Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hick Tower for Indiana Canal Bridges

Scott Griffith -> Railroad Interlocking and Signal Towers
This picture is from the 1915 Smoke Abatement Report. This tower controlled the bridges of the lake corridor. Since the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern was the first of the four railroads that used this corridor (NYC, Penn, EJ&E, and B&O/B&OCT), they were responsible for building and maintaining the tower. The LS&MS became part of the New York Central.

The following map confirms the Hick tower was next to those bridges. Near the end of the bridges posting, I conclude that this tower is still standing.


Mark Hinsdale posted
Mark Bilecki Sr. Nice catch near Hick tower
[Note the pipes on the left and a couple of bridges in the up position at the Indiana Harbor Canal.]
John Ryan provided four pictures in and around this tower with the comment:
This is where and when I started.  Notice the B&O (CSX) tracks are in and the B&O Bridge is down.
The first picture is a chart for Rings For So. Chicago Line.  This was use for communication with the EJ&E.  I don't recall ever having to use this.





Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Evansville Western Railway

System Map with Coal Facilities and Grain Elevators selected
CSX sold the Evansville to (almost) St. Louis route of the old Louisville and Nashville to Evansville Western Railway (EVWR). From their map we can see that it serves three sources of coal and the Mt. Vernon Transfer Terminal, a consumer of coal. Their business is growing well enough that they are not keeping the map up to date. I see from a satellite image that they serve another transloading facility, a coal power plant, and an ethanol plant with a new spur they built south towards the Ohio River west of Evansville.

They allow the grain elevators along their route to pay a premium price to the farmers by consolidating cuts as small as 15-cars into 65-car trains for delivery to CSX in Evansville, which then hauls them to large chicken feeding operations in the Southeast. There are also other ethanol plants built or planned along the line. (csx-sucks, you may have to search for "Evansville Western on Right Track")

Update: 9 photos by Bart Hileman. I include a couple from Mt. Vernon, IN in case there is an issue accessing a closed group.

A Bart Hileman photo
A Bart Hileman photo
Tom Barrows posted two photos with the comment:
A couple of shots from back in 2010 when the EVWR would load at Alliance in Princeton. The sound of those SD's growling up the hill out of Evansville towards Belknap with a full load and some helpers was amazing!!!



Richard Roberts posted photos of two trains working in Mt. Vernon.

Monday, December 28, 2015

MoW: Railroad "Big Hooks"

"Big Hook" was the term railroaders used for their big crane that they would use to clean up wrecks and do construction work. Over the years, it got bigger.

Screenshot at 0:11 in video
I'm surprised that railroads still keep their old cranes given that mobile cranes can be converted to Hy-Railers and that they can deploy sidewinders to lift loads to their sides. I saw a few months ago a picture of a rail crane that had turned over while lifting a fairly small segment of track to repair the track lock for a lift bridge. But, of course, now I can't find that picture.

CSX had a unit parked on a siding in North Baltimore, OH, near a public street.

20151101 5225c

Note that the crane is a "double fallen flag." The reporting marks are still C&O, but the logo on the side is Chessie System complete with the "C" making a cat outline.

Note the pulley near the left about halfway up the boom. That was probably for use with a dragline bucket. Now a standard excavator would be used for any dirt moving applications.

I took a closeup of the auxiliary flat car because I could not figure out how the boom extension it carries fastened to the base boom. Or does it replace the other boom? I assume it is resting on a tool case. Note I was able to catch the C&O reporting mark to the left of the tie-plate scrap pile and the Chessie System logo to the right of the pile. (Update: when I posted this on Facebook and mentioned I did not know what the second boom was for, Mike Snow suggested it is for the pile driver.")

Even though it was backlit, I took a three-quarters view of the other side because I had legal access from a road crossing.

