Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dolton Junction

First of all, what is the name? Bill, Jersey, RailroadForums, and Todd call it "Dolton Junction." But the Train Watcher's Guide Third Edition called it "Dolton Crossing." I'm going with the majority and using "Junction."

Satellite
I captured this satellite image because it caught four trains going through the junction. It is better to have trains mark a route than to have to draw more lines on the image. The "white train" is being pulled by 3 "black" engines eastbound on the B&OCT route. When I zoomed in on the white cars, they were long, tall, and had rounded edges so they are probably vehicle cars. The end of this train is back in Barr Yard.
Satellite
Just below the last of the three engines is two yellow engines running light. I assume these are UP engines.

The "black train" running east/west near the middle of the picture is on the IHB route.
Satellite
It is an eastbound tank car train pulled by two engines. The "orange" car after the engines is a buffer car. Typically a covered hopper car filled with sand.

Satellite
The "white and green train" appears to be a container train that is using the connection from the UP (former Chicago & Eastern Illinois) route to the IHB route. If UP trains continue north, they use the former Chicago & Western Indiana route because ownership of the tack changed from C&EI to C&WI at this junction. UP now owns both of these segments. Given that the four engines for this train are not yellow, I assume they are CSX because it has trackage rights on the former C&EI. Because that train is too short to justify four engines, I assume that this train has already dropped off some cars at Yard Center and that it will drop off these remaining cars in Bedford Park.

The yellow line indicates where the abandoned Panhandle route used to run. Note that there is still a remnant of that route on the north side now served from the IHB. It carries bottle trains to the ArcelorMittal (former Interlake) steel plant.

We start our tour of Dolton Junction with an overview from the northeast corner of the street crossing that is on the east side of the junction. The brick building on the left is the Municipal Building. The white building in the middle was the tower. The northern most track that curves to the north is a connector between the B&OCT and the C&WI. The next two tracks are the B&OCT route. The remaining two lines are the IHB route.

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From Jersey, we learn:
The tower at Dolton Junction was built in 1944 and contained a 178 lever frame with 100 active levers. As built the interlocking contained a total of 20 diamonds which included an extra 4 from various connection tracks between the main lines. At the time most of the routes through the plant were fitted with split point derails to prevent any catastrophic Stop signal violations.

Today the interlocking plant has seen some expensive reconfigurations carried out on the old mechanical frame. With the removal of the PRR route the number of diamonds has been reduced to 11 and a few new crossovers and connector tracks have been installed. Still the interlocking is operated as an island of manual control with CTC on all sides. Most of my photos were taken from the rear of a south/eastbound train as it passed through the interlocking in 2009.
Another source indicated it originally had 24 diamonds. Bill Gustason has a 1995 interior shot of this tower.

Going south across the street, we have east and west views of the B&OCT.


Proceeding further south across the street we get east and west views of the IHB.


In the view looking west, the diamonds of the C&EI/C&WI route are far enough away that they are just a black smudge. Jersey's post views the junction from the perspective of a passenger train on that north/south route so he has much better photos of the diamonds than I can legally get.

I got a closeup of the turnout you see above next to the road because it was convenient. Note the pipes on both sides to supply gas to the burners to keep the switch free of ice and snow. The gas meter in the middle of the junction kept showing up in my pictures.

Gas meter below the "shed"
As you can see in the above westward view of the B&OCT tracks, there is a signal bridge just west of the street crossing. Below is a shot of an eastbound UP (8783, 5221) vehicle train passing a westbound coal train that illustrates the signals are of the modern "Darth Vader" design. I believe that they are colored LED heads.


For the record, the coal train was a BNSF (6223, 9837) train. Later there was a westbound UP vehicle train on the IHB that almost skunked noting the end of the above BNSF vehicle train.


This train had a DPU that had seen a fire. Earlier a couple of westbound CSX intermodal trains rolled past on the B&OCT tracks.

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While this second container train rolled through, a mixed freight used the connector on the other side of the tower to go from the C&EI to the IHB.


Update: Sean Kelleher caught an Amtrak train being delayed by IHB activity. A picture of the levers inside the Dolton Tower.

