Tuesday, January 26, 2016

NYC NE/Conrail Nero and B&O Pine Tower

(CRJ
NorthAmericanInterlockings:    1978    1984
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers (click the marker for the correct information)

d.w.davidson Flickr photo

This tower at one time controlled the connection between the B&O and the NYC, there were two connections that crossed each other like an X between each line. I believe this tower also controlled some power crossovers on the CR main, rendered obsolete by CP 497, and CP 501. I was here in 85 with my father, but i'm not sure when the tower was closed, there was still an operator there at that time.

53us 3y 
C&O crossed from NYC on to the B&O. C&O had track rights Porter to Pine (NE tower). As an aside the C&O was always referred to as the PM by the old timers. The NERO came with Conrail as they needed four letter names for all the towers (NE-NERO, HC-HICK. NE was a busy places lots of orders for the B&O and C&O always seemed as though they had young operators there. The NYC interchanged with the EJ&E there



Ken Durkel posted
Ken posted again
Ken's comment:
Southbound EJ&E out of Kirk Yard. Crossing over the ex NYC at Pine. Nero Tower (Pine) is to the right. Looking east. Summer, 1986.
In the comments, Ken indicated the tower was closed rather soon after 1986. Was the sole purpose of this tower to post train orders on the "iron man" that we see in front of it? I don't see any turnouts or diamonds for it to control. Maybe there used to be some crossovers that have already been removed.

Historic Aerials
Looking at a satellite image, they spent quite a bit of money removing the foundations on land that cannot be sold for another purpose. The one possible "building scar" I can find looks too close to the pier to be the tower.
Satellite
Scott Brons posted
Canadian National now owns EJ&E along with Illinois Central and Bessemer and Lake Erie. Obviously, CN has yet to repaint all of their locomotives in the CN livery. I like seeing the "fallen flags."
Jason Jordan shared Ken Durkel's photo
Update: Ken's comment:
Westbound, just entering B&OCT trackage at Pine in Gary, Indiana. Tower is Nero, which is alongside the parallel Conrail ex NYC Chicago Line. At one time PM and C&O trains using the NYC from Porter to here would cross over here at the tower. But by this time they were crossing over just east of here at Curtis. The operator at Nero was still handling orders for the Chessie here at the time I took this. There is an iron man in between the mains just past the second unit.Picture taken on 07/13/1986.
 Unfortunately, the iron man is in front of the brown boxcar and is very hard to see.

Ken Durkel posted
Ken Durkel posted
Ken's comment:
I took these in July, 1986 in Gary, Indiana. This was Pine, NE Tower on the NYC. Conrail had to give names to these locations, and out of NE they came up with Nero. 1st picture, a westbound van train slows to grab orders. Likely by this date they were just being handed up the latest Conrail bulletins. Overhead is the EJ&E line out of Kirk Yard.The 2nd shot is an eastbound passing Pine. Lead unit, GE C39-8 6005, is likely on it's first or nearly first revenue run, as it shows a build date of 07/1986, the same month I took these.I don't believe Nero lasted much longer after I shot these, I think the tower was in it's final months then.
The following is a re-post of the above picture shared by Jason, but the comments are different. This area is so complicated that every bit of insight helps. And it is a neat picture of a train and a tower.
Ken Durkel posted
A re-post. From exactly 30 years ago, July 13, 1986. A westbound Chessie is just entering the B&OCT limits as it passes under the EJ&E and behind NE Tower in Gary, Indiana. Called Pine, and later by Conrail, Nero Tower. The track between the train and the tower is the old B&O Passenger Main. Beyond NE Tower is the Conrail ex NYC main and Pine Yard. In less than 30 seconds, the train will be at Clarke Jct. Tower and the crossing of the old PRR Ft. Wayne Line.

