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Photos: Damen Avenue Silos Turn Into 'Transformers 4' Set Pieces

By aaroncynic in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 23, 2013 9:20PM

Filming for Transformers: Age of Extinction continued at the Damen Avenue silos over the weekend. Explosions could be heard for miles away from the abandoned silos located near I-55.

The site had been used to transport and store grain since the early years of Chicago's history but it wasn't until the early 1900s that the silos were built.

The John S. Metcalf Company, consulting engineers, designed and built this facility for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in 1906. The original complex included a powerhouse, elevator with temporary storage and processing silos, and thirty-five grain storage silos. With a 400,000 bushel capacity, this complex could accommodate sixty railroad cars at the elevator and 300 railroad cars at a yard a short distance away. Equipment at the site included two driers, bleachers, oat clippers, cleaners, scourers and dust packers. Using filtered water from the adjacent South Branch of the Chicago River, boilers with a total of 1,500 horsepower generated the steam and electricity required by the machinery. The thirty-five grain silos south of this facility had a total capacity of one million bushels. In 1932, a grain dust explosion ignited a fire which destroyed the original timber and brick building. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad rebuilt the concrete processing house with fourteen reinforced concrete silos; the capacity of the facility was increased to 1,700,000 bushels. After reconstruction, the rail road leased the facility to the Stratton Grain Company.

The elevator and silos were already long abandoned when a 1977 explosion and fire sealed their fate. Last weekend, they were used as a prop in a Michael Bay movie.