Sunday, May 31, 2020

Google Lemonade: Blogger Label Menu "Bug"

I wrote and tested code for Bell Labs for over 40 years, so I have ignored the industries of computers and software because I learn a lot more studying railroads, bridges, steel mills, dams, coal mines, etc. But Google plans to force a new version of the blog authoring software down our throats. They initially claimed that it would be the default in late June and that they would force us to switch to it in late July. I see they have now removed saying when we will be forced to use it.

The text window in their feedback window is only 360 x 125 pixels. That won't even hold 144 words. Regular readers, about 20, know that I don't think in terms of 144 words or less. I've been known to write introductions that are longer than that.  I've had trouble keeping up with the information that I have been finding on Facebook before Google asked us to try the new software. This new software is putting me even further behind on my blog writing. So I've decided that, since Goggle has given me a bunch of lemons, I'm going to make some lemonade. In particular, I'm going to write some real life examples of software change. I'm not going to make a lot of my feedback public, but I am going to make at least my work analyzing the label menu issue public. It turns out, it is not a bug, it is a change that I can adapt to now that I understand what the needed adaptation is.

I discovered this problem when I tried looking for a post concerning the CB&Q. I could not find the label, rrCBaQ! So I'm going to start by using the old version to document the labels that I do have. Then I'll compare that to the labels offered in the new version.

In the new version the popup is the same dinky size no matter how tall the window is. According to a photo on the "better blogger experience" page, their design goal is to make it easier to use your phone. They seem to be so fixated on using a phone that they are ignoring how it behaves on a desktop. And the loss of the counts is NOT a "better experience." For example bridgeMovable having a count of 1 means that I haven't converted a post to one of the more specific movable types: lift, swing, bobtail, rolling, strauss, trunnion, rare. (I just fixed it.)

New Version
Note that CREATE has moved to the top.

I didn't find any labels missing from the first menu snapshot.

needsMap looks like another label that could be eliminated. I didn't find any labels missing for this screenshot either.
I thought rrBRC was missing, but then I found it between rrAmtrak and rrBaO. So they have switched from a case insensitive sort in the old version to a case sensitive sort in the new version. And uppercase letters are considered "smaller" than lowercase letters. That is why CREATE is now at the top.

Likewise, rrCBaQ, rrCGW and rrCSSaSB are not missing, they just moved from their old position to a position between rrBig4 and rrCaEI. Now that I understand there is a new rule for alphabetization, I'll quite studying the labels because they are not missing, and I now understand where to find them.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

IHB Icing Facility at Blue Island Yard

(Satellite, it has been replaced by a car repair shop)

Some general notes on icing platforms

Dwayne Weber posted
Does anyone know where this icing station would have been for IHB. This is a WW2 photo. Thanks!
[Some comments talk about what it was like to work in the ice house.
The chute is lowered and the ice poured down from the platform above.]

Dennis DeBruler commented on Dwayne's post
The south side of Blue Island Yard, 1938 aerial.
Mike Breski Notice the partially finished round house to the north west?
Dennis DeBruler I had never noticed that it was partially finished.
Digitally zoomed in on the above photo

The following photos are WWII Jack Delano photos from Lot 222.

We think of the railroads having to keep produce cool in the Summer. But they also had to keep it from freezing in the Winter. The gas holder in the background confirms this photo was taken in the Blue Island Yard.
LC-USW3- 014135-D

Placing charcoal heaters in a refrigerator car of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Heaters on the platform of the icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Refrigerator cars waiting to be iced at the icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The little carts on the platform are used for carrying the crushed ice up and down the platform and dumping it down the chutes into the cans


At the icing platform the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The chute is lowered and the ice poured down from the platform above.


Icing a car at the icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Icing a car at the icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

[We can see both grain elevators in the background. ]

The icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The brick building on the left is the icing plant


The icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The brick building on the left is the icing plant


The icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


The icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Inside the ice storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. It has a storage capacity of almost 15,000 tons


Block of ice being sent up an elevator into the storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Inside the ice storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. It has a storage capacity of almost 15,000 tons

Friday, May 29, 2020

Tod Ave+Republic+McCook Ave+Kennedy Ave Interlockings: B&OCT vs. IHB

The railfan post below got me looking for the "Republic interlocking" in East Chicago. My 2005 SPV Map shows that there were four interlockings between B&OCT and IHB in about a mile along the B&OCT. So I'm doing all four in one post.

