Sunday, November 29, 2015

Andersons Railcar Services

Andersons needs so much railroad equipment to handle their grain, ethanol, corn oil, distiller dried grains, fertilizer, etc. that in the 1990s they created a Railcar Group that handles:
  • leasing 22,000 railcars and locomotives
  • railcar repair including a wash, blast, paint and cure shop in Maumee, OH and four tankcar repair locations.
  • fabrication in Maumee, OH. Looking at the pictures on that page, they not only fabricate parts for railcar repairs but for equipment needed to repair their grain elevators, ethanol plants, etc.
Andersons Fabrication
They have a computer controlled plasma cutter that can handle 9'x12' plates up to 1.5" thick.

Update: Andersons has a fleet of more than 23,000 railcars that it leases. Evidently it has coal cars because the article is talking about the downturn of coal. 59% is covered hoppers and 14% are tankers. So is the other 27% coal?The unit is still profitable. But it is not as profitable as it used to be. The rail unit is just 4% of revenues, but it was the most profitable. [TheBlade]

Friday, November 27, 2015

IHB's Norpaul Yard

Edward Kwiatkowski -> Chicago's Western Suburbs.
Edward's comment:
The Ringling Brother's and Barnum & Bailey circus train. Temporarily parked in the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad's NorpaulYard. Melrose Park Illinois. Friday,November 27th, 2015.
According to Goggle Maps, it is in the southern part of Franklin Park.

There was quite a bit of industrial switching in the area.

Update: Jerry Jackson posted two photos with the comment: "A pair of SD40A's and an SD40-2 with a transfer on the IHB, passing NorPaul yard in Franklin Park, IL winter of 91. I like that Engineer's window on the SOO SD40A."



Jerry Jackson posted
One Thousand, lean mean IHB NW2 horsepower, built in 1949. NorPaul Yard Franklin Park, May 1990.
erry Hongoltz Two of those pulling a coal train thru Dolton was a sight, then get a red light , block all the crossings and locking myself and the hind man in the caboose so the Dolton police couldn't give me a ticket ! Fun times!
Mark Llanuza posted
Its very Hot month of May 1975 .The door is open to keep the crews a little cooler at Norpaul [IHB ] yard near Franklin Park IL .This is a Erie train heading to Bensenville IL with three E-units.
[Mark has posted photos of Erie E units in the Bensenville Yard. This comment provides insight as to how Erie trains crossed Chiucago to get there.]
Mark Llanuza posted two photos with the comment: "Its April 1975 I'm at Norpaul on the IHB [Franklin Park IL with a southbound Erie transfer heading to 51st yard with four E-units sounding really cool these were some of my best times growing up at 18 years old."


Mark Llanuza posted
Its Sept 1976 were at IHB Norpaul yard near the town of Melrose Park IL with Erie and Penn Central caboose.
Gary Clark EL and PC just don't mix!
Mark Bilecki Sr. Yes, a dash 2 only 4 years old.

Mark Llanuza posted
Its may 1975 a Eire transfer train is stopped at IHB's Norpaul yard at Melrose park IL waiting to get into Bensenville yard .I wish i had closed the front door while the crews were waiting in the yard office.
James Ridgway Jr. Freight service E8s!

Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album

Jerry Jackson commented on a post
Is this Gibson?
Dillon Harrison: Jerry Jackson holy cow…. No sir, that’s Norpaul up by Northlake/Franklin Park. That’s 25th avenue bridge there in the background. This yard is still to this day dead as a door nail. Only thing we do up there now is block swap.

Was IH: McCormick Office Building: Reaper Block

Moved to the other blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mayfair Tower: C&NW vs. C&NW vs. Milwaukee

(CRJ; Satellite)

Also called Tower CO by C&NW. Mayfair Yard was just a little southwest of this tower.

Steven J. Brown posted
Metra F40PH 159 (built 1983) on the CNW Harvard Sub crossing the Milwaukee Road North Line going by Mayfair Tower in Chicago, Illinois - April 16, 1997.
Steven J. Brown shared
Karl Beetschen: I can tell you in my opinion that nothing has run the same since they’ve razed that tower. Never hear the operator at CY tell us to give him a good move, it just goes red.

This tower controlled the crossing of the Chicago & North Western and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific near Cicero (was Jefferson in 1897) Avenue a little north of Montrose Avenue. The following 1897 map shows another railroad crossed the C&NW next to the Milwaukee. If you look at a modern map, you will see that the crossing has been removed by having the south branch join the C&NW main and then the north branch diverges from the main.

