Friday, June 26, 2015

Interlocking: 16th (Clark) Street (RI+NYC/IC+St. Charles Air Line)

Update: CRJ, SatelliteBird's Eye View. This junction is called "Clark Street" by IC. I created another posting that has pictures from my visit to the tower. Note that C&WI also had a 16th Street Interlocking.
NorthAmericanInterlockingsphoto photo photo diagram photo photo photo photo
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers: Flickr1, Flickr2

20160416 2228rc
16th Street is where the Rock Island and New York Central ran north/south and the St. Charles Air Line and IC (Chicago, Madison & Northern, CM&N)  ran eastish/westish. The 1901 tower still stands today, but the NYC tracks have been removed and the RI tracks are now owned by Metra. The IC is owned by CN, and the Air Line is owned by CN (50% because IC acquired Michigan Central's share) + UP (25%) + BNSF (25%).

An excerpt from another one of my photos because I'm still trying to figure out what controls the exposure. Mark's photo below has better color. More pictures from my April 16, 2016 trip to downtown are in 16th Street Interlocking, My Pictures.
James Anders posted
16th Street interlocking as expanded in 1928. This configuration changed a little bit when the Chicago River was straightened in the 30s.
Bob Lalich Thanks for sharing this drawing! An interesting detail at this time is the Alton tracks west of the IC Iowa line that connected to the SCAL and CRIP/NYC. Those connections were broken around WWII but one of the tracks from 21st St remained well into the 1960s and was used for storage at times.
Brent Rose Wow. It’s hard to believe how few of those tracks exist today. In fact the CN crew I work on just removed the West bound St. Charles and The IC main 1 about a month ago.

Michael Riha shared
Since this crossing comes up from time to time in this forum, I thought this post found in another group page was worth sharing. Anyone familiar with the current appearance of this junction should study and appreciate what it was in its heyday.
Bob Poortinga There were actually two separate interlocking machines at 16th St tower. One controlled the Rock Island crossing, the other controlled the crossings and switches west of the tower.

Mark Hinsdale -> Chicagoland Railfan
Mark did not provide a comment. Fortunately, I could read "16th Street Tower" on the tower. And Metra now uses the Rock Island tracks.

A photo with a Rock Island engine shows that the two tracks closest to the tower were owned by the Rock Island, and a photo with a steam engine (note the clear stack) shows the adjacent New York Central tracks.

Bob Lalich commented on a post
Ken Schmidt posted

Chris Ness posted
16th Street Tower
Once the 20th Century Limited carrying Hollywood stars to New York raced down these tracks.
Coming out of LaSalle Street station, once the home of the New York Central and Rock Island lines, now it serves METRA commuters coming to the Chicago Board of Trade.
Chicago, IL 04/09
James Anders: Plans are in the works to tear it down and modernize it in the next few years. Building itself could almost fall over if you sneeze on it in the right spot. Last time I was there there were 2x4's along one side to slow the list to the east.
Thomas Wentzel: What station in Chicago did the 20th Century stop at? Did thru passengers to Hollywood (Pasadena) have to go to a different station to get the Super Chief?
B Tupper Upham: Thomas Wentzel For many years the NYC and ATSF had an agreement that switched through sleeping cars from one station to the other.
From LaSalle St. over to Dearborn St. and vice versa.
Guzzo Pinc posted
My dad Frank Pinc took this photo just south of downtown. 16th Street Tower (Metra) posted
The late Rock Island era was a very sad affair of a railroad struggling to remain solvent. Here, a welding crew provides attention to the 16th Street diamonds in Chicago while a sad E7A works suburban service in June of 1978. Roger Puta photo.
Andy Brown: If Conrail could have saved the RI, why wasn't it included in the plans for Conrail? What could have saved the Rock would have been the UP buyout that got delayed until UP was no longer interested, because the Rock was too far gone. Had that buyout happened, how do you think Western railroading might look today. Remember the UP would already have been in Chicago and on the Gulf coast.
Bill Molony shared

William Strassner posted
William Strassner comment
pic of tower and descr. Taylor sold tower buildings also !
Excerpt from above comment, at Facebook resolution
[Note that both of the Rock Island grain elevators are still standing in the background.]