Instead of a satellite, I'm using a topo image because it still has the tracks that were in these interlockings. The numbering convention is the one used by the 2005 SPV Map except that I added 99 to represent what is labelled as Calumet Tower.

  • Tod Ave: 8
  • Republic: 9
  • McCook Ave: 10
  • Calumet Tower: 99
  • Kennedy Ave: 11

1953 Whiting Quadrangle @ 1:24,000 plus Paint
Interlocks 8-10 were obviously connections between B&OCT and IHB spurs. Kennedy Ave confused me until I looked at a contemporary satellite image. It was a crossover.

This is how I learned about the Republic interlocking.
Steven W Panek posted
With the Indiana Harbor Canal a little higher than normal due to recent thunderstorms in the past week,
CSX 3168 was the rear DPU on an eastbound manifest that had just cleared Republic interlocking on the CSX Barr Subdivision in East Chicago, Indiana on 5/23/2020

Today, the spurs associated with interlockings 8 and 10 are gone.
RR Aban Map
And the connection in the southwest quadrant of Republic is gone.

Evidently the water level of the Indiana Harbor Canal is normally rather high. I'm guessing from the images of the bridge that the girders are concrete instead of steel. It appears the purpose of the south fork of the canal is to help drain Grand Calumet River rather than navigation because all of the bridges across it are fixed.
Street View

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Lost High (Suicide) Bridge in Lincoln Park

(Satellite???, Since it was gone by 1919, I can't look for it on a 1938 aerial photo)


Joseph Ruzich posted
Check out my blog and read a story with postcards about Suicide Bridge in Lincoln Park. I think you'll like it!
It was a four-story tall bridge so that sailboats could pass underneath it. It was built in 1892 or 94. Unfortunately, it was high enough that it became a popular place to commit suicide. Fortunately, for a couple of amateur actors, falling off the bridge was not a guaranteed death. They did it in 1916 for a movie and survived. It was torn down in 1919. [WTTW]

Beer drinking, bicycle riding, Chicago photography club posted five images with a comment that is text copied from the Geoffrey Baer's WTTW article.
Raymond Kunst shared





Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Interlake/ACME/By Products Coke Corp

Rod Sellers posted
Federal Furnace 1905. Federal Furnace merged with By Products Coke Company and Acme Steel and later formed Interlake Steel. Interesting organization on the Southeast Side with Coke Plant on Torrence Avenue, the Furnace Plant at 107th and Burley and Steel Mill in Riverdale in three different locations.

The steel plant in Riverdale already has some notes.

Rod Sellers commented on his post
By the late 1930s there were 2 blast furnaces and the company was Interlake