Bird's Eye View
The photo shows the C&NW has 3 tracks and the Milwaukee has 2 tracks. I was surprised that a contemporary satellite image shows the same number of tracks. The railroads tend to remove tracks from their routes.

According to the satellite image, both routes are elevated, so I can't drive there and easily verify that the jointed rail in the photo has been replaced with CWR (Continuous Welded Rail).

The junction is in the upper-left corner of the Bird's Eye View. If you zoom in and pan the area between the raillines, you can see that many of the smokestacks in the background of the photo are still standing. I counted seven in the Bing Map.

Lou Gerard posted
Penn Central E8 4061 leads an Amtrak train to Milwaukee past Mayfair Tower in July 1973.
Mike Raia posted
CB&Q Empire Builder crossing the C&NW at Mayfair on April 17, 1965. The Q trains were running on the Milwaukee Road due to flooding of the Mississippi River. Bill Raia photo.
Mike Raia shared
Matt McClure: Summer of 1986 severe flooding at Ft. Madison put all ATSF trains in their Kodachrome glory on the former Milwaukee Road. Spectacular to watch in Elgin.
Thomas Karsten: Derail in the foreground is on the lead to the Mayfair yard and eventually the Weber line just east of Cicero Ave to the 40 th street yard at Lake st.
Gail Young-Fearon's Husband: Thomas Karsten do you know much about about the Weber line? Is it active from Wilson going north?
Dennis DeBruler: Gail Young-Fearon's Husband The overpasses are intact, but the tracks are gone and they have let the vegetation win.
Gail Young-Fearon's Husband: Dennis DeBruler I kind of sensed that, it's kind of crazy but the line along Cicero by Lawrence, is the eastern most viaduct at Montrose and the expressway, but then, south of Irving, this Weber line(?) splits from another line thats traveling southeast and this Weber line parallels Cicero (2 blocks east) going down past Division, that's as far as I went.
My interest in the Weber line is that it. Or its ROW goes all the way into Evanston towards McCormick and Green Bay road. From what I have read negotiations were occurring to get the ROW and turn it into a walking/ bike path like the 606. I find that idea intriguing, except the RR want big money I guess for the land. This I find odd as I too saw that parts of it has no track and is over grown.
The Weber line splits again as it comes out of Labagh Woods at Bryn Mar east of Cicero with the principle line going northeast and the other going north-northwest. This north ROW Is now cleared, paved and is a walking/bike path as it goes thru Lincolnwood. I keep thinking the northeast ROW could be a path going towards the Gross Pointe Lighthouse.
Dennis DeBruler: Gail Young-Fearon's Husband Here is more info on the Weber Branch including the Weber Yard:
Thomas Karsten: Gail Young-Fearon's Husband Only one customer left on the south end, a bakery near Palmer st., used to be called Mary Ann.
Mike Raia: Thomas Karsten now called Alpha Baking. Served twice a week.

Steven J. Brown posted
Milwaukee Road GP38-2 354 (built 1973, became Soo Line 4504 to KCS 2022) at Mayfair Tower in Chicago, Illinois - June 7, 1977.

Steven J. Brown shared
Doug Jirsa Great composition!
Steven J. Brown 15 year old me thanks you! (Present me too.)
Albert Carello In Milwaukee Road's final years those Freights would be seen frequently on the mainline going through Morton Grove, Glenview, Golf, and Techny on the passenger mainline!

One of eight photos posted by David Thompson
Recently on the Forgotten Chicago Discussion Page a member has posted pictures of the Expressways being built. Here are some railroad related items. All pictures are mid to late 50s.

Mayfair Tower on left with unfinished NW Expwy. Kennedy at Edens Junction. (Chuck Sanders Collection)
Marty Bernard posted
I was bumming around the north side of Chicago on June 24, 1973 and at Mayfair Tower I caught a CNW light engine move. The Tower is located on Cicero Avenue just north of Montrose Avenue. The two lines that cross there are the Union Pacific's ex-C&NW Northwest Line and the Metra Milwaukee North route, which is the former Milwaukee Road main line to Milwaukee and the Twin Cities. Mayfair Tower was closed in 1997 and razed the same year.

