Thursday, January 15, 2015

Brighton Park Crossing

(CRJSatellite)
A blog posting by a signalling fan.
NorthAmericanInterlockingsphoto
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers

One of my original intentions when I started this blog last May was to document the many railroad junctions in the Chicago area. But you will notice that has not happened so far. One reason is that they have already been documented --- http://www.dhke.com/CRJ/brighton.html. As with bridges, dams, etc., if someone has already documented a subject, it becomes lower priority. But I still want to document them because that forces me to learn about them. Another reason for not visiting junctions and yards myself is that I'm still learning about which ones are safe. And another reason is that I have had a hard time learning exactly which railroad goes where in the Chicago area. But I have found a map that removes this reason. A recent reason is that it is now too cold to do field trips. But when researching coal mines, I came across some 2004 photos that are better than anything I could take because the semaphores were removed in 2007. Since Dave Honan gave me permission to use his photos, I'll write a post with them.

An overview that includes the "tower." Note the semaphores are still present but the new "Darth Vader" signals that will replace them are visible behind the tower.

Photo from Dave Honan

John David posted
This 1992 photograph was taken at a Chicago junction called Brighton Park Crossing.
Trains have enormous difficulty getting from here to there in Chicago and this photo illustrates why: intersections (junctions). When tracks cross over one another in a high traffic area, getting long freight trains through without hitting each other is excruciatingly difficult.
This place was a real anachronism with its shack manned by an operator who controlled the very ancient semaphore signals (with the arm blades that moved up and down to signal trains). The shack and the signals were removed about ten years ago, new signals call the shots now. But the difficulty of moving a lot of long trains through here remains.
At the right you can see the downtown Chicago skyline in background about ten miles away.

Ken Schmidt posted
In an undated photo, Amtrak 309 leads a train up the old GM&O past Brighton Park.
At first, this slide was cast aside because of the processing defect it had. Years later, I changed my mind, but had to data on it.
Mark Schwinn Late 80s/early 90s Texas Eagle
Walter J. Ziarko After the operator gave you a "hand signal", those were the days.
Kevan Davis Inbound to Chicago.

John David posted
In the summer of 2000, I visited a location in Chicago called Brighton Park. This junction was an artifact of days gone by because it used old semaphore signals for a long time. Semaphores are signals that use blades that raise up or down to signal trains (since replaced).
This is a busy intersection because the many freight trains that pass by here have to share the crossing with Amtrak and Metra commuter trains. In this scene, a trio of freight trains waits while a commuter train creeps through. Up above, the Chicago Transit Authority "Red [Orange] Line" passes overhead making scenes like this possible with five trains shown at one time.
Aaron Combs: I was the switchtender there in 96-97-98 on and off. Was a good job when it was cold or hot out vs working in the yards but was the lowest pay. Nights got a little creepy.
Erik Coleman: Quite the contrary to most junctions, this was a non-interlocked crossing, which made it unique. The semaphores and signals were merely manual "flags" for the train, all located on one mast, and were operated manually by a switch tender rather than a traditional operator/leverman. Since they were not interlocked, he had to be careful not to "flag" conflicting moves.
Bob Poortinga: In addition, every train had to come to a complete stop before proceeding.

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RailfanGuide
The crossing sees 10 Amtrak (Lincoln and Texas Eagle Services), 6 Metra (Heritage Corridor), and 5 freight (CN) on the 2 east/west tracks and 55 freight trains (BNSF, CSX, NS, UP) on the 5 north/south tracks.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Photo by Dave Honan
Dave explained:
Amtrak train 303 took a 15-minute hit at Brighton Park when NS 14A lost its air while stretched across the junction. After 14A finally cleared, the Brighton Park operator cleared Amtrak through with the manually-operated semaphore, and the train finally got underway.
Photo by Dave Honan
Note that the semaphore just above the black hopper is down. In fact, the car itself is interesting. It looks like it has a North Western logo but the reporting mark is GCCX. This is one of several marks for the GATX leasing company. When they buy an old hopper to lease, they must adopt the existing number as their own so that the only thing they have to patch is the reporting mark.

In the second photo, note that the semaphore is now up. Looking at a satellite image and the curve in the track, Dave is in the southeast quadrant looking West down the CN/IC/ICG/GM&O/Alton tracks. (I could not find any signaling equipment north of the crossing to include in the satellite image.)
Chicago Rail Junction
[Bill Gustasons's photo is older than Dave's 2004 photos because there are no new signals. The GT livery is a reminder that CN owns IC and GT as well as these GM&O tracks.]

Photo by Dave Honan
Dave caught the cabin and a semaphore stand as well as some of the new signals that were being installed. More on the cabin and semaphores later. Let's sort out the trackage first.

The Brighton Park track diagram that I found in "pennsyrr" is almost at the apex of the junctions complexity. Jon Roma shows a more complicated diagram that has 9 tracks on the south side with the additional track originating from the south wye. There are two signal tenders and three switch tenders, each with their own cabin.

Both diagrams agree that the 3 easternmost tracks crossing the junction are Chicago Junction Railroad tracks. The next two are owned by B&O, and the final three are owned by PCC&StL, which was the Panhandle Route of the Pennsy. Bill mentions a Santa Fe track that goes to Corwith Yard. But it connects to the westernmost track further north.