Ken Durkel posted
This is not the best quality photo, a lot of back lighting. But it does give an westward looking view of the Chessie at Pine in Gary, Indiana, taken in 1986.
The train is eastbound, and just leaving the B&OCT limits. To the far right is NE Tower, known as Pine, and later under Conrail Nero Tower. To the right of the tower not seen here is the ex NYC main and also Pine Yard.
The third track seen here veering off the B&O mains and running between the mains and the tower is the old B&O passenger main.
I am standing nearly under the overhead EJ&E, just behind me.
[
This is the first view I have seen of the area looking westish. You can clearly see the B&O main curving off to the left to head straight west.]
Scott Griffith posted
Clark Jct out to the left when the B&OCT was single main

David Daruszka's doctoring of Ken Durkel's posting
This is one of those photos that would be one of my favorites if only the quality was better. Horrible back lighting, trying to shoot an eastbound in the afternoon. But the subject matter, I love. 
Taken in the summer of 1986, an eastbound Chessie rounds the curve at Pine in Gary, Indiana and is just leaving the B&OCT. A hand is outstretched, ready to grab orders on the fly, put there by the operator at NE (Nero). The tower was to my right here.
Kind of hard to see, but a close look shows only one set of orders for this train, so there was no caboose. But orders are already in place for an approaching westbound, and there are two sets of orders, indicating a caboose on the westbound. Cabooses were disappearing by this time, but were still around.
Another part of railroading long gone today.
Ken Durkel posted
A shot taken from a distance, showing a westbound Chessie just entering the B&OCT at Pine in Gary, Indiana. Passing NE (Nero) Tower, and showing the eastward B&O CPL signals. Summer, 1986.Scott H. Brown Where did that switch in the background go?Ken Durkel That may have been the connection for trains coming off the Conrail Chicago Line and getting on the B&OCT. mainly trains off the old Pere Marquette at Porter. By this time those trains were crossing over to the Chessie at Curtis Yard a couple of miles east of here. That's what I THINK the switch seen here was for. But am not positive of that.Thomas M Dupee Ken. You're exactly right. Here's a bit of trivia for you... That CR connection at Pine incorporated a crossing diamond of the Beverly connection (old B&O passenger main). There was a new diamond lying in the weeds for this crossing when the connection was taken out of service. It was there for years, unused, until a derailment happened in Fostoria, Ohio which destroyed the Blair yard transfer diamond. The Blair yard transfer diamond was replaced by the old Pine Jct. diamond. It is still in use.
Scott Griffith posted
Mike Breski posted
Bob Poortinga If you look carefully at this photo, you can see the PM connection track right behind the tower.
Scott Griffith posted five photos with the comment: "Pine jct and East Gary area"

1
2
3
4
5


Scott Griffith posted
Part of the Pine Jct tower lever bed blueprint
Mike Breski posted a copy of the CRJ information.
Bob Poortinga It was originally called NE tower on the NYC, Pine Jct on the B&O. Conrail changed the name to Nero about 1980 or so. The originally connection from the NYC to the B&O used by C&O/Pere Marquette ran right by the tower. Conrail moved the connection east to Curtis in the 1980s.
Bob Lalich Bob Poortinga - if you go back to when this tower was first built, the PM only had trackage rights into Chicago over the Chicago & Calumet Terminal (later to become B&OCT) to reach Tracy Yard and beyond on the C&CT. The connecting track crossed the B&O passenger line and connected to the C&CT. In 1915, an agreement was made to use the B&O passenger line and the diamonds across the B&O were replaced with a switch and crossover.


David Brown posted
A inbound train headed to Kirk yard passes over WC 3018 doing local service this past summer.
Clayton Hartford What a lashup almost everything merger partner.
[Bob Lalich explained that this is a relatively new overpass.]
The overpass is new enough that I can use Global Earth to track the changes. I start with a good image before the Gary Airport expansion was done.
Global Earth, 8/12/2007
The last image available before the expansion started.
Global Earth, 3/12/2012
The next image available shows the new CN/EJ&E route around the airport and grading for the runway expansion. I don't see any changes in the Pine Junction area.
Global Earth, 4/2/2012
CN has switched to the new route and the old route has been severed where they are building the new runway. CN has built the new overpass. But I don't see why the airport expansion would require it. Was it to reduce the sharpness of an S-curve since they no longer had straight track on the south side of the NS+CSX crossing?
Global Earth, 4/30/2015
It appears CN converted what was the local Lakefront Branch out of Kirk Yard into their Matteson mainline and used the original mainline tracks out of Kirk Yard for the Lakefront Branch and a mainline supplement. And they restored double-track capacity to the Lakefront Branch through here.

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