Mike Breski posted
Dolton Tower The large interlocking tower was constructed in 1943 using a 172 lever US&S mechanical lever frame salvaged from elsewhere as a war emergency measure. In it's prime the plant could boast 20 diamonds, and although that number has since shrunk to 10, it is still enough to resist the forces of automation
[Not automation, but remote control by a dispatcher.]
John David Larson posted
John's comment:
This junction is located at Dolton, Illinois which is is far south suburban Chicago as seen in the year 1992. The location was almost 50 miles from my place in the northwest suburbs, so for the decade I lived in Chicago my trips here were few.
I went there always hoping to catch locomotives of the predecessor railroads of the big CSX system that was created in the 1980's. One of those predecessor railroads was called Seaboard System and on this day I caught one such unit on the point of a northbound train. The distinctive building in the background is the city hall of Dolton. By the way, in case you're interested, the town name is pronounced DAHL-ton.
 Ken Draus Actually, it's not pronounced Dahl-ton, but rather dawl-ton


Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail SD35 (ex-PRR) leading three SD40-2's across the diamonds east at Dolton, Illinois - May 28, 1979.
[So Conrail was still using the Panhandle in 1979.]
Scott Brons posted 10 pictures on Jan 10, 2017 that included this one
Chad Malinovsky The kiss of death is 1 month away
Scott Brons Is the Tower being closed?
Chad Malinovsky Yes
Scott Brons They just resided the tower last year. Hope they dont tear it down.
Chad Malinovsky It will eventually to straighten out the UP-CSX connection

Mark Hinsdale posted
"Six Flags Over Dolton"
A long, northbound Union Pacific merchandise train crosses the Indiana Harbor Belt and CSX Barr Subdivision main lines at Dolton in the day's last golden sunlight. 6-4-16
[A comment indicates this is the UP Villa Grove Subdivision.]
Jacob Metzger posted
Heading westward for Joliet's Global 4, CSXT Q147's colorful consist adds contrast to this dreary day with a pair of fresh CREX leasers. (Dolton, IL)
Bill Edrington I didn't realize CSX operated trains to Global 4. What route do they take west of Barr Yard? Up to Argo, then down the CN...or over Metra (Rock Island) from Blue Island to Joliet?Jacob Metzger This particular train goes up the CSX to Bedford Park, out to the IHB, and then down the Alton to Joliet. Turns into ICOG4 on UP. Yep. Usually shows up mid-afternoon and follows Amtrak 307.


one of three photos that Mark Hinsdale posted
"Dreary..."
...was an apt descriptive for today's weather around Chicagoland. However, it turned out to be a most interesting day nonetheless, capped off by a sanctioned, impromptu tour of Dolton (IL) Tower, soon to be decommissioned. I would also offer that the surprise appearance of the eastbound CSX Track Geometry Train, complete with a ballast hopper in tow, should surely qualify as the "Mixed Train" catch of the day
Dennis DeBruler commented on the above posting
I like this shot because it helps me orient where the tower is. And it includes two trains. Taken from the municipal parking lot.


A Michael Miller Flickr photo of  seven IHB units, including a slug, with two different paint schemes pulling a train through the junction.
David Daruszka posted
1897 Railway & Engineering article about Dolton Jct.
David Daruszka posted, full resolution
Scott provided the above track diagram in higher resolution.
Scott Griffith posted
Dolton in 1897


I transcribed the text. Note that the Chicago & Calumet Terminal is now the B&OCT(CSX), the Chicago, Hammond & Western is now the IHB, and the C&EI+C&WI is now the UP. CSX has trackage rights on the C&EI. I don't know if they have rights on the C&WI. The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis is the abandoned Pennsylvania's Panhandle route.

INTERLOCKING PLANT, DOLTON, ILL.

The largest mechanical interlocking plant in the United States has been under construction for several months at the crossing of the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad with the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis, the Chicago & Calumet Terminal and the Chicago, Hammond & Western Railways near Chicago. This crossing is a very important one in that it is at the point where the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad ends and the Chicago & Eastern Illinois road begins, and connections are formed here between three belt lines. The plan view, Fig. 1, shows the arrangement of tracks, the names of the roads being designated. A crossing has existed for a number of years at this point, but the addition of the Hammond & Blue Island, which is now the Chicago, Hammond & Western, necessitated the application of interlocking. There is very little to be said as to the arrangement of the tracks beyond that, with the exception of those of the Hammond & Blue Island Railroad, they were put in at different times with entire disregard of ever being interlocked, and the cost of changing the arrangement for convenience in applying the apparatus was so great as to prohibit systematizing it. The result of this is that some of the signals are nearly 2,000 ft. from the tower and the arrangement of the work, both as far as track and interlocking is concerned, is somewhat awkward.

