Tuesday, February 2, 2016

75th St. or Forest Hill Tower: Wabash and BRC vs B&OCT and Panhandle

(CRJ, search for 75th; Satellite)

Steven J. Brown posted
CSX GP40-2 6222 (built 1972 as B&O 4323) at Forest Hill Tower in Chicago - April 17, 1988.

Steven J. Brown posted
Union Pacific GP38-2 2111 (built 1974 as MP 2111, became UP 611 to HLCX 1844 to Huron & Eastern 3509) GP15-1 1625 (built 1979 as MP 1625, became UPY 625) meets Norfolk & Western (NS) GP35 214 (built 1963) at Forest Park/75th Street in Chicago, Illinois - May 6, 1988.
Daniel Schmidt: 1625, is wearing UP lettering in MoPac's North Little Rock style of lettering.👍🤓 I LIKE!!!
It'd be worth breaking out my one Undecorated MoPac GP15-1, to check if its the right phase.
Dennis DeBruler: And a nice view of some signaling pipelines or rods.
Steven J. Brown shared

Norfolk Southern Corp posted
Happy 35th Anniversary to CSX and Happy 159th Anniversary to Union Pacific Railroad.
Pictured: Locomotives staged in 2018 at Forest Hill/ 75th Street interlocking in Chicago for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new flyover bridge. #teamwork The Belt Railway Company of Chicago
Josh Troyer: Lol 3 years ago this was taken and all that is done is a little area of stone that has been placed.
Jaret Marlowe: CSX didn't get the "bring your EMD" memo.

Steven J. Brown posted
Union Pacific SD40-2 and C30-7 are on the Belt Railway of Chicago crossing the B&OCT at Forest Hill/75th Street in Chicago, Illinois - May 6, 1988.
Dennis DeBruler The signal pipelines are still intact.
Steven J. Brown And In use.
Jon Roma They were in use all the way up to the end in late 1997.

Marty Bernard posted five photos with the comment:
75th Street Tower, Chicago, 1988
Roger Puta visited former PRR 75th Street (or Forest Hill) Tower, Chicago on April 19, 1988. Here is what he found.
1
B&O PCL [I'm guessing PCL means position colored lights]
[Marty's square braces above.]
Dale V Rockwell: CPL.

2
The tower and diamonds

3
Tower in distance
Ray Weart: Just after they pulled upo the old PRR Pan Handle line.
Craig Cloud: PC Columbus Division
Stan Stanovich: Semaphores protected the crossing of the B&OCT on BRC right up until the closure of 75th Street tower in the fall of 1997! One of my all time favorite crossings/interlockings!!!

4
N&W 6130 with a transfer

5
US&S Searchlights
Dennis DeBruler: And there are pieces of the signaling pipelines underneath the signal heads. I recognize the 90-degree arms, or cranks, that were used to change direction.


Larry J. Pearlman posted
Larry's comment: "The old Alco units. Any help with location? This is back in the late 80's."

Jon Roma 75th Street interlocking looking southwest from next to the tower (which was in the northeast quadrant of the plant). This train is running wrong main on the B&OCT, and he's about to stomp over the Wabash diamonds, along with those of the BRC behind the photographer. My bet is that when his rear end clears the plant, the operator will line him onto the BRC connection and he'll shove into Clearing.

That is, the train is going northbound on the B&OCT, and then it will go backwards on its home BRC tracks to Clearing Yard.

Mark Hinsdale posted
Mark's comment:
On what was just about the complete opposite of this cold, dark, wet Groundhog Day here in Chicago, a Santa Fe transfer rolls south past 75th Street Tower (Forest Hill) on a very hot August, 1976 morning. The train is on the B&OCT Blue Island Subdivision headed for Barr Yard in Riverdale IL. Photo by Mark Hinsdale



The comments on a video posting indicated it was built in 1894 with a 132 lever frame. It was remoted to CSX dispatchers in 1997 and torn down in 1998.

