Saturday, October 25, 2014

Railroad Crossing War and Grand Crossing

(David Daruszka's Blog; ChicagologySatellite)

A construction photo;  1909;  1909; 1909; overpass construction: 1909, 1909

David Daruszka updated
Postcard image of Grand Crossing known as "The Most Dangerous Crossing in the World", and the location of Chicago's first fatal railroad collision.
Dennis DeBruler This is the first view I've seen of this crossing that includes the gasometer (gas holder). It was gone by 1938 even though there were still a lot of other gasometers in the city in 1938. The elevation of the tracks and the addition of the NKP connection must have needed that land.

Cindy Gray posted
Update: Robert Daly posted
"The Most Dangerous Crossing In The World"-- a postcard mailed July 17 1910 of Grand Crossing on Chicago's South Side. The Illinois Central crossed the Lake Shore (NYC) and Fort Wayne (PRR) at grade. Crossing was grade-separated in 1910.
Paul Jevert Looking Northwest

Paul Jevert also posted
I.C. Grand Crossing junction at 75th and So. Chicago Avenue in 1910 before the Chicago Terminal Grade separation and Electrification Project of 1922 ! The "Worlds Most Dangerous Railroad Crossing" ! View looks Northwest indicating I.C. trackage left to right at 30 degrees. Pennsylvania trackage in foreground and LS&MS in background.
David Daruszka I would imagine that prior to the grade separation this had all been interlocked with signals.
Paul Jevert "NO" Interlocked signals ! STOP boards displayed in all four directions and instructions in "Special Instructions" section of each Road's TT pertaining to protocol at Grand Crossing Junction. "High Ball" from Gate tender, yellow flag by day and yellow lamp by night, northward, green flag by day, green lantern by night, southward was required in direction of move in track gauge required to proceed. His shanty is in center of view. Each Road had their own telegrapher on duty at their respective towers and telephone communication after 1900.The Chicago Terminal tracks weren't "Automatic Block Signaled" until 1892 in time for the "Columbian Exposition" of 1893. Suburban trains were run with train orders or TT schedule until electrification.
David Daruszka I find it hard to fathom that this remained an non-interlocked junction until electrification.
Jon Roma I thought the grade separation at Grand Crossing was completed in 1912, 14 years before electrification.
David Daruszka Jon Roma is correct. The grade separation took place in 1912.
Dennis DeBruler Originally, both the Rock Island and a corporate predecessor to the NYC simply assumed they had the right of way. But after a wreck killed 18 people in 1853, they invented the stop-and-proceed rule.
Bob Lalich Also, before grade separation, the NKP crossed the PFW&C tracks to connect to the LS&MS. I believe the crossings and connection were east of the IC but I have not seen documentation supporting that.

Paul Jevert posted again
Illinois Central R.R. , Lake Shore & Michigan Southern R.R. , Pennsylvania R.R. , Nickel Plate R.R. "GRAND CROSSING Junction located at 7500 south and So. Chicago Avenue. The railroad crossings were grade separated and re-leveled to eliminate this confusing mess by 1912.
Sophia Plummer: Wow, wonder how it looks today!
Sophia Plummer
 The toll bridge and NS (former Pennsy and NYC) go over CN/IC, which goes over the city streets.

William Shapotkin posted
The name "Grand Crossing" comes from the fact that at one time, the six-track IC was crossed diagonally (at grade) by the two-track Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later New York Central) and the three-track Pittsburgh Ft Wayne & Chicago (later Pennsylvania Railroad). Thus, each [street]car had to x/o all ELEVEN TRACKS to continue its journey thru the area! The city forced a grade-separation (completed in 1916), which made Grand Crossing not-so-grand.
Bob Lalich Also, before grade separation, the NKP crossed the PFW&C tracks to connect to the LS&MS. I believe the crossings and connection were east of the IC but I have not seen documentation supporting that.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob Lalich's comment on William's post
This diagram shows the old connection on the east side.
But there are a couple of photos in these notes that show that there was a connector in the southwest quadrant as well.

