Wednesday, January 13, 2016

West Chicago JB and JC Towers: EJ&E vs. C&NW vs. CB&Q

(CRJ3D Satellite, looking west)     CN/EJ&E vs. UP/C&NW/G&CU vs. Aban/CB&Q
NorthAmericanInterlockingsphoto photo photo photo photo photo photo
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers (click the marker for more information)

Information after clicking the marker:
Kevin Piper posted a history and several photos.

Tom Horvath comment on Mark's post
[Looks like JC was in the northwest quadrant.]
I learned from this Mark Llanuza post that the CB&Q crossing used to have Tower JC. (Tower JA was north of JB.) Mark's posting has several interesting photos and maps. Hopefully you can access a link to a closed group.

20180624 2407
[I'm looking westish along Washington Ave towards downtown West Chicago. The three-line mainline is UP/C&NW and the single crossing track is EJ&E.]
Looking North along the EJ&E
Looking West with Washington Street on the left and the UP/C&NW Yard in the center background.

Jerry Jackson updated
©Adam Coats
West Chicago 7/26/19

An eastbound yard did leave the yard while I was there.
Another railfan had been their for hours and I had just arrived, so I told him I would stay out of his way. That is why I did not get a video of the engines going by. But I did take a sample of the speed and noise. They were all 40' 5-pack well cars, so this was probably a train from a west coast port.

Steven Kakoczki posted in Facebook
Steven's comment:
CB&Q 9911A waits for JB Tower to alow the Zephyr to cross over to the old Q West Chicago branchline.

The posting did not mention what town this is in, but I suspected it was in West Chicago. A Google search confirmed this. There is also a railfan video of a southbound CN/EJ&E train at this location.

The tower sets in the northeast quadrant of the EJ&E and C&NW crossing. Since CB&Q crossed the EJ&E just a little further south, it evidently also controlled that movement.

This CB&Q route would have been the original route from Aurora to the Galena & Chicago Union that Aurora businessmen used to access Chicago. The CB&Q also built west of Aurora. Because of heavy traffic on the route, G&CU forced CB&Q to build their own route from Aurora to Chicago. They got it done during 1862-64. (That would be a major construction project to get done during the Civil War.) So their original mainline is now just an industrial spur. I see it now stops at Norris Ave rather than continue along Church Street until it meets the UP/C&NW.

Brian Skrabutenas -> EJ&E RR Friends

William Shapotkin: OK, we're looking N/B across the C&NW. Dah -- the street xing really gave it away
1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Update: Mark Llanuza posted a color photo a couple of GP-38s in the J-ball livery passing the tower. And a couple of comments had more J-ball photos. I know the group is closed, but it is work copying photos and comments. So if you are interested in EJ&E pictures, you should probably join the group anyhow.

Mark Llanzua commented on Sayre Kos's posting
At JB tower in 1976 getting train order's
Mark Llanuza I'm kind of surprised CN has not shut this tower down.
Doug Baker When I left in June, they had been talking about it since the take-over. However, couldn't come up with a good "political" answer to who would control it remotely. If the UP, the CN would never get a train through and vice versa if it was the other way around, especially with the PTC on the UP. Many times when I was in the tower, UP desk 11 would call for a line-up 10-15 miles in advance so their train 'wouldn't have to slow down'. Also, the CN liked to run trains through scoot rush in the morning and evening, and with a good operator and decent crews, you could. And that wouldn't happen if the UP controlled it, they would fleet the signals and sit back. I don't know what, if any, negotiations are going on, but as far as I know, JB will still be around for a bit...

Mark Llanzua posted
Its May 1975 at West Chicago JB tower with southbound picking up train order's and getting a roll by from the tower man and signal Dept.

Mark Llanuza posted
its 2009 with southbound Wheatfield coal at JB tower
Tim Shanahan shared
Taking a step back in time... 2009
EJ&E 662, The last "J Ball" Scheme SD38-2 leads a Southbound past JB Tower and across the old Chicago and Northwestern mainline at West Chicago.
Photo Credit: Mark LLanuza
From the EJ&E Photo Archives.
David M Laz posted
Matt McClure Loved the J. C&NW ended in Council Bluffs officially.
[David probably snarfed this from CRJ.]
From Chicago Rail Junction by Bill Gustason

Cameron Applegath posted
UP stacks clamber over the Geneva Sub at JB Tower at West Chicago on the Jaayy.
His original comment indicated the UP train is using the EJ&J to get to UP's Global 4 Intermodel Yard.]
Mark Lluanza posted
EJ&E waits at JB tower for a UP train.Richard Schwanke We used to have to wait back behind that curve and couldn't see the tower or the diamonds.
Mark Llanuza posted three pictures of the interior with the comment: "A view of JB tower in West Chicago IL 2010 while doing a project for Metra."