Update:
Jon Roma posted
The Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal's tower at 75th Street near Western was one of the most interesting interlocking plants in the Chicago area, and one of the last using mechanical pipeline to throw switches, signals, derails, etc.
Here is a 1966-era diagram of the plant, with north being at the left end of the diagram. The four railroads involved were the B&OCT and PRR (Panhandle Lines) paralleling one another with a north/south orientation, and the Belt Railway of Chicago and Wabash on an east/west orientation.
The interlocking was controlled using a 132-lever strong-arm machine, which was one of the three biggest in the Chicago area behind State Line and Dolton.
The former Pennsy was abandoned and torn out through the area in the Eighties, but the remainder of the plant was remarkably unchanged until the tower's final days in 1997. Nearly everything was controlled mechanically until the very end, so a visit to 75th Street was an incredible walk back into time. The tower finally succumbed to progress over Thanksgiving weekend 1997 when CSX made it a modern interlocking remote-controlled by their dispatchers. The tower was torn down not long after its closing.
I'm happy to say that with the cooperation of three of the tower's operators, I was able to spend an extensive amount of time in and around the tower capturing many photographs and soaking up the atmosphere. I occasionally was "assigned" to throw levers, a task which I was more than glad to do. The last time I was in the tower was a few days before the tower's demise; on that occasion I spent the entire 3rd trick with the operator. I was sad when I walked out of the tower the following morning, because I knew that an era was truly over with the end of this tower's days.
Andre Kristopans Ran across an ICC report years back about a wreck here in 1920s. 4 trains waiting to cross, 2 NB, 1 B&O, 1 PRR, 2 WB, 1 Belt, 1 WAB. The Belt and PRR both started up and hit on diamond. Both crews swore they had the lineup. The B&O and WAB crews backed them up. Obviously an interlocking failure, but since the pipes got tore up in the derailment that followed the collision, nothing could be determined for certain.Jon Roma Andre Kristopans, I was unaware of this accident, and don't know how I miss it since I've built a collection of accident reports from the DOT website and other sites both inside and outside the USA. Thanks for mentioning it.I put the report on my website at https://www.jonroma.net/rail/accident/; look for report 1734.There were a lot of interesting circumstances around this accident, and the ICC was not able to come to a conclusion about what went wrong due to the rather unique nature of this accident.

Bob Lalich commented on Jon's post

The buildings do not look the same. Did one replace the other or are there a couple of 75th Street Towers?
Scott Griffith posted
75TH ST TOWER B&O JCT
Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail meets Chessie at Forest Hill Tower in Chicago - March 25, 1989.
Richard Mead posted
Tower photo taken on a Wabash Railroad Historical trip.
Scott Griffith posted
75TH St interlocking
Steven J. Brown posted
THEN AND NOW! Thirty-two years apart!
Southbound on the B&OCT crossing the Belt Railway of Chicago and Norfolk Western at 75th St/Forest Hill Tower in Chicago Illinois - April 17, 1988 and March 7, 2020.
Steven Kakoczki The PRR used to have the Panhandle line on the right side of the tower.Stven J. Brown shared

Steven J. Brown shared
Dennis DeBruler And the "now" should soon become another "then" because funding has been approved to remove this crossing by elevating the B&OCT(CSX) tracks over the east/west tracks. There have been other flyovers built in Chicago, but I believe this will be the first flyover that carries freight trains.
https://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/.../belt-junction...

Ray Weart commented on Steven's post
We spent a wonderful afternoon at 75th Street/Forest Hill about 25 or so years ago and got some wonderful photos. I wish we had made some audio recordings inside the tower back then.

safe_image for ProgressiveRailroading
At a groundbreaking in 2018 at the site of the planned Forest Hill Flyover, five locomotives were positioned at the Belt Junction to represent some of the railroads that use the busy crossovers each day: CSX, NS, UP, BRC and Metra.
[I'm more interested in the posed CSX photo for the CREATE project than I am in the article.]

