The following is from one of my visits to Lemont:
Note how the pilot house is setting on the body of the boat and that it is low enough to pass under swing bridges that no longer move and bridges that never got converted to lift bridges. But the top of the "stairwells to nowhere" at the front is the height of empty barges that it could be pushing. So the captain could not see the front of a tow very well. For this reason, the pilot house is mounted on vertical hydraulic rams that can be used to increase the height of the pilot house.
In fact, I have caught a towboat pushing empty barges.
I found a photo of each of Illinois Marine Towing's towboats. Note that all but two of them have variable height pilot houses. The small fixed height towboat works around Channahon, and the large one works between Lemont and Peoria.
I was shocked to learn that some big towboats also have retractable pilothouses. The first one I saw was Sam M. Fleming on July 7, 2018.
|Specifications and a lot more photos|
As it was going upbound on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, it passed a southbound Al Weaver that "parked" on the side of the canal so I was able to get photos of it with the pilothouse up and down.
|Digitally zoomed from the above photo|
Are there other urban areas that also need retractable pilothouses? Jeff Cumptan caught M/V Norman at Robert C. Byrd L&D (#10).
|Ohio & Kanawha River Photography added, one of thirteen photos|
|Another of Jeff's thirteen photos|
Sometimes on my way home from Joliet I revisit the 135th Street Bridge. As I started up the bridge, I saw that a tow was going upstream. So I raced (OK, trotted) up the bridge grabbing pictures as I went hoping it wouldn't get too far before I got to the top. Note that the tow had its bridge in its full, upright position.
Cropped even tighter.
On the left of the following tow that I caught while I was at the old Bear Trap Dam site is a pilot house in the raised position.
The following takes advantage of every pixel that was in the picture (that is, it is original-size).