David Daruszka posted
Bob Lalich Notice the bridge behind the tower. That was a connection from the Alton to the CRIP/NYC. At the time, the Alton had two tracks west of the IC on the elevation between 21st St and 16th St.
Excerpt from above comment at Facebook resolution

James Mardiguian comment on William's posting
Stopped by there 3/10
John David Larson posted
Near 16th Street Crossing as seen in the year 1999.

James Anders posted
16th Street interlocking as expanded in 1928. This configuration changed a little bit when the Chicago River was straightened in the 50s.
Bob Lalich Thanks for sharing this drawing! An interesting detail at this time is the Alton tracks west of the IC Iowa line that connected to the SCAL and CRIP/NYC. Those connections were broken around WWII but one of the tracks from 21st St remained well into the 1960s and was used for storage at times.
Mark Rickert Also a fun fact there was two towers and two interlinings at that point, the C&WI had a tower at 16th st on their grade. I ended up with an IC switch lock from the connector between the two plants from my grandfather who found it among his stuff when cleaning up after the connection between the two railroads was cut in the 70's. when the station was being decommissioned.
Dennis DeBruler The straightened channel opened on Dec 16, 1929, not the 50s.

David Daruszka commented on his post
Sanborn map of the area.

Mark Hinsdale posted
Mark's comment:
"Sixteenth Street"
An eastward, soon to be southward, CN unit coal train off the BNSF eases across the Metra Rock Island District at 16th St. The train has utilized the St. Charles Air Line from Halsted Street and will shortly turn south on CN's former Illinois Central main line along the Lakefront.
I'm copying all of the comments because they answer some of the questions I have as to how the Class I railroads interchange traffic in Chicago.

Ronald L. Jackson Are the BNSF Crews still taking these to Kensington?
Mark Hinsdale I think so, Ron. When they come through Western Ave, I haven't seen them pause for any crew changes at Halsted. They just wait for a signal and head up the Air Line.
Ronald L. Jackson I thought with the J they were gonna run them in at Eola and give them to the CN. But I guess if they're still using their crews to Kensington, that would be a big advantage to the CN.
Ronald L. Jackson Mark Hinsdale Did you ever ride a train from ...say Markham up to Western Avenue on the BNSF?
Mark Hinsdale Yes, and I think they have all they can say grace to on the J between Eola, Joliet and Matteson. Anything that has a reliable alternative path, such as these Consumers trains and also grain off the Iowa Division, often comes this way, past 16th St..
Mark Hinsdale Yes, I have ridden between Markham and Western Ave a couple of times. Also Markham to Glenn.
Ronald L. Jackson Back in late 1999, or early 2000, I moved to Battle Creek and worked the west end until I retired. I can remember the first time I went from Harvey to Western Avenue with an empty coal train. As we went under McCormick Place...I'm like....Are we gonna clear through here? And I remember about 100 feet or so from the north side of the place....That ceiling was so close....I ducked my head!!!
Mark Hinsdale Yessir! Gotta watch those height restrictions!

Stan Sienicki Ron, back when we started running 394 out of Glenn Yard on the IC, the yard job messed up and left a Bi-Level in a track we picked up, nobody caught it and neither did Corwith Tower or Metra 16th Tower Op, but after going under McCormick Place and exited the south end we went into emergency and couldn't get our air back, well after finding out the load of panel vans became convertibles the Trainmasters just had us cut away a couple cars ahead of it and move the EOT up and continue, left 17 cars on the main and no investigation, I guess they figured they knew they had messed up?
John Maxfield Lucky!
Mark Hinsdale posted
Rock Island E8 658 brings a rush hour train of "Al Capone" coaches through the interlocking at 16th Street on a hot July, 1977 afternoon. The train will serve all stops on the Suburban Branch and terminate at Blue Island Vermont Street. Photo by Mark Hinsdale

