Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Washington Heights Tower: PRR/Panhandle vs. Metra/Rock Island

Mark Hinsdale posted
TOFC crossing the ex PRR "Panhandle" at Washington Heights Tower,
Chicago IL. June 1977 photo by Mark Hinsdale
(could not find in CRJ, Satellite)

If you look a block to the southeast on the satellite image, you can see the start of the Major Taylor Trail, which is the RoW of the Panhandle. And the Panhandle would be why the streets to the northwest are on an angle.
Bob Finan commented
Bill Molony posted
The photographer is looking railroad east on the Pennsylvania Railroad's tracks at the crossing of the Rock Island's main line at Washington Heights on the south side of Chicago - circa 1955.
[I contributed comments about the Bernice Cutoff.]

Bob Finan commented
William Shapotkin posted two color photos of the tower: 1967 and 1974. The 1967 photo includes a Rock Island train.

Jeff McDowell posted
J Pete Hedgpeth 5:16 westbound crossing PRR at Washington Heights. on Track 4. First stop Midlothian
Bill Molony possted
This is the Pennsylvania Railroad and Rock Island Railroad interlocking at Washington Heights - 104th Street and Vincinnes Avenue on the south side of Chicago - as it looked 60 years ago in 1956.
The photographer is looking railroad east on the PRR tracks, with CRI&P tracks crossing in the foreground, the interlocking tower on the left and the station on the right. 
Today, the tower is gone, the PRR tracks are gone, and Metra owns the former Rock Island tracks and the Washington Heights station.
Terry Lynch posted
Harold Vollrath was a friend of mine who gave me pictures for both of my books, and several articles that I wrote through the years. Here's one from his collection of 624 passing the the tower at Washington Heights in May of 1940. There is no mention of which train it was on.
David Daruszka posted
A westbound Rock Island train slams over the Panhandle diamonds at Washington Heights. Date and photographer unknown.
Bill Molony posted
This photographer is looking railroad west on the Pennsylvania Railroad's tracks toward Washington Heights, where the PRR crossed the main line of the Rock Island in the vicinity of 104th Street and Vincennes Avenue on the south side of Chicago.
To the left is the Washington Heights station, which still stands today and is used by Metra.
To the right is the Washington Heights interlocking tower, which is long gone.
Bill Molony posted again
David Daruszka commented on Bill's posting
Bob Lalich The industry in the background was Chicago Bridge & Iron Co, which occupied most of the triangle formed by the CRIP, PRR and 107th St.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Greg Burnet posted
The discussion regarding the Rock Island's interlocking tower at Beverly Junction prompted me to search for this picture, which my father-in-law sent me a number of years ago. While not noted in the photo, some digging confirmed that this is the Rock Island/Pennsy junction at about 103rd & Vincennes. No date on the pic, but I'd guess it was possibly taken in the 20's or 30's?
Greg Burnet The view is looking north on the RI main line. The station to the right is still there & in use. The interlocking tower was torn down in the 80's, if I recall correctly. The building that's largely obscured by utility poles to the left center would have been The Beverly House, which I believe also came down in the 80's
David DaruszkaGroup Admin The photo was taken by John W. Barriger, a railroad executive who traveled around the country taking photos of various railroads. He usually did this from the open observation car at the back of the train. There is a collection of his photos on Flickr:
John Ullrich It is interesting to note the platform that allows passenger boarding on the center track. Definitely something that changed.
David DaruszkaGroup Admin The center track was the passenger track. The track on the left was for freight which prevented a platform from being built. A similar arrangement exists today at the 99th Street Station on the Suburban line. The adjacent street precludes a platform for inbound trains, so passengers load from wooden walkways between the tracks.
William Shapotkin While not as common as it once was, the use of "primary" and "secondary" platforms (meaning that there is a defacto platform betw the two main tracks, where psgrs much walk across (and indeed stand on) one of the mains to board their train) is not THAT uncommon today. At Gilman, IL, for example, the "primary" platform is the west platform (nominally for S/B trains), with a "secondary" platform betw two mains. Believe Joliet (on the former Alton side) is similar in arrangement. One the MILW, Hermosa and Cragin both had "primary" and "secondary" platforms, which required psgrs to walk across the W/B main to board their train. There is a safety issue, of course, with having the "secondary" platform betw the two mains (I believe train dispatchers notify oncoming trains that a train is in the station so as to avoid a problem).
Dennis DeBrulerGroup Admin This is one of those Chicagoland junctions for which I can never remember the name. Fortunately, it is in my notes so that I can identify it as Washington Heights.
Greg Burnet commented on a posting
During the 1970's, when the Rock rolling stock & locos were wearing its "Bankrupt Blue" scheme.
Greg Burnet I believe the roof of the building behind the string of TOFCEE's is that of Chicago Bridge & Iron. It was located on roughly 104th - 105th & Vincennes.
David DaruszkaGroup Admin Yes that was the CB&I works. It was all torn down and parts of the property redeveloped for residential use. A few homes were built but I think the grand plan for the property never developed. I can't imagine how polluted the ground must be or if any remediation was ever undertaken.
Greg Burnet The site was apparently cleaned up & a housing development started. I think that perhaps the recession stalled it, but now they seem to be back at it. Interesting how they use the "Beverly" name, although the development is in Washington Heights.
David DaruszkaGroup Admin When people ask me where I live I tell them Morgan Park. When they say, "Where's that?", I say near Beverly and the light bulb goes on in their head. The name has a certain element of cachet.
Bob Lalich David Daruszka - CB&I was a fabricator, not a steel or iron maker. I don't think the site was very polluted.
David DaruszkaGroup Admin Bob Lalich Thanks. By the time I moved down here from the North side they had ceased manufacturing.

A video of an NKP 765 exhibition train flying on the Metra/Rock where the Panhandle used to cross. (source)

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