west of Laramie) the new, permanent Congress Line was in place, but west of Lotus temporary tracks were in use (dating from when it was still the Garfield Line) while the expressway and new, permanent "L" alignment south of the expressway were being built. The former Garfield Park main line tracks west of the yard were connected to this section of the Congress/Garfield line on temporary right-of-way with hand-throw switches just east of Central Avenue.

This lasted a little over a year, with Laramie Yard given this brief reprieve and kept connected to the rest of the system due both due to the need for additional car storage for the revenue fleet while Desplaines Yard continued to be built out and completed, and the need to store large number of retired wooden "L" cars awaiting scraping. This likely ended in mid-October 1959, when the permanent Congress Line tracks were placed in service between between the Lotus Tunnel and Parkside, which would have eliminated the temporary yard connection just east of Central Avenue.


Lavergne Park 'n' Ride

A promo sign for the Lavergne park 'n' ride lot beckons patrons on the corner of Laramie and Harrison, on the former site of Laramie Yard, looking southeast on March 27, 1959. For a larger view, click here. (CTA photo)

By October 1958, the CTA opened a park 'n' ride lot on part of the former Laramie Yard site. The lot was added for the convenience of patrons of the then-new Congress branch of the West-Northwest Route.

The parking lot, approximately 50 feet wide and 500 feet in length, was actually located in the area formerly occupied by the right-of-way of the discontinued Garfield Park rapid transit route, immediately east of the yard. The entrance fronted on Lavergne Avenue, one-half block north of the Lavergne auxiliary entrance to the Cicero Congress line station. The exit driveway passed through the former yard site along the alignment of the removed main line tracks and exited onto Laramie Avenue.

The lot, which could accommodate 80 automobiles, was surfaced with cinders and diagonal parking stalls were marked off. Construction costs of approximately $8,500 included cinders, paved driveways, bumper ties, adequate lighting and appropriate directional and informational signs. Some of the yard infrastructure remained, however, at least for a few years, including the old interlocking tower at the west end of the outbound platform along Laramie Avenue.

When the lot opened, the CTA said that as more parking space was needed, the balance of the right-of-way extending to Laramie Avenue, including the former yard site, could be made available for more parking, but this does not appear to have taken place.

The Lavergne park 'n' ride lot appears to have been closed some time between 1965 and 1967, as it appeared on the former edition of the CTA system map but was absent from the latter.


LaramieYard01.jpg (253k)
A two-car train of wood units -- the leader with enclosed vestibules and the trailing car with open platforms -- departs the Laramie station from the turning loop track toward downtown. The majority of the Laramie Yard storage tracks are visible on the right in this view looking east from the overhead transfer bridge. The ramp where the main line tracks transition from ground level to the elevated structure is visible in the distance. (Photo from CTA collection)

crt4312.jpg (73k)
Car 4312 is shown in the Laramie Yard of the Garfield Park Line in this undated view. The Metropolitan's own cars used battery control, while the other CRT divisions used the line voltage to supply the control circuits. The 4000s were capable of operating from either supply source, but not both at the same time. So for a 4000 to train with the Met wood cars, there had to be a means of changing between line and battery control. This was done by a manually-thrown changeover switch that a shopman would throw before the car went into service on the Met. The changeover switch was located under one of the longitudinal car seats. (Photo from the Jeff Obarek collection)

LaramieYard02.jpg (257k)
Laramie Yard is seen looking west from the Garfield main line tracks on September 27, 1957. Earlier that year, 6000-series cars began to be assigned to the Garfield service -- all from the early 6001-6200 group of cars -- and by this time made up the route's entire 58-car fleet. The yard inspection shop and Laramie station are visible in the background, the former on the right and the latter on the left. A year later, the yard would be closed and dismantled. (CTA photo)
LavergneParkingLot01.jpg (229k)
The Lavergne park 'n' ride lot is seen looking west from the Lavergne Avenue entrance on March 27, 1959. The lot is on the land formerly occupied by the Garfield Park main line tracks; the actual yard site proper is a few hundred feet ahead. The old inspection shop is still standing, visible in the background. The lot was very simply laid, paved with cinders and gravel. Signage points to the Lavergne entrance to the new Cicero Congress station, a 1/2-block to the south. (CTA photo)
LavergneParkingLot03.jpg (278k)
The exit from the Lavergne park 'n' ride lot onto Laramie Avenue is seen looking eastward on March 27, 1959. The driveway from the lot to Laramie cut through the former yard site. Although much of the yard, including most trackage, has been cleared, several remnants remain, including an interlocking tower on the left (one of three that originally served the yard complex) and the rails still embedded in Laramie Avenue's pavement. (CTA photo)