The first railroad from Chicago was the Galena and Chicago Union. But soon after G&CU was started, the Illinois Central's branch from Centralia to Chicago and the Rock Island were also started. The original plan for the IC route was to build west of Lake Calumet and proceed due north to the Chicago River. But before the IC could implement this plan, the Rock Island interests had bought "considerable acreage along the very right-of-way that the Illinois Central had hoped would provide a route to the heart of Chicago. Not only had they bought up much of the needed land, but they had also immediately begun to build." (ChiRail, p32)

The first two railroads to build to Chicago from the East were the Michigan Central (MC) from Detroit and the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana (MS&NI) from Toledo (later part of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern then NYC). Both of these railroads intended to shorten the trip for people and cargo coming from the Erie Canal to the I&M Canal by eliminating the circuitous water route up Lake Huron and then down Lake Michigan. But their entry into Chicago was stymied because there was no provision for granting charters to out-of-state railroads. To get around this issue, the IC agreed to award trackage rights to MC while the RI granted the MS&NI access to Chicago. Since the RI was the first line constructed, MS&NI was the first eastern railroad to enter Chicago on Feb 20, 1852. (ChiRail, p32)

Since the Rock Island beat the IC to the preferred route, the IC obtained permission from Chicago to build north through Lake Michigan. At that time, Michigan Avenue was at the shoreline, and it needed a breakwater that the IC would provide when it built its railroad in the lake. But to get to the lakeshore, the IC had to cross the branch line that the RI had built southeast from 63rd street to the Indiana border for the MS&NI. Since the IC was allied with the MC, an enemy of the MS&NI, it was denied permission to cross the MS&NI trackage. And to emphasize the point, they posted a guard to prevent unauthorized construction activity. They expected the IC to build an overpass. But the IC was not going to spend money on an overpass, one night they simply kidnapped the guard and by dawn a frog was installed. Each railroad ran its trains with the assumption that they had the right-of-way until 1853 when a wreck killed 18 people. The rule was established that a train had to stop at a crossing and proceed only after verifying that there were no other trains approaching. (ChiRail, p 42-43)

The MS&NI became part of the New York Central System (and now the Norfolk Southern) and those tracks were later elevated because of Chicago city ordinances requiring grade separations between railroads and streets. But it appears that somehow the IC dodged the requirement to elevate its tracks. Looking at a sattellite map, the NS/NYC tracks now go over the CN/IC tracks. (Update: looking again, the CN/IC tracks are elevated towards the north.)

The crossing is known as the Grand Crossing. I can't get this view because this looks like the photographer  is on CN/IC property. Checking a satellite image, I was surprised that most of these IC tracks are still present.
.pdf copy from 1915 Smoke Abatement Report, p. 488
Bob Lalich found a Barriger photo from the perspective of the Pennsy tracks.

David Daruska posted in Facebook

David Daruszka posted
Northbound on Metra Electric Track 4, approaching 75th Street. The bridges are former Pennsy and NYC heritage. posted
Illinois Central's train #1, the southbound "City of New Orleans," is seen here at the Grand Crossing overpass in Chicago on March 31, 1964. Roger Puta photo.
David Daruszka posted
Grand Crossing
Jon Roma commented on a post
An article about Grand Crossing from the Chicago Daily Tribune, July 21, 1907
David Daruszka The news article is inaccurate in that the IC was not the first railroad through Grand Crossing. It was the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and they refused to allow the IC to cross them. The IC cut in their crossover in the dead of night.
A comment on a posting: Lawrence Smith since we're on the subject of the NKP and Grand Crossing - here r some links to old engineering articles on the original track elevation project - and

Signalling Timeline indicates the "gate signal" was developed in 1860.

Railway Age Gazette article abouth the elevation project.  (eBook)  (source)

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