Bob Lalich posted
This photo of Interlake Iron's blast furnaces located on the east bank of the Calumet River at 108th St raises a question I have never resolved completely. The hopper cars seen in this photo contain coke for the blast furnaces. I have long wondered how the coke got from the coke plant located west of the river at 112th and Torrence to the furnace plant before the conveyor over the river was built in the late 1950s.
I made a crude estimate of the number of cars of coke per day required to feed two furnaces of this size and came up with roughly 40 cars per day.
According to the 1956 Directory of Industries, the coke plant was switched exclusively by CSL. The furnace plant was switched by PRR and IHB. Interlake had their own locomotives for intra-plant switching.
There are several possibilities for the route - most likely PRR or IHB. I have asked old timers who worked for both railroads in the late 40s/early 50s and have never gotten a definitive answer.
Rod Truszkowski CSL switched the coke plant. They would take coke to the furnace side daily. They would leave the coke plant with a train and take the cars to pullman jct. on the C&WI. They would then go down the ROCK ISLAND to rock island jct. From there they would go up to the pennsy to take the river line to the furamce side. Interlake owned 40% of the CSL for a while when their RR rolled into the CSL the other was owned by youngstown sheet and tube.
Bob LalichAuthor Rod Truszkowski - thanks for the info. I have a document on the corporate history of CSL which was produced by the railroad. It makes no mention of Interlake ownership, only that Youngstown Sheet & Tube, whose predecessor Iroquois Iron acquired the railroad from the Calumet & Chicago Canal & Dock Company in 1905, acquired 100% ownership by 1962. However, this map supports your account of CSL hauling the coke to the Interlake furnace plant along the route that you described. [The map is just below.]
Rod Truszkowski When we couldn't get through at pullman jct. we would pay wjeelage and go through the belt distric tracks. I will look and see on the ownership i knpw the CSL took over their locomotives..
Bob LalichAuthor Rod Truszkowski - here is another historic detail from the CSL document. The By-Products Coke Corp built the Torrence Ave plant along with its own railroad - the Calumet Hammond & Southeastern. The CH&S was acquired by CSL in 1918. By-Products Coke Corp and other assets owned by Pickands-Mather & Co were merged into Interlake Iron in 1929. It makes sense that a percentage of ownership of CSL was retained by By-Products/Interlake along the way.
Rod Truszkowski Bob Lalich i know old timers telling me of interchanging cars in hammond.
Bob LalichAuthor Rod Truszkowski - I think there is still a missing piece in this. I would think that an agreement would have been in place for CSL to use the Calumet River RR. When Ed DeRouin published his Pennsy In Chicago book, I asked him about such an agreement, since he included dozens of agreements in the book. He could not find one.
Rod Truszkowski Bob Lalich we had an agreement. It may have been from the merger of the CSL and CH&SE. During the years i was there we would occasionally run hot metal cats from the YS&T plant in east Chicago to the interlake plant. The CSL had direct connections to a good number of railroads in it's heyday.
Bob LalichAuthor Rod Truszkowski - any idea why the map shows the CSL route from South Deering to Pullman Jct on the ex-NKP?
Rod Truszkowski Bob Lalich they also had running rights on the NKP to the coke plant too. My quess it dates back to the CH&SE days.
Bill Edrington Interesting mix of marks on those hopper cars: NYC, CNW, CB&Q and C&O, plus a couple of what appear to have been Interlake’s own cars for local coke service. I’m guessing the “foreign road” cars were made empty of inbound coal at the coke plant and then used for a coke move over to the furnaces before releasing them.
Phil Minga There is a shallow tunnel that crosses Torrence at about 111th. It’s a little north of the coke cracking towers that were / are west of Torrence.
Bob LalichAuthor That tunnel was for a conveyor from the so-called South Slip to the coke plant. The South Slip was shared by Wisconsin Steel and Interlake. At one time, some coal for the coke plant was brought in by boat.
Glen Koshiol Was that Acme Coke ? We serviced that on the BRC off the CWI main. Usually B&O coal. I remember an overhead conveyor going east over the CWI to Wisconsin Steel and an underpass at the bus stop maybe for the workers?
Rod Truszkowski Glen Koshiol when that conveyor belt and gas pipe went through the CSL cut a lot of there employees.
Glen Koshiol Rod Truszkowski What year was that?
Rod Truszkowski Glen Koshiol in the 50's i believe later when YS&B moved from chicago to east chicago another round of layoffs happened as CSL did not switch the plant in indiana.
Bob LalichAuthor Glen Koshiol - I have a note that the conveyor and bridge were built in 1958.

(I inadvertently hit "Publish" Obviously, these notes need a lot more work. But I'm too far behind on other things to work on this.)


acme coke plant: car dumper

map of By Products Coke Corp (predecessor to Interlake and Acme)

quenching tower and bank of coke ovens from ACME Coke Plant share
Rod Sellers comment on a share

1997 Art Gross Flickr of Acme Steel Coke along Torrence with a plume of steam from a quenching     another view

Monday, May 25, 2020

Gas Manufacturing and Gasometers near O'Brien WRP

(Satellite, are they farming the brownland?)

MWRD posted
A northward view of two police officers on McCormick Blvd. between Howard St. and Oakton St. in Skokie on May 4, 1928. This location is directly east of the MWRD's O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant (formerly North Side), which was nearly completed at the time of the photo. The viaduct in the background, which is no longer there, was a part of the Mayfair Branch of the Chicago & North Western Railway which passed through what is now the Skokie North Shore Channel Park. The viaduct above the officers was a part of the North Shore Electric Line Skokie Valley Branch and is now used by the CTA Yellow Line. The large building in the background was a manufactured gas plant for the Public Service Company of Northern Illinois.
The following map of the Weber Branch shows the gas manufacturing plant was on the southwest corner of Oakton Street and McCormick Boulevard.
David Daruszka commented on Brian's post
The Weber Branch derived its name from Barney F. Weber who owned a brickyard. He founded the Chicago & West Ridge Railroad, that consisted of track but no rolling stock. It was operated under agreement by the C&NW, but was not part of the Mayfair Cutoff. It connected with the C&NW at Weber Yard. So Mr. Weber's name somehow become associated with the yard and the branch line. Information from the Rogers Park Historical Society newsletter "The Historian".

