Sunday, August 24, 2014

PRR 1915 South Branch Bridge (Canal Street)

Update: pictures of the west side and video links.
"South Branch Bridge" is the correct name. [posting]
Some of the pictures of the bridge and interlock railroad towers include the bridge.

20150513 1385c, East Elevation
(Bridge HunterHistoric Bridges; HAERJohn Marvig3D satellite)
These pictures were taken from the Ping Tom Memorial Park. Unless specified otherwise, facts came from the Railway Age Gazette and Engineering Record provided by Historic Bridges.

The Canal Street RR Bridge was built in 1914 to replace a swing bridge. Its 185' tall towers can lift the 1600-ton, 273' long lift span to provide 130' feet of clearance.
East Elevation North Tower

Each tower is a trapezoid rather than a rectangle because one set of sides are parallel to the tracks but the other set is parallel to the river. The 47.33-degree skew is easier to see in a satellite image. You can see three of the four 15', 31-ton sheaves at the top that each carry 16 2.25" plow-steel cables that connect the lift span with the counterweight. Note the six chains hanging below the counterweight. As the bridge is lifted, the counterweight goes down and the links at the bottom of the chain move their weight from the counterweight to the tower. This removes their weight from the counterweight to compensate for the additional weight of the longer cables on the counterweight side and the reduced weight of the shorter cables on the span side.

I see eight cables running between the lift span and the tower. They are attached halfway up the tower so that they are long enough to still reach the span when it is at the top of the tower.

The building on top of the span houses the machinery in a structure on top of the span. The control room was below the machinery room. The windows are boarded up because control of the bridge was transferred to a nearby interlocking tower a long time ago. I can't determine if control of the bridge has now been transferred to a CTC complex.
If so, they should remove the first option from the sign. The machinery turns the windlass drums on the sides of the building (detail picture below). The machinery room contains two 300-hp electric motors which can raise the span to its maximum height of 111 feet in 45 seconds. It also has a 50-hp gasoline engine for emergency service which can lift the span in about 10 minutes.

I zoomed into the top part of the north end of the span to show a deflection sheave. Two 1.125" down-haul cables go from the bottom of the tower up around the top side of the deflection sheave then over to the top of the drum. Two up-haul cables go from the top of the tower around the bottom side of the deflection sheave then over to the bottom of the drum. Note that as one pair of cables winds onto its drum, the other pair is played out. (Item 7 in MechanicalLift) All four drums on the sides of the machinery room are connected by gears to the motor so that the turning of the drums is synchronized and the length of the cables remains consistent for all four corners of the span. Note that this picture was taken before the walls of the control building were sheathed.

MechanicalLift


When I took the picture on the right, I thought I was taking a nature+technology photo. But I include it this post because it more clearly depicts the tower's trapezoidal shape than is revealed by a more traditional elevation photo.


Someone was doing some work on the south tower. Note that there are men walking on both the near and far first-level horizontal members. And I believe the boat under the tower is also part of the maintenance effort. Note in the above "East Elevation of North Tower" picture and in this closeup of the south tower that the piers on the east side are of excessive width. This was so that it could support the west side of another double-track bridge if train traffic grew to justify the construction of a second bridge.

I wasn't going to include this detail view until I spotted the bracket above the top guide roller. Since I could not figure out what the bracket was for, I zoomed in on it (below). Since the bridge is down, the bracket is in its "locked" position. Before the bridge is raised, it would have to swing out. These locks are interlocked with the train signalling system. That is, the bridge cannot be unlocked unless the signal is displaying "Stop." Furthermore, the signal cannot display "Go" unless the bridge is locked. And current cannot be supplied to the motors unless the bridge is unlocked. (MechanicalLift) Note the video camera that allows the operator can see how far the bridge still has to go down to allow the bracket to swing back in when the bridge is being lowered.
Note the video camera as well as the "locked fully down bracket"


The two maintenance workers allow you to correlate these two pictures of the south tower that I took as my "parting shots."