Jason Jordan shared Mark Llanuza's photo
Its 1983 with eastbound ICG coming up to 16th st tower
John David Larson posted
This boxcar was a rarity in 1999 when I took this photograph at 16th Street Crossing on the south side of Chicago. The Great Northern Railroad disappeared when it was merged with the Burlington Route and other railroads in 1970. The new railroad was called Burlington Northern. This boxcar is painted in a scheme called "big sky blue" which was a new corporate livery that was introduced in 1967. It's covered with grime and graffiti here but seeing it on this day over three decades after the railroad itself ceased as a going concern was like finding an old, battered rare coin in pocket change.
[You can see a corner of the tower peeking out to the right of the boxcar. The bare ground on the right is where the NYC tracks would have been east of the Metra/Rock Island tracks that are in the foreground.]
David M Laz posted
David's comment:
Running north-south through here is Metra's ex-Rock Island commuter line from Joliet; it terminates at LaSalle Street Station, about a mile to the north. Entering from the southwest and then heading due east is Canadian National's ex-Illinois Central Iowa line (the same line that passes through 21st Street). It also carries traffic from CN's ex-IC, ex-GM&O line from Joliet. Feeding into CN from the west is the St. Charles Air Line, jointly owned by Canadian National, BNSF and Union Pacific.
Fred Mohr 16th Street Tower or Clark Street for the IC.

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak City of New Orleans crossing the Rock Island at 16th Street Tower - March 1993. The train will back into Union Station today over the 21st Street Bridge.
[It will back in after it crosses the South Branch on the St. Charles Airline Bridge that is in the right background. The interlocking tower is just to the left of the bridge, but considerably closer to the camera]
John David Larson posted
16th Street Tower as seen in 1999.
Jon Roma Manned 24x7 by Metra operators.
[CB&Q was a part owner of the SCAL, so BN is probably interchanging a train with IC]
David Charles Lindberg posted
Rock Island commuter with Capone Coaches outbound.

Mark Hinsdale posted five pictures of southbound Rock Island trains with the comment: "'Rush Hour @ 16th Street...' ... on a hot June, 1977 weekday afternoon."





Tim Carrol posted
William Petty That is an interesting locomotive, it appears to be a GP on Alco trucks with a slightly raised short hood or lowered long hood?William Petty I looked it up in my old roster and the 7300 and 7301 were the only two Baldwin DRS-4-4-15 1500hp road switchers on the NYC.
John Ryan provided three photos with the comment:
Here are three pictures that I took while working at 16th Street in the closing days of Penn Central in early 1976.
The fellow in the window is the late Wiley Solomon, a regular operator.  The few times that I worked there we never ran a Penn Central train to or from the Burlington.



Fred Mohr commented on the Steven J Brown's posting
Me in 1991 showing the interlocking bed of the 16th St machine.

Steven J. Brown posted four photos with the comment:
           16th Street Tower - Chicago - Four images - Four Decades!
Metra trains on the Rock Island, 1977, 1987, 1998 and 2017.
1  New RTA F40PH on the Rock Island at 16th Street Tower with CNW bi-levels - November 25, 1977 — 

2  Metra F40PH on the Rock Island at 16th Street Tower in Chicago - November 1987.

3  Metra F40PH 117 at 16th Street Tower on the Rock Island - June 1998.

4  Metra MP36PH-3S at 16th Street Tower on the Rock Island - February 25, 2017.
Dan Marinellie There are 27 MP36's, and 118 total F40's.
The Rock is split pretty even, 5 F40PH's, 6 F40PHM-2's, and 6 MP36's.
Robert Petit The oldest unrebuilt fleet with the least amount of spare locomotives too.

Steven J. Brown posted
Illinois Central GP40R 3113 (built 1966 as IC GP40 3025, became GMTX GP38-2 2326) holds for Metra traffic at 16th Street Tower in Chicago, Illinois - February 8, 1991.
Steven J. Brown shared
Looking East.
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak City of New Orleans #58 crosses the Rock Island at 16th Street Tower in Chicago, Illinois - February 24, 2017.
Jon Roma: This tower is not long for the world....
Steven J. Brown: Jon Roma What do you know?
Jon Roma: From Metra's 2023 Capital Program Summary at, there is this item: PE 4842 16th STREET INTERLOCKING, ROCK ISLAND This project will replace the 16th Street Interlocking with a modern solid-state automated electronic system. The interlocking is located at a junction with tracks owned by Canadian National (CN) near 16th Street in Chicago. The current interlocking is obsolete and manually operated with two hand-lever machines built in 1901 and 1929. There are no manufacturers of spare or replacement equipment for these machines. ($3,090,000)
Richard Elleby: Connection to St. Charles Airline is toast except the connection from the Rock to the Airline and the Tower needs to meet its demise! It’s in Horrible shape!
Steven J. Brown shared
Steven J. Brown shared