Brian Allen posted
CNW 6363 crane (Bucyrus) at IRM
Jeff Lilja The old Proviso hook, 150 ton crane and I remember when it was painted black in 1967 and than they started to paint them in ZITO see how that worked out
Jeff Lilja comment on above posting
This is a CNW 250 ton crane
Richard Jahn posted

Richard Jahn posted
Richard's comment:
In July 1977 I went on a solo trip to Northern Maine to photograph some BAR antiques - the BL2's and F3's. I wound up stumbling into a "service interruption". In the early morning hours of June 30 the main northbound freight #57 derailed a couple cars a short ways south of Oakfield, Me. Normally the southbound train (#28)would have departed Oakfield before sunrise but not this day. They walked #28 thru the derailment site then the wreck trains came back out to finish the cleanup. F3 #44 was the power for the Oakfield wreck train. Little did I know I would get to spend a lot of time with #44 in the future as this is the F3 which TriState later purchased and is now DLW 663.

Tom Castro comment
That's the modern one the UP runs.
Scott Griffith posted
Hohman Ave North Hammond
[Used for dirt movement as well as fixing wrecks.]
Harold J. Krewer posted
C&NW X-200, which looks to be one of the former CGW 250-ton "hooks" is paired with boom car CGW W52 at an undocumented location in Summer 1985. I had photos from Dixon and Sterling in the same box, so perhaps this is Nelson?
The W52 survives today at Illinois Railway Museum, now paired with CNW 6363, a similar but smaller 150-ton crane with four-wheel trucks.
Photo by Harold Krewer.
[The comments indicate that it is in Nelson.]
Marty Bernard shared his posting
Look at This AT&SF Monster
Crane 199793 in Newton, KS in August 1983 captured by Roger Puta
I assume the orange planks are footers for the out riggers. Take a close look at the "shed" on the far end of the boom car. Those were the days when railroads wasted little.
Rick Smith ..I agree with Marty here. Our derricks also had those hung below the deck, just for the outriggers, as we always needed to stack 'em them to stabilize on uneven ground.
Bill Molony posted
EJ&E crane car #6 and idler flat car #8758 in May of 2005. 
Not sure of the location.Tony Kovac Kirk yard rip track, picture taken from north yard looking North northwest toward USS. Cars in background are spotted on the rip trackTony Kovac Moved shortly after its pic to Joliet & possible sold . Never made to 2009 
The tool car (not in pic but to the right of boom tender is at Griffith rail museum. ( 1 crane was sold other was cut up)
Mike Yurgec posted three photos with the comment: "Big Hook at the Peabody wye at Freeburg, Illinois. 1980."
Add caption


Jdoc Jdoc shared Jason Jordan's photo.
Fred Bain It could be a little white knuckle going up or down that ramp. Burro model 40, 15 Ton

Marty's Flickr photo of EJ&E's #6 derrick and boom car 8758.

Big Container Ship

Port of Los Angeles posting
This is where a lot of the containers we see on the transcon in Illinois originate.

PR comment:
Aerial view of CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the largest cargo vessel to visit North America, docked at Pier 400 at the Port of Los Angeles.''

Ricardo Canales: At 1,300 feet long, 177 feet wide, and 197 feet tall, with a crew of 27, the Benjamin Franklin can transport 18,000 TEUs of shipping containers, but its massive size precludes it from passing through the Panama Canal. The ship’s engine is as powerful as 900 Ford Focus cars, and its 21 knots thrust equals 11 Boeing 747-400 engines, according to the Hellenic Shipping News. Its mammoth size dwarfs other ships, as it is capable of transporting one-third more cargo than average container ships arriving in Los Angeles.

(TEU is Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit.)

Ricardo Canales: The ship is:

1,300 feet long — longer than the Empire State Building if it were laid on its side;

177 feet wide — wider than a football field or an Olympic-sized swimming pool; and

197 feet tall — equivalent to a 20-story building.The crew of this self-run enterprise comprises 26 members who operate the various facets of the vessel inclusing its own waste recycle system, chef, and swimming pool,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

C&NW's 40th Street Ramp Coaling Towers (M19A)

Jerry Krug posted
On April 19, 2004, I grabbed this shot of the two coaling towers at the ex-Chicago & North Western's Keeler Ave. facilities in Chicago. Both of these towers have been demolished since. The photo was taken from a city street to the south. The track in the foreground hosts Union Pacific and Metra trains.
Jerry Krug commented on his posting above
Left Tower

Jerry Krug commented on his posting above
Right Tower

Kevin Piper posted
Melrose Park, IL, [wrong] 3-21-80. Check out those pimp lights!
Jim Wilson M19-A it looks like to me....
[Most of the comments concerning this photo of 1643 were about "pimp the lights" until I commented "I was too distracted by the coaling tower to notice any lights." Patrick McNamara said there were no coaling towers at Proviso in 1980. Jeff Lilja said they had 2 coaling towers "at the 40th Street ramp." Patrick provided the photo with the two towers as a comment.]

