Friday, July 22, 2016

Bellwood Tower: CGW vs. IHB

(no CRJ, Satellite, you can still see the overpasses for the connector from IHB to CGW. The Illinois Prarie Path was the C&AE interurban.)

Jerry Hund posted the following three photos with the comment:
Several interesting photos from Jim Rueber of the interlocking tower on the CGW/ IHB main lines in my hometown of Bellwood, Illinois. Here's patt of his description as he recalls it. Today, all that remains is the IHB mainline.
The CGW depot book shows this building was 24 X 36 and was jointly owned by the IHB. This tower was always manned by CGW men when I was working for the CGW. I was only in this building a couple of times. The agent along with the operators and clerks were all located in this building.
Jim L Rueber

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Update: Jerry Hund posted:
Recently, I posted about the interlocking tower located in Bellwood, Illinois which was about 1/4 mile West of 25th Ave-@13 miles West of the CGW yard in Chicago. With permission I want to share Jim Ruber's recollection of this tower and the ones in Iowa he worked in. It gives a better perspective of what when on in these towers and their importance.
Hello Jerry -
I think in the early days all the interlockings were mechanical. They consisted of several levers that were connected to long rods that were inside pipes that were mounted on short pedestals spaced along the track out to a signal or switch. The signals were of the blade type that had a green and a red lens, and a kerosene lamp was located in the top of the signal that was lit at night or stormy weather, and if the blade was in the upright position the green light would show and if the blade was extended then the red lens would show. The levers for the conflicting route had to be set at the stop position before the levers could be moved to line up the route for the other road. If there were some switches and derails involved, then a lever would be attached to a rod that controlled these items. Everything had to be in the right position before the levers used to line up the signals for a route, could be moved. As you can imagine, those rods had to be well oiled all the time and a strong leverman to move some of those levers. There was also a time clock connected to these interlockings, so that the operator could not change a route once he had it lined up, until he ran the clock down, usually 3 or 4 minutes. Once a train passed the clock would go back to zero and you could then line up another route right away.
The only interlockings I worked at were at Tower A in Waterloo and at Talmage, Iowa and these were electrical. At Waterloo the tower man also controlled the signals at 3 street crossings. We also copied train orders and sent and received messages and worked up the interchange report each day.
The June 1st, 1899 employee timetable shows at Bellwood a crossing of the CJ. Does not say that it is interlocked. I would guess CJ was the Chicago Junction RR.
The July 7, 1907 employee timetable shows at Bellwood a crossing of the CJ Interlocked.
The Jan 18, 1925 employee timetable shows at Bellwood a crossing of the IHB Interlocked.
The 1952 timetable does not show any crossings at Bellwood. I don't know when a bridge was built at Bellwood so that the IHB went over the CGW. There was a long ramp on the south side that went from the CGW up to the IHB and that is how cars were interchanged.
James Rueber

Jerry Hund commented on his posting
 Here's the view looking South before the elevated tracks. Note the cables in the ground from the old interlocking switch tower.
Mark Llanuza posted two phots with the comment: "Its 1976 I'm at the old l IHB CGW interchange at Bellwood IL"

Mark Llanuza posted
Its 1976 I'm at the old IHB CGW interchange at Bellwood IL
Berne Ketchum I spent a lot of nights looking down that track for the EB train in the '60s. It had a bunch of reefers of meat to set out for the IHB every night, supposed to be in by 1:15, cut off by 1:30 a.m. Almost never made the time, but it was my job to convince the IHB dispatcher that it had. I got called every kind of liar you can think of, but usually managed to get the time recorded as 1:30 a.m., the contract time for arrival. (The cut-off time was important because if it was before 1:30 a..m., the IHB was responsible for any damage claims for spoilage; after that time, the CGW was responsible.) 
As a relief operator I usually ended up working both day and night jobs at Bellwood and Chicago Transfer, which meant I was there pretty much the whole summer. I slept on an army cot in the basement of Bellwood tower at CGW track level. That saved me a lot of money for university tuition.

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