Judging by the 36th street crossing in a satellite image, NS now uses just two of the CJ tracks, CSX uses the third CJ track and its eastern B&O track, and the western B&O track and two of the panhandle tracks have been removed. And all of the connecting track was removed. This reduced the number of tenders from five to one --- Cabin A. And it reduced the number of diamonds to "only" ten. The CREATE project refers to the north/south tracks as the Western Avenue Corridor.
 
John David posted
This 1999 photograph was taken by me at a Chicago junction called Brighton Park Crossing.
This place was a real anachronism with its shack manned by an operator who controlled the very ancient semaphore signals (with the arm blades that moved up and down to signal trains).
The shack and the signals were removed about 15 years ago, new signals call the shots now.
Edward Coats: I used to love stopping here. Would go down to the Burger King and stock up. Semaphores were replaced with signals in 2007.

Sam Carlson posted
C&NW 8666 at Briton Park, IL on 1-31-95. Train is southward but will soon swing east at CJ and then wind up as an eastward Conrail train. Not positive but I think the train was a Wheatfield Coal.
Craig Cloud: Typo Sam its Brighton.
Sam Carlson: Craig Cloud It's both, depending on whose timetable you're looking at.

The predecessor to the Chicago and Alton was the Joliet and Chicago (J&C) Railroad.  It was completed in 1856 and it was the first railroad through this area. The route towards Chicago that eventually became part of the Pennsy Panhandle Route, the Chicago and Cincinnati Railroad, opened in 1861 and gained access to Chicago by connecting with the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railway at Valparaiso. But the Chicago and Great Eastern Railway (C&GE) opened a line from 12th Street south and southeast to the Chicago and Cincinnati at La Crosse, IN, on Mar. 6, 1865. The segment between La Crosse and Valparaiso was then abandoned. I wonder if this was the first abandonment in the US of a segment that was being used. (There were lots of abandonments because the construction of a route was never finished.)

The C&GE built north just west of Western Avenue because in 1865 that was the western boundry of Chicago. (Pershing Road was the southern boundary.) Looking at a 1868 map, we see this 1868 route crossed the 1856 J&C route. The 1853 fatal accident at the crossing of the Rock Island and IC established the rule that a train had to stop at a crossing and proceed only after verifying that there were no other trains approaching. But when traffic became heavy enough that details such as passenger vs. freight priorities should help decide who proceeds, it was decided that signals should be installed and a human being would staff those signals. And the second railroad being built through the area was responsible for paying for the signals and providing the single tender.

The C&GE was part of a merger to create the Columbus, Chicago and Indiana Central Railway in 1968. This railroad went bankrupt and the assets were part of several routes used to form the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway in 1890. The Pennsy leased the PCC&StL on Jan. 1, 1921 and absorbed in on April 2, 1956. When the PRR was merged with the NYC to form Penn Central, the panhandle route was not included. But it was part of the Conrail merger. When Conrail was split, most of the historically Pennsy routes went to Norfolk Southern. But CSX got the panhandle route. (CSX also got the PFW&C, but since Penn Central and Conrail let it fall apart and CSX had the B&O, it leases the PFW&C to Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern to serve the industries along that route.) But Bill indicates the panhandle track is now owned by NS and that the junction is remotely dispatched from their Ashland Yard. So there is a piece of history that I am missing.



It is not the vast quantity of trackage that makes this junction so unique. It is the fact that 19th-century signalling technology was used until 2007. Quite a few railfans got out to the junction in 2007 to get pictures of the junction while it still had semaphores.

Thomas Merritt ->  Chicagoland Railfan
Update: Thomas' comment:
C&NW Geep hauling stacks, SP, and semaphores: Brighton Park crossing sometime in the mid-90s.

Paul Enenbach caught Erie Lackawanna RS3 1049 crossing the Alton tracks in July, 1969. You can see a couple of the semaphore blades. The color position signal is a reminder that the B&O used to control the Alton. It can show four aspects because you see the backs of 8 lights.
EL delivered to CNW at Wood St Yard and other yards using the CJ. This was likely such a move.
Paul, the CJ and CR&I were separate companies but were operated as one and controlled by NYC. Their histories are complex and confusing, but the CJ was originally the Union Stock Yards & Transit Co. Here is a photo from my collection showing an EL caboose hop getting ready to head home on the CJ after having delivered to CNW at Wood St.
Soo Line ran a daily transfer from Schiller Park to Barr Yard.

Bill Kalkman pos

Bill Kalkman posted
ICG / CR / CSX Brighton Park as it looked in service at 1:15PM on 7/4/81. Brighton Park, IL.
Scott Griffith posted
INSIDE OF BRIGHTON TOWER
Clarence Tamalunas At one time each lever would manually throw switches through connecting pipes.
Bob Lalich The switches at Brighton Park were hand thrown. The levers operated the semaphores.
Earl Wacker All those levers did were operate the semaphores. Brighton Park was never interlocked which is why every train had to stop.
Scott Griffith commented on his posting

