Wednesday, February 28, 2018

C&WI "Trench" and links to the 15th and 16th Street Towers

There are a lot of photos of trains arriving and departing Dearborn Station north of Roosevelt Road and some photos of C&WI owner trains going through the 21st Street Crossing, but very few photos between the two. Bill's photo below has motivated me to collect the photos I have seen of the C&WI mainline between 14th Street and the 21st Street Crossing. I'll add photos as I find them, but I'll keep the photos ordered from north to south.

May 1929
[Note the sequence of bridges that were needed to take the other railroads over the C&WI.]

Bill Molony posted
Two Grand Trunk Western EMD GP9's at 14th Street on the Chicago & Western Indiana tracks with The Maple Leaf - June, 1967.
Dennis DeBruler There is a tower peaking above the train near its end. I need to study some maps to see if that is the C&WI 15th Street Tower. I've seen very few photos of it.
Bob Lalich Yes, that is 15th St tower near the right edge of the photo. It was closed by this time. I'll double check but I believe 15th St was remotely controlled from the "new" Roosevelt Road tower when it was built in 1964.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Bill's posting
Stan Stanovich note how the tower is at an angle so that it is tangent with the C&WI tracks. The popular 16th Street Tower is a block west and a block south of the one in this photo. [1964 Dearborn Approach or .pdf]

Bill Molony posted
On the left is Santa Fe EMD F7A #329, at 18th Street in Chicago, heading towards Dearborn Station to tie onto Santa Fe train #23, the westbound Grand Canyon.
On the right is Erie-Lackawanna EMD E8A's #829 and #818 leading E-L train #6, the eastbound Lake Cities away from Dearborn Station on August 15, 1967 on its 21-hour trip to Hoboken, New Jersey.
I don't think this meet is south of 18th Street because 18th Street went over the C&WI tracks and because the IC and Chicago & Alton tracks were between the Santa Fe and C&WI tracks down at 18th Street.
Excerpt from C&EI1964ChicagoDearborn-300lg.pdf file from Chicagoland Railfan Group
Instead, I think it is looking south from the red dot I put on 14th Street.

Excerpt from C&EI1964ChicagoDearborn-300lg.pdf file from Chicagoland Railfan Group

Bob Lalich Flickr late 50s Photo

15th st Monon on C&WI

Monon passenger train, possibly The Tippecanoe, has just departed Dearborn Station on a sunny morning and is about to duck under Clark St and the NYC-CRIP joint line, c. late 50s. I believe the photographer was Jack Bailey, whose photos were marketed under the name of Ashland Car Works.
[I assume this photo was taken from the 15th Street Tower.]

C&WI 15th Street Tower notes have several photos in this area.

Andrew Brown posted
Outbound commuter approaching 16th St. Sept. '73.
[The bridges on the right carried the Rock Island+NYC route over the C&WI route. It appears the Rock Island had a coach yard down here next to the C&WI embankment wall. This photo also provides a nice view of the Erie Freight House]
Bill Molony posted
Erie Lackawanna Railroad EMD E8A #828, leading EL train #2, the eastbound Phoebe Snow, and passing under the New York Central - Rock Island mainline at 16th Street on the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad's tracks - August 26, 1963.

Bill Molony posted
Monon Railroad Alco Century 420 #501 at Chicago in June 1967.
Bob Lalich Passing C&WI's 16th St Tower.
Bill Molony posted again
Monon Railroad Alco C-420 #501 with The Thoroughbred on the south side of Chicago in June of 1967.
The Monon discontinued all passenger service on September 30, 1967.
David Daruszka commented on Bill's posting
Same location?
Bob Lalich Yes David Daruszka. You can see 15th St tower past the bridges in the Barriger photo.
Dennis Debruler commented on Bill's posting
Bob Lalich, This is a fascinating "homework problem." I believe the first bridge is the NYC/St. Charles Airline connectors. The next bridge would be the St. Charles Airline itself. Then we see the piers for the Rock Island and NYC bridges. But is it the green or the blue building that is 15th Street Tower?
Bob Lalich 15th St tower is in the blue box
1964 or .pdf

Stuart Pearson posted
Monon's Hoosier not to far out of Dearborn Station. A Rail Photo Service Photo.
Bob Lalich: The train is in C&WI's 16th St interlocking plant. It has just passed under the St Charles Airline and connection to the joint NYC-Rock Island.
[Note that the train skunks the tower.]

C&WI 16th Street Tower notes have several photos in this area.

Bill Molony posted
Another beautiful color Wabash photograph from our collection - enjoy!
Stan Stanovich ...on the approach Richard Fiedler!...I believe from the 18th street overpass!!!
Bob Lalich Correct Stan Stanovich. 16th St Tower is just out of view behind the train on the right.
Jim Holmes Yes. between 16th st and 18th st
lbert J Reinschmidt Given the sun it's the departing Banner Blue.
Randy Rippy Wearing the simplified paint scheme with an E7 on the point. Guessing 1962?
[Note the B&OCT bridge is down. The two tracks in the right foreground are ICwest. You can see the embankment wall go up from here.]

Arturo Gross Flickr 1998 Photo of a comparable view off of 18th Street. The tracks are gone, but the fill along side the IC embankment has not been done. And it is a demonstration of how some trees can grow almost like weeds.

A recent view of the scene after the track area has been filled in to match the embankment height of the CN/ICwest to create Ping Tom Memorial Park.
Mark Hinsdale posted
Cold, but Clear...
Chicago is getting ready for tomorrow's St. Patricks Day parade and all the celebrations that go with it. The temperature is staying in the mid to high 20's but there is not a cloud in the sky. A midday appearance of CN Train #337 passing under 18th Street made for a worthy photographic subject as I continued to show my weekend guests around town a
little bit.

Dave Durham posted eight photos with the comment: "Track work to elevate the lines of the A.T.&S.F. and C.&W.I in the 14th/15th/16th St.and Clark area; Please adjust your travel routes and leave10-15 minutes earlier to avoid delays."
Bob Lalich Dave Durham - which site allows a free download? I have searched a few times and can only find sites that require membership.
Dave Durham Bob Lalich I have been utilizing Hathitrust
Bob Lalich Have you downloaded the entire document, or just a few pages at a time?
Dave Durham Photos, and pages...are you not able to? Are you viewing on a home computer or mobile device?
Jim Holmes Guys, I had to search for over an hour to get those documents because Haithtrust requires membership in some university to get full copies. I searched for a couple of the headings and found a link. the map above originally came from and Engineering News publ and re-referenced in the 1898 issue of Dave's publication, not the 1905. I can provide the two pdf's via email if so desired.








Photos of the C&WI before the Rock Island, NYC, and IC were elevated and the South Branch was straightened are even more rare.


  1. Love your site Dennis! is there anyway to subscribe or "follow" this page to get updates rather than having to remember to check it everyday or whenever my brain works? LOL

    1. I'll ask my daughter. She is the one that taught me about in the first place.

    2. I have added a "Followers" and "Subscribe To" gadgets in the upper-right at the top of the sidebar on the right. To use the "Follow" button, I understand you need to be logged into a Google account. For "Subscribe To", you will have to experiment. Let me know what you learn.

  2. Soon you'll be able to drive through the trench. Later this year the city will be constructing a new roadway connecting Wells in the South Loop with Wentworth in Chinatown. They plan to use the old C&WI trench to get under the CN—even though it requires a half-block jog and is angled the wrong way.