Marty Bernard shared
Glen Koshiol: Mayfair at on time was busy as it was the route to 40th st. And a connection to the BRC at Augusta Blvd. Used to deliver CNW cars in the three track yard.
Pete Fileca: Is that light signal on the left green?
Jon Roma: Pete Fileca, that's a train order signal.
John Haynes: Is there anything in particular that marks a train order signal as such, or is it simply part of the physical characteristics of the territory to know what it is? From what I’ve seen, placement often gives a train order signal away as such (i.e. very close to the tower, or diamond).
Jon Roma: John Haynes, it is distinguished from an absolute signal by being inside the plant, and on the left side of the track. In the absence of special instructions to the contrary, a train order signal governed ALL movements traveling in the direction it faced, regardless of which track.
However, as you noted, an employee's physical characteristics qualification is important to recognize what the signal is – and even more important, how to respond to it (or to observe if an indication is absent).

Marty Bernard shared
Kenneth Pochocki: I got a feeling that the Crandell is OTS and being towed to 40th street M19A

Steven J. Brown posted a couple of pictures. His comment:
Two images of trains at Mayfair taken standing on the the same spot. The slide mounts say June 1982, but from the lighting and the leafless trees, I suspect it is probably February or March. The first frame is RTA (later Metra) F40PH 128 on the Chicago and Northwestern Northwest line. Turning slightly right and waiting just a few moments, F40C 46 on a Milwaukee Road North line train.

Steven J. Brown posted
The last bit of light is fading as Metra F40C 610 heads for Fox Lake thru Mayfair in Chicago. A CNW freight waits on the Skokie Valley line for the rush hour to abate so it can get across the Northwest Line to 40th Street Yard. March 18, 1988.
Mark Hinsdale posted
... @ Mayfair in Chicago's Northwest. Crossing of Chicago & North Western's Northwest Line, from Chicago to Harvard and Madison WI, and Milwaukee Road's Chicago to Milwaukee main line. Here, 5031B leads a long rush hour train out of town in June, 1977. Photo by Mark Hinsdale
Jon Roma commented on above posting
The attached diagram shows what the plant looked like before it was rationalized and remote controlled.

According to my records, the resignaling of Mayfair interlocking
 was completed and control transferred to the operator at ex-C&NW "CY" Tower at Clybourn on November 16, 1996.

Mayfair also controlled the Grayland interlocking; when the above change took place in late 1996, Metra operators were sent to Mayfair to operate the Grayland plant, until Metra's signal department converted that plant to be remote controlled from their Tower A-5, on March 3, 1997, at which time Mayfair Tower was closed for good. The tower was demolished on December 18, 1997.

Douglas Kydd posted
F-40-C at Mayfair Interlocking - 1976
Matt Ignowski obviously Mayfair has changed a lot, new platforms, searchlights are gone, the tower is gone the UP Craigin lead is single tracked and no longer sees anything more than a one car local and the weber sub sadly is long gone.
Mark Llanuza posted
We go back to 1980 were at Mayfair tower with covered wagons coming off the Skokie line at Mayfair tower.
Jeff Lewis 6 of them working a branch line? How long was that train?
Mark Llanuza posted
Its April 1980 a Southbound coming off the Skokie sub crossing over at Mayfair Jct and will head down to 40th street yard.
Jason Black: Man! Grew up in Wilmette and saw some trains crossing Lake Street next to Mier's Tavern, but never with this kind of lashup! Fantastic photo Mark!!!
Tony Costa: not to leave out the old signal shop and oil barrels!

Mark Llanuza posted
Its April 1992 CNW commuter crossing Mayfair Jct Chicago IL on the Harvard sub with Metra F-40.