Photo from HAER ILL, 16-CHIG, 152--9 from il0706


JotWSoE
They used a climbing derrick to build the towers. After the towers were built, they built the lift span in the raised position so that shipping would not be obstructed by the construction. The 1600-ton lift span was the heaviest in the world when the bridge was constructed. As the following photos illustrate, an A-derrick was used on each side to build the false work and the span until the derricks were close enough that they could cooperate to raise the center truss members. The photos also show the swing bridge that is being replaced by this 1914 lift bridge. It was important to not drop anything during construction because over 300 trains a day used this crossing. (Item 33 in MechanicalLift)

Railway Age Gazette
Railway Age Gazette

JotWSoE
The Government required 120' of clearance, but to align the horizontal chords of the falsework with those of the tower, the span was built at 130' of clearance. (Item 29 in MechanicalLift)

It bridge had to do over 15,000 lifts a year, but many were for just a few feet to clear tugs. (Item 34 in MechanicalLift)
Later, when I circled back to the bridge because I heard train horns, I noticed that there was a boat parked at the dock. Looking at some other pictures I took that day, he appeared by 11:10. I asked if they were waiting for the bridge to go up. They were, but no one was answering their call on the marine radio. So I went up to 18th Street to kill time waiting for them to get a response. Unfortunately, my battery ran out at 12:03. I was kinda glad to have an excuse not to wait longer because if they had been ignored for almost an hour, who knows how much longer they would be ignored. (Update: The clearance of the bridge is 10.5 feet. Federal law prohibits opening the bridge if a train is approaching from either side and is scheduled to arrive in ten minutes or less. (The Chicago River An illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways, 2nd Edition, 2006, David M. Solzman, p.94) However, the were not enough trains crossing to justify having to wait hours.)

JotWSoE
The towers were designed to accommodate plans to later raise the track elevation in this area by 20 to 25 feet. I'll bet these guys wished the plan to raise the tracks had been realized. They confirmed that this is the lowest bridge on the river and the only one that they can't clear.
One of the things I did on 18th street was get some portal shots of this bridge.


Others share my interest in this bridge. Mickey B. Photography has artistic and traditional portal photos. Joe Balynas also has a portal picture of note. I found a video of the bridge being raised and lowered for a sailboat migration between the harbor and the boatyards and then an Amtrak train. And I discovered that if you search Flickr with "chicago canal street bridge" you get a lot more pictures of this bridge including another video. Plus other images including an incredible wide-angle view of a sailboat migration to the boatyards on the main stem of the Chicago River.

I  end with the first picture I took when I got to the park because it captures the context of the bridge in the Springtime.

20150502 0665

.pdf copy from 1915 Smoke Abatement Report, p. 490
This picture was probably taken from a interlocking tower that is either gone or that I will never have access to. And trees would now block this view even if the tower was accessible. Since the view is irreplaceable, I include it even though this 1915 report does not have the resolution that we now expect for a picture.
Steven J. Brown shared his posting
Steven's comment:
I spent my 30th birthday aboard the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington DC shortly before the dome cars/heritage equipment were replaced with Superliners. I stayed awake in the dome the entire trip! This is a view of the train departing Chicago crossing the Chicago River at 21st Street - April 7, 1992.
Update: pictures of the bridge interlocking tower have additional views of the south end of the bridge from locations that I'm sure that I cannot legally access. The south side of this bridge also shows up in the background of many pictures of the 21 Street Crossing. A few bad railfans and 9/11 have made it much more difficult to capture views of railroad facilities.

