Thursday, January 15, 2015

Scissors Bridges or 8-Track Bridge

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, 3D Satellite)

Update: While my daughter was driving me around Chicago so that I could take pictures, I shot a sequence from I-55. Fortunately, the camera was able to lock focus even though we were moving at highway speeds. It appears the third bridge is not totally abandoned. I wonder what they have planned for it. (Another Update: The third bridge is to help connect BNSF's Corwith Yard with BNSF's Clyde Yard.)

20150502 0757c
Later I made a trip to the boat ramp park to take some more photos.
20150705 2632,  more photos from the Richard J. Daley Park
It is embarrassing when the street view gets a better photo. And he even caught it with a train.
Street View
Even the bridge that was recently rehabilitated by BNSF has graffiti.
Street View
I caught it graffiti free, but I didn't dodge the vegetation very well. I do not like walking in weeds for various reasons.

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 power lines on the left that terminated at a switchyard building to the left of the photographer.]

MWRD posted
Construction of the new Eight Track Rail Bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Western Ave in Chicago on September 7, 1909. The movable bascule-style bridge replaced a fixed bridge to allow for passage of large vessels.

Chris Nantus shared

MWRD posted
A view to the north of construction of the 8 Track Rail Bridge and removal of what remained of the previous bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Western Ave in Chicago on February 5, 1910. 
Mike Breski shared
David Daruszka shared
Did BN put in their own bridge base over the canal or just cut into the SF west of the xing
Gregory Smith
 BNSF cut into the existing former SF Chillicothe Sub and then runs north as a "horseshoe" so it can connect with the former BN near Cicero Yard. There is a nice explanation here:
MWRD posted
A view to the north showing work on the 8-track rail bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Western Avenue on April 19, 1910. The #MWRD built the bridge, which is actually four separate spans with two rail tracks each, between 1908 and 1910.

Chicago Landmark Designation Report
For decades I have wondered which railroads used the 8-track bridge that crosses the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal just west of Western Avenue Bridge. My study of the Brighton Park Crossing has answered that question. The bridges carry the Western Avenue Corridor across the canal. Originally, the 8 tracks, starting from the east side, were 2 tracks for the Chicago Junction Railroad (New York Central), 2 tracks for the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal, and 4 tracks for the Panhandle Route of the Pennsy. But one of the Pennsy tracks was not used.

Currently, the usage is 2 tracks for NS/NYC/CJ and 2 tracks for CSX/B&OCT. That is, only the 2 eastern spans of the 4 spans still have tracks on them.

Some sources refer to this as a Pennsylvania Railroad bridge because the Panhandle Route was the first railroad to build in this corridor. But these spans were built by the Sanitary District of Chicago. The official name seems to be Eight Track Bridge. But I like the "Scissors Bridges" nickname because of the unique design of alternating which side a span lifts from.

This is one of six railroad bridges in Chicago's list of 353 landmarks.

Update: I found a 1908 book on Scherzer rolling lift bridges that has photos of the bridges before the rolling segments and operating machinery was added. It specifies the skew angle as 68 degrees 21 minutes 40 seconds.

1908 book

1908 book
MWRD posted
The 8 Track Rail Bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at 9:30 a.m. on January 23, 1909, with a crew at work between tracks on the northern approach of the bridge.

MWRD shared
Wow - look at this 1927 photo of the Chicago River at Western Ave.
3D Satellite
Since the bridges are changing, I record the image I obtained in 2016.
A June, 2018 capture shows the image has not been updated
Street View from I-55, Nov 2017
It looks like the bridge work has been done.

MWRD posted
Historical Photo of the Week: The 8 Track Rail Bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, raised for passing waterway traffic, viewed from Western Avenue looking west on April 20, 1921.

MWRD posted
A barge on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, viewed looking west towards the 8-Track Rail Bridge, on October 9, 1923.
[I noticed the tugboat is owned by the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. This photo raises the question of when was the modern towboat that pushes, instead of pulls, tows developed?]
Dennis DeBruler commented on the MWRD post
This photo posted by Ken Gidewall confirms that the buildings in the upper-right corner of the MWRD photo were part of the massive International Harvester plant that occupied much of the land around the former West Fork of the South Branch between the turning basin and California Avenue.
Chuck Edmonson posted
Chicago's old '8 track bridge' just off Western Avenue over the Sanitary and Shipping Canal.

Braian Morgan commented on the above posting
According to the PRR this location was called Ash Street Junction. This is the official PRR track chart from company records.Once the PRR or P.C.C& StL reached 49th Street the B&OCT Crossed the Pennsy and ran on the west side of the embankment and the Pennsy on the east side of the embankment. The Chicago Junction Railway turned North east at Western Avenue to connect with the Stock Yards and the parent New York Central at 39th and State Street.
David Daruszka commented on the above posting
Engineer's view.
MWRD posted
Historical Photo of the Week: Some brave folks pause for a photo during work on the District-built 8-track rail bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Western Ave on March 18, 1910.
MWRD posted

Joe Balynas commented on a post
Bob Colton: It has the lowest clearance of any bridge on the commercially navigable sections of Chicago's waterways. Over the years several tugs have had there wheelhouses either damaged or destroyed navigating under that bridge.
The Amtrak South Branch Bridge has only 11.1' of clearance. This one has 17.6' of clearance. So I guess this is the lowest of the now fixed (unmovable) bridges.
Randy provided two photos on a post with the comment: "I wish this bridge was 3ft higher off the water. It's the lowest bridge on the river and I always drag my antennas on the tug boat across the bottom."


The bridge is in the background of these three photos posted by MWRD with the comment: "Historical Photos of the Week: A three-part photo series! A truck is removed from the south bank of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, west of Western Avenue, on April 26, 1926." I wonder what the factory is in the background of the right side of a couple of the pictures.


MWRD posted
 Work on the south side of the 8 Track Rail Bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in Chicago on December 29, 1908. This bridge was replaced by the current bridge in 1909.
MWRD posted
This photo from February 25, 1910, shows workers inspecting the ruins of a tool house that was destroyed by a fire during work on the 8-Track Rail Bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The photo also shows the power lines that were being constructed to the MWRD switchyard building that was between this rail bridge and the Western Avenue Bridge.

Eric Allix Rogers posted
Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
David Daruszka Sewer of commerce.
Dennis DeBruler The photo is old enough that the Crawford Power Plant is still running.
Eric Allix Rogers Yep, it's maybe about 5 years old.
[The swing bridge is ICwest.]
Clifton Linton posted
This is an aerial photo archived at the Chicago History Museum. It is from a folder of photos taken in the early 1960s during the construction of the Stevenson Expressway -- then called the "Southwest Expressway" This shot is of the bascule bridges carrying the B&OCT and Pennsy over the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal -- Just (compass north) of Ash St. Crossing.
David Daruszka shared
Work on the south east side of the Eight Track rail bridge over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on November 18, 1908.

David Daruszka commented on his share

Tony Raia posted
11/16/19. Today’s offering at Ash st in Pilsen.

Tony Rais got a video of a NS coal train crossing a bridge

This is the lowest fixed bridge at 17-feet on the Lake Michigan to Gulf of Mexico waterway. (The Chicago River An illustrated History and Guide to the River and Its Waterways, 2nd Edition, 2006, David M. Solzman, p.221) This surprised me because I have heard that the South Branch Bridge is the lowest. Then I remembered that they can, and do, still raise the South Branch Bridge. (Update: USACE lists it as 17.6')

The 8-track bridge is in the background of this GM&O transfer photo.

Twenty photos, most of them obtained illegally (tresspassing)  I was surprised that some of the machinery to operate it still exists.

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