John David Larson posted
This 1992 photograph was taken at a Chicago junction called Brighton Park Crossing.
Trains have enormous difficulty getting from here to there in Chicago and this photo illustrates why: intersections (junctions). When tracks cross over one another in a high traffic area, getting long freight trains through without hitting each other is excruciatingly difficult. Simply imagine having to control traffic lights if semi-trailers were 100 trailers long and had to not only navigate intersections, but also meets on one lane roads, faster ones passing slower ones, and the like.
This place was a real anachronism with its shack manned by an operator who controlled the very ancient semaphore signals (with the arm blades that moved up and down to signal trains). The shack and the signals were removed about ten years ago, new signals call the shots now. But the difficulty of moving a lot of long trains through here remains.
Carsey Stamos Is that a gp7 leading a stack train? Rad
Paul Schlichting Carsey Stamos Probably bring cars to NS Ashlsnd from Global one or global two.
Paul Schlichting Would usually not hold you here if you were long because you would block Ash street . However there were stop boards were would have to wait for the semaphore and s hand sign from the operator to proceed.
Terry L. Hunt The place was a throwback to the 1800’s. As a previous poster mentioned not only did one need a signal to precede but also needed a hand signal to proceed from the operator. Only went through there a couple of times but that was enough for me.
Douglas Drexel Mitchell I remember pulling up, and having to toot the horn to let the man in the shanty know you were there.

Ken Schmidt commented on John's post
Brighton Park was one of the more interesting places to watch.
But, on one visit, I did not observe the op having any difficulty moving trains through the interlocking. Yes, it was archaic, and yes the procedure for moving through Brighton Park was a bit slow. However as I sat and watched that afternoon, trains moved along as dispatchers coordinated the traffic. As I remember, the op did not seem to break a sweat as he lined up moves through the interlocker.
Brighton was just as much an antiquity as other locations such as Burnham "trailer" on the SC&S (Nickle Plate/South Shore junction), yet far less complex than places such as State Line just down the road.
Alas, technology has rendered towers redundant, and most have disappeared from the landscape (Jon Roma has done a great job documenting them) as well as those operators who manned them.
Jon Moore Ken Schmidt
These Armstrong levers are still embedded in the weeds by the diamond. They were never removed from the ground.
While I was waiting on a signal, I climbed down and walked around and discovered them.

Eric Royburn posted
Brighton Park was a "back in time" spot within the great Chicagoland area. Here is Amtrak #300 crossing the CSXT(B&OCT) and NS(CJ) at this manual junction. This was a BIG bottleneck, until it was upgraded and now a controlled interlocking. Funny thing, the base of the lever mechanism still is on site to this day. October 18, 1997.Larry Hegstad Cool place to visit, back then. Love the sound of the rods moving to change the semaphores! Or the operator coming out of the shack to flag a train through!
Jon Moore The Armstrong levers are still in the weeds.
Edward Kwiatkowski posted
Brighton Junction, during it's last
full year, as a manual steam era
junction with Semaphore signals.
Chicago Illinois. October 2006.
Closed in June of 2007, and quickly
rebuilt with new crosstracks and
remote dispatching.

Sam Carlson posted
Brighton Park Tower (Chicago) on January 31, 1996.
Harvey Kahler Mandatory stop and proceed with clearance.
Steven Kakoxzki posted
Here ya go, At Brighten Park,IL the famous Panhandle crossing...C&NW 4432 heads south on the B&OCT while bangin the diamonds of the former Chicago & Alton RR.
Ed Miller I Remember Those Days
Steven Kakoczki Yea the Old Campbells Soup factory was a nice backdrop for pictures....
Scott Griffith posted
Love this pic of Brighton interlocker
[Note the Orange Line flyover has been built using the former Sante Fe passenger and Pennsy Panhandle RoWs.]
Steven J. Brown posted
Twenty-nine years ago today:
Conrail SD40's and SD40-2's crossing the GM&O at Brighton Park, Chicago - April 12, 1988. SD40 6268 was built as PC 6268 in 1971 and will become FURX/NREX 3020.
Donny Albertson posted
Definitely one of the more interesting crossings in Chicagoland is Brighton Park, with the diminutive flagman's shanty and all the semaphores! Here's a CNW stack train headed for points east on 28MAR1990 with a nice SD60 head out.
Mark Bilecki Sr. Yes, and so is the Campbell Soup factory in the background.
Mike Croy I was railroading when it looked like that! Campbell Soup has its own yard and the Pennsy assigned a switch job to the plant.
Donny Albertson posted
Another view at Brighton Park with an Amtrak train headed east about to cross the Panhandle, the CJ and is the other one the B&OCT? 28MAR1990
David Daruszka I've pulled up to this spot at night on a train to see both semaphores set to clear for opposing movements. This did not instill great confidence in the abilities of the switch tender.
Donny Albertson Is the Panhandle still in at this location? Didn't look very prosperous back then...
David Daruszka It is now fully interlocked and still sees quite a bit of traffic.
Mark Bilecki Sr. No its gone but 1 track remains for switching out customers on the west side of the Orange line el
Stan Stanovich ...just out of what is now CP Brighton interlocking, which is actually a little further north between here and Ash Street toward the south to serve consignee "Sweetner!!!" North of here, between what is now CP Cermak and Ash Street, it's final stages of construction, it becomes a connection between the former CB&Q(BN) and the Santa Fe!!!
Donny Albertson posted
One more from Brighton Park. A CNW w/b crosses the GM&O on 28MAR1990.
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Lincoln Service #302 at Brighton Park in Chicago - November 17, 2006.
Dennis DeBruler Just about one year left for those semaphores.
David Daruszka It wasn't unusual to pull up and find the semaphores set to clear. Then you'd sit at the stop board until you could convince the switchtender to come out (with the horn) and give you a physical highball. At night you'd have to walk over to the shanty to wake him up, thereby scaring the bejezuz out of him.
Ray Weart posted
At one time I worked a regular job on the Wisconsin Central in Chicago pulling #45's train out of CSXT Barr Yard. And nearly every day I'd see IC train GLME (Glenn Yard-Memphis) cross in front of us at Brighton Park. In August 1997 GLME is slowly heading north on the GM&O on her way to Memphis. GLME would get to the IC mainline at Bridgeport for the trip south. And keep in mind that Brighton Park was non-interlocked which meant the operator could signal two trains across the diamond at the same time. Even if your move "Had the blade" you still had to make a positive stop. Which allowed cool photos like this to be taken.
Cal Wescott My Dad's Name was John Wescott ! He worked on the Boardview Job and I used to ride the Job with him when I was much younger ! On the Madison Job, they turn the train around at the Milwaukee Road Yard and proceeded back to Freeport. I was a Day trip and the Conductor with the most time with the ICRR would get it !
Ray Weart The name sounds familiar. The WC got trackage rights on the CC&P around 1997-98 so that's when I got qualified on their to go to Markham.
[Unfortunately, I don't know where there is information that defines those "jobs."]
Photo from Scott Malec posting, 1991-93Amtrak passes the old semaphores at Brighton Park during the early 90's,.
Dennis DeBruler Outbound (west) on CN/GM&O tracks crossing the tracks of NS/NYC/Chicago Junction and then CSX/B&OCT tracks. The Penny's Panhandle tracks have been removed except for one that now serves as an industrial spur.
John DeWit Woodlock II posted
John DeWit Woodlock II posted
Bob Dietz Ok by the diamonds Mr. Flagman? Hey hey wake up in there Mr. Flagman the semaphore is in the vertical position. Ok by? Aaaaa I’m talking to you in the hut ok by?
Bob Dietz FYI. An actual exchange I had with the caddy shack dude back in the day!!! Even if you had the signal you always had to have verbal permission to cross the diamonds!!!
John DeWit Woodlock II Not sure, but I want to say it stayed the way because of an employee that had seniority and was grandfathered to keep that position until they retired. Again, I'm not sure about that.

