Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

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Corps holds Damen Silos Section 106 Public Meeting

Chicago District
Published Feb. 2, 2024
grain silos

Grain Silos at Damen Silos Project

Presenting to local audience

Colin Smalley presenting at the Damen silos public meeting

presenting to community

Colin Smalley presenting to local groups

old transfer point building

building 3 at Damen SIlos Project

old slip for transfer from boat to truck

Slip in building 3 at Damen Silos Project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facilitated a meeting on Thursday February 1st, 2024 to gather public comments for consideration as they move through the Section 106 permitting process regarding the proposed demolition of structures at 2900 S. Damen Ave. often referred to as the Damen Silos.

The Damen Silos were first constructed in 1906 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, according to Landmarks Illinois.  Published reports document grain silos on the site going back to the 19th century.  After an explosion and fire in 1932 the workhouse was rebuilt.  The silos have been closed and not used since after another explosion in 1977.

Colin Smalley, the Corps Project manager for the Regulatory Program Nationwide Permit review stated that the site is historically significant, “It is one of the first examples of an intermodal facility, that combined rail, truck, and barge commercial traffic.” He added that after the fires in 1932 the rebuilt silos were one of the first to use concrete to prevent and reduce damage from similar explosions, a common hazard with grain silos.

The site was included in the USACE Regulatory Program permitting process, and therefore the Section 106 permitting process because of unique structure of one of the buildings on site.  Sloping concrete piers once used to load and unload barges and likely transport materials to waiting trucks brought the waters of the Chicago River, a federally regulated waterway, into the building slated for demolition.  Despite the likelihood that the demolition of the building may improve the navigation aspects of the waterway, a Corps permit is still required. The Corps took a conservative approach to the mandatory historic properties evaluation triggered by the permit review, assuming the buildings on the overall site, considered as a whole, were historically significant.

Many in the community as the packed public meeting indicated agreed.  Many in attendance spoke of their desire for preservation of the silos envisioning future use as a public space, vertical gardens, or greenspace, “enhancing opportunities for recreation and for appreciation for our urban heritage,” one speaker added.

In addition to gathering written and public comments at the meeting, the Corps continues to accept emailed and written comments until 5 p.m. on Friday February 9th, 2024.  After that all received comments will be considered and utilized to draft a Memorandum of Agreement which will be negotiated between the Corps, the property owner, and the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office along with any parties wanting to be recognized as consulting parties. 

After the Memorandum of Agreement is signed by the Corps, property owner, and the Historic Preservation Office and any consulting parties that decide to sign, the permit will be issued with the Corps overseeing and being able to enforce the determinations and concessions within the agreement.

The presentation from the public meeting can be found in the links below and stay tuned as the Chicago District will upload a video of the presentation soon.  If you wish to provide comments within the deadline or be identified as a consulting party, please reach out to Colin Smalley at

Chick Lock

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