Thursday, February 26, 2015

21st Street Crossing or Alton Junction

Ray Weart This was indeed Chicago, Chicago Transfer Yard to be exact. The post 1959 CGW engine ramp was right by the Laramie Ave bridge toward the east end of the yard. The steam era round house burned to the ground prior to 1959. That was located right by the BRC embankment just east of Cicero Ave.(Satellite, all of the C&WI tracks are gone and the Santa Fe tracks have been replaced by the Orange Line "L")

(CRJ) Correction: The C&WI had five tracks through the junction. In addition to their four main tracks that went to the Dearborn Station, there was a track on the north side that went to the 18th Street Yard. (Update: NS names this crossing CP-521)

(Update: I finally found some pictures of the tower. Most pictures in this area skunk the tower with a train. Those photos also include this crossing.)

For over a century, the near south of Chicago was a huge collection of railroad yards serving the passenger stations and freight stations in the South Loop. I can remember going over the Roosevelt Road Viaduct and being amazed by the amount of track on both sides. But it was in the 1970s, and there were no trains on all of that track. All of the trains going to the south part of Union Station except for CB&Q and to Dearborn Station plus ICwest trains funneled through this 21st Street Crossing (the Contrail/PC/Pennsy called it Alton, GM&O called it Fort Wayne, and IC and C&WI called it 21st (Tuch) I believe the Sante Fe also called it 21st. Today, all railroads call it 21st.). During its prime it saw over a 150 trains a day, of which 75% were passenger trains. This was probably the busiest crossing in Chicago. (CRJ) A 1948 photo on Bill's page shows most of the 26 diamonds that the crossing had during its prime and a C&WI engine transferring a passenger train back to the yards for servicing.

(The following description of the trackage mixes verb tenses because a lot of the track became obsolete when Amtrak moved all of its trains to Union Station.) Since the Pennsy had tracks through this junction, we can find an interlocking diagram for this crossing (see below). The NS/Pennsy goes through the crossing in a north/south direction. Four tracks merge down to two tracks before entering the crossing and the lift bridge across the South Branch just to the north of this crossing. The double track BNSF/Santa Fe and CN/IC/ Chicago, Madison & Northern branch from the west merged before entering the crossing in a northeastern direction and then diverged again on the other side. The Stanta Fe tracks fed their passenger train (coach) yard as well as Dearborn station. CN/Alton passenger trains take the tracks on the North side of the IC tracks and then turn north to merge with the NS/Pennsy tracks to access Union Station. Alton freight trains would have merged with the IC tracks back at Bridgeport and then they diverge on the other side of the crossing. The Chicago & Western Indiana had four tracks coming from the south and all four of them crossed the Alton/IC/Santa Fe tracks and then the Pennsy tracks.
David Daruszka commented on Bill's posting

Bob Lalich commented on a Glen W Haase post
The tracks in the photo are C&WI's 21st St interlocking. The plant was electro-pneumatic. There was a substantial building out of frame to the left which housed the air compressors.

Sante Fe had facilities to service their passenger trains on the station side of this crossing. But C&WI had to transfer the trains for Erie, Monon, C&EI, GTW, and Wabash down south to their various yards for servicing. C&EI's yard was between 31st and 39th, Wabash was between 39th and 47th, and Erie was between 47th and 55th (1920 map). Another source calls the Erie yard the 52nd C&WI Coach Yard, and it also handled the Monon trains. It probably also handled the GTW trains.

Photo from Dan Murray collection

Now (2015) only one of the four C&WI tracks comes from the south and it merges with NS/Pennsy tracks before it enters the crossing. The four C&WI tracks and double Alton tracks on the northeast side is now the Ping Tom Memorial Park. The northern CN/Alton tracks continue to connect to the NS/Pennsy tracks and carry the Metra-Heritage commuters. The CN/IC tracks continue to run northeast to the St. Charles Air Line. But CN is expected to abandon these tracks when they are finished with their Elgin, Joliet and Eastern upgrades. At which time there will no longer be a crossing here, just connection tracks. The Santa Fe right-of-way is now used by the relatively new RTA Orange Line to Midway. It uses an overpass so rapid transit trains do not interfere with the north/south trains. Unfortunately, that overpass was built too low to allow double-stack trains to be interchanged via this route. The CW&I tower was taken over by Amtrak, and it remained in service until 2005 (CRJ).

Update: Since the C&WI and Pennsy tracks are elevated, so you can't get a shot of the tracks from a crossing. But when my daughter was driving me around Chicago so that I could take pictures of bridges, we took the ramp from I-94 North to I-55 West, and that ramp goes over the tracks.

20150502 0732c
Zooming in further, you can see that the three NS/Pennsy tracks on the right (east) side are maintained separately from the Metra+UP+CSX/C&WI tracks on the left side. All of these tracks merge into the two on the right before they reach the south tower of the Canal Street RR Bridge in the middle background.