John DeWit Woodlock II posted
Dennis Smith Pan handle jct
John DeWit Woodlock II Is that what is was called way back when?
Dennis DeBruler I've always seen this junction referred to as Brighton Park. But different railroads would use different names for the same junction. Maybe the GM&O called it Panhandle and continued to use the name even after the Panhandle was torn up.
Chuck Guzik The operator inside had the classic old tower desk ....telescoping extension for the phone and answered "panhandle".... he mainly spoke to Ash st, 49th St tower and the tower at Corwith Xing for Amtrak approach. On the north wall was an ICG interlocking panel....new to the operators back in the mid 1970s. The levers to operate the semaphores took some kind of strength too. The tower men were mostly PRR guys when I used to go there. But it was mainly referred to as Brighton Park. I guess there was a "real" tower in the NW corner of the interlocking but burnt long before WE ever made it up there.
Eric Royburn posted
IC Transfer job with IC 8178 and IC 8365. Brighton Park was a cool "non-interlocking" crossing but was an operational nightmare, as every train had to stop to get talked past the crossing by the operator. October 18, 1997.
John DeWit Woodlock II posted
CNW 6539 @ Brighton Park "Tower"-Chicago,IL 24 JAN 95.
Edward Kwiatkowski posted
The signals that used to help control train traffic, at Chicago's Brighton Junction near South Archer and Western Avenues.
Chicago Illinois. September 2006. (Replaced.)
Paul Jevert I stopped at those blade arms hundreds of times even though they might have been "favorable" since the Junction was protected by permanent "STOP" boards in all four directions !
Edward Kwiatkowski shared (Flickr option)
A westbound Amtrak passenger train, passes through Brighton Junction on a sunny but cold and windy winter day.
Chicago Illinois. January 1988. (View facing north.)
Brandon McShane HEP-equipped Heritage coach in the years before the Horizon cars.
Dennis DeBruler Thanks for including the direction you were facing. I was thinking the Campbell Soup plant was south of this junction. You fixed a "brain burp" in my head. I always like seeing photos that have that "soup can" water tower in the background.

Chuck Roth posted two photos with the comment: "Brighton Park back in the 90s."
John Trautmann Campbell’s soup building.
Michael Riha And you got one of the GP40TCs during their brief Amtrak careers.
Paul Musselman Got a nice ATSF GP-30 once.....
1

2

Ray Weart commented on Chuck's post
Brighton Park as seen from WC T045's cab circa 1997.
Chuck Roth Very cool and looks like the factory got torn down by then.
Dennis DeBruler Seeing IC locomotives on the GM&O route motivated me to refresh my memory about the merger history of CN.
- In 1972, IC and GM&O merged to form Illinois Central Gulf (ICG).
- The corporate name was changed from ICG back to IC in 1990.
- CN switches from government to private ownership in 1995.
- CN's US corporate entity, Grand Trunk Corporation, bought IC in 1998.
http://www.r2parks.net/big7.html#cngen