Another Mark Llanuza posting had the above three photos plus this one
George Locascio That was Larry Elias
Eric Berg posted three photos with the comment: "EJ&E Signal Maintainer Art Hunters final day on EJ&E--oiling the West Chicago leverbed on December 10th, 2001. I believe I was covering George Locascio's vacation on days."




Mark Llanuza posted
Its May 1976 with a spring snow storm at JB tower with crews catching their train order's.
William F Kane posted
W Chicago 9/99
Jeff Lewis Nice. UP on the J.
Alex Ertmann posted
A pair of CN Zebra Striped Barns (C40-8M's) and a BC Rail Barn (C40-8M) lead a sand train past JB Tower in West Chicago on 5/21/2017.
Ed Cooke Great catch, those full cowl bodied units are getting rare.Alex Ertmann Thanks! And this is my second time catching a Zebra Striped Barn but this is the first time I've caught a pair of them on one train. It was a nice treat!
Connor Menconi posted
Ready to Rumble across the Diamonds 
Donny Albertson posted
A CNW e/b makes a set out at the auto yard at West Chicago, the power sitting on the EJ&E crossing. As usual back then, a GP50 leads the way. 25MAR1989
Mark Hinsdale posted
Canadian National Inspection Train
For the second consecutive day, a company inspection train has visited Chicagoland. Yesterday, Union Pacific ran one through on its northbound trek; today, CN came south with one on its journey from Stevens Point WI to Champaign IL. 
Robby Gragg posted
Back in 2010 the CNW twins lead LPJ02 west by JB Tower in West Chicago. This scene may never be repeated sadly. What a run these two units had though.
[Evidently the UP executive that kept these two units from being repainted as UP engines is no longer around and they are going to loose their C&NW livery.]
Illinois Railroad Depot and Interlocker towers posted
Thanks to the West Chicago City Museum for this shot of the JB tower in West Chicago. Here we see an EJ&E traveling South while crossing the C&NW mainline.
Jerry Hund posted two photos with the comment: "Downtown West Chicago railroads. On the left prior to 1939. On the right is today. One update is that the BN no longer joins the UP. It has been cut back about a half mile."
Thomas Leaton That was 1995. The BN tracks are now cut back to the old General Mills plant, and do not now connect to the C&NW/UP. These were Burlington's first and oldest rails, dating back to when the Q had no Chicago connection except for Turner Jct.



Michael Wayne Sitter posted two photos with the comment: "A southbound intermodal led by a ES44DC and a C44-9W rolls by JB Tower in West Chicago, IL and crosses the UP’s Geneva Sub. Winter 2016/2017. -Michael W. Sitter"

Mark Llanuza posted
Its 2010 at JB tower
Eric Berg posted six photos with the comment: "Here are some random pictures of me at West Chicago tower, taken by EJ&E West Chicago car inspector Jason Tykac."

Looking east down the UP (nee-C&NW) for APRBE and talking to West Chicago Yardmaster Jeff.

Lining up eastbound EJ&E train JSW-3.

Getting Kerr-McGee bills ready for JSW-3

Getting ready to meet JSW-3 at trackside with bills.

JSW-3 grabbing bills at 40 mph

JSW-3 grabbing bills at 40 mph
Mark Llanuza posted two photos with the comment: "The year 2009 were at JB tower in West Chicago IL."

Mark Llanuza posted
Its 2009 at JB tower
George Locascio Now THAT is me. I looked sooo official, so competent.William O'Neal StringerGroup Admin And not close enough to do a good roll by check.George Locascio Worked for me
Mark Llanuza posted
Its the year 2009 at JB tower
John Markl You never forget the cadence, of car wheels going over those three diamonds....Mike Schattl Especially if it's an ore train!!!
Mark Llanuza posted
The 1999 snow storm with Northbound crossing the CNW at JB tower.
Mark Llanuza posted
Southbound at JB tower 2009
Eric Berg posted three photos with the comment:
I had these 3 photos taken of me at West Chicago tower just before Barrington tower was closed and my services were no longer required. This is JSW-3 heading back to Joliet on June 20th, 2002 with I believe Dwight Rogers grabbing the paperwork and Chris Shoudis inside. I wanted photos of me showing an art that operators used to use daily, handing up train orders. Photos by Jason Tykac.
Jason Tykac I think these were taken before I left the J in February 2002. Maybe taken in 01? Thanks for sharing, those were good times!