Stuart Pears -> Chicagoland Railfan
Stuart's comment:
SantaFe Streamliner passes beneath the Signals at the Junction with the Pennsylvania about 1 Mile out of Dearborn Station.
On the right is the south tower of the Canal Street RR Bridge, so this is an inbound passenger train. The comments mention Alco DL-109 & 110. In response to a comment about this being a very early warbonnet scheme, Patrick added the color picture with the comment:
Patrick McNamara comment
Not quite - the DL-109 and 110 were built in May of 1941...and they sported some strange liveries thruout their lives. Here's #50 at Argentine KS in May of 1957.......
David Charles Lindberg -> Chicagoland Railfan
David indicated that this is a 1976 photo and that the red and white engine in the background is Frisco. Randy Olson commented that this is the Broadway Limited.

Bill DeMar elaborated:
You're right Dave, ex Frisco, but in this pic it is owned by Amtrak and was used to switch out Amtrak's 21st Street yard ( Santa Fe ). I started Amtrak at this yard in 1979.
I commented:
You can see where they have already removed some of the C&WI diamonds from the two Sante Fe/ICwest tracks.
Mark Lianuza -> F units, E units, FA's, PA's and other Diesel Cab units
Penn Central E-units Valpo train heads through Fort Wayne Jct 1975

David Charles Lindberg posted this March 15, 1978 photo
Dennis DeBruler: In the lower-right corner we can see how a C&WI track curved through the diamonds of the Pennsy tracks crossing the IC+SantaFe+GM&O tracks. The maintenance headache of this crossing was not just the number of diamonds, but also the complexity of the diamonds. I don't think a single diamond was 90-degrees. Plus it was probably hard to get track time back in the hay day of passenger traffic.

Stuart Pearson posted
"THE CHIEF" still brings a FLOOD OF MEMORIES to every RR FAN no matter if they ever Rode that TRAIN. Show here Inbound for Dearborn St. Station approaching the 21st Street Crossing. SantaFe Photo.
Eric Powell: This is a beautiful photo! This is the outbound Chief - train is pointed westbound across 21st St. Interlocking.
Mark Bilecki Sr.: Its definately heading outbound, the building in the background is the old Cuneo press , which was used in the movie Backdraft at the end of the movie.
Harold J. Krewer: Well, it COULD have been pulled out the west end of the coach yard and is shoving back to the depot, but yes, it is indeed pointed west and the 21st St diamonds are in the near background.
John J Kulidas posted
Stuart Pearson captured the Chief. Shown here is the Chief moving outbound, a close up of the legendary observation car leaving Chicago’s Dearborn St  Station . The building in the background is the old Cuneo press , which was used in the movie Backdraft at the end of the movie. Date unknown.
Paul Arden: This is a great photo and an unusual view of 21st Street - the curving tracks from right to left are the Chicago and Western Indiana tracks south to Dolton and State Line - the tracks going east west is the PRR to Englewood and Union Station - just out of the photo to the right would be PRR's South Branch Bridge and 21st Street Tower and the tracks to the right are the IC to Freeport and in the upper right is the GM&O.
Norm Anderson: I believe we can narrow the time frame down to sometime between 1947 and 1954. The Chief was streamlined in 1938, but would continue to be pulled by Steam locomotives until 1947. 1954 was the year that the round-end Observation Cars were withdrawn from the Chief's consist. The Chief at this time was still all-Pullman, and very nearly the equal of the legendary Super Chief (a typical, non-railfan passenger would have been hard-pressed to notice the difference).
Rodney D Zona: Fort Madison, IA based passenger train crews worked to and from Chicago. Chicago based engine crews worked to and from Fort Madison.
Brett C. Ballard: Love that bank of single slips to the left. Not terribly common.
Edward Kwiatkowski shared
Jon Roma: That's 21st Street interlocking, which involved C&WI, PRR, IC, Santa Fe, and GM&O. Once one of the most complex and busy plants in Chicago, what remains is remote controlled and is but a shadow of its former self.
Edward Kwiatkowski shared

Bill Molony posting
Bill's comment: "Here's GM&O #17 to Joliet at 21st St."

Since railfans generally take pictures of sheetmetal, this is the first picture at 21st street I have seen that catches part of the tower in the frame.
Ed Kwiatkowski shared
IC GE U-30-C's stop at 21st street Jct .This train came in from Freeport 1976
A reminder that ICwest shared two tracks through the crossing with Santa Fe.
A Bob Coolidge Photo from IC
It's April 29, 1972 at 21st street
This photo shows the two tracks through the crossing that IC and Sante Fe shared. You can see the diamonds with C&WI and Pennsy. The engines block a view of the diamonds of C&WI crossing Pennsy and of the tower.

