Friday, October 10, 2014

Extreme Team Tracks -- Street Running

Update: I suspect the safety of the link, but some Facebook spam was interesting. I summarize with just the examples in USA.

LaGrange, KY: CSXT/L&N

Whittier, AK: tracks and road share the tunnel that provides access to the town

Tampa, IL, apparently running a red light: CSXT/ACL At least these tracks seem to have their own lane down the middle of the road. Studying the Google satellite, my guess is that it is going down 6th Ave.

Redwood City, CA: probably a terminal railroad shared by SP and WP

Lake Charles, LA: a left turn lane shares the tracks. A picture of a head-on chicken game. Downers Grove has a fifth-lane in the middle for left-turns in both directions. The kids called it the suicide lane. Lake Charles seems to have upped the ante for and "exciting" lane. The locomotive had red paint. But I don't know what railroad uses that color. My 1928 Atlas shows SP, Mo Pac, and KCS served that town. So I assume the locomotive is KCS since SP and Mo Pac would be either orange (BNSF) or yellow (UP). Looking at KCS photos, the use red, but not all red. So maybe it is a terminal railroad.



Update: The Canadian Pacific still runs through 11 blocks of 2nd Street in Bellevue, IA. In Warsaw, IN, Norfolk Southern/Big Four uses 2  blocks of Hickory Street between Main and Market Streets.




I have already written about team tracks and their importance in the 1800s when merchants had to transport their supplies using a horse and wagon. While researching the Peru & Indianpolis RR, I came across another example of how important access to the railroad was for the town merchants.
At the request of the Noblesville merchants, the railroad was built in 8th street to reduce the drayage cost for local freight. (ITM)
I had already watched the Indiana Transportation Museum's two videos showing the street running in Noblesville -- looking forward and looking backwards. Note that many of the street crossings don't have any warning devices that a train is coming. Since this line had a lot of freight and passenger traffic before 1918, driving in that town would have been even more exciting than it is now.

I remember when I went to Purdue that the Monon RR (it became part of the Louisville & Nashville in 1971 and thus CSXT) also ran down a street in Lafayette. At the time I wondered why a town would allow a railroad to do such a disruptive routing. I had assumed the railroad wanted to use a street to maintain a gentle grade near the Wabash River. Sources differ as to when the line was relocated -- Wikipedia: 2000, Monon Railroad Historical Technical Society: July 22, 1994. According to the MRHTS source, the reason for street running for the Monon was not reduced grade nor reduced drayage costs but because they were a bully and insisted on using a street through Lafayette. Another MRHTS source explains:
In the early years of railroads in the United States it was common practice to build down the middle of streets. Track in New Albany revealed how old the Monon was.
(Update: a heavy freight coming down Main Street in Lafayette.)

The New Albany to Michigan City segment of the Monon was built in the early 1850s. Street running is still practiced in New Albany. The segment of the Monon between Bloomington and Bedford is now abandoned. So I have not been able to determine if the street running in Bedford is still used.

Before I found reference material that indicated the Monon used 5th street in Lafayette, I looked at a 1970 aerial map to try to determine its old route. The resolution was not good enough. But you can see the old Wabash alignment through town. The new alignments along the river route the tracks under the Wabash River road bridges. Thus several grade crossings, as well as street running, is eliminated.

1970 Aerial Map
There was even some street running in Chicago and quite a few other places.

Photo by Doug Weitzman
L&N/Monon used to run in a street in Lafayette, IN, and the Amtrak "station" was a hotel. Here we see Amtrak 218 pulling #317, The Hoosier State, into town. These tracks have since been relocated along the Wabash River.
Steven J. Brown photo
Amtrak Hoosier State runs down the street in Lafayette, Indiana - June 23, 1992.
Richard Blunt posted
Richard's comment:
The former Monon station in Lafayette Indiana. They left a section of track in the street in front of it to remember the street running days through town.
This looks like the building on the right in Steven's photo. I wonder what the time frame was of using this building vs. the hotel in Doug's photo. Richard indicates the building is not used as a performing arts center.

John Sickel III posted
The last Monon (ALCO C420/ no502 up front) "Football Special" loads up on 5th street in Lafayette Indiana,prior to heading south to Bloomington Indiana for the IU/Purdue Game. 1968. Courtesy of Monon Railroad.
A video (source) of a long rack train going slowly through LaGrange, KY. It is interesting that Google does not have a street view at First and Main.
A screenshot in case the above video link is not permanent. The main information in the video is that it takes about eight minutes for the train to get through the town. That makes me appreciate that BNSF freights tie up our street crossings for just 2 or 3 minutes.

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