Saturday, December 3, 2016

Torrence Avenue and Aban/C&WI Lift Bridges over Calumet River

20150720 3319, south portals
Torrence Avenue is on the left,
C&WI is on the right
(Bridge Hunter Torrence, Bridge Hunter C&WIHistoric Bridges Torrence, Historic Bridges C&WISatellite)

Chicago and Western Indiana was the terminal railroad for Dearborn Station. This bridge carried the eastern branch of the C&WI to the Indiana state line where the tenant railroads of Monon, C&O, Erie, and Wabash connected with the C&WI to run their passenger trains to Dearborn. This branch, and this bridge, was abandoned when Dearborn Station quit serving passenger trains.

A lift bridge was considered too ugly for roads in the downtown area, so Chicago developed the dual bascule bridge design. But a lift bridge was considered OK for Torrence Avenue in this industrial area. Plus the needed bascule span would have been 80 feet longer than any current bascule design and cost twice as much as the lift bridge. [CLB]

The machinery for this bridge was placed in the tower rather than the normal practice of placing it in the middle of the span. [CityOfChicago]
From Historic Bridges
The C&WI lift bridge was proceeded by a Strauss Bascule bridge, which was proceeded by a swing bridge. I wonder why the Strauss bascule bridge was replaced. His designs normally last until the present. Judging from the picture, it appears a longer span was needed for navigation.

Torrence was temporarily rerouted across the C&WI bridge so that they could refurbish the road bridge during 2011-2013 while keeping one of the few north/south arteries in this area open. That refurbish work also repainted the C&WI bridge.

North portals

Driving south, you can see the blue South Shore Bridge framed by the far portal
I was on 122nd St. taking pictures of the NS/NKP Bridge when I noticed this 3/4 view of these bridges over the Heron Pond Park. Those are the NS/NKP tracks in the foreground.

This posting was my motivation for finding my pictures and writing this post.

ChicagoLoopBridges posted
The only CDOT vertical lift bridge marks 80 years on December 2nd. Learn more at:
[I notice the formal name is the Henry Ford II Bridge. No doubt because of the big Ford assembly plant just south of it. Judging from the first picture on the CLB page, the parking lot west of the north portal is public access. I had seen that parking lat in satellite images. But in this post 9/11 era, I was too chicken to turn on the access road to that area. Maybe I'll try it the next time I'm near that bridge.]
Michael A. Paus commented on the above posting
[Headed towards Lake Michigan.]
Scott Griffith posted
Any idea location?
Bob Lalich The train is EB, just south of the Calumet River on the C&WI, roughly 126th and Torrence. The bascule bridge was replaced with a lift bridge around 1971.
Bob Lalich Flickr Photo

calumet river proposed straightening

Aerial view of navigation obstacles in the Calumet River at Torrence Avenue.

David Daruszka updated
Evan Stair Look at the quality of the ballast. Wow...
William Schenold Is that 130th Street at the Crossing?
Bob Lalich Yes, that is 130th St. The C&WI bascule bridge in the background was replaced by a lift bridge around 1970. The lift bridge still stands but there are no tracks to the south of it. Torrence Ave now occupies the C&WI RoW. The C&WI was a very well maintained and busy RR at this time. This photo is a Bruce Meyer photo taken in 1958, from the Mark Stanek collection.
Tad Dunville I believe that Bend is where the CWI meets NKP and proceeds southeast adjacent to CSSB. There is still a lot of action here, but CWI is the missing piece. NS runs a small autorack yard and CSS runs plenty of passenger and freight through here. Now that I think of it, was this pic taken from the CSS bridge?
Bob Lalich Yes, the photographer was on the South Shore bridge. There was a flag stop for Ford City back then and there were walkways along the bridge.

James Boudraux also posted
Torrence,130th & Saginaw St. Area...1958...Bruce Meyer photo...S.Kortvely Collection
Bob Lalich You might also consider adding that the photo came from the Mark Stanek collection. He sent it to me several years ago. I should have put all that info in a corner of the photo before I posted it.
Bill Smotrilla We used to love watching the switcher work the coking plant just north over the river bridge.
Mark Llanuza posted
ts Sept 1982 I'm standing on top of the Chicago South Shore Railroad bridge looking down on the former Erie Lackawanna main line with the Lake Shore Limited detouring on the former Erie rails .I went back in 1997 to the same location at Torrence Ave near Ford City Auto plant .The rails are gone only the famous draw lift bridges are still there .

Joseph Tuch Santucci Technically the C&WI at this location. This line could have been saved. The South Shore wanted to purchase it from State Line to Pullman Jct in 1985. NS had purchased the portion from Pullman Jct to 81st street in late 1984. CSS would use the BRC mains from Pullman Jct to Clearing Yard. The five owners of the CWI, MoPac, SBD, GTW and Conrail all had to agree. Conrail was dead set against it and would not budge so the deal died and so did the railroad. Oddly enough, NS acquired a portion from the South Shore overhead to Burnham Ave in the early 1990’s and built the Ford Chicago auto mixing on the old right of way.
Mark Bilecki Sr. The picture above was taken the day they had the steam excursion for Norfolk Western 611. The reason for the detours was because the cables broke on the old Pennsylvania lift bridge on the main over the Calumet River. I was sitting over by state line tower waiting for it. All the detouring trains came down the B&O and used the old Wabash connection to the C&WI into the city. Today the C& WI is long gone and so is the tower.Scott Nauert Conrail was also dead against Santa Fe acquiring the PRR Panhandle from Logansport - Pittsburgh, PA. What an absolute disgrace. Let me guess: this was under Stanley Crane's leadership?
Jack Fuller Conrail was profitable, whereas its predecessors were not, mainly because CR had a near-monopoly on rail traffic in the East. This allowed them to get better revenue divisions, and longer hauls. They did NOT want a western road encroaching into their territory!
Mark Llanuza Thanks Mark Bilecki Sr. for your help with the story .Yes i was was waiting for 611when this train showed up total surprise.

Bob Lalich Flickr 2012 Photo when Torrence Ave was using it

Bob Lalich Flickr 1984 Photo when C&WI was still using it
It is interesting that at this date, the C&WI uses one track on the bridge and the Cal Western uses the other.
Bob Lalich 6y 
This was after NS had aquired the C&WI between SL and 81st St. They quickly removed track 1 between SL and 110th St. Track 2 was removed when the Hammond Times moved the printing plant to Munster.
Bob Lalich 3y 
The CW connection to the C&WI was established after the CW swing bridge was hit by a ship in 1962. Here is what I have pieced together from various sources. Even before the CW bridge accident, plans had been drafted to replace the CW and C&WI bridges with a lift bridge in order to aid navigation in light of ocean-going ships using Lake Calumet harbor after opening the St. Lawrence Seaway. Replacing the NKP swing bridge was also part of the overall plan. It was decided not to repair the CW bridge after the 1962 accident, even though it would be years before the new bridge could be built and RoW obtained for the connecting track on the south side of the river. C&WI granted trackage rights to the CW between 123rd and 126th in 1964. I believe a temporary connection was established from the C&WI main south of the river to industrial trackage just to the east. A connection north of the river was built as well. This arrangement lasted until the lift bridge was opened in 1971. The C&WI lift bridge and the Torrence Ave bridge had separate operators. I hope this explanation wasn't too long-winded for you.

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