Note that you can see the black John Hancock building being constructed over the red building in the middle background.
A Bob Coolidge Photo from IC
It's April 29, 1972 at 21st street
Jamie Durham posted
This view catches some of the C&WI tracks turning East and crossing the Pennsy. Amtrak's Super Chief coaches are parked in Sante Fe's former passenger coach yard. The tower must be just off to the left.
Craig Willett posted
Santa Fe 15 the Texas Chief at 21st Chicago. Not the best scan, you'll get the idea.
[Comments indicate a U30CG with two U28's behind it.]
David M Laz posted
PRR E8s, possibly pulling the "General", pass eastbound through 21st Street, Chicago in June of 1959.
[I discovered that David stole this picture from John Dziobko Jr., but he did add some details to the text.]

William Henley shared
the Santa Fe Chief in Chicago
photo credit unknown
Dennis DeBruler It is crossing the C&WI tracks of the 21st Crossing. At one time the crossing had 21 diamonds. Several of them on curved track. I counted five Santa Fe photos in these notes about that crossing:

David M Laz posted
Walt Del Calle Or Panhandle Jct. Or Alton Jct. Or Santa Fe Jct.
Craig Willett posted
Texas Chief Train 15 departing Chicago at 21st St. Tower. Summer 1969
The comments agree that 401 is a GE U30CG and that U30CGs were ugly. We can see a glimpse of Santa Fe's passenger coach yard on the right.]
Steven J Brown posted
Milwaukee Road 261 pokes off the 21st Street bridge in Chicago to get around the 16th Street wye after returning from an excursion to Galesburg. June 20, 2002.
Glenn Miller posted
One of the Pennsylvania Railroad's legendary K4 class 4-6-2 steam locomotive leads a passenger train out of Chicago at 21st street in 1950. Photo by Wallace W. Abbey
John Dziobko Jr.'s 1962 photo shows the Pennsy tracks being crossed by the IC+Santa Fe tracks. It also shows four of the C&WI tracks crossing the IC+Santa Fe tracks and then turning to cross the Pennsy tracks. In the background near the Canal Street RR Bridge, you see the GM&O tracks curving northward to join the Pennsy tracks to cross the bridge and access Union Station. You can also see the bridge tender shack and the top of the 21st Junction Tower.

John Dziobko Jr. also got the first photo I have seen looking south at this crossing. Then I found another photo looking south of a Wabash GP7 on a C&WI track crossing the IC+Santa Fe and Pennsy tracks. Can you imagine the complexity and maintenance nightmare of what amounts to a triple crossing? John also caught an inbound C&WI commuter on the inner track where a locomotive crosses both an IC+Sante Fe and a Pennsy track.

John crossed the IC+Santa Fe tracks and got a Sante Fe train headed to Dearborn. A C&WI engine running light over the IC+Santa Fe tracks. It is probably headed to Dearborn to pull a cut of passenger coaches to a coach yard to be serviced (cleaned and restocked).

The caption claims this Erie train is arriving at Dearborn, but based on the truss bridge in the background and the curve of the C&WI tracks, I believe it is departing.

A GM&O train is rounding the curve towards the bridge.

This 1972 photo from  David Wilson's Photoset shows an ICG train with both IC and GM&O power. The Santa Fe building in the background indicates we are looking West. So the train is outbound. We can see the curve of the C&WI tracks on the left.

Gerry Grzyb posted six pictures of this train going through the crossing. Fortunately it is a public group and you should be able to use the link to access the photosSo many liked my ATSF Dearborn pics, I thought I'd give you my sequence of the El Capitan/Super Chief passing through 21st St. in the late Sixties. Comment away, ATSF experts!
Stuart B. Slaymaker I make it to be just around 20 cars...
Gerry Grzyb My only regrets are that I only took pictures at this spot for one day in my life, and that I can't go back to the time when I could walk among the tracks of Chicago's major junctions with no hassles. I,m usually a bit skeptical when us old farts tell the kids they don't know what they missed....but, they don't know what they missed!
[I wondered if he was an employee or if one really was allowed to cross tracks back in 1970.]

This photo is easy to place because of the Canal Street RR Bridge on the left.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
This photo was harder to place because I have been in the area of 21st Street Crossing enough to know that a tall, long industrial building no longer exists. So it was time to consult the old aerial photos. The excerpt on the right provides some context. The one below focuses on the building.

Zoomed in
It was between Grove St. and the tracks, and it is now yet another vacant lot. I wonder who owned that building and what it used to make.

The bridges in the foreground of the photo still exist because they are the Canal St. overpass.