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(new window)  This video records not only trains using the junction but the levers, pipelines, and blades controlling those trains. No electrons are used by the signalling equipment. You can tell it is "armstrong" technology because sometimes you will see a blade go part way up and then after a hesitation it goes the rest of the way. The video also has the fallen flags CNW, BN, Conrail, IC, Wisconsin Central and an ICG caboose. The video illustrates that all trains, including Amtrak, go through this junction sloooowly. The number of UP/CNW and BNSF/BN trains in the video reinforces that this route is the main connection between NS and the western railroads. At 6:48 a couple of IC switch engines remind one that the problem with stopping for the crossing is that you then have to get going again. At 9:40 the videographer zooms in on the Scissor Bridges that are just past I-55. I was a little surprised to see IC freight trains on the Alton tracks. I thought freight customers in downtown Chicago have pretty much disappeared. But I was very surprised to see BN trains on the Alton (9:16). Jon Roma has an album of junction pictures that pays particular attention to the 1800s era signalling equipment.


John DeWit Woodlock II posted
CCP 973,971 @ Brighton Park-Chicago,IL 24 JAN 95.
[This was taken during the window after ICG sold the Chicago to Freeport route to Chicago Central & Pacific and before IC bought it back.]
John David Larson posted
Fond memories of the summer of 2000, which was a very mild one for Chicago with day after day of nice weather. I visited Brighton Park often that year and took a lot of photos and video. The video footage was released on DVD by C Vision Productions and titled "Chicago in the Year 2000".
John David Larson posted
This 1992 photograph was taken at a Chicago junction called Brighton Park Crossing.
Trains have enormous difficulty getting from here to there in Chicago and this photo illustrates why: intersections. When tracks cross over one another in a high traffic area, getting long freight trains through without hitting each other is excruciatingly difficult. Simply imagine having to control traffic lights if semi-trailers were 100 trailers long and had to not only navigate intersections, but also meets on one lane roads, faster ones passing slower ones, and the like.
This place was a real anachronism with its shack manned by an operator who controlled the very ancient semaphore signals (with the arm blades that moved up and down to signal trains). The shack and the signals were removed about ten years ago, new signals call the shots now. But the difficulty of moving a lot of long trains through here remains.
David Daruszka Sometimes you would pull up with your train and find the semaphores set to clear in conflicting directions. Trains were required to stop no matter what the position of the signals. The switchtender was then supposed to come out and give you a hand signal to proceed. One night I had to walk to the shanty to wake him up. This was considered a "non-interlocked junction". The other one was 11th Place on the Metra Electric. When you move a train through the Chicago terminal you will encounter numerous at-grade intersections with other railroads. It is an arduous journey requiring trains to often stop and hold for countless hours.Bill Leipart II The line close on the photo would run to Campbell soup.Craig Cloud CR switchtender dates back to PRR of whom controlled it.Dennis DeBruler Back in its heyday, there were five shacks: two control cabins and switch tenders for NS/NYC/Chicago Junction, CN/GM&O/Chicago & Alton, and CSX/B&OCT. I can't remember if Pennsy's Panhandle was abandoned by PennCentral or Conrail.
http://www.railfanguides.us/.../CHICAGObrighton_park.gif

Bill Leipart II Conrail

Edward Kwiatkowski posted
Chicago's Brighton Junction near South Archer and Western Avenues, during it's final months in operation as an old steam era manually operated and dispatched railroad junction. Chicago Illinois. April 2007.
Gone. rebuilt and replaced with new crosstracks, remote dispatching and automated signaling in July of 2007.
Steve Rosen when i worked at ash street, we called each other to make sure we could handle a longer train. if it was a certain length or less, he just let them fly and i'd look up and there would be a train sitting there at my home signal and the dispatcher yelling at me.

Michael North posted
Old 1990 Brighton Park signal photo
Joe Ikon What happened to these signals..?
Michael North They got saved. All were donated to IRM.
Douglas Drexel Mitchell I caught the tail end of the semaphore around 2007. Used to take Amtrak superliners to Brighton Park for repairs. Slept many many hours at that junction.
Dennis DeBruler Back in its heyday, there were five shacks: two control cabins and switch tenders for NS/NYC/Chicago Junction, CN/GM&O/Chicago & Alton, and CSX/B&OCT. I can't remember if Pennsy's Panhandle was abandoned by PennCentral or Conrail.
http://www.railfanguides.us/.../CHICAGObrighton_park.gif

ill Leipart II Conrail
Craig Cloud Joint NS/CSX(B&OCT) now?
Dennis DeBruler NS owns the eastern two tracks. CSX owns the next two tracks. But I don't know who dispatches this junction. https://www.google.com/.../@41.826668,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
Dennis DeBruler The three tracks owned by Pennsy are gone. But I see an industrial spur still exists even though the Campbell Soup Co. is gone. I assume this spur is owned by BNSF/Santa Fe. It looks like it still serves Batory Fooda, https://www.google.com/.../data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...
Dennis DeBruler A flyover near Brighton Park allows the Orange Line to use the Pennsy RoW to the south. Further north, a CREATE project is helping BNSF connect its former CB&Q and Santa Fe routes. https://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/.../create-wa4...
Bill Leipart II posted
February 28, 2014
Brighton Park, Cabin was burnt.
Michael Buckley Worst place to get thru , we sat there hours come from bnsf cicero to CSX .Steve Malachinski The plant is controlled by the dispatcher at NS Ashland yard. the only thing left on the site are the levers that controlled the semaphores.Steve Drassler I think I remember the switch tender had to come out give you a hand signal proceed signal (a "highball") after your train stopped. Everybody stopped there.
Bill Leipart II posted
March 28, 2013
All that's left after the fire.
Sam Carlson posted (source)
At Brighton Park, IL on Jan. 31, 1996. Train is southward.
Sam Carlson posted
Brighton Park in Chicago displays a variety of signalling equipment on January 31, 1996. You are looking northwesterly.
Jon Roma It was not an interlocking. Those signals were the equivalent of a switch tender giving a proceed signal. As it was a non-interlocked crossing, all trains had to stop by law regardless of the signal indication.