The tower is 22x80 ft. in size and contains 172 levers, 161 of which are connected with the outside work and eleven of them, which are numbered from 26 to 31 inclusive, and from 143 to 147 inclusive, are available for extensions of work. The tower is the new Union Switch & Signal Co.'s standard, and its appearance is shown in Fig. 4, which was prepared from a photograph. The windows are arranged with transoms which open outwardly and form an effective means of ventilating the building from points above the heads of the operators. These transoms are hinged at their tops, and when open protect the interior of the building from the weather. Below each transom is a window with a single pane of glass, 26x48 in. in size, without obstructions of the view of the operators. Certain of these windows, though not all of them, are hung upon hinges at their sides and open outwardly. By this arrangement of windows it is seen to be impossible for the view of the tracks to become obscured by the sashes, as would be the case if the windows slid either horizontally or vertically. The lever room of the tower is sheathed, and the large area of the building makes it an attractive, roomy place. It will be noticed from the illustration that the stairs are on the outside of the building, and that they are not provided with risers. This facilitates keeping them clean. The overhang of the roof is made on a radius of 6 ft., which adds greatly to the appearance of the building, and a substantial gutter of galvanized crimped iron is provided.

The plant having 161 working levers, is as stated, the largest in this country, 51 of the levers work 73 switches, 9 operate 20 crossing bars, 50 operate 50 signals and 9 bolt locks, and 51 more operate 73 facing point locks and 16 crossing bars. The spare levers are in place in the machine, and the locking for these may be put in at any time when they become necessary. It will be noted in Fig. 1 that the direction of traffic movement is given by the arrows, and the dotted lines along the Chicago & Calumet Terminal tracks indicate a proposed extension provided for in the machine. All possible movements have been provided for in the interlocking work and back up movements may be made on all of the tracks, dwarf signals governing such movements having been installed. There are connections between all of the roads for switching movements and the plant is to be a busy one on this account. The apparatus is standard of the Union Switch & Signal Co. throughout with the exception of two Travis derails which were put in at switches Nos. 53 and 100 immediately in front of the tower. The ordinary point derail could not be used in these cases, owing to the fact that the combination of 21 and 15 degree curves required the use of a guard rail past both of these switches, and the sharpness of the curves would interfere with the maintenance of the derail points if put on the outside rail of the curves. The Travis derail is manufactured by the National Switch & Signal Co. On the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis tracks, Wharton derails were used which do not require cutting the main traffic rails. Where it is necessary for the main line of lead out to cross the tracks of the Pennsylvania or the Hammond & Blue Island roads, the tracks are carried on 12 in. timbers and upon 6 in. I-beams between which the lead out connections pass. The home signals are all wire connected and no selectors are used. Crossing bars are provided at every crossing, and it is understood that the plans for the work were approved by the consulting engineer of the state warehouse commission before the work was started. The construction will be completed in about three weeks, whereupon the plant will probably immediately be put in service. The plans were arranged under the supervision of Mr. J. H. Cox, assistant engineer of the Chicago, Hammond & Western Railway, and they were approved by the signal engineers of the other lines interested.

The tower was closed 2/27/2017 so there is a burst of information concerning this tower.

Scott Griffith posted five photos with the comment: "Some pics I found on the net of Dolton."