This 1990 photo catches the corner of the industrial building.
Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail light power move at 21st Street in Chicago - January 1993.
SD40-2 6481 (built 1978) became CSX 8845, B23-7 (built 1978) became CSX 3159 then Quincy Bay Terminal then Conway Scenic and finally to the Finger lakes RR, C40-8W 6134 (built 1991) became CSX 7333, SD40 6334 (built 1968 as PRR 6081 to PC 6081) became I&M Rail Link 217 to Iowa Chicago and Eastern 217.
Steven J. Brown posted three photos with the comment:
Sequence of a Chicago Central and Pacific train at 21st Street in Chicago - January 8, 1990. Note the CTA Orange line under construction in the third photo.
Here is a bit of history on the GeeP rebuilds: 8211 builtt 1957 as IC GP9 9211 rebuilt as IC GP10 8211 became ADM 8411 at Enid, OK, 972 built 1956 as Milwaukee Road GP9 2382 rebuilt as MILW GP20 972, 1585 built 1957 as Detroit Toledo and Ironton GP7 957 rebuilt as IC GP8 7985 became AL Gilbert 2004 at Keyes, CA.
Terry Falduto Awesome. The old Cuneo Press building and construction of the Orange Line, which would open in 3.5+ more years.


Steven J. Brown posted
Metra Orland Park train at 21st Street in Chicago - April 10, 2002.
Bill Molony posted
A Grand Trunk Western class U-4-b 4-8-4 (can't make out the number), departing from Dearborn Station in Chicago with an eastbound passenger train, most likely GTW #20, The Maple Leaf.
Undated, but circa 1950.
I added a comment explaining that the train will soon be entering the 21st Crossing.]
Marty Bernard shared a Roger Puta photo
ATSF 3119 (GP20) has just crossed the South Branch of the Chicago River, Chicago, IL in January 1972. This was still during the period when the Santa Fe stored and prepared the trains they ran for Amtrak in their own coach yard. This must be a move between Union Station and that yard.
[It appears that all five of the C&WI tracks are still present.]
Daniel C Carroll Jr. posted
#6200 leaving Chicago in 1948. Caption by Rod Russell.
Mark Hinsdale posted three pictures with the comment:
Freight Around the "Hood"...
A few random catches over the past few days...
1) NS eastbound oil loads at 21st Street
2) Somewhat rare CSX power on a UP bare table train at 21st
3) UP #1938 (w "baby wings") returning from Canal St.




Steven J. Brown posted
Viewed from 18th Street in Chicago, The Amtrak City of New Orleans waits for the Capitol Limited to clear 21st Street/Alton Jct before taking the left and then shoving into Union Station - January 24, 1990. CTA Orange line is under construction.
[This is after the C&WI tracks have been torn up but before the Tom Ping Park has been built. Now the City of New Orleans uses the St. Charles Air Line to go on BNSF/BN/CB&Q tracks before it shoves (backs) into Union Station. I didn't know that it used to use the ICwest tracks to go south on the Metra/Pennsy tracks before it backed into Union Station.]
I found some more pictures showing the Amtrak movement and not only the junction tower, but the bridge control tower.
From Steven J. Brown's "Photos"
January 8, 1990 - 21st Street/Alton Junction during CTA Orange Line construction. Amtrak City of New Orleans arriving around wye connection before shoving into Union Station
From Steven J. Brown's "Photos"
January 8, 1990 - 21st Street/Alton Junction during CTA Orange Line construction. Amtrak City of New Orleans shoving into Union Station.
From Steven J. Brown's "Photos"
January 8, 1990 - 21st Street/Alton Junction during CTA Orange Line construction. Amtrak Ann Rutledge departing for St Louis
[Moving from Amtrak/Pennsy tracks to the CN/GM&O/Alton tracks.]
Kevin Piper posted
A CB&Q GP30, GP20, and GP40 pass 21st Street in Chicago on 6-2-68. This may be a PC run-through train, but that can not be verified. PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN
Dennis DeBruler That is the first photo I remember seeing that was taken from the southeast quadrant.It shows all five of the C&WI tracks.
Keith Bunner posted
WAB GP9 #495 Chicago,IL 1960
Albert J Reinschmidt Sun position suggests the Banner Blue.
Kathee Morey posted
Kathee Morey commented on her posting
Wayne Hudak Kathee Morey, the John Dziobko photo you posted is the Valpo "Dummy" commuter train.
Bill Molony posted
[I omitted the part of Bill's comment that was wrong]
The commuter train was equipped with streamlined coaches that originally were used for the N&W's long distance trains between Norfolk, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Bruno Berzins Northbound at 21st. St. crossing, going to Dearborn Station.
Brandon McShane Or Polk Street Station, since the train was repainted from blue to red in 1974. [Some stations were renamed to use a north/south street instead of an east/west street.]
Stuart B. Slaymaker Known locally, as The Orland Park Cannonball.