Jozef Bernatak posted seven pictures to a public Facebook group including some with the lift span up.
Mark Hinsdale posted
"The Gray Brick..."
Minimally attired Iowa Pacific #4144 doesn't do much for the otherwise matched appearance of Chicago-Indianapolis Train #850, the "Hoosier State," but it's been getting the assigned task done for the past few weeks. Seen here this afternoon, clearing 21st Street, and about to diverge onto the old Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, once the busy conduit for all of the six tenant roads' passenger trains that utilized Chicago's Dearborn Station.
[It is easy to get pictures of a portal view of the north tower. This is the first time I have a seen a portal view of the south tower.]
Howard Keil posted
[It is interesting how the black tresses were exposed as white in this view. I nice closeup of the V-lattice used to make compression truss members from rolled steel components.]
Patrick McNamara commented on the above posting
[The bridge is in the lower-left corner. The big building is the one you see on the left of Howard's photo. I believe it was a cold-storage building. It has been converted to condos. You can see the vacant land left by tearing down Grand Central Station in 1971 and all of the tracks that serviced that station and La Salle Station.]
Steven J. Brown posted
The Hoosier State is arriving Chicago for one of the last times with Iowa Pacific equipment. Crossing the Chicago River at Lumber Street - February 24, 2017.
Steven J. Brown posted
This is my favorite bridge. Over the years, I've had a close personal relationship with this bridge. I spent a lot of time here, day and night, and have photos of all kinds of trains passing through and around it. When attending UIC, I would drive over here and study. I've always known it as the 21st Street Bridge but officially its called the Canal Street Bridge or Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge #458. It became a designated Chicago Landmark in 2007. It is the only lift bridge on the Chicago River. I have a lot of images in the scanner now of it and was preparing some sort of then and now.
However, I did an internet search on the bridge just now to get some facts straight and a slew of great images from the 40's, 50's and 60's came up. It reinforced the sentiment a lot of foamers express: I was born to late, everything I have is crap, I'm just going to pack it up and go to bed.
Anyway: I suspect this is the Amtrak Southwest Chief on the bridge departing Chicago on February 8, 1991.
Bob Poortinga I worked at South Branch Bridge as an operator/bridge tender a few times in the early '70s and got to run the bridge a few times. I even got to ride the it once when I was 'posting' (learning) the job. Did you know that South Branch Bridge is the world's longest span vertical lift bridge?
Harold J. Krewer Bob Poortinga, it probably was the longest when built but the New Haven's vertical lift bridge at Buzzard's Bay on Cape Cod is the current record holder with a lift span over 550 feet long.
Gordon Leonard posted
February 1976, while prowling around 18th St., the bridge went up just enough to clear the tug.
[Now that they have remoted control of the bridge to Amtrak's dispatch center, I've noticed that they raise the bridge much higher than needed. The bride was still going up even though the boat had already passed well beyond the bridge. Evidently they don't have cameras to give them views of the boat going under the bridge. Of course, with the demise of heavy passenger traffic, mail, express packages (REA), and LCL (less than car-load) freight; the number of trains crossing this bridge is now lower than 1976.]
Gordon Leonard posted
Back in Feb. 1976, 18th St. was a magnet for railfans and photogs. The bridge, the trackplans, the yards and the sheer number of trains could coerce many of us to spend a Sunday camera shoot on the near southside. It never crossed our minds we were trespassing, since we were never hassled at all by anyone.
Steven Kakoczki I got thrown out of there in the mid 90s......
Mark Hinsdale posted
"Highly Unusual"
A one-off Union Pacific train moving 60 empty bottom drop hoppers from Global One Intermodal Terminal to Yard Center in South Hollland passed through "MH" this afternoon. In my nearly six years here, I've not seen a similar UP movement use this routing, and am not yet aware of exactly what circumstances precluded it.. Kind thanks to Marshall Beecher for the heads up.
Bill Molony posted
This is an Associated Press photograph and caption of a fatal accident that took place on January 7, 1957.
We have this original photograph in our archives, but we do not have any other information in regards to this derailment.
Paul Jevert Lumber Street Switchtenders Shanty ! Switchtender fatality.
David DaruszkaGroup Admin The train probably picked the switch into the Pennsy coach yard.
[It takes something exceptional to get a photo of the north side of the bridge.]
Todd Pendleton posted
Inbound Amtrak train, Sep. 19, 1996, Chicago, Ill.
Steven Holding A Bio-Fred on the rear??
Earl Sproule Jr. Been there done that,but I wouldn't recamend it!
Dennis DeBruler commented on Todd's posting
David Daruszka I was thinking he would have to use an end ladder. That is why I mentioned the clearance issue. It does not look like there is enough room between the car and bridge to safely ride on a side ladder. Although that bridge is big, maybe there is. It makes me appreciate why I sometimes see a "No Clearance" sign posted on the edge of a building next to an industrial siding.
David Daruszka I forgot that part. Clearance is an issue and the end ladder would have been a better alternative than riding in the center of the car.
Fred Glasper posted three photos with the comment: "Spend the day on my boat moored next to the Penn Railroad Vertical Lift Bridge in Chicago. Works good, needs painting."
James Boudreaux What hangs below the equipment room is the original operators' shanty. Since it gives a clear view of both the South Branch River and trackage north and south,the operator made the lifts there electrically.That room also had a small coal stove for heat.
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One of the photos posted by Coal & Steel Railroad Photography
[Looking West from an Amtrak train.]
Thomas Manz posted
[Taken from the top of one of the towers.