Mark Hinsdale posted
Sunday Matinee' @ the Oldies
"Forest Hill"
Forest Hill Crossing, or 75th Street, has always been one of Chicago's busier railroad junctions. At one time, the tower seen here controlled the intersection of four double track lines: the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal and the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Panhandle" routes, oriented parallel from north to south, and the Belt Railway of Chicago and Wabash (Norfolk & Western) lines running parallel from east to west. While the players on today's scorecard are different, and one is gone entirely from the scene, Forest Hill is still a busy place on Chicago's southwest side. This westbound Conrail manifest train is operating over the Belt Railway main line, most likely destined to the Belt's large Clearing Yard facility, a couple miles further to the west. June, 1977 photo by Mark Hinsdale.

Mark shared

Mark posted
"New Blue"
Brand new Conrail SD40-2 6417 leads leased CN and ex Penn Central units on a westbound merchandise train out of the Belt Railway of Chicago's Clearing Yard in June, 1977. The train is on the Belt Railway main line, crossing both Conrail (ex PRR "Panhandle") and the B&OCT at 75th Street Tower (Forest Hill) in southwest Chicago.
Dennis DeBruler: You can see some of the signalling pipelines just in front of the locomotive.

Scott Griffith posted
75 th st tower looking from the old Pennsy
[Pennsy's Panhandle route]
Steven J. Brown posted
Norfolk Western GP35 215 approaching 75th Street Tower/Forest Hill in Chicago - March 22, 1988.
John LaRochelle posted
Wabash Extra 639 West MC 15 (Montpelier/Chicago) crossing the PRR Panhandle and B&OCT at Forrest Hill Elect-Mechanical Interlocking (South 75th and Bell Ave., Chicago), entering Landers Yard. The three position Home Signal controls movement of northbound Wabash passenger trains over the B&OCT/PRR crossings. Note the open derail just beyond the Home Signal that is pipe connected to the tower. 1963.
John LaRochelle posted
Here's a rare one. Erie Transfer 6054 West on the BRC trundling over the PRR Panhandle diamonds and just about to trundle over the B&OCT diamonds at Forrest Hill Electro Mechanical Interlocking Tower (South 75th and Bell Ave., Chicago). The pipe connected semaphore home signal indicates 'RESTRICTING', it's only indication other than 'STOP'. The top semaphore is stationary.
Craig Cloud Nose logo shows it to be EL 6054, merger occurred 1960, assume taken few years after.
John DeWit Woodlock II posted
BNSF 1071,LMX 8529 @ Forest Hill Tower-Chicago,IL 11 JAN 97.
Peter Zimmermann And at least most of the towers on the Panhandle route had this same look to it too, just like DU tower in Dolton, North Judson, etc.[The Panhandle tracks ran along the right (east) side of the tower.]

Bill Leipart II shared a 2012 memory
The old PRR, PCRR & then Conrail Tracks. The abandoned line @ 75th. street tower.
Craig Cloud Not really Pan Handle line per say, it's officially the Columbus Division. The Pan Handle line itself is a predecessor to the PRR which trackage still in place Columbus to Pittsburgh jct. Thence across bridge at Weirton of which it terminates.
Mike Breski http://abandonedonline.net/.../pittsburgh-cincinnati.../


John DeWit Woodlock II posted
CR 7921 @ Forest Hill-Chicago,IL 00 SEP 89. Everything in this image is gone except for the rails, which may have been modified
Steven J. Brown posted
From the tower at Forest Hill in Chicago - May 6, 1988.
[Look at all of the signalling pipelines to the right of the two multi-wire cables.]

Steven J. Brown posted
On the list of forgotten jobs! Lubrication at Forest Hill Tower in Chicago, Illinois - April 17, 1988.
Steven J. Brown shared

Steven J. Brown posted
Levers at Forest Hill Tower in Chicago - June 4, 1991
Scott Griffith posted
Jim Griffith took the photo of the inside of 75th st tower

Steven J. Brown posted
Norfolk Southern C44-9W 9852 (built 2004 as NS C40-9W 9852) eastbound at Forest Hill in Chicago, Illinois - March 7, 2020.
I still have to look up the facts for this junction in my notes. The NS train is on the BRC. The former Wabash tracks going to Landers Yard are on the left. The tracks in the foreground are B&OCT, and they are the ones that are to be elevated. The Panhandle tracks were on this side of the B&OCT tracks.