The replacement, which came about a decade ago, is a remote control interlocking, not automated as was described here.

Sam Carlson OK, what's the difference between 'remote control' and 'automated?'
Jon Roma A remote control interlocking means that the signals are controlled by a control operator or dispatcher. In the case of Brighton Park, I believe the plant is operated by the control operator at NS 47th Street Yard.

An automatic interlocking is control
led by the vital circuitry itself. The absolute signals clear themselves when a train is detected on an approach circuit, provided that conditions permit (no route established or running time on a conflicting route, for example). There is no control operator involved.

As you can imagine, a remote control interlocking is far more suitable for a location like Brighton Park than an automatic plant would be.

Jon Roma Also, the reason NS controls the plant has some interesting historic roots. I understand that when the switchtender jobs were established at the crossing somewhere in the distant mists of time, the crossing contract called for them to be supplied by the Chicago River & Indiana Railroad.

One of CR&I's main reasons for existence was to serve the massive Chicago Stock Yards. The railroad eventually became a subsidiary of New York Central. It passed through mergers into Penn Central and Conrail, and when Conrail was broken up in 1999, the CR&I became part of Norfolk Southern. Based on the historic precedent, an NS control operator controls today's Brighton Park.

Jon Roma The only operating semaphores in the United States today outside of museum operations are on the former Santa Fe in New Mexico.
Dennis DeBruler The Campbell Soup Plant in the background is also gone. As a matter of fact, after looking at the high-res version, it looks like it is going. So it was torn down in 1996.
Sam Carlson CGW bought 10 40' insulated boxcars specifically to serve this plant. Of course, the CGW is gone now, too.
Dennis DeBruler CGW's rights to use B&OCT to get to Grand Central also gave it rights to use B&OCT to get to this plant? I read that the City of Chicago forced CGW and WC to share access into the city because the city was getting chopped up pretty badly by all of the railroad routes.
Jon Roma I honestly don't know if the city had a role in this shared access, or if this was simply a matter of CGW and WC saving dollars by combining their routes into the urban area.
Dennis DeBruler I believe it was in the book on Wisconsin Central that I read that Chicago was encouraging (forcing?) railroads to cooperate. But considering the cost of the last mile or so of that route, I'm sure WC (actually, Northern Pacific was the money behind getting into Chicago) welcomed any support CGW gave them.
John David Larson posted
In the summer of 2000, I visited a location in Chicago called Brighton Park. This junction was an artifact of days gone by because it used old semaphore signals for a long time. Semaphores are signals that use blades that raise up or down to signal trains (since replaced).
This is a busy intersection because the many freight trains that pass by here have to share the crossing with Amtrak and Metra commuter trains. In this scene, a trio of freight trains waits while a commuter train creeps through. Up above, the Chicago Transit Authority "Red Line" passes overhead making scenes like this possible with five trains shown at one time.

John Matthew Orange line, not Red
Jon Moore James A. Heydt
The Metra is on the ex GM&O tracks heading compass south to East St. Louis.
The rear facing UP engine is on the ex Chicago Junction, New York Central tracks heading compass north out of now NS Ashland ave. yard.
The forward facing UP and Wisconsin Central engines are on the ex B&OCT also heading compass north.
The tracks on the right are all that remains of the Pennsylvania Railroads Panhandle Line. The photographer is standing on the right of way for several main tracks removed under Conrail.
This whole junction was modernized with new color light signals and full dispatcher controls back in 2006 or 2007, I don’t remember the signal suspension dates. The only thing that remains today are the Armstrong levers that controlled the semaphores signals are still in the weeds at the diamonds!
Dennis DeBruler Jon Moore The Metra is heading compass West. Since these are CN tracks, it is heading timecard south. Since it is a commuter, it is going only to Joliet. Amtrak does run trains on this route that go to St. Louis and Texas. This photo is a fantastic catch and shows that it was an important crossing in the city. https://www.google.com/.../@41.8267173,-87.../data=!3m1!1e
Douglas Drexel Mitchell Took many long naps at the panhandle.
Waldolf Ursine For years this junction was manned, was a mandatory stop for ALL trains, and had the semaphores. Only within the last few years was it upgraded as part of the CREATE program. This location is part of the a western Ave corridor project, and was part of the PRR panhandle route.
Nathan Mackey That WC train was the morning transfer from Barr Yard to Schiller Park.
Glen Olbermann Not busy like that no more. I go pass there going to work. CN route their thru trains on the old EJ&E around Chicago, to Joliet , Chicago Heights, Griffith and Gary Indiana. Some go on the new interchange to go directly to Markham Yard, others go directly to Champaign IL.

