Friday, April 7, 2017

Pennsy Bridge over Ohio River at Louisville, KY

(1919 Bridge Hunter, 1870 Bridge Hunter, Satellite)
20150508 1029, looking south from 
On the north end is the largest bridge abutment I remember seeing. In this case, I should have waited for a car to come by to give some scale to that structure. In Bridge Hunter, J.P. did take several photos of this structure including one with a backhoe for scale.
Photo from Bridge Hunter
The current 1919 bridge evidently reused the cut-stone piers of the 1870 bridge because the first large through truss is over the old "Indiana Chute." Because of the large truss in the middle of the river, there used to be another "chute." The long spans were retained in 1919 because the dam had yet to be built. Obviously, neither of these shipping lanes are used today.
Photo from Bridge Hunter
The third truss that we can barely see peaking out above the trees in the first photo is the lift bridge that spans the canal that used to be spanned by this swing bridge. The first canal to bypass the rapids here was built 1825-30. "It was 1.9 miles long, 64 feet wide and had a total lift of 26 feet with a three flight lock system." [Sign at Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center]
Tom's photo of the engines also caught the lift and control towers. To my surprise, the control tower still exists.
Ron Flanary posted
As I was looking through the L&NHS image files late last night (trying to find something else, of course), I noticed this shot and pulled it up for a closer inspection. This was taken at Louisville, KY on April 24, 1965 by Tom Smart. The original slide is part of the Dan Dover collection, and Dan was kind enough to share this one as well as a large number of other L&N shots with the L&NHS for scanning. This is a rather unusual occurrence. The every-other-day Chicago-Miami "South Wind" was normally powered by pooled Atlantic Coast Line or Pennsy E-units. The L&N only provided motive power in the case of an emergency (engine trouble, for example). The previous day, either the ACL or Pennsy units handling the northbound train had problems on the L&N portion between Montgomery and Louisville, so an E7-E6 duo replace them. Now, L&N Es 771-760 are back from the Windy City with the southbound "Wind." The train is curving off Pennsy's Ohio River lift bridge at Clagg Tower. Next stop: Union Station. L&N's mechanical wizards at South Louisville have probably fixed whatever was wrong with the Pennsy or ACL power, so the two L&N units will be swapped out during the station stop.
Jim Griffith's third photo in a posting
John Eagan Still a manned tower at the south end in Louisville where the L&I connects to the PAL and CSX
[This photo framing is comparable to mine at the top. But the river was much higher when Jim visited this area than it was when I was there. More on the water levels later.]

Jim Griffith's forth photo in a posting
[I chose Jim's third photo because it almost exactly matches my photo at the top giving you an A/B comparison of the level of the lower pool. I include this photo because it shows the water is high enough to spill over the dam wall. Note the size of the debris backlog created by the dam wall. All five Tainter gates are probably wide open in this view.]

Rock showing fossils by the sidewalk at the rest stop
At a rest stop along I-65 on my way to Louisville, KY, I saw a sign that showed how to get to the interpretive center for the Fossils at Falls of the Ohio. So I found this bridge as a happy accident on my way to the interpretive center.

Satellite
Above is the view of the bridge taken from the wheel chair accessible view point. I include the satellite photo to show that this is also the high-water viewing point. This dam is very unusual because most of its length is with the river instead of across the river. We see part of the "wall" that runs parallel to the shore. It is about a half-mile long and up to 30 feet high. The upper pool is the feed to the hydroelectric dam. The lower pool in the foreground is the fossil bed. The dam was constructed in a "Z shape" so that during low flows during Summer and Fall, a high head can be maintained for the hydroelectric plant and shipping canal while much of the fossil bed becomes exposed. This helps preserve the wildlife that was established when the level of the river naturally varied significantly during the year. And it allows fossil viewing during the dry season.

Since there were people down by, and in, the river, I decided I should be able to get down there also.
But first I had to work my way over the debris field.
And then find a path over the rocks that did not require crossing deep crevasses. (This picture is taken looking down.)
This was as close to the river as I was willing to get.


But it was far enough out into the river bed to let me get a good view of the five Tainter gates (below). Note the water turbulence around the through-truss pier. It is a good thing it is built on rock. Even so, it is amazing that it has been able to avoid scouring after decades of turbulent flow around it. It does look like they have sheathed the base with a protective layer of concrete.


On the way back I took an overview picture. Note the dark rock in the foreground is significantly higher than the white rock below. And we can see another one of the crevasses in the upper layer. Most of the edge of the dark rock was a sharp drop off. That was part of the challenge of finding a path down to the white rock.
I didn't discover this ramp back to the parking lot until I went back up to the center. I came down the river bluff from the center using those stair steps. And I see now that I probably should have gone upstream from the base of those steps rather than the downstream path I took. The balcony of the interpretation center has a series of interpretive signs. They cover the topics of the Fossil Beds, Birds, Wildlife Conservation, and River Navigation.

High Water Images

Bridge Hunter photos taken by Joe Virruso in May, 2008. Note how one photo taken by Andrew Raker in April, 2014, shows the lower pool at an intermediate level, but another photo by Andrew that same month shows the lower pool at a high level. And it was even higher in May, 2014.

Birds-Eye View
[In this view, you can see the Tainter gates are completely open. And the river is high enough that it is almost covering the dam walls.]
From the Wildlife Conservation sign

Low Water Images

Bridge Hunter photos taken by James Adorno in June, 2005; Robert Thompson in July, 2005; Ed Hollowell in July, 2005; and Andrew Raker in  September, and December of 2013, in August, 2011, in September, 2009, in June, July, August and October of 2008, and in September, 2007.

From the rest stop sign
From the Wildlife Conservation sign
[This picture taught me that they can create a low flow over the fossil beds during the Summer even if the river has a high flow by shutting the upper gates and opening the lower gates.]
In fact, Google Map captures that scenario.

Satellite, the upper gates are closed and the base of the dam wall is exposed
Satellite, the lower gates are wide open
Bing's aerial view shows the case where both the upper and lower gates are partially open.

Satellite

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