Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tall and Short Power Line Towers

During the same day I came across the tallest and shortest electric transmission towers that I have ever seen.

(Update: my first post about power lines)

First was the tall towers along the trail by the I-355 Des Plaines Valley River Bridge.  Note that the bridge itself is 80-100 feet in the air. So those towers are probably around 200 feet.

Note that the ladder has the pegs at a 90 degree angle instead of 180 degrees. I wonder if the workers  can unlock something and turn both rows of pegs 45 degrees toward the tower. And, as I expected, the permanent ladder does not go all the way down to the ground. Since the workers would have a key to the access gate, it would be easy for them to truck in a ladder to the site to start the climb.
The base of those towers are over 6 feet in diameter.

An overview shot shows the towers that transition the line up to the tallest towers. And the shot below shows the steel truss towers that were used before they built the bridge.
20140820 0056

I spent some time trying to figure out why they went over the bridge instead of under it. I've seen special low towers used tow lines cross each other so that one line can go under the other. Did the forest preserve insist that they stay in their old footprint and the bridge designers could not move the pier a little bit one way or another? And then I remembered that the bridge had to be raised 10-15 feet to clear the flight range of the Emerald Dragonfly. Those wires are carrying a high enough voltage that the dragonflies probably need not fly directly into a wire to have a bad day. Thus the wires went over the bridge instead of under to avoid impacting the dragonflys.

Update: a view of the towers from a bluff.

20140820 0236
Later that day when I was in Lemont getting pictures of the other high-bridge in the area, I was down by the canal next to the Santa Fe bridge and I spotted an old, rusty tower that is no longer being used. Since the insulator had only a couple of discs, it was a rather low voltage line. It looks more like today's distribution (what goes down your backyard) voltage of 12 kVA  than a transmission voltage. So the lines were really old. Thus I think these towers were part of the original line that carried power from the Lockport Powerhouse to Chicago. The powerhouse became operational in 1907. AC power and long distance transmission was still rather new. (Update: the towers are bigger than I guessed. They are 60' tall and the insulators have a diameter of 14" and are rated for 60 kVA. The line ran at 44 kVA. [ provided by Bob Lalich (Facebook)] And this reference confirms this was the sanitary district power line and that it was bleeding edge in its day.)

I've been down by the bridge several times. In fact, it is the first place I went when I retired and started this blog. I'm embarrassed that I never noticed this tower before. I looked around to see if I could find more towers. There is another one upstream from here. I got up on the approach for the old Lemont Road Bridge and found the following view that includes both towers. You can see from the bridge and the tops of the barges that these towers are located close to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Later, when I was on Canal Bank Road between Harlem Avenue and a Santa Fe Railroad Bridge, I spotted another old tower in the tree line between the road and the canal. So I drove the whole distance looking for more. I found just three. And they were adjacent. This shot was looking upstream.

20140906 0148c
Next to an industrial ruin, I took a closeup of the upstream tower and then the two downstream towers. I had a hard time getting a view of the upstream tower that was not obstructed by trees.

Allison Hirsch Fore shared
Update: MWRD's comment:
Historical photo of the week: A brave man stands at the top of an electric cable pole near the Romeo Road Bridge in Lockport on August 30, 1907. Power generated at the MWRD's Lockport Powerhouse was transferred through cables along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to a control station in Pilsen.
This confirms my theory that these towers were part of the CS&SC project.
Dennis DeBruler shared a MWRD posting
Historical photo of the week: The 8-track rail bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Western Ave is seen opened for passage of tanks bound for Dickinson Seed Company on February 27, 1917.
[Note the two transmission lines on the left. (Facebooked)]

MWRD posted
Today's photo was taken during documentation of North Shore Channel electrical transmission towers and shows a view of Lawrence Avenue, looking east from an alley west of Kedzie Avenue, in Chicago on August 7, 1923

Photo by Wallace W. Abbey
ATSF, Chicago, Illinois, 1946
Santa Fe Railway passenger train "First 20," the first section of the eastbound Chief, comes across Bridge 9C east of McCook behind FT diesel no. 164 on July 28, 1946. Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey, © 2015, Center for Railroad Photography and Art. Abbey-02-062-03
[So the wires were still up in 1946.]
Dennis DeBruler shared [permanence of link is experimental]
This is the first photo I've seen where the old power line has wires. It was one of the first high-voltage lines in America, and I presume the world. The power line went from the powerhouse in Lockport to downtown Chicago and it was built by the sanitary district.
...See More
Dennis commented on his post

Richard Mead commented on Dennis' post
Here are the original pinwheel generators.

Richard Mead commented on Dennis' post
The controls at the Lockport plant.