Ted Gregory posted three photos with the comment:
Can anyone fill me in on this interlocking and tower? There is an old (CB&Q?) ML that now stubends south of diamonds. Is that still BNSF? Is this where the UP line to Belvidere begins? Saw a RR crewman walk into tower, but not sure if it controls anything.I believe it is more than just a set of interlocked diamonds. There is a complex layout of connection tracks out of sight.
Joel Kirchner JB Tower, West Chicago Tower or Washington St. are names it goes by. The tower controls the crossing between the CN and UP. It also controls movements into UP West Chicago Yard and to the Belvidere Sub on the UP. It also controls the connection switch from the CN into UP's yard. There is also a crossover switch between MT1 and MT2 on the UP, but it is typically used only for the aforementioned yard or Belv. moves. 

At one time it controlled the BN diamond as well as another diamond with the CNW just to the north. This was the original alignment of the Belvidere Sub. In later years or stub-ended into a scrap yard. This was called the B Plant. This was removed in the early 90s. The CN connection was built during "J" ownership and is now called the B Plant.

Flickr photos of the model board and the interlocking machine.



Mark Llanuza posted
I know this is a southbound BN train but it a rare daylight move crossing the EJ&E at West Chicago IL.
Mike Schattl The interlocking signals for the BN-BNSF track stayed put for a very long time displaying a red indication long after the track was torn out....I wonder what year they were finally taken down??
Michael Bachmann posted
I found this picture and if I did not know better it looks like George with long hair. I say that by the way he stands with his hands in his pockets. No clue on date. George could it be you?
Dennis DeBruler What is the name of the tower?
Michael Bachmann JB
Michael Bachmann There was a building in East Joliet near the creek called the Record Storage building. This was a long old brick building that contained all the records related to the the buying, building etc and and other happenings that took place on the J. In my early days there used to be a clerk that sat in the front door who was in charge of getting a record of what was requested from the main offices. Not just anyone could was up and ask for something and it was controlled like Ft. Knox. I, like many others would bring boxes and boxes of files there from all the offices there to be filled. Well over the years, the clerk's job was abolished, most of the other people were from the O & O were sent to Pittsburgh. The building was slower being mothballed. It still had many records in it but seldom looked at. At a point in the early 2000 's I became the B&B Supervisor and had control of that and all the buildings on the Joliet Division. I had been in that building at least a hundred times over the years not giving any real thought to what was in there. When the CN took over and I moved to a trainer in the Transportation Dept and I heard they were going to tear down that building , I decided to take one last look inside to see if there were any J relics. Now this was within a week or so of tear down. I grabbed as much as I could and it was a drop in the bucket, not knowing what else was left behind. The thought I want to leave behind is whatever anyone has from the J, that is all that is left. I have given many items and will donate more to historical societies because like many of our kids, they will just toss them. That is why when Neil and others tell their stories, they do such a great service for others who want to know what is was like to work on the J, and remember the history books only tell about the history not the people.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Michael's posting
So the stairs were moved since there is now no need to go track side for train orders.
Michael Bachmann Also because they got old plus to keep people from walking onto or near the track, giving a train crew a coronary.
Michael Bachmann commented on hist posting

Marty Bernard posted
EJ&E JB Tower, West Chicago, IL on December 14, 1987. The EJ&E crossed the CNW. Roger Puta photo
Marty Bernard shared
Jeff Lewis: No more train orders, so they reconfigured the staircase. [If you look at the contemporary photos, the staircase now goes away from the tower to the parking lot rather than along the tower to the tracks.]
Marty Bernard shared
[Some comments indicate the triangle signals are for train orders.]
Marty Bernard shared
Ken Jamin: There is/was an interesting gadget on the inside wall upstairs. It's a hand-operated (home-made?) gadget for cutting train order string to the proper length. Think of a windmill with a protrusion on the end of each arm to hold the string as it is turned by a crank on one of the arms. The circumference is the proper length for train order strings. I have a photo somewhere. When I worked at Rondout, we used two large spikes (not track spikes) that fit in two holes. We tied the end of a ball of train order twine to one of them and started unwinding it. Same thing when I worked at Tower A20.
[Some comments discuss photos of the EJ&E Yard in Joliet.]
Comments on the railfan share
Comments on the Chicago history share