William Brown posted
From the J Quinn Collection, a N&W Commuter Train at 21st Street in Chicago. No Date or Photographer noted. Probably in the mid 1960s as the Locomotive is N&W and the cars are still Wabash.
Richard Fiedler: All the coaches are still painted and lettered Wabash. The GP9 is ex-Wabash 495. Note that each coach has a different shade of blue.
Cliff Kierstead: So probably the Orlando Park commuter train?
Jon Roma: Cliff Kierstead, Yes. FYI, the N&W's Orland Park commuter train traveled deadhead from Orland Park to Decatur on Friday evenings, and then returned deadhead from Decatur to Orland Park early Monday mornings. It tied up at the Polk St. station in Chicago during weekday daytimes, and in Orland Park during weekday evenings.
Bill Molony posted
Monon Railroad EMD F3A #85A, leading a southbound passenger train away from Dearborn Station.

Carl Venzke posted
"In all the world there may never have been a junction to rival 21st Street in its prime. It had at one time 26 diamonds, and well over 150 trains a day rumbled through it."
[This view shows both the interlocking tower by the engine and the bridge control tower by the bridge. Click the link and expand the comments. There are some photos showing the world had a lot more complex crossings.]

Jarelle Alexander posted
Dennis DeBruler The locomotive is skunking the track work of this 21st Street Crossing. :-) The leading truck of the locomotive is over the first of the five C&WI tracks that curved through this crossing. Note how that first track curves through the diamonds of the Pennsy vs. IC+Santa Fe tracks.

Dennis DeBruler shared
This is one of the better views I have seen of the intricate track work at the 21 Street Crossing. The C&WI track curves through the diamonds of the Pennsy vs. IC+Santa Fe tracks. Most of the interlocking tower for this crossing is visible in front of the locomotive.
Jon Roma Post 1944, as the tower dates to that year.
David Daruszka commented on Dennis' share
Paul Jervert commented on Dennis' share
I ran I.C. Freight transfer trains across those "diamond's and special work" daily between Markham and Hawthorne and Industry jobs out of Glenn Yard back in 1972 to 1980. Also Amtrak from Union Station to Brighton Park Shop and Bloomington / St. Louis.from 1987-1990 ! Invariably most every time I crossed there would be a MOW welder and his flagman standing next to him as I passed and he would of course stop his work and stand away from the site. The tower leverman in front of the So.Branch Bridge would have the route levers on the machine sleeved and RED tagged out ! photo: AT&SF
Dennis DeBruler I assume they were quick to rip out the five C&WI tracks as soon as they were abandoned because of the maintenance issues. So I assume those tracks were gone by 1987 and the crossing was a lot simpler. I just looked at what is left of the crossing. I didn't realize the CN/IC+former Santa Fe tracks crosses the Amtrak+Metra+NS/Pennsy tracks at a 45-degree angle. That obviously makes tie placement a real challenge.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3

Also, your photo provides a nice view of the former 1908 18th Street Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge and the 18th Street Viaduct back when it used truss spans.

I was going to move this photo to some notes on the elevated tower. But I see there are some references to it so I just copied, rather than moved, the photo.
Bob Lalich commented in a different posting
That tower was elevated above the tracks.
Bob Lalich commented on another posting
That was the original tower for the interlocking built in 1893. See the diagram posted above. It was replaced with a brick tower north of the C&WI and east of the PRR at the end of WWII.

Glen W Haase copied this photo to a post with the comment:
From a posting by Bill Lalich in "Industrial History" Website, 21 street Crossing or Alton Junction
John Uhlich That appears to be a pneumatic-style switch instead of the usual, modern electro-mechanical.
Dennis DeBruler If you scroll down about 3/4 of the way in these notes you will see a comment by Bob indicating that the photo is before the end of WWII.

Glen W Hasse then posted
My Curiosity has gotten to me. Recently I submitted a post to an individual who enquired about a Photograph he saw on Facebook. I posted a Photo that I had seen on an Industrial History Website. After studying the Picture I began to study the story behind the Photograph. The Individual had in his possession a small Ball Peen Hammer, A rod/stick and a relatively good Cigar clinched in his teeth, all of which is probably needed for his job of Getting a Switching Machine to operate in the Cold, Snowy Weather. My Question is, 1 Is the Switch Machine a new Electric-Pneumatic type, or Mechanical. 2, Is that a Stub Switch and 3, Is the Switch itself a Dumping Type for Safety Reasons? The absence of Points, the Snow Covering and not being able to see any Frogs further down the trackage. Discussion needed.
Jerry Nolan It's a derail. The idea is to derail the car but keep it basically on the track to avoid a major mess. That's what the outside guard rail on the left and the inside guard rail beyond the movable point are for.
[Bob Lalich's comment that it was an electro-pneumatic plant has been moved near the top with the other track diagrams.]