Patrick McNamara comment on the above posting
This is the South Tower.
Patrick McNamara comment
Patrick's comment:
The Coal Towers are marked on this map of the East End of the facility as M35 (North Tower) and M38 (South Tower).
But this map must have been earlier in the 20th century because it doesn't match the 1938 aerial photo. I included another aerial photo where I put green rectangles around where I believe the two towers were. The shadows of the towers help locate the towers.

Note the northern coal tower and two roundhouses are for the Wisconsin Division whereas the southern coal tower and roundhouse is for the Illinois (Galena) Division.

1938 Aerial from IHLAP at full resolution plus Paint

Jerry Cramer posted
Before and after pictures. C&NW shops at 40th St. in Chicago. The building is still used and serviced by the UP. It's called industrial Storage
Jerry Cramer commented on his posting above
Different view with top picture taken about where the front and above of where the UPrr engine sits.

Lou Gerard posted
C&NW F7 423 in NJ Transit colors after it returned from lease duty, with retired E and F units at M19A in Chicago. 1989. 423 now operates on the Wisconsin Great Northern at Spooner WI.

David M Laz posted
At a coaling station at the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yards (This is where Santa got his coal)
[I doubt this tower was in Chicago, but it does show how standardized the towers were.]
David M Laz posted
Steam replenishing a the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad yards , Chicago ,
David Daruszka 40th Street.
[Jack Delano   LoC: LC-DIG-fsac-1a34645]
Nina Oliphant posted
David Daruszka updated the group photo
Dennis DeBruler An improved version of a Jack Delano photo, Library of Congress:
Dennis DeBruler So this would be the 40th Street Ramp. But we are left with the question of which one: Wisconsin or Illinois (Galena) Division.
David Daruszka commented on the above posting
Patrick McNamara commented on a sharing: " I added the M19A photo to the C&NW Fan page a few years ago - it is from the C&NWHS Archive and I purchased the 8x10 from them, scanned it and posted it. Go to their Archive page and find was a bigger rez photo than this."

David Daruszka commented on the above posting
Given the location of the switch stands in the foreground I'm going to say the Wisconsin Division.
John Smith posted twelve photos of the Galena Division turntable.

Metra Junction A2 and Pennsy's Red Eye Positional Signals

Mike Alterio posted
This (street view) is where Milwaukee crosses C&NW and joins the Panhandle tracks that curve in from the south. The picture is a screenshot from a video. Mike indicates this is one of the few towers left in Chicago that is still staffed.

The Panhandle has been abandoned except for NS servicing the ADM flour mill; but, per the discussion below, the joint Milw/Pennsy tracks still use Pennsy's positional signal heads. Pennsy called this junction "Western Avenue."