William Shapotkin posted
It is March of 1985, as BN loco #3026 leads a frt E/B on the C&NW across-the-diamonds with the EJ&E at West Chicago, IL. It is my understanding that the tower (at right) , protecting the C&NW (now UP) xing with the EJ&E (now CN) remains standing (and in-service) today. View looks west in this uncredited photo from the William Shapotkin Collection. View looks west. (Bills 035)
A question, if I may -- If my understanding of the track layout at West Chicago at the time of this photo is correct, when approaching town (from the west), this train would have x/o the EJ&E on BN (CB&Q) rails, then gotten on the C&NW. The train would have had to have headed W/B on the C&NW, x/o the EJ&E, done whatever switching was involved, THEN headed E/B on the C&NW in order for this photo to have been taken. As I correct on the track arrangement? Any clarification on this matter would be greatly appreciated...thank you.
[Comments confirm that William is correct.]
Dennis DeBruler commented on William's post
Back then, the EJ&E crossed BN once and C&NW twice. [The now gone northern C&NW crossing was the JA Tower.] 1980 West Chicago Topo Map @ 1:24,000
William Shapotkin posted
Not just some "hack" photo -- We are in West Chicago, IL, where an E/B C&NW frt (left) and the local BN frt (right) have just completed their crossing of the EJ&E. Note the two former ROCK ISLAND box cars (just ahead of the caboose on the C&NW frt). Oh, to be able to take pix like this again, eh? View looks east in this uncredited slide bearing a processing date of March 1985. William Shapotkin Collection. (Bills 038)
Dave Rodgers: I worked a job on the BN at night, we would switch General Mills and then deliver cars to the CNW. We had to get to CNW yard by a certain time so as to not interfere with the scoots.

Dennis DeBruler posted
William Shapotkin posted this photo with the comment:
Not just some "hack" photo -- We are in West Chicago, IL, where an E/B C&NW frt (left) and the local BN frt (right) have just completed their crossing of the EJ&E. Note the two former ROCK ISLAND box cars (just ahead of the caboose on the C&NW frt). Oh, to be able to take pix like this again, eh? View looks east in this uncredited slide bearing a processing date of March 1985. William Shapotkin Collection. (Bills 038)
The CB&Q started with a route from Aurora to what is now West Chicago to use the C&NW to access Chicago. During the Civil War, they built their own route to Chicago so the original route became a branch. The connection to the UP/C&NW was removed during the turn of the millennium. So that is another reason this photo can't be recreated.
Dennis DeBruler commented on his post
I noticed the little yard on the branch still exists even though the General Mills plant east of Town Road has closed. 1998 West Chicago Quad @ 24,000,-88.2201216,1018m/data=!3m1!1e3?entry=ttu

Ken Jamin posted the comment:

The opr at JB tower in West Chicago once told me about an incident that occurred at that location many years earlier when elephant droppings from a circus train that had just passed fell into a switch, causing it to jam and delaying a passenger train. When he reported the incident to the dispatcher, the DS initially refused to accept the explanation, saying, “I can’t show ‘elephant s**t’ as the cause of delay to a passenger train!”

There was another incident involving a circus train that was documented long ago in the Milwaukee Railroad employees’ magazine.

As a circus train slowly was slowly going around the wye in Davis Junction, Illinois, a an elephant reached out his trunk and deftly “stole” the conductor’s copy of the train orders out of the “order hoop.” Fortunately, the quick-thinking station agent, who witnessed the “crime,” replaced them with the office copy just before the caboose went by.

Chuck Stew posted a photo of a Metra train going past the tower on the EJ&E tracks.

A Michael Quagliano 2017 photo of a CN engine passing the tower.

This video's comments are:
This line is the oldest part of the former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad being chartered in 1848 and opened in 1849. The line has been in continuous service ever since, but is now only classified as a branch line that services industries in the towns of North Aurora, Batavia, and West Chicago, Illinois.
But the first part is an eastbound mixed freight rolling past Belmont Station on the Racetrack.  He must have edited together shots from at least two different cameras. To get two manifest freights on the Racetrack instead of unit trains is rare. The branch footage does not start until 6:09.

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