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5: I have no idea what these are
Scott Griffith posted five photos with the comment:
I would like to say GOOD BYE "DOLTON TOWER" thanks for the memories, many naps and lineups. A 172 lever tower, built in 1896 by the Pittsburgh Cincinnati Chicago and st. Louis Railway
It was 1999 I was working a yard job at Barr Yard. When over the radio I hear from the undistinkable voice of Trainmaster Bruce Beaty " Mr.GRIFFITH come up to my office and see me now"
Me thinking to myself "what the hell did I do now" I park my locomotive, walk up stairs and say "what's up Bruce"
Bruce replies "your brother is working Dolton tower tonight and something is wrong go over there RIGHT NOW and check on him"
I said to him "But I'm in the middle of working"
He replies "you heard what I said go now"
So I'm thinking the worse what ever that could be. So never being inside this tower I pull up in my truck get out look up at this long building in the middle of a dark night and it had one light in the middle of the building shining down the old wood siding and at the north end of the building was the door to walk in. I open the door is pitch black , I look up this long stair case and can see a light on upstairs. So I walk up the stairs not knowing what I'm going to see. I get to the second floor, look down this long building there sits my brother Bill by this little desk with his elbows on the desk hands on his head with this light with a yellow hue shining behind him on the desk and the only other light in this place was the modle board to the left on the wall with little red and green lights.
I say "BILL"
He lifts his head up in a snap as being startled. I look at him and he has 2 kleenex stuffed up his nose.
I said "um you OK?"
He says all crazed "I CAN'T TAKE IT NO MORE! I HATE THIS TOWER! THIS PLACE IS NUTS. I GOT CSX CALLING ME, UP CALLING ME ,IHB CALLING ME, TRAIN CREWS CALLING ME. I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT!"
I walk up to him and say "hey bud is ok, relax, it don't seem to busy, I don't hear no one calling on the phone or the radio just relax bud."
He looks up at me and says "that's because I took the phone off the hook and turned the radio off"
Lmao
I said " Bro you can't do that man. Just take and run the trains in the order they arrive to you its your interlocking ,you control it. Don't worry about who is calling and bitching , you run the trains that arrive first at your circuts."
Me knowing nothing about a towers operation lol I said what I could. I asked him "why is there kleenex in both your nose holes? "
He said "I got so worked up my nose started bleeding".
Lol what a memory. I hate to see the tower go its the last one in operation on the B&OCT LINE. But I'm sure my brother is glad. Love you brother.

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Robby Gragg posted
Robby Gragg posted
On Dolton's final day [Feb 26, 2017] as a manned tower, a IHB SW1500 heads eastbound past it. The tower will be having a date with the wrecking ball soon.
Jon Moore They spent a lot of money fixing it up last summer just to take it out of commission less than a year later!
Kenneth Pazdur posted
Dolton Tower is closed
Matt Lasayko posted
Dolton tower model board. At its new home at Hoosier Valley railroad museum. Fantastic to save this great piece of history.
Ken Draus They must have redid it after the panhandle was abandoned. That line is not shown, nor even blacked out.Kenny Wilkerson I think those holes in the bottom right were it.Ken Draus must be would have been right there. The track marked "NS CON" is a short remaining spur of the panhandle kept to service Acme Steel.
Matt Lasayko also provided the 1897 diagram
CH&W is Chicago, Hammond & Western, a predecessor to IHB. I could not find the company history that a comment implies is on their website.

Mark Hinsdale posted
Photo is from July 1977, at Dolton.
Thomas Kidd  MP 3232 is Northbound and the other is Southbound.Jim Sinclair Mark, not only is this a great capture with lots of human interest, you also captured the ACI scanner, which is seldom seen in older images. 
Donny Albertson posted
Conrail IHCO at Dolton crossing the C&EI with three GE's on 24MAR1990.
Terry Falduto Still learning about the layout there. Is the third unit crossing the remnant of the old PRR Panhandle?Donny Albertson That's the B&O connector to the C&EI. The Panhandle was on the other side of the tower and would have crossed by the first flat with the auto frames.
Donny Albertson posted
The CR hot bottle train has a GP15-1 for power as it approaches Dolton crossing on 24MAR1990.
Mark Llanuza posted two photos with the comment: "Conrail on the Pan Handle line goes past Dolton tower 1977 which was removed yesterday [July 26, 2017] which was owned by the IHB RR."

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Brad Kanary posted
Dalton tower is being torn down.
Craig Cloud Why slow teardown? I can understand environmental issues, asbestos siding.
Brad Kanary They just did all new siding and stuff to it last year.
Craig Cloud Waste of money, yea I recall seeing outside improvements.
Tim JT White Brad Kanary Standard practice. Renew it, then tear it down. Just like they did with the entire Kankakee Line with welded rail.
Chad Quick I believe this was the last Armstrong interlocking tower that was still known service in the US.
Craig Cloud I take it you got pics from little league park.


Jon R. Roma Flickr photo. The tower was removed in July, 2017. It was in the way of some track rearrangements.



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