Evan Jones commented on a posting
Bill Nimmo shared
Carl Venzke posted
Another LIFE photo taken in Chicago by Joseph Scherschel 1948.
Dominic Andrew I’d like to know the degree of curvature that those diamonds were built on that’s amazing trackwork.
Bob Lalich If I am interpreting a C&WI drawing correctly, the curvature of their tracks is approximately 10 degrees.
Bob Lalich It was called 21st St, Alton Jct, and ATSF Jct, depending on the RR.
[I wonder if this was taken from the interlocking tower. Note that there are two different maintenance crews working around the Santa Fe+IC tracks. So speculation that this crossing was a maintenance nightmare is probably well founded.]
Thomas W. Dinsmore commented on Carl's posting
Roughly the same view today.

Craig Willett posted
What 21st St. used to look like.
Harold Kirman They had over-rationalized that plant to the point of insane when I was on Amtrak, never had such a flexible place been reduced to such dysfunction. CN has made it a touch worse in the past few months as well now.
Matt McClure Harold Kirman With the single-tracking?
Harold Kirman The single tracking, prior to that the removal of crossovers and signals that allowed effective maintenance. The plant was configured to be simple, but not effective. The CN just made it worse with the single tracking that creates conflicts in train movements. Other than that, it was (is) just great.
Mark Egebrecht That is nothing! It once had 26 diamonds!
Robert Jordan Didn't see any speculation but inbound later afternoon would seem to Grand Canyon with the headend, might have thought more mail?????
Craig Willett Robert Jordan my memory wants to say Texas Chief...the lighting says's not the Grand Canyon...

Daniel Walton commented on Craig's post

Bob Lalich commented on Craig's post
 Photo from the John Barriger collection.
[We can see this signal bridge on the right side of Daniel's photo above.]

Matthew Chapman commented on Craig's post
Always found this diagram of crossing ownership and maintenance interesting. Sure looks like Illinois Central is carrying the workload here.

I bet crossing #12 was especially troublesome.

David Charles Lindberg posted
Scan of a somewhat damaged slide I took...The Broadway Limited departing Chicago with a Pooch and 2 E-Units back in 1977
Jerry JacksonJerry and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicagoland Railfan. And an ex-Frisco Geep leading another Amtrak train too. Very Nice!
Stuart B. Slaymaker That is a switch job, heading to, or from 21st Street. The ex-Frisco geeps were owned by Amtrak.
Cameron Applegath C&WI mains beginning to get axed.
Brandon McShane The N&W Cannonball commuter train had moved from "Polk Street Station" to Union Station in December 1976. It was the last train to operate through the interlocking on C&WI.
Stuart B. Slaymaker I worked for Amtrak at C.U.S., then. Pretty positive the hulking E-Units were just there to provide steam. I'm sure the P30CH had more than enough power. They ran on 48-49 for a while, before being exiled to New Orleans.
Steve Kraus I always liked the Pooches; thought they were sharp looking. They had twin pony engines for HEP and I believe that the pair of engines could sync not only with each other but across units as well. (Anyone know for sure?)

I remember frequent viewings
 of the southbound Panama Limited when a Pooch was the primary power with an ex-E9B boiler car to heat the train. The Pooch was led by an E which had the correct signal equipment for the stretch south of Champaign. I think it came off at Effingham or something like that.

Stan Stanovich ...far more photogenic with out the Orange Line bridge in the foreground.
Steven J. Brown posted
Illinois Central SD40A 6020 (built 1970, became SOO 6407 then CP 6407) at 21st Street in Chicago - May 1983.
Dennis DeBruler The C&WI diamonds have been removed, but the C&WI track still exists. Diamonds are a maintenance headache and a speed restriction, so it is worth the cost of getting rid of them.

Steven J. Brown shared
Moody shot at Twenty-first Street before the CTA bridge was built. ICG Geeps wandering through the crossing. Chicago, Illinois - July 1987.
Dennis DeBrulerYou and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. The little building close to the bridge tower controlled the bridge, and the brick building between it and the locomotives is the junction tower. It is rare to see a photo that includes both of these buildings.
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.
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak SW1 734 (built 1941 as NYC 628 to PC 8475, sold to Independent Locomotive Service circa 1997)crosses the 21st Street bridge for headroom in Chicago, Illinois - January 8, 1990.
Matt McClure Post 9/11 this would warrant a call to CPD. Sadly.Dennis DeBruler The photo shows both the 1-story bridge tower by the bridge and the brick, 2-story 21-st interlocking tower. Control of the bridge was moved from the white "house" on top of the span to the bridge tower.
Bill Molony posted
Erie-Lackawanna EMD E8A #822, getting out of town with E-L train #6, The Chicago Lake Cities to Hoboken - 1961.
Dennis DeBruler The train illustrates the C&WI curve through the 21st Street Crossing south of the bridge.
David Daruszka of a photo posted by Bill Molony
Monon EMD F3A #85A, leading train #5, the Thoroughbred, through the 21st Street Junction - undated.
[This is an even better illustration of the C&WI curve through the crossing.]
Bill Molony About those color schemes: when the Monon first dieselized in the late 1940's, that had their new freight diesels painted in a black and gold color scheme, and had their new passenger diesels and passenger cars painted in the red and gray color scheme. In the 1950's, they abandoned the red and gray colors for the passenger equipment and went to black and gold for both freight and passenger equipment.

