Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Morris Terminal RR

While investigating an abandoned truss bridge in Morris, Tom Winkle discovered the route of the Morris Terminal RR. Given Tom's info about the Morris Terminal RR, when I found a source of old (1937-47) aerial photos, looking for this RR's old right of way was one of the first uses I made of the photos.

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By comparing this to a satellite photo, we learn a couple of things.

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  • Optics have improved so much that a photo from space has better resolution than a photo from a low-flying airplane.
  • The trail in this vicinity uses the RR right-of-way rather than the canal's tow path.
Note in the above satellite photo that the Nettle Creek Aqueduct looks OK.  Thus the photo was taken before the April, 2013, flood.

We also can see that there used to be a spur to the Gebhard Brewery. This is a reminder of how important it was to have rail service before trucks were invented. And why industries and warehouses would be more than willing to have a street serve trains as well as horse-and-wagons. In the following, you can see the tracks down the middle of West Illinois Ave. as a grey line.

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The track went east along the canal on the old tow path until it got around the curve. And then it swung away from the canal so that it could cross it and headed north to intersect with the Rock Island mainline.

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But this raises the question of what was that industry on the east side of town? I zoomed in to the resolution of the photo.

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I put off writing this post until I got access to some Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps to see what they said about these buildings. But the oldest copies they had for Morris was 1900, and that map stopped at East Street. As Murphy's Law would have it, this plant complex is just east of East Street. The area is still an industrial area and it is not hard to find remnants of the old right-of-way.

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The fence line in the lower right follows the old right-of-way and the building in the upper left is missing a corner so that it doesn't overlap the right-of-way.

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In addition to the east-industry mystery, I discovered that the land was heavily scarred northeast of town.

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 And some of these scars still exist.

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I assume it was some sort of mining operations that caused the "rows". But what were they mining?

2 comments:

  1. Most of Morris is sitting on coal and coal mines.The scars in the pictures are of strip mines

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  2. Thanks for the confirmation concerning the land scars: http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2014/09/land-scars-strip-coal-mining.html

    ReplyDelete