Dan Faust commented on this photo. His comment was about the technology used to heat the switches during a snow storm.
In the quietest moments of a winter storm, fire and ice converge in the tangled trackwork at Metra's busiest interlocking in the Chicagoland area.
The flames are from switch heaters which were once individual units consisting of small tanks with a filler lid and a wick assembly plus a handle on top. These were individually placed by MofW (maintenance-of-way) workers or switch tenders under the rails of turnouts and the oil they contained was ignited manually. After the threat of ice/snow was past they would be removed and stored.
These old types were almost universally replaced with propane or natural gas fired stationary units that were manually or automatically ignited. These often had steel shields parallel to and outside of the rail to protect the flame and passersby. Many of these have been replaced by electric, natural gas or propane units installed lineside with ducts and a fan to deliver hot air to the rails.
I commented: "How many places in the country do you see a B&O color positional signal head (B&OCT) next to a Pennsy positional signal head (Panhandle) on the same signal bridge?" Dan Sorce commented:
Both of those are Pennsy PLs - these ones have received the "red eye" conversion for STOP. 
To the left, on the same bridge, are the backs of CNW-style searchlight signals with oval targets. As well, on the bridge in the distance, are CNW-style horizontal 3 light signals.
Marshall Beecher, whose photo was copied, commented: " Hmmm...a very familiar photograph." His RailPictures page indicates that this is Tower A2. J. Randall Bank's comment provides more location information:
This was taken at the Western Avenue Metra Station near Fulton. The bridge in the distance is the old "Met" bridge which was part of a long abandoned "L" line. It now serves as support for signals for the Metra Trains.
Maxim asked why it is on fire and Kurt Wayne responded:
Maxim, a Chicago railroad page I found said these were propane fired heaters which would keep the switches from freezing. It said that passing trains had to run at no faster than 30 miles per hour else the fires would be extinguished, and that this switch (at least in the early 1990s) still had propane-fired equipment as opposed to (more boring to the railroad fan) electric warmers installed elsewhere in Chicago rails. I'm wondering if the propane-flame heaters still exist here, even as the very busy railroad interchange surely does. 

This comment did have not have a name, so I assume it was by Marshall:
Maxim, the flames are from switch heaters which were once individual units consisting of small tanks with a filler lid and a wick assembly plus a handle on top. These were individually placed by MofW workers or switch tenders under the rails of turnouts and the oil they contained was ignited manually. After the threat of ice/snow was past they would be removed and stored. These old types were almost universally replaced with propane/natgas fired stationary units that were manually of automatically ignited. These often had steel shields parallel to and outside of the rail to protect the flame/passersby. Many of these have been replaced by electric, natural gas or propane units installed lineside with ducts and a fan to deliver hot air to the rails. 
So Dan plagiarized text as well as the picture.

Steven J. Brown posted
RTA E8 #510 (ex-CNW 510, ex-UP 942) heading out the CNW West Line at Western Ave/Tower A2 - March 22, 1988. There was still an active fleet of E's running on the BN commuter trains but less than a handful remained on the former CNW lines in 1988. This unit will be retired one year later in March, 1989.
[Note the tower to the left of the engine. I'm glad Steven took the picture before the engine filled the frame and skunked the tower.]
This 1937 interlocking machine controls Metra's busiest group of turnouts that consists of 20 turnouts in eight tracks. There  are two employess --- one to coordinate the trains and another to operation the controls. "planning document from summer 2015 year said that the commuter rail agency was going to spend $2 million to engineer grade separation." But those plans have changed. Because the turnouts are controlled using compressed air, there is not a hand-thrown option to use if something breaks. Metra is replacing some of the switches each year. The current maze of switches limits the number of trains Metra can run. To improve capacity, a grade separation would be need, but that would cost 100s of millions of dollars. And the improvement is not part of the CREATE program. The engineering study alone would take five years. (

Mark Llanuza posted
Its 1975 and after many tries it was unsuccessful trying to get this American Freedom train on display at Navy Pier it heads back to 40th street yard crossing over Jct A-2 on the CNW
Steven Kakoczki Clearance problems??
Mark Llanuza no derailment problems it couldn't get over the switches near Canal st
Marty shared three photos of an Amtrak Hiawatha service train crossing the C&NW tracks in 1989.
Patrick McNamara commented on Marty's posting
Western Avenue Map - June 1942
Don Gerdts posted
Marshall Beecher's Photo - One of my all-time favorite photos
Jim Sawyer Thanks for sharing this tremendous picture, Don.
Don Gerdts You're welcome. And thanks to Marshall.

[It is interesting that Don posted this in a Rock Island group because Junction A2 is on the other side of downtown from the Rock Island.]
Larry J. Perlman's posting shows the positional signals still exist on Mary 7, 2017. I determined he took his picture from Racine Avenue. This is significantly east of A2, but I don't think it is worth its own posting.

Street View

Marty Bernard posted three 1982 pictures on Facebook of Amtrak trains that catches some intricate trackwork and the variety of signals used by the different railroads in this corridor.