Monday, January 25, 2016

Santa Fe's Argonne Branch and Nuclear Transport

John Pospepny posted
John's comment:
So yesterday I went to Waterfall Glen for a hike. On the way back I walked part of the old Argonne Branch (the part of the line that went up to the lab.) I haven't been able to find much out about the line but if you look closely some of the ties are still there.
My wife used to work at Argonne so this caught my eye, especially after Steve Rippeteau explained:
It has been about 45 years ago that I was the head brakeman on an eastbound train working from Chillicothe, IL to Corwith Yard, Chicago. I don't recall any other setouts or pick-ups en route on what would otherwise have been a routine trip, but we had two special DODX cars in the train for Argonne. I did not even think about getting photos or take notes. I was relatively fresh out of the US Army Transportation Corp in Vietnam in 1969. There were armed guards escorting the shipment in what I remember as a Pullman Troop Sleeping car. I just don't recall any other details of the car containing the shipment except it was placarded radioactive. It was a closed car and my memory is fuzzy, but it could have been stenciled DODX. Back then we did not discuss these special shipments but am sure it was destined for the Argonne National Laboratory. All we did was set the cars out on the siding to the Argonne lead that connected to the tracks that you have traced in your photos. They must have had their own loco to pick it up in this odd remote location. It was not an open park to the public back then. In 1969 I worked the Corwith Local but we never went up the hill. In fact, this is the one portion of the Illinois Division that I never got to work, so thank you for sharing your photos.

Ramon Rhodes comment on above posting
[These are cars that carried nuclear material back in those days.]
Ramon Rhodes comment on above postingBack in the days before the DOD bought those cool wide-vision cabooses these were guard cars for nuclear loads.

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