Also known as Forest Hill crossing, this was one of the last manual interlockings in the Chicago area. Originally built in 1894 with a 132 lever frame, it protected the crossing of four routes, the Wabash and Belt Railway of Chicago running east-west and the PRR Panhandle line and the B&O Chicago Terminal running north-south. There were connecting tracks and associated crossovers from the BRC to both B&O and PRR lines in the north quadrants. The PRR tracks were removed after Conrail, accounting for the missing levers in the interior views. Even with the PRR gone, it remained a busy location, averaging 100 moves a day, mostly freight and transfer moves from all the major Chicago RR's except IHB, and passenger trains on the ex-Wabash were operated by METRA. 
When all 4 routes were still there, it was a veritable signal museum, with searchlight and traffic light type color light signals, PRR Position Light signals, B&O Color Position Lights, and manually operated mast and dwarf semaphores, switches and catch points. It was also unusual in using curved deflecting bars to turn operating motion at right angles instead of the more usual bell cranks. The tower was closed in November 1997, remoted to CSX dispatchers, and the building was demolished in 1998. 
My thanks to the operator for inviting me up into the tower. He had the strongest coffee I've ever tasted. "I never make it fresh, I just add more on top" The pot looked like a bucket of road tar. 
Video from three visits in 1994 and 1995.

Another post of a link to the video
Jeff Beal: Spent nights in that tower on snow duty. Shoveling pipeline, burning cranks and compensators. Changing rollers and side carriers. Hanging out with Pat, Phil, Rich, Larry, Joyce, Dave and other operators. Graphite and oiling switches and derails. Remember when Bruce hired out and Pat breaking him in. All of that just fond memories now.
Thomas White: Jeff Beal I relieved Pat every day after Tony Rehm retired. What a pleasure to relieve Pat. He was the complete opposite of Tony, who left me a huge backlog of trains to clean up every day...and every phone in the place ringing off the wall.
Tony didn't want the tower to change. When the B&B came to remodel it (indoor plumbing, better lighting, wallboard, new windows, siding), he threw their tools out the tower window as fast as they brought them in. After a couple of weeks of this, the B&B left...then came back when Tony was on vacation for a week and did the whole job. He went ballistic.
Eddie Byrne was 3d Trick. Pat called him Eddie F___n' Byrne. Eddie panicked at any little thing. At CR, he lowered the bridge on a ship because a passenger train hit the bell. At 75, some of the guys used to speed up Road Elmers setting out at Forest hill by swinging them down just over the crossing, lining the switch into Forest Hill, and giving them a sign to back up. Well...he got distracted by the phone one night after stopping Elmer in front of the tower. Then he went back to the window and gave them a back up sign, forgetting that he didn't line the switch. They did. The head man was over lining the yard switches...where he was supposed to be and where the train was supposed to go. They went straight back on the main and ran into their own train.
Remember Al Blomquist, the maintainer there? He took care of the place like it was his own.
My first day owning 2d trick, I came to work to find a pile of passenger cars and engines in front to the tower (the bottom picture of my new year post). No 7 piled up just a few hours before. That was Jan 1968. It took until April to finally get the interlocking back in service. The pipleines north of the tower were shredded. We worked with CB walkie talkies and switchtenders at the crossovers and wye switch. Every B&OCT move had to be flagged for four months.
The signal gang was there full time putting it all back together. One of the guys on the gang, Bill DeVos was sitting on the locking bed on the north end of the machine eating lunch. A big rat (we towermen were used to them) ran out from under the locking bed, between his legs, out the door and down the stairs. Bill closed his lunch box, ran out of the tower, and never came back up.
When I worked there, there was no sit down desk. There was a stand up height desk mounted on the wall to the right of the windows near the desk in the video. They assumed (correctly, at least on 2d trick) that we had no time to sit.



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