Saturday, June 4, 2016

IHB's Blue Island Yard, Coaling Tower and Turntable

Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail power in the Indiana Harbor Belt Blue Island Yard viewed from Halsted St in Riverdale, Illinois - June 10, 1977.

Mike Breski posted
Photo is by J.D. (Tuch)
Tuch says: "The two towers on stilts are the east yardmaster's office on the top level and the trainmaster's office right below it [the latter office has been removed since this photo was taken]. The flat-roofed building just behind the light standard in known as "Longfield." This is the car inspector's headquarters and locker room. At one time the Blue Island crew caller was located in this building. The east yardmaster controls all movements at the east end of the yard, including the pull-down or trimmer jobs that work the garden (hump bowl) and all inbound and outbound trains. He also instructs the hump yardmaster on where to yard trains entering from the west, and tells eastbound trains at the hump end where to make their doubles if such is required."
I assume from the comments that this photo is Blue Island instead of Gibson. Blue Island was built in 1926 when Gibson's huge double hump yard could no longer handle all of the industrial activity. "Blue Island Yard had a 44-track classification yard and large facility for loading and servicing ice-cooled refrigerator cars. The yard became a departure point for many of NYC's eastbound road freights, while Gibson remained the terminus for westbounds. The eastbounds of course used the Harbor main to reach Gibson, where they either continued east on the MC main or headed north on the former CI&S to access NYC's ex-LS&MS Water Level Route at Indiana Harbor." (MikeBreski)

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
[I learned from Bob Lalich that the facility on the bottom was a giant icehouse. You can see the icing platform along its north side.]

Mike Breski posted
B. I. Hump Tower with ME 1 standing by.
Mike Breski posted
A Fairbanks Morse loco works the east end of the yard. Photo courtesy of Charlie Stricker
Mike Breski posted
Ready tracks; note EL locomotive in the background. Tuch says: "Blue Island did not have a major engine servicing facility since the Gibson roundhouse was less than ten miles to the east. Locomotives could be fueled and sanded, have lube oil or cooling water added, have brakeshoes replaced, piston travel adjusted, and make other minor repairs. In this shot you are looking roughly east. The clear track is the north ready track and the one to the right of the tank is the south ready track. You'll notice the concrete pad to the right of the clear north ready track. This was the fuel station. You can see the fuel racks."
NOTE: this facility was eliminated in 2004. All engine servicing is now done at Gibson Yard. (from IHB Archives)
Mike Breski posted
View from the B.I. hump (from IHB Archives)
Andre Schulz commented on Mike's posting


William Shapotkin posted two pictures of the tower with the comment:
Here are pix of the "new" Blue Island tower Opened 1962 -- replacing the "old" tower). The exterior view looks S-S/W and was taken March 28, 1994. The interior view was taken Sept 6, 2001. Both photos taken by Wm Shapotkin
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Ian Rock posted
Blue Island, Illinois, May 1, 1976
Photo credit: Ken Carlson
John Sickel posted
Northbound GTW GP38 passes new AMC Gremlins. Taken from the atop where the Rock Island Line crosses over the Blue Island yard. Blue Island, Illinois. 1978. Mark Llanuza photo.Mark Hinsdale I most likely would have been working in the yard office in the distant background, under the microwave tower just south of the139th St. overpass. Was TM there 77-78. At that time GTW had 6 daily yard assignments at Blue Island (2 per shift), and daily transfer jobs to IC (Markham), C&EI (L&N-MP), RI (twice daily), MILW at Bensenville via IHB, B&OCT (Barr), and IHB (Blue Island Hump). 8 road trains, (four in each direction) worked at Blue Island, setting off to feed these transfers, and picking up traffic brought to BI for interchange to GTW. The daily yard assignments sorted it.Gerry Stephens Those Gremlins were coming from Kenosha, Wis. where the AMC (nee Nash) plant was located.

Kevin Piper posted
Eight brand new DT&I GP38-2's are being towed under Halsted Street at IHB's Blue Island Yard in Riverdale, IL, on 8-7-75. EMD put special colors on the 1776 for America's Bicentennial.
Mark Hinsdale posted
"Sweet Sounds"
A brace of big Alco & MLW power is about to back from the School Street bridge over the Indiana Harbor Belt in Riverdale IL toward its train made ready in Blue Island Yard. At this point in Conrail's early history, the new railroad was experiencing an acute system power shortage, and was leasing/utilizing just about everything it could find. July, 1977 photo by Mark Mark Llanuza Hinsdale
Jerry Jackson posted three photos with the comment: "The hump at? Jim Drennan photos, my collection. Early 80's I'm assuming. The last shot is mine, still don't remember the yard.Larry Cooper Blue Island Yard.

Jerry Hongoltz Blue Island hump I was always 3rd low man and pulled pins till dawn! When it was a slow night we would ride at the front of the unit with a .22 rifile and shoot at the herds of rats ! * edit We would tape the bottom of our pants legs so the rats wouldn't run up them now there's a pleasent thought!

Jeff Lewis What did the alpha-numeric number represent?

Chad Malinovsky Told the hump job what track to grab next. It's all gone now along with the CRO. Tracks are yelled over the radio and the new technology is still stall prone after 8 years. [I don't know what CRO means.]

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Kevin Piper posted
GTW 5920 leads an eastbound freight leaving IHB's Blue Island Yard. The train will use nearby UP/MP rails to reach GTW at Thornton Junction. 12-16-89
Donny Albertson posted
Edward Dolle Yep. I remember when every railroad had three or four SD-40's pulling freight. I loved those times but I understand why they were phased out. To this day I love it when I see and old engine on a revenue train, even if it either in need of repair or being moved to another location.Jeff Lewis SP never met a locomotive it didn't want to purchase.Donny Albertson It was the PRR of the west!Jeff Lewis No doubt, huh? lol

Kevin Piper posted
PC U33B 2968 and EL SD45 3616 are stopped for a crew change at IHB's Blue Island Yard near Chicago on 1-9-77.
Douglas Kydd posted
Blue Island - 1974
Steven J. Brown posted
Visiting Fiat Railcar working in Rock Island suburban service from the tower at Vermont Street in Blue Island, Illinois - September 4, 1977.
[The background shows the yard.]


J. D. Santucci describes his experience as an engineer with this hump yard.


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