The Chainlink

Until 5 years ago I commuted to the West Loop from uptown. To get from Southport to Elston i'd take that little street through Finkl steel which  they'd allow bikers to use. At least I never had any problems.

It was quite a dramatic quick ride. Sometimes while riding through you could see what I assume was molten steel in the blast furnaces (or whatever those huge caldrons are called).  There were massive buckets filled with burning liquid. At other times I would come head on with this massive truck like contraption that was right out of a James Bond movie. I assume that was used to move the finished steel. 

I believe that Finkl had the last working steel furnaces in a major American City. Finkl made the decision to move out of the City a few years ago to a cheaper south side location.  I know the staff stayed on for about a year because I met one of them in a bar and he said only a few office folks were left (I think this was last May).

Anyway I made one of my now infrequent trips through the plant yesterday but discovered they have fenced off the exit on Cortland. So you have to take the official route on Southport to Cortland. On the East side of the complex I passed several cranes with their wrecking balls. How said..the demolition has begun.

If any of you are interested, get a photo before it goes away. It really is a fascinating part of Chicago's industrial past where so many unskilled laborers were able to earn good wages.  

Regrettably I was staring so intently at the demolition work that my front tire fell into the rail track groove and I fell off the bike sans helmet.  I believe this railroad track belonged to the line that carried the steel out of the plant (or iron ore in?). I also know until maybe 5-10 years ago there was a train that delivered candy manufacturing supplies to a plant in Lincoln Park so I wonder if this was the same line. 

I  bike all winter with no problems and fall on a dry surface! Today I have a very sore shoulder and rib but seem to be okay other than that. I was going pretty slow.  I have stopped wearing my helmet for shorter jaunts but will now  make sure I wear it.

I'm curious if others took this shortcut and enjoyed it as much as I did.

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This was always my route to the Hideout and I was very sad to run up against the fence the other day.

I ride through this area often and have been taking Southport since they closed the shortcut. I fell on Southport last winter when I got stuck in the railroad track (glad to hear I'm not the only one!) and the condition of the road has worsened significantly since then. Be careful out there!

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