Dennis DeBruler Black and Gold are Purdue's colors, and Crimson and Cream are Indiana University's colors. On the web, they use gray instead of Crimson.
Kevin Piper posted
A CB&Q GP30, GP20, and GP40 pass 21st Street in Chicago on 6-2-68. This may be a PC run-through train, but that can not be verified. ROGER LALONDE PHOTO
Robert Jordan posted his 1971 photo when most of the tracks were still present. Facebook no longer saves the post when a link is shared. So I had to go back to Chicagoland Railfan to find the March 15, 2019, posting to access the comments. (That is a Facebook change that I hate!)
Robert's Facebook comment:
Illinois Central at 21st. May 1971.
GP-10 8036
Trivia in a way. Wish I had real records.
I have this marked May 1st but separated from from last and first runs. Pretty sure it was not Friday as AM I probably had a class at Circle. Of note I can spy some probable railfans at crossing. Barely visible is a crew member, old timer in white hat next to engine. I can barely make out engine number but looked like 36 and that fits? With two units I take it as a transfer.
Ean Kahn-Treras Trying this angle nowadays would have most likely at the correct elevation to get a cut off view of the CN tracks due to the CTA's Orange Line paralleling it in the foreground. One of the multitude of reasons this photo is so neat.

Pretty cut and clear which tracks are the Illinois Central.

Next landmark would be the PRR track pair which crosses thru the lift bridge, clatter over a mass of diamonds and end up in a very pleasing bottom right corner of this image.

The GM&O is the pair of tracks swinging off to the left hand frame after the 21st Street Lift Bridge.

Then if you count the first 5 tracks along the bottom of the frame from the left you add the C&WI into the picture. You could see that the first track on the left expanded the layout past 21st St to 6 tracks in days gone by.

The last player at 21st St who has a bit of odd trackage is the Santa Fe. In nowadays terms every inch of the ATSF east of Ash St has been scrubbed clean, but not in this photo. Their coach yard is seen off of the right hand side. Their mainline would have connected into the IC out of frame and to the left, and then a pair of crossovers would thus spit the ATSF out and onto the C&WI somewhere back behind the consist of this Illinois Central freight. Most of the CTA's Orange Line now follows the path of the ATSF thru here.

Thanks for sharing Robert.

Richard Scott Marsh Most if not all the curved tracks went to stations that are not there now. IC ATSF shared tracks at this point. GM&O curved on to 21 Lift. PRR had the 2 that go in a line into Union on the 21 Lift. With Amtrak and the loss of Grande and Dearborn the covered track gos nowhere. Road the IC trains a lot as an kid as my dad worked for them and likely why in a fan.
Richard Scott Marsh Oh BTW the IC passenger trains rattled a lot! crossing this.
Robert Jordan And the "Laker" route, forget how that went. Thanks Scott for your followup.
Bob Lalich The Soo Line's Laker used Grand Central and Illinois Central Station, depending on the era. During the IC period, the Laker would have passed through 21st St.
Robert Jordan We would bike over to B-12 and see the Laker snake over to the SOO from the belt getting orders from the tower. Some times just before or after the City of LA. 3 GP's, lots of closed storage, baggage mail, an RPO, heavy Wt coaches, diner and SP or other sleeper. One time we went to Shiller Park in the AM and there was actually a little group going to Chicago.
Bob Lalich I don't have a timetable for reference, but it must have been a very slow trip between Central Station and Schiller Park. There were many interlockings on the IC CM&N line, along with the non-interlocked crossing at Ash St. The IC-IHB connection at Broadview was manually controlled.

Bob Lalich Excellent photo Robert Jordan! I take it that you climbed the C&WI signal bridge to take the photo.
Robert Jordan I was not that familiar of railfan just moving away from muscle cars. I was wondering where I shot but don't remember ever climbing signal bridges but the view is high.
Bob Lalich commented on Robert's share for which I can no longer get a link
Here is a Life magazine photo from 1948 looking south from the tower which shows the signal bridge.
Ean Kahn-Treras that first cwi track crossing right thru the prr/ic diamond...
Dennis DeBruler And those LIFE magazines were printed in the Cuneo Press buildings in the right background of this photo.
[This photo is a repeat, but it is worth it.]