And at the Chicago end, they had a switchyard enclosed in a building.

 Another view of the power line and BNSF/Santa Fe 9C Bridge.
Photo by Wallace W. Abbey
ATSF, Chicago, Illinois, 1946
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway passenger train "Second 4," the second section of the eastbound California Limited led by 4-6-2 steam locomotive no. 3404, crossing the Sanitary District canal at Bridge 9C east of McCook on its way into Chicago on June 23, 1946. Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey, © 2015, Center for Railroad Photography and Art. Abbey-01-055-03

MWRD posted
Today's photo was taken to document power lines and shows a southeasterly view of Elston Avenue near Western Avenue in Chicago on January 31, 1916.
Dennis DeBruler I'm aware of a MWRD power line that went from the Lockport Powerhouse to a substation at 31st and Western Ave. Was this power line on the north side of town also a MWRD facility?
[Contemporary view]

MWRD posted
One of a series of photographs documenting North Shore Channel transmission towers for the Electrical Department of the Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD) in Chicago on August 7, 1923. This image shows a view from the north side of Lawrence Avenue looking south at an alley west of Kedzie Avenue. Electricity generated at the MWRD's Lockport Powerhouse was transferred through cables along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to a control station in Pilsen and sold for street lighting. In the 1930s the MWRD began using the electricity to operate wastewater treatment plants and currently it is sold back to the “grid.”

MWRD posted
A soil boring crew works along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal collecting samples for the foundation of the north abutment of the soon-to-be-built Cicero Ave bridge on August 12, 1921.
Dennis DeBruler The 1921 photo provides a nice view of the powerline that went from the Lockport Powerhouse to downtown. Some of the towers are still left. But it looks like BNSF may have removed this one that was still standing in 2014.
License: Creative Commons Attribution: Dennis DeBruler (CC BY) [And photo 0236 was included]

Some people can take pictures of bridges that are photographic art. I was experimenting with pictures of power line towers and piers. It looks like I better stick to taking pictures for documentation, not art.

There is a race for the tallest towers in the Chicagoland area.
Kevin A Heggi posted
I have to modify some towers for my home layout, I really dig them going under like that.....In case you're wondering....I was on top of the sintering plant at LTV/Youngstown/Mittal/ISG/Mark MFG.......
Gregory Bailey The yellow head towers were owned by USS. They went from Gary Works to South Works. They supplied 25 cycle produced at Gary & fed South Works.
[More about the 25-cycle power]

The tower Kevin caught was east of a pipe bridge. But the one below that is east of the canal is the only one that showed up properly. There are several of these towers over the EJ&E's lakefront route. Note that US Steel owned EJ&E so it makes sense that it built its power line over land it already owned.
3D Satellite
Dennis DeBruler commented on Kevin's post
So there are still some small truss spans left in the Chicagoland area,,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3


David Daruszka posted four photos with the comment: "More photos from my Hoosier Hinterland Holiday. I'm a sucker for high voltage towers."
Dennis DeBruler You stopped more than once. I think the second pair is carrying a million volts. The use of four wires per circuit is used to help contain the electric field of that voltage. The industry seems to have stopped at a million volts.




Bob Lalich commented on David's post
I know you saw high voltage transmission towers everywhere growing up near Niagara Falls. In the South Chicago area, there was a line which went along the PRR SC&S line for most of the latter's length. I came to discover that it was one of the earliest so called Super Power transmission lines built in the 1920s by Samuel Insull to interconnect the generating stations in the Chicago region.
Here is a mid-1950s photo of the SC&S at MP2, showing the towers of Insull's super power line. This particular design is still found in various places around the region one hundred years later. PRR company photo courtesy Jack Tomisek.

Robby Gragg posted
On 1/21/20 three cascade green BN motors lead L-CHI105 west through Lemont, IL. 2020 or 1998?
Robert Learmont Kudos to the trainmasters who assigned the power and the conductors driving the train.
[A nice view of two of the old towers for the early 20th Century MWRD powerline.]

MWRD posted
Workers on transmission poles along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on November 8, 1917. The exact location is not known. Since 1908, the MWRD's Lockport Powerhouse has been generating electricity by harnessing the 38-foot difference in the water level between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Des Plaines River, channeling the flow of water through turbines. Power generated at the powerhouse was transferred through cables along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to a control station in Pilsen and was originally sold to municipalities for street lighting. In the 1930s the MWRD began using it for power at wastewater treatment plants. Now the electricity is sold back to the “grid.”
Dennis DeBruler: I can see a couple of the steel towers for the powerline in the background.

No comments:

Post a Comment