John David Larson posted with the CTA line corrected
In the summer of 2000, I visited a location in Chicago called Brighton Park. This junction was an artifact of days gone by because it used old semaphore signals for a long time. Semaphores are signals that use blades that raise up or down to signal trains (since replaced). This is a busy intersection because the many freight trains that pass by here have to share the crossing with Amtrak and Metra commuter trains. In this scene, a trio of freight trains waits while a commuter train creeps through. Up above, the Chicago Transit Authority "Orange Line" passes overhead making scenes like this possible with five trains shown at one time.
Steve Kraus What was remarkable was not just the semaphores and the fact that the junction was not remotely controlled from far away via CTC but that it was not interlocked at all.

Even an old time junction with a tower that mechanically moved switchpoints and semaphore blades with lengths of iron pipe emerging from the bottom of the tower and running along the tracks did so with an interlocking machine. It let the operator clear paths through the junction but only ones that did not conflict with other. Brighton was a major junction that lacked even that level of 100+ year old technology. Train movements were handled safely by each train stopping which was very wasteful.


Thomas White commented on a post
Thomas White I was still 'spatching there in 1970. SOO didn't go to Barr; they delivered at Robey. SOO, CGW, B&OCT went to CJ Ashland and US Yards through a connection at Brighton Park. For a while NKP (NW) did too. It wasn't hard to convince them that a quick round trip on B&OCT/CJ was cheaper than hours of service via C&WI/CJ every day. Here's Brighton in 1970.
[This shows crossovers from the B&O to CJ tracks that the Pennsy diagram near the top of these notes does not show.]

Mark Simmons Just a note: By 1974 The Soo ran two transfers. One for the C&O at Rockwell and the B&O at Barr. The one for Barr was called at Schiller for 9am. The Rockwell St Transfer was called at 11am at Schiller
.Bob Lalich I photographed the Soo transfer to Barr several times in the 1980s. Here is one occasion at Rockwell St. Not the best photo but a very interesting location - at least it is to me. https://www.flickr.com/.../462.../19947019521/in/dateposted/

Scott H. Brown posted
Brighton Park back in 2007, not exactly ancient history, but history none the less.

Edward Kwiatkowski posted
A westbound Amtrak regional passenger train, passes through the crosstracks at Brighton [Park] Junction.
Chicago Illinois. April 1984.
Ray Weart This is a southbound Amtrak train to St Louis on the old GM&O crossing of the "Pan-Handle" and the B&OCT at Brighton Park. At one time this was the Alton RR, and before that, the Chicago & Alton RR.

William Shapotkin posted
t is Aug 28, 1903 and the Alton tracks at Brighton Park and the xing with the CR&I/B&OCT/PCC&StL are about to be elevated above the streets of Chicago. Sadly, the Alton's Brighton Park depot (center of photo) will be a casualty of the elevation work. (From the facebook page "the real chicago brighton park neighborhood.")

William Shapotkin posted
We are at the non-interlocking crossing known as Brighton Park (located near what would be 37th St west of Western Ave on Chicago's Southwest Side). A St Louis-bound Amtrak TUBOLINER is seen heading S/B on the ICG (ex-GM&O, former C&A) and making its mandatory stop before x/o CR (Ex-PC (CR&I))/B&OCT/CR (Ex-PC, former PRR (PCC&StL)). This crossing is now interlocked and controlled by the NS. Amtrak and Metra psgr trns (operating on ICG successor CN) still pass thru this xing 16 times every weekday (10 on weekends). View looks E-N/E.
Photo dated September 24, 1977. Joe Pierson Photo/William Shapotkin Collection. (pic276)


Roger Holmes posted
I was riding the Dutch door on the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio when the train went over Panhandle crossing on Chicago's south side not quite four decades ago.
Jim Ailes Also known as Brighton Park.
Joel J. Sieracki So much good stuff here. I've never seen a red pilot on any PC switcher. You can see the GM&O connection to the Panhandle and the B&OCT. The C&O caboose on the B&OCT and a PC SD45 on the Chicago Junction. Of course, those manual semaphore at this non-interlocked junction.
Thank you for sharing!
Dennis DeBruler Since the B&OCT is west of CJ, you are looking north and heading compass West.

Dave Arganbright posted
Here is CR GP30 2224 leading a train at CP Campbell Soup (actually, its a lesser seen angle at Brighton Park Jct.) back in July of 1983. My photo. I miss the days when manifest meant mostly boxcar traffic...
Dennis DeBruler I know of two reasons why boxcars have become rare. One is that the railroads expected customers to ship their products in boxcars.
https://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/.../carrying...
Two is that the container had not become ubiquitous and the railroads still delivered freight cars to the industries.
Now that I think about it, a third reason is that we lost our industries starting around the 1980s. (Let's not discuss why we lost industries. That could get very political.)

Dave Arganbright posted
GM&O GP38 705 hits the diamond at Brighton Park on July 16, 1983. My photo.
Dennis DeBruler The signal with the two red lights is a B&O Color Position Light. The CPL signal is a reminder that B&O controlled the Chicago & Alton between 1931 and 1942. When the B&O controlled it, the name was Alton. The merger that formed the GM&O happened in 1947.
David Daruszka This was a great control point to get in trouble at. Viewing the CPL beyond the control point, and missing the semaphore governing it, could trip up an engineer. I happened once and awhile.