Paul Musselman posted
16TH street tower, at Clark St.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Paul's post
It has been a while since I looked at that area. I see they have dug out the bridges that had just been buried in fill.
Paul Musselman: Dennis DeBruler Yes, when I was first there, it seemed funny to have a girder bridge that was just 'laying' on the ground, with a track running thru it...

Mark Llanuza posted
Its a Hot Aug 1977 early morning switcher crosses over the IC at 16th tower with piggy backs.
William L. Brushaber This picture has me perplexed. The 796 is on mainline #4, however 12st. yard connects to main #5 just north of 16st tower and the only crossover to Main #4 is north of Roosevelt Rd.. bridge or south of 18th St and facing the wrong direction. Could a dispatcher explain!!!
Mark Llanuza This train is blocking cars during the morning rush hour William L. Brushaber it might be the reason
Thomas W. Dinsmore commented on Carl Venzke's posting
Same crossing today.
Mitch Markovitz Look. Before the tower started to lean.
Mark Hinsdale posted
[This is one of four photos that Mark posted from his ride on a NKP 765 excursion train. It shows that they can run with a clean smokestack. It also shows that Metra needs to fix more than just the roof of the tower.]
Michael Matalis posted
When SDP40F's ruled the Earth! Northbound Panama Limited snakes thru 16th St on 3/12/77
[It is switching to the St. Charles Airline so that it can cross the river and then use BNSF/CB&Q tracks to back into Union Station.]
Mark Llanuza posted
Its 1970 at 16th st tower with westbound Hawkeye [photo collection Mark Llanuza,]
[The building caught in the photo is not the tower. Back in the 1970s there were a couple of buildings east of the north/south tracks shown below. Mike's photo above also catches this auxiliary building that was close to the IC tracks as they curved south.]

Mark Llanuza posted
Classic Rock Island E-6 passes through 16th tower 1975. posted
A welding crew provides attention to the 16th Street diamonds in Chicago while a sad Rock Island E7A works suburban service in June of 1978. Roger Puta photo.
[The differed maintenance on the locomotive is a reminder that the Rock Island will be bankrupt in less than two more years.]
David Daruszka updated
ALCO PA1 4203 leads a train over the diamonds at 16th Street. Built 1948, the unit was powered by a 2000 hp 244 (v-16 turbocharged) prime mover.
Dennis DeBrulerGroup Admin 16th Street Tower on the left. The front of the loco is crossing the IC. The St. Charles Air Line is back by the tower. I thought NYC had the east two tracks and Rock Island had the west two tracks. But that would put this train on the Rock Island tracks. Now the eastern tracks are gone and Metra owns the western tracks.

David Charles Lindberg posted
Circa 1976.
[I left out most of the comment because they were wrong. Since the link is to a public group, you can read the comments concerning the picture.  I include it here because these are the Santa Fe tracks that were filled in to make some of the land I was walking on to take my pictures.]

David Charles Lindberg reposted
One more retro Amtrak memory for today. Southwest Limited on a switch move, as a Illinois Central pig train passes over head, circa 1976.
Tim Valiquet The pig train is IC #50 headed toward 21st street tower, it is on the IC line to Iowa it will tie up at the IC IMX yard near Bridgeport. . 16th street tower, still there staffed by Metra operators controls this junction where the IC Iowa line and St. Charles line connect and cross the old Rock Island. This same view could have been seen out the tower window. The line below is indeed the line leading into old Dearborn station, that also tied into the old AT&SF coach yard and diesel house
Stuart B. Slaymaker This shot is looking southwest, with the old Cuneo Press, in the background. The Amtrak train is probably the inbound #16, the Texas Chief, still being serviced at Santa Fe's 21st Street Yard. Southwest Limited would have had a transition dorm car to the first high level coach. Crews dorm space was in the public sleeper on 15-16. Amtrak continued to use 21st Street for the former Santa Fe trains, throughout the late '70s.
Brandon McShane Amtrak leased the 21st Street Coach Yard from ATSF from 1976 through 1981, when the current Amtrak facilities were completed.
Mark Hinsdale posted
A Markham to Glenn (or Hawthorne) transfer clanks across the Rock Island main line at 16th Street, Chicago. Today, the large Beatrice Foods cold storage warehouse is full of condominiums instead of cottage cheese. 6-77
Rob Olewinski Cmraseye posted three photos of NKP 765, the first of which is the north side of this tower.