Don DeWald posted
One of the beautiful P-1 Hudsons
Ray Weart Making the long back up move to Landers for servicing. Note the red flag above her pilot beam.
Dennis DeBruler It is going through 21st Street Junction back when the CW&I had all five tracks curving through it. The buildings on the right were the Cueno Press complex. I wonder who owned the building in the left background that has another impressive tower. The tender is crossing the IC+Santa Fe tracks.
USGS 1929 Englewood Topo Excerpt
[This was to test the accuracy of the 12,000 scale topo maps. They are not accurate when the tracks are dense.]

Bill Molony posted
Pennsylvania Railroad train #304, The South Wind, easing across the PRR's lift bridge near 21st Street in August of 1951.
On this particular day, it was powered by two Atlantic Coast Line EMD E7A locomotives.
The South Wind operated over the PRR between Chicago and Louisville, the L&N between Louisville and Montgomery, the ACL between Montgomery and Jacksonville, and the FEC between Jacksonville and Miami.
This train was equipped with reclining seat coaches, a lounge car, a dining car, Pullman sleeping cars and an observation broiler-buffet lounge coach.
[I wish I have been keeping notes on the various routes between Chicago and Florida. Different Chicago railroads would have different partners to get to Florida.
Note the bridge tower at the corner of the bridge and part of the interlocking tower on the right.]
Brian Watt commented on Bill's post
[The different railroads would pool power and cars.]
Mike Breski posted two photos with the comment:
Lewis Collection 3035 by barrigerlibrary on Flickr.
Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains at the 21st Street crossing with the vertical lift bridge over the South Branch of the Chicago River in the background. Both trains departed from Chicago Union Station for points east.
John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library. The Lewis Collection.
Bill Edrington I’m guessing the top photo is of one of the “Valpo dummies” on its rush-hour run to Valparaiso, IN.
Mark Egebrecht There were once 26 diamonds here!.


Arturo Gross posted, this photo used with specific permission
A set of light ICG power moves west through 21st St. interlocking in Chicago, Paducah GP10 8154 leads GM&O GP35 607, GP10 8171 and a 9500 series GP38, April 30 1977. Original Kodachrome Art Gross collection, photographer unknown.
Dennis DeBruler A rare view of the crossing. This is looking East-Northeast. Santa Fe's coach and grape yards were on the right and Meadow Gold Cold Storage on the left. The smokestacks of the Santa Fe powerhouse are peaking out over the fourth unit. Amtrak was using these yards while they rebuilt Pennsy's yard for their use.
This shows that they have already removed at least the most complicated diamonds caused by the C&WI track.

Meadow Gold:
Coach Yard:
For future reference:

Newt Oliver on Facebook posted a Pinterest link of Txmblr
ATSF, Chicago, Illinois, 1950 - Center for Railroad Photography

William Shapotkin posted
It is July 1, 1977 and Amtrak trains operating out of Chicago on the Santa Fe are still being serviced at the Santa Fe Coachyard in Chicago's Chinatown. PNC GP7 #1508 does the honors of shoving (what will be) the W/B SOUTHWEST LIMITED toward Union Station over the South Branch Bridge on the former Pennsy at 21st St Interlocking. View looks north in this John Kamacher Photo/Wm Shapotkin Collection.
Jon Roma Notice that all but one of the C&WI tracks at left is severed at the crossing.
Bob Lalich I have one photo in my archives of an N&W business train parked at Dearborn, dated July of 1977. I believe the N&W commuter trains moved to CUS in 1976. I wonder why the C&WI track and crossings would have been kept in service?
Matt McClure Bob Lalich They did move in '76. That is curious. I bet some legal point was at stake.

Mike Breski posted


Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Alco PA No. 292 leads local train 11 to St. Louis across PRR’s Chicago River drawbridge and onto home rails at 21st Street, Chicago, in October 1950. This unit powered the 1947 Freedom Train, evidenced by the plaque just ahead of the ladder to the cab.
Wallace W. Abbey photo

(new window)  Some of the action is at Dearborn Station and other places; but some, such as C&WI and Wabash, is at this crossing from inside the C&WI's curved tracks. The two clips starting with Monon are of particular interest because they show some of the maintenance that was needed to keep all the trackwork in good shape.

For example, at 2:09 we see a Wabash 4-6-2 backing through the crossing.

A 1975 Flickr photo that shows 2 of the 5 C&WI tracks have been removed. It also shows boxcars in the C&WI yard by the river in the background.

David Charles Lindberg posted a 1976 photo that shows some of the C&WI diamonds being removed along with "Outbound Broadway Limited with a new P30CH leading two E units out bound from Union Station."

Steve Patterson caught a 1969 view that shows the first C&WI track curving through the diamond of the Pennsy and SantaFe+IC tracks. You can also see the Prudential Building in the background. (Facebooked)

Glenn Anderson caught the inbound Danville Flyer in MoPac colors on the outer C&WI track. (source)