Carl Venzke posted
Milwaukee Road's 'Olympian Hiawatha' at Mayfair Tower. The Skytop sleeper-observation car of Milwaukee Road's Olympian Hiawatha bangs across the C&NW diamonds in a 1952 view from the tower at Mayfair, on the north side of Chicago. W. A. Akin Jr. photo
[Note the silos of a retail coal company.]
Jim Arvites posted
Jon Roma The photo looks compass north-northwest.
Jon Roma The powerhouse behind the elevator still stands north of the Kennedy Expressway today.
[The "powerhouse" is a water supply pumping station.]
Jim Arvites posted
On this Day in History on May 24, 1961 the Milwaukee Road's premier passenger train the "Olympian Hiawatha" completed its final runs between Chicago and Seattle/Tacoma. Picture below of the "Olympian Hiawatha" crossing the C&NW Diamonds at Mayfair on the northside of Chicago in 1952.
(W.A. Akins Jr. Photo)
Andrew Stiffler Whose signal bridge is on the far right?
Ryan James Boyle I think that the Weber branch to Evanston. Bridge over the Edens still extant, ROW is now a trail through Sauganash.
Jon Roma Ryan James Boyle, actually both the Weber and Skokie Subdivisions joined there.
Jim Arvites posted
Kevin P. Keefe Correct spelling of the photographer is Akin, not Atkins. Bill Akin was a longtime Kalmbach exec and a fine photographer.
Richard Koenig Very interesting shot for the railroad landscape as well: this was prior to the Kennedy Expressway plowing through. Quite the hot-spot back in the day I would imagine.
Matthias Casey This crossing was controlled by the Milwaukee Road and they held it open for there trains delaying the Northwestern trains.
Paul Musselman No....the info I have read is it was a CNW tower, under their wasn't just to oversee the CNW/Milw crossover, it also controlled the CNW Mayfair Yard, which was just a ways east of the crossover......trains from that yard would cross the CNW main and head north onto the Skokie Sub, which ran diagonally NE to Evanston, joining he CNW North Line at that point.
[And there are several comments discussing the observation car.]
Eric Sibul shared
Paul Musselman: Taken from the tower..
John J Kulidas posted
The Skytop sleeper-observation car of Milwaukee Road’s Olympian Hiawatha bangs across the C&NW diamonds in a 1952 view from the tower at Mayfair, on the north side of Chicago. W. A. Akin Jr. photo
Edward Mohoney: We installed switch ties under those diamonds, in 87 under live traffic with a look out, by hand. That was a huge challenge of its own!
Mike Page: Edward Mohoney In 1978 when working under live traffic at the west end of the Portage yard mainlines replacing switch ties someone left a track jack on a mound of ballast to close to the rail and Amtrak hit it. It flew about 30yards, didn't hit anyone or thing luckily but it did destroy that jack for sure.
Edward Mohoney: Mike Page yeah i don't know how many times we had too drop all of them jacks , we would just get all of them pumped up & have too drop them, like now!
Thomas Karsten: Coal company in the background is about where the Kennedy expressway is today. On the extreme right, the signal bridge is on the old C&NW Skokie valley line, converted to a trail in the 2000’s. Picture was taken from the old C&NW Mayfair tower, removed in the late 1980’s.
Mike Breski shared
Jeffery Fonda: I believe the spot the photographer is standing in is here, right? Dropped pin:

Dennis DeBruler commented on Jeffery's comment
Your pin is close to the south end of the tower. The photographer would have been at the north end. I'm surprised how close the tower was to the C&NW tracks, but the photo shows that.

Jeff Grunewal commented on Jim's post
This would be just south of the expressway. Looking at the satellite view, it appears that there currently is nothing where the coal silos were in the short space between the crossing and the expressways are now. The tall chimney is the Mayfair pumping station. The Cicero viaduct is visible in the lower left
Dennis DeBruler Satellite:,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3

Jon Roma commented on Jim's posting
Here's an image of the track diagram of the C&NW/CMStP&P crossing and junction at Mayfair, near Montrose and Cicero on Chicago's northwest side.

Robert T. Anderson posted
Mayfair 1980-ish from the Bill Madison collection. He took this picture while on a break from welding rails. He spent many hours in this spot.
Keith Shisler
Bill welded on that diamond many times.
So did I from 1987 until 1994.
The wind never stops blowing up there.
Cicero avenue goes directly under it and every time I went there a semi, at least one would try to drive under us and peel the top of the trailer off getting stuck under there.
It was a real pain stringing cables under to get to the diamond on 1 main by the tower.
I was once up there when Roadmaster Bill Lewis showed up and I spotted a 10 ft long head and web seperation 2 tail lengths from the middle diamond on the cnw tracks. I even got an atta boy for spotting it.
That could have really made a big mess blocking both rrs and destroying a bunch of puzzle switches they had right there.

Dennis DeBruler shared
This is Mayfair Junction from the perspective of a welder, Bill Madison. He took this photo.
I knew that Deval (41°57'44.7"N 87°44'50.4"W) had a crossing built over a highway (US-14). The comments on this photo taught me that the Mayfair Junction (41°57'44.7"N 87°44'50.4"W) is also built over a highway (Cicero).
Are there any other crossings in Chicagoland that have diamonds in the air?