Rob Olewinski Cmraseye Clark and Roosevelt Rd...16th St. Tower in the background.


Dennis DeBruler You can tell that you are not at a "normal" railfan spot because they are not putting on a show with black smoke. That is good because otherwise the smoke would have skunked the bridges.

Joseph Kelly Thompson Flickr 2018 Photo

NKP 765 @ Chicago, Illinois

NKP 765 leads the Metra excursion north into Chicago, Illinois past the very historic 16th Street Tower. Shoutout to Jason for removing that gas line stake and taking one for the team.

Patrick McGee posted
After long time photographer Frank Tribbey passed away in 2009, my dad who was a close friend of his acquired his collection. Once he passed in 2014 the collection was handed down. Frank moved to Chicago for a number of years in the mid 60's and shot a great amount railroad action in the area. I'll try to share some on here as time goes on. To begin, here's an interesting view of N&W coming off the St. Charles Air Line bridge at 16th Street, and around the connection to the joint Rock Island/NYC mains at Clark Street Tower. I can't recall the slide date on this one but I believe somewhere around 1966 or 1967.
Bob Lalich Very interesting! The train could be returning to Calumet Yard from a transfer to CNW Wood St or CB&Q Western Ave. The fact that it is pulling cars and not running light may provide a clue. By this time frame, certain railroads had agreements to pull both ways.
Ron Hull Yep, likely headed to Calumet Yard. Interesting route: they would have crossed from the NYC main to the former Nickle Plate connection at JN tower (at about 71st St.), dropped down grade and looped UNDER the NYC then up again and over the IC to get to their own home rails. If you look hard enough at Google Maps satellite view you can see the tunnel and viaduct. They also had a daily transfer job from Cal yard to Englewood yard, dropping off cars then returning caboose light. I remember coupling onto their caboose then bringing it back to the west end of the yard so they could tie onto it for the trip back to Cal. I was always reminded to not make a too hard a coupling so as not to spill the coffeepot on the caboose stove.
[In other words, it would use the NKP passenger line south of this interchange.]

John DeWit Woodlock II posted
CC 2003,IC 9611,HLCX 3613 @ 18th Street-Chicago,IL 19 NOV 96.
Dennis DeBruler Street View:!3m6!1e1!3m4...

65. St. Charles Air Line at NYC crossing - looking west from Clark St.
Dennis DeBruler posted
I just came across a 1941 Barriger album,…/72157690635424082/with/26513275928/. I've just begun to study the photos. But this photo of the 16th Street Tower caught my eye. The caption reads: "65. St. Charles Air Line at NYC crossing - looking west from Clark St." We see part of the 16th Street Interlocking Tower on the right. The girder bridges angling to the right carry the St. Charles tracks over the Santa Fe and C&WI tracks. The Strauss bridges in the background are the St. Charles and B&OCT bridges (left to right). The curved girder bridge is a mystery in my mind. The diagonal track in the foreground is one of the two CN/IC tracks to Freeport, IL . And they still exist. The closest two tracks going along the tower were owned by the NYC. The caption omitted the next two tracks, which were owned by the Rock Island. But the Rock Island and NYC operated these four tracks as a shared 4-track mainline between La Salle and Englewood Stations timecarded north/south even though both railroads were east/west railroads beyond Englewood. The bottle shaped water tower between the two left-most telephone poles is supposed to be a beer bottle. ("Bob Lalich: That is a beer bottle from the Schoenhofen brewery.") The girder bridges on the left were for connections between the RI+NYC and St. Charles. They went over the Santa Fe and C&WI tracks. Those girders still exist, they just filled in under and around them:…/@41.8603718,-87.6317…/data=!3m1!1e3. The short spans went over the Santa Fe tracks and the long spans went over the C&WI tracks.
Timothy Leppert I was a Penn Central Operator at Clark Street Tower for a while and ran a lot of traffic during the afternoon rush. It was old but only needed paint, siding repairs, new roof, more paint.......
Tim Valiquet I know what you mean ...I worked days there for 16 years. Until the roof got new plywood one day when the wind was strong the old plywood above the desk in the NW corner used to lift up and you could see light coming thru the cracks....