Chuck Belanger commented on a video of a (long) inbound Amtrak train crossing the bridge made from a boat while they were waiting for the bridge to go up. This was one of three photos of the bridge going down. The comments also discuss the procedure for a boat having the bridge raised.
Carsey Stamos posted
Figured you guys would like this views as well

MWRD posted

Mike McMahon posted
Military transport through Chinatown right now
Mac English That train came thru Galesburg, IL from the BNSF...
Wayne Koch posted
PRR 3760 5-1-1942.
Matthew Storino posted
It may not be an old photo, but I couldn't rightly call myself a Chicago Railroad Historian without making mention of the fact that the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge (now called the Canal Street railroad bridge) was completed 104 years ago this past Monday, July 30th, 2018. I took this photo back in 2014.
Mark Jones In the hot — everyday over 100– month of August 1988, this bridge got “Stuck” in the up position for over a week. Amtrak had to detour around St Charles Airline— yet another reason to keep that SCAL trackage in place in case something like that happens again.Lawrence Smith sooner or later the urban planners will win - they want to open up the neighborhoods S of the SCAL to development but the SCAL track elevation is an issue - a natural wall. If/When the CREATE funds arrive for Grand Crossing improvements the wall will come down.Mark Jones That’s too bad— predictable, and sadly not preventable given how powerful these developer forces are. Infrastructure — roads and RR’s— seems to take a backseat to the all important task of building more houses and developments that people can not afford. Then, there’s not enough capacity to handle them as they shuttle to/from work.... Sadly, the way of the entire country now.
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak International departs Chicago for Toronto at 21st Street - September 12, 1988. The International used to alternate VIA/Amtrak equipment every other day. VIA Rail F40PH-2 6407 was built in 1986).
Dennis DeBruler It shows the one-story bridge tower by the bridge and the interlocking tower a little to the east.
Carl Venzke posted
Pennsylvania Railroad, South Branch Chicago River Bridge, Spanning South Branch of Chicago River Bridge east of Canal Street, Chicago, Cook County, IL - photo by Jet Lowe, undated
icceo
[While researching the ownership to comment on a duplicate Bridge Hunter web page, I came across this page to confirm it is owned by Amtrak. Amtrak has done other rehab work as well.]

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David Vondra posted
Steven J. Brown shared
NOW AND THEN!
Twenty-eight years in-between.
Amtrak on Pennsylvania Lift Bridge #458 (built 1914) over the Chicago River - May 13, 2019 and February 8, 1991.

Patrick Finn commented on Steven's share
love that bridge... Grandad worked for the Pennsy...

MWRD posted

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Texas Eagle #22 with P42 22 crossing the Chicago River on the way to Union Station in Chicago - May 13, 2019.

Gill Welsch posted the comment:
Hi, Everyone. I had to go to Chicago for a business trip on Monday. My colleague and I got to ride Amtrak's Saluki from Carbondale. :-) The train took a slightly different route to Union Station. Rather than crossing the Chicago River on the Saint Charles Air Line Bridge, the train passed by some lovely parks and crossed the river on the Canal Street bridge (I hope that's what it's called). When we left on Wednesday's Illini, we crossed the river on the St. Charles Air Line, which is normal.
Does any one know why we would have detoured on Monday? Mind you, I'm NOT complaining. I really enjoyed the new scenery. Also, we still arrived EARLY. I'm just curious.
Mark Rickert No detour, they use both routes, the route I want to say is ex PRR for most part at the north end and operated by the NS.
Bob Friedlander There is no connection from the IC main to the NS main that goes by Sox Park. Guess the NKP had a connector from the Pennsy by Sox Park that connected to the IC main at Grand Crossing that has been long gone. Have no idea how the Salukis trains would come down the NS main line!
Dennis DeBruler They would be using the St. Charles Air Line to the beginning of the IC branch that goes to Freeport, IL.
https://www.google.com/.../@41.8602474,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
They go on that branch a little bit until they get to the connector that is under the Orange Line.
https://www.google.com/.../@41.8540203,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
The lovely park would be Ping Tom Memorial Park.


Barry Butler photos:

Four photos by Sibio (source)

Patrick McBriarty's page   The clearance of this bridge is 10 feet, 6.5' below the standard.

2006 Flickr "before sunup"

Fred Van Dorpe posted 8 photos and a nice description including "after it was built, the bridge was crossed by about 300 trains per day on its 2 tracks, and raised for river traffic about 75 times."
(Facebooked)



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