Dennis DeBruler commented on his share
Carl Venzke posted this photo with the comment:
"Milwaukee Road's 'Olympian Hiawatha' at Mayfair Tower. The Skytop sleeper-observation car of Milwaukee Road's Olympian Hiawatha bangs across the C&NW diamonds in a 1952 view from the tower at Mayfair, on the north side of Chicago. W. A. Akin Jr. photo"
It shows the crossing is built on an overpass.
The smokestack to the right of the tower is the Mayfair Pumping Station (41°57'53.5"N 87°44'56.0"W).

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Hiawatha southbound at Mayfair in Chicago - April 16, 1997.
Fred Van Dorpe posted
A UP Northwest line scoot slams the diamonds of Mayfair junction as a Milwaukee District North line outbound waits for clearance on 7/27/17. Theres only 5 places on the entire Metra system where a scene like this can occur, Joliet, Deval junction, Prairie Crossing, Junction A2, and Mayfair junction. Taken on railroad property, without any permission 🤣
Bobby Vladnt Getting pictures like this is even more impossible in Joliet Because the schedules almost never meet up and you really have to trespass to get the pictures lol
Matt McClure And in Joliet there is no crossing of the diamonds by RI District trains with the new station.
Aaron Grace What about Western Avenue/A2 Junction?
Fred Van Dorpe Ah crud I forgot about there, but the angle isnt the same.
Steven J. Brown posted
Run-through ICG caboose on an empty Wisconsin Electric coal train coming off the Skokie Line at Mayfair in Chicago - February 1982. The tower and the Skokie Line are both long gone.
One of several turbo train photos posted by Robert Daly
Tr 335 to Milwaukee at Mayfair, May 19 1981.
Mark Egebrecht They were still in the Phase 2 paint in 1981?Robert Daly The date is accurate. I was pretty careful about writing dates on my slides.Rob C Dargan That track was bad and getting worse. Worked Amtrak in 1986.
Mark Hinsdale posted

Steven J. Brown posted
An inbound Metra Milwaukee North Line train waits for an outbound Metra CNW Northwest Line train at Mayfair in Chicago, Illinois - August 1996.

Steven J. Brown shared

Steven J. Brown posted
Last night, as I was digging through my drawer of slides 1980s A-C, it slipped and dumped on the floor. I spent several hours putting the 1.5k of them back. Some of them fell into the scanner. here is one of them.
Amtrak Empire Builder #7 is accelerating away from the diamonds at Mayfair. The signal bridge on the right is for the CNW's Skokie and Weber lines. Chicago, Illinois - February 1982.

William Shapotkin posted two photos with the comment:
Many of you have, no doubt seen pictures of "Mayfair," crossing of the C&NW/MILW on Chicago's Northwest Side...while still in-use, it sure does not look the same! The tower (located in S/E quadrent of xing) and many of the running leads and track connections have long been removed.
In these two view, looking N/W (C&NW timetable W/B -- now UP timetable N/B) from the "fireman's seat" of an outbound Scoot, we see these two views of what Mayfair looked like on September 11, 2012. The track at left is the still-active (I understand with only one rail customer) Cragin Branch. At right is the track connection (which, as I understand it has since been removed) leading to the one-time Skokie and Weber Branches. Visible ahead is the xing with Metra (MILW).
One of the "fringe benefits" (as far as a railfan is concerned) of being a Metra employee (as I was betw 1999-2015) is the occasional job-related "familiarization" (aka "head-end") trips over the lines over which our trains operate...hence the ability to get these views.
William Shapotkin photos. (Shapotkin730/729)

David Daruszka: During one really fierce winter storm we couldn't raise the operator to give us a signal on a night scoot. My genius engineer decided that the best use of his fireman was to walk to the tower in the drifting snow to "wake up the operator". I didn't get far before I fell into an old open ground level battery box. I sank in up to my armpits and somehow managed to crawl out. By then the signal magically appeared.



Dennis DeBruler commented on William's post
Alpha Backing is the remaining customer. I'll bet those covered hoppers are carrying flour.

Dennis DeBruler commented on William's post
Part of the expense of elevating the tracks in Chicago was that the railroads also built some elevated yards. These "elevated" junk yards south of North Ave use some former railroad yards. West of the BRC tracks was the BRC West Chicago Yard. On the east side was the C&NW Cragin Yard. Note that the C&NW overpass over North Avenue still exists.

Dennis DeBruler commented on William's post
It continues to amaze me how many abandoned overpasses still exist in Chicago. You can tell where the Skokie Sub ran because the overpasses over I-90 (lower-left corner) and I-94 (top-left corner) still exist.

Flickr is almost a duplicate of Douglas Kydd's posting.

27:53 video