Lawrence Smith I am aware if the Barriger pics but not this specific album. Great find. Someone please explain what the CJ RR did.
Dennis DeBruler E.g. photo 152. It is the Chicago Junction. The IC connected to it at 43rd, The 1865 corporate ancestor was a railroad that was constructed as part of the Union Stock Yard effort to connect all of the trunk lines to the stock yards, Another name for this railroad was Chicago River & Indiana. The NYC managed to gain control of it. Norfolk Southern now has the remnants that remain of the route.
Bob Lalich commented on Dennis' post
The mystery girder bridge in the Barriger photo was a track that belonged to the Alton/GM&O. It was a legacy of the C&A originally using IC's passenger station. At one time, the track also connected to the NYC/CRIP tracks. Both connections were severed. In the postwar period the track simply dead ended on the elevation. Here is a photo taken before the river was straightened in which you can see the connections.
Dennis DeBruler So the C&A used that sliver of land between Santa Fe and C&WI that we can still locate today because they left the NYC connector girders in place. I can also see the girder bridge that carried the C&A connector to RI+NYC over the tracks to Dearborn station. It appears that C&A connector forced a jig-jog in the RI+NYC mainline that exists to this day.
Bob commented with the track diagram posted above by William Strassner:
The jog in the La Salle approach tracks shows up even before grade separation. It may be due to yard tracks along the river north of 16th St. Here is a diagram that illustrates the connections that I tried to explain.

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Saluki #391 departs Chicago on the St Charles Airline crossing the Rock Island at 16th Street Tower in Chicago, Illinois - August 23, 2019.
[This train would have backed out of Union Station onto the BNSF/CB&Q tracks so that it could go forwards across the bridge, through this junction and on down the IC mainline to Champaign, etc.]

David Charles Lindberg posted this March 15, 1978 photo
[Both NYC tracks have been cut and one of them has already been removed.]

Darren Reynolds posted six images with the comment: "Metras tower.    Chicago,IL."






Dennis DeBruler commented on Darren's post
It is one of the few towers still standing in Chicago.,-87.6314358,186a,35y,39.42t/data=!3m1!1e3

Steven J. Brown posted
Metra F40PH-3 111 (built 1977 as RTA F40PH 111) is decked out with holiday lights shoving an inbound on the Rock Island at 16th Street Tower in Chicago, Illinois - November 21, 2023.
Jon Roma: Tower probably will be gone by this time next year.
Marilyn Trunk: Wish all the lines had it! Kids love it!
Steven J. Brown shared
Mark Tracy commented on Steven's post
I took this picture last night cool
Josiah Andrews posted
16th Street interlocking, taken from the IC section of the CORA handbook, not too sure on the date but I’m going to assume latter 80s/early 90s.

Marc Glucksman provides different perspectives of the tower as NKP 765 pulls a 2017 Father's Day Weekend excursion past it: heading north from the north\, heading south, and heading north from the west. (Source album)

1959 picture of a southbound Rocky Mountain Rocket. There seems to have been a big gap between the Rock Island and NYC tracks. A view looking south shows an Erie Freight Station.

Lou Gerard posted two cab units pulling two bi-levels southbound on Oct. 1973.

Lou Gerard posted an Oct. 1973 southbound Rock Island that includes the tower.

Edward posted a photo looking northwest across the diamonds.

See also Meadow Gold Butter for some more photos in this area.

John Roma's 1996 Flickr Photo of a small fraction of 1901 Taylor machine's controls has a long, interesting comment.

A Flickr Photo of an inbound Land o' Corn crossing four diamonds with the St. Charles Air Line tracks in the right background.

Steven J. Brown added four photos as comments to a posting by Connor Frasier.

No comments:

Post a Comment