Dave Arganbright posted
GM&O 705 hits the diamond at Brighton Park on July 16, 1983. My photo.
Edward Kwiatkowski I used to hang out here and train watch without incident prior to 2007. Now this area is strictly off limits. I miss going here on location with my camera like I used to do.
Brian Watt Dumb question ... why off limits? Neighborhood? Railroad cops?
Edward Kwiatkowski Nate Beal Railroad cops, that are stationed at a distance with Binoculars and Radios.
Dennis Smith We called it pan handle crossing.
David Daruszka We called it the "blow your horn and wake up the switchtender" crossing.

Bob Lalich commented on Dave's post
For comparison, here is a John Barriger photo probably taken in the 1930s.
John W. Barriger III Flickr

David Wilson from his photoset
19880514 14 Brighton Park crossing

David Wilson from his photoset
19890325 01 IC Brighton Park crossing
Illinois Central transfer job clatters across Brighton Park crossing en route from Markham to Glenn yard.

John David posted
In the summer of 2000, I visited Brighton Park. This junction was an artifact of days gone by because it used old semaphore signals for a long time.
This is a busy intersection because the many freight trains that pass by here have to share the crossing with Amtrak and Metra commuter trains. In this scene, a trio of freight trains waits while a commuter train creeps through. Up above, the Chicago Transit Authority "Orange Line" passes overhead making scenes like this possible with five trains shown at one time.
Chris Thompson: Memories of hours and hours sitting there waiting in this era!!
Taylor Rich: Semaphores...heck, it was still a freaking Armstrong plant!!
 
Paul Musselman posted, cropped
Brighton Park signal and rods...note train in background waiting to cross diamonds..

(new window)    (source)


Greg Mross posted a couple of "death star" IC locomotives pulling an intermodal in 1992.
Todd Pearson BP had conditional stop boards in each direction. You called the op there to get a route. He would line the semaphores and give you clearance through.
None of the signals were interlocked. You could get a proceed indication in each direction.
We were always told to pay attention to cross movements .


A comment on a post
Paul Musselman I used to go to and take photos of the last manually operated interlocking junction in the US....Brighton Junction in Chicago....All trains approaching had to come to a complete stop, and wait for a 'go ahead' from the operator........You could access this crossing by going behind a Burger King..........When they finally made it automatic, the lever assembly sat where the tower was, out in the rain.....


Greg Mross posted a Conrail train. I believe it is headed north.

From David Wilson's Photoset: 1988 overview, 1989 ICG transfer from Markham to Glenn Yards.

I recognize this junction as the star of manual operations in Norfolk Southern's history of railroad signalling video.

Gerry Grzyb posted a turboliner meeting an ICG locomotive with a couple of the semaphores of the junction seen between them.

Chuck Guzik posted six photos from July 1, 2007.

Cruz Martinez posted four photos of what it looks like today.

Edward Flickr photo of some southbound Conrail engines in 1988, the caboose of a northbound BNa westbound Amtrak with Campbell soup factory in the background, a southbound CSX intermodal in 2000, a 2007 s/b BNSF unit coal train

Arturo Gross Flickr of 1994 Norfolk Southern. Stan commented that Arturo's photo has "proper lighting in the northeast quadrant ."

Arturo Gross Flickr of 1995 Conrail SD60M #5520

Arturo Gross Flickr 1997 Photo of a n/b WC train on B&OCT tracks. The photo is from a Wisconsin Central Album.

Bob Lalich Flickr 1981 Photo of a northbound SOO transfer.

Arturo Gross Flickr of 1999 "Pepsi Can" Amtrak train (post)
Dwain Jerantowski commented on Arturo's post
 worked Conrail track, raised that diamond. IC Conrail out of 39 and Ashland. This was the west end of Ashland yard looking east with Damend Ave over head in background. Brighton was just around the corner.

In Feb 1977, a westbound IC freight weights on a Wisconsin Central train heading north on a B&OCT track. (source)
 
5 photos


2 comments:

  1. I spent most of 2004 working the day shift at Brighton Park. It was very challenging. I did take some chances moving some freight across on short time with an Amtrak or Metra due. I prayed that they would clear Brighton as they pulled up to Global One. Most of the time with the other dispatchers cooperation we got it done. I wish I could have another go at it and see if I still got the touch.

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  2. Although Brighton Junction was thought of as an 1800s signal system, the one taken out in '07 was said to be installed during World War 2! Not so long ago after all! it probably replaced an earlier version of semaphores, the lower quadrant type. A picture above mentions being from the '30s and may be the evidence you need. I can't remember where I read about the date in the '40s, but think it was "semaphores.com". It may have been in a press release or some-such that mentioned when it was installed.

    I went to the scene the da they cut down the big semaphore stand. They cut the top off and lifted it with a crane. It went to a museum,, maybe Roanoke. If I remember right the shed was still not burned. It was supposed to go to a museum, if not the same one, but of course it was destroyed! I worked in the steel industry cutting steel for introduction into the furnaces, and I can tell you that had to be a hot fire to heat the levers up to the point they developed the grey oxide more often seen on hot-rolled products, unfinished! They were rolled at over 2000 degrees! Metal has to really heat up high enough to form this kind of oxide. it prevents rust for a long time if it stays on the metal after it cools!

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