In the following 1938 aerial, I include the gas holder shown on the above map near the lower-right corner, a gas holder I noticed in the upper-right corner, the gas plant and the O'Brien WRP (Water Reclamation Plant).
1938 Aerial Photo from ILAP

Zoomed in on the gas manufacturing plant.
The C&NW bridge still exists.

1928 Evanston Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
Chicago obviously zoned land by the railroad for industrial use, which was more filled in by 1953.
1953 Evanston Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

Sunday, May 24, 2020

CGW Chicago Freight House and Tripoli Factory

(Satellite, as with most freight houses in Chicago, it is long gone)

Larry Retzl posted
Photo of Grand Central Station .
Thomas White I took one from about the same angle - 45th floor of the Board of Trade building...takes hanging out the open window.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Larry's post
And of some freight houses. I tried boosting the shadows and reducing the highlights.

1953 Englewood Quadrangle @ 1:24,000


Street View

I posted the above images with the comment:
The first photo was posted by Larry Retzl. The second one is after I brightened the shadows and darkened the highlights. Not only does this photo put the headhouse, tower and train shed of Grand Central Station in context, it shows where the Chicago Great Western Freight House was. But what is the tall building on the other side of the river? Beyond that building was Pennsy's freight house. Chicago & Alton had a freight house out-of-frame to the right. (It still stands,,-87.6355206,186a,35y,270h,44.97t/data=!3m1!1e3) Was the building north of Polk Street another C&A facility?I noticed the two barges parked by the former location of the CGW freight house. So after 70 years, the Grand Central Station land will be more than a weed field.
Rick La Fever That tall building is the Union Station Power House, I think.
That might explain the barges too. They brought in coal for the boilers.
Timothy Leppert That powerhouse was once owned by Thomas Edison and the Steam it produced drove steam engines in the basement of Union Station that ran large electric generators. Last time I was down there they were still there.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Rick's comment on Dennis' post
The barges are contemporary. It is not unusual for a contractor to bring in barges for a riverside development, especially to hold a crane. In fact, it looks like they are building a crane on the northern one. Sometimes the crane is already assembled when they bring it in.

Dennis DeBruler commented on his post
I meant the building directly across the river. Although the power house running generators in the basement of Union Station is interesting. I always assumed the pipes you see along Taylor Street Bridge in old photos was for steam heating in Union Station. I also assumed that Pennsy used the steam in their coach yard since the power plant is so far south of Union Station. I know CB&Q also had a power plant down around 14th Place and Canal. And of course they also had big coach yards down there. The Union Station power house is still standing, but I saw an article that Amtrak wants to tear it down in favor of a parking lot.!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...
Tom Skowronski One of them was 310 W. Polk, home of the "Play Tripoli" sign painted on the elevator penthouse. I was in there in the mid 70s, and they actually manufactured the Tripoli game there. Those towers were torn down in the late 80s-early 90 as part of the new Main Post Office project.
Dennis DeBruler So the buildings were effectively high-rise factories.

Dennis DeBruler commented on his post
The shadows indicate not only were the skinny rectangle and trapezoid on the topo map tall, they both had towers.

Patrick McNamara commented on Dennis' post
Geez, Dennis - gazing at SHADOWS from 1200 feet ? Here's a photo from the early 20s with your mystery buildings a bit more visible.
Dennis DeBruler And it has a nice view of Grand Central and LaSalle Stations and several freight houses. Wolf Point looks naked without the Merchandise Mart.
William Shapotkin Looks like the Post Office (betw Van Buren and Harrison) has not yet been built. GREAT PHOTO!
Patrick McNamara William Shapotkin = But that part that is in the photo is still there !
William Shapotkin The photo was probably taken 1925-28. The present-day Union Station opened May 16, 1925, but construction of the Mart (construction began August 16, 1928) has not yet started.

Dennis DeBruler commented on his post
The first phase of the old post office was built in 1922. That building became the east side of the 1934 building. Unfortunately, the City of Chicago has broken my reference:
Photo from Page 14 of
Mark Kocol Dennis DeBruler - is this today's view?
Dennis DeBruler Mark Kocol Yes,-87.6368263,257a,35y,210.46h,44.94t/data=!3m1!1e3