Friday, February 5, 2016

B&OCT Strauss Trunnion over South Branch

(Bridge HunterHistoric BridgesSatellite)

See the St. Charles Air Line Bridge next to this one for more views.

(Update: video of both bridges going down)

Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted
Shot of the famous twin Bascule bridges
still in operation in Chicago, Illinois.

David Daruszka also posted
I have been debating for over a year about going down Lumber Street on a Sunday to see how soon security would contact me after I started taking closeups of this bridge. But when I came across this picture with it (the one on the right) still down, I needed to go with the picture I have. Note the caption is wrong. Both bridges still exist, but the B&OCT bridge has been locked in the upright position since around 1986 because the Grand Central Station was closed in 1969 and torn down in 1971.

I assume the building with the tall smokestack on the left side of the picture is the Fisk Generating Plant. In front of that plant is a freight house with a couple of box cars spotted at it.

David Daruszka Both bridges are designated City of Chicago landmarks. They cannot be torn down without authorization from the city. One is still used for trains on the St. Charles Airline. The other is locked in the raised position as it is no longer used since the demise of Grand Central Station and the Soo Line Freight House.

20150502 0639
Zoomed in showing Lumber Street
At camera resolution

Waldolf Ursine posted
looking south at The St. Charles Air Line #STCAL bridge in its raised position , out of service, as seen from the @Amtrak #Amtrak Chicago Union Station  #CUS yard   May 2023
Waldolf Ursine shared
Seth Lakin: There was a construction mishap to the SCAL bridge. Nobody wants to pay for repairs, it’s tied up in court. In the meantime, 16th Street interlocking is being reconfigured so that why the track from the IC to the bridge is temporary removed.

A double rotation broke the Bird's Eye View
But it does handle single rotations quite well.
Looking East
Looking West

Patrick McNamara commented on above posting
Here's a photo taken by my friend Steve Malachinski looking East while he was on the St. Charles Air Line approaching the bridges.

Some interesting comments in a posting by John Joseph Walsh III:
Mark Hinsdale In service (although rarely used) until 1986, when all trackage was removed on the approach to what was Grand Central Station on the east bank of the river. Today, it is still a B&OCT (CSX) operator, by virture of the long standing agreement that placed both the adjacent bridges under common control, that performs the Air Line bridge openings, even though CSX no longer has any trackage in the area. The double tracked B&OCT bridge, over which all passenger trains serving Grand Central Station once travelled, is secured in a permanently raised position.

Terry Falduto Excellent information, Mark Hinsdale. Thanks. How interesting about the bridges' operating agreement. Seems almost ridiculous that a CSX employee has manned that location for decades now without any trains of the company using the facility. (edited to add: Although I suppose some of the costs of the staff might be shared under the agreement).

Mark Hinsdale Believe it or not, I actually tried to get out from under this arrangement and shift the burden of operation to the successive owners of the Air Line (IC, CNW, BNSF) during my tenure as CSX Gen Mgr here in the 90's, but our Law Dept told me to forget about it. So, a CSX employee remains.

Bill DeMar This a pic from back in day , west of the bridges.
Fred Mohr Last train movement was in 1991 to grab the last of the csx storage cars out.
I have a vhs video of it that I need to put on dvd.
It was a tax write off acct it was part of a functional railroad and not vacant land.

I'm putting this photo in these notes instead of the notes of the St. Charles Air Line Bridge that the train is using because this photo shows the B&OCT bridge in the lowered position.
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak City of New Orleans #58, lead by F40PH 271 (built 1977, became Ohio Central 271 to Tshiuetin 602), is about to cross the Chicago River over the St Charles Airline Bridge on the way into town in Chicago, Illinois - November 1987.
Jeff Hawkins: Look at all that Phase III goodness!
Matt Tjaden: Jeff Hawkins the best paint scheme in my opinion
Steven J. Brown shared

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak City of New Orleans descends the St Charles Airline into Chicago - January 23, 1988.
I and Aaron Sims noted that the B&OCT bridge (the left one because we are looking east) was in the down position.
Terry Falduto Dennis DeBruler and Aaron Sims, the B&OCT bridge could be occasionally found in the down position into the early 1990s. A few cars would be infrequently shuttled into and out of the last track left on the big parcel of land where Grand Central Station stood. This was done as a legal exercise to prove that the trackage and area were technically still in use.

We learned from postings concerning the Kinzie (Wells) Street RR Bridge that a track has to be used at least one a year to remain classified as active. I still don't understand why UP wants to keep the Kinzie bridge active, but I understand that the active track on the B&O property makes the property tax for all of that former railroad land cheaper.

Steven J. Brown posted
Twenty-six years apart, Amtrak City of New Orleans #58 about to cross the Chicago River - February 8, 1991 and February 25, 2017.
[So the bridge was still down in 1991.]

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak City of New Orleans #58 is snaking its way on the St Charles Airline inbound to Union Station at 16th Street Tower in Chicago, Illinois - December 1987. The trench it is crossing were the leads to Dearborn Street Station. The Red Line CTA subway is buried there now.
Steven J. Brown shared
Steven J. Brown shared
Rick La Fever: Also note both bridges were in the closed position. I think the B&O side was the locked open position since sometime in 1990's?
Robert Petit: Rick La Fever they would occasionally lower it. An at one time in that era there were two or three boxcar that were stored on the old station leads. I guess to keep the city from claiming that the site was not being used for rail purposes.
Paul Jevert: I worked Amtrak #391-392, #381-380 and #59-58 many times over those bridges and ran 103 car Wepex Coal trains to 40th St. CNW Yard. Also "Piloted" SOO Line Run thru Freight to Markham Harvey off the Engnr's Extra Board back in the 70's and 80's.

William A. Shaffer posted
Drawbridge at Amtrak Yard in Chicago (8.15.17)
This Drawbridge has been in the "up" position since I began work at Amtrak in 1983. (Photo by William A. Shaffer)
[The B&OCT Bridge is on the left.]

20170421 8720, cropped
8723, cropped

Karl Beetschen posted
Rob Conway: Decommissioned CB&Q cab car visible with plated widows and antenna, beacon and horn holes patched on the roof.
Timothy Leppert: Rob Conway You probably wore that car out....
Rob Conway: Timothy Leppert We both probably did. But, leaving the rails in one at 60mph is something I hope I never experience again.
Henry Freeman commented on a posting
Adrian Sherrill posted
While reading about the B&OCT bridge I noticed a photograph and a map - linked below - showing yard leads on the east side of the bridge. My understanding is that a ramp curved north from the bridge carrying the B&OCT down to the train shed. Was part of the yard located on this grade? What was the yard used for?
And what about the B&OCT coach yard across the river? Was it built after the river relocation swallowed up B&OCT yard facilities on the west bank of the old channel? How were B&O trains turned at Lincoln St. Yard?
Bob Lalich: The yard on the east side of the river seen in the map above was leased to Pere Marquette, which was acquired by C&O. There were freight houses and team tracks at grade level. Lincoln Ave Coach Yard was built in 1916. B&OCT had a wye at Western Ave to turn trains. The wye track also was used for freight transfers and switch runs.
Lawrence Smith: this is 1st pic I have seen clearly showing the RI connection under the SCAL trough the hole in the wall.
Bob Lalich commented on Lawrence's comment
I believe the so-called hole in the wall track was a connection between Rock Island and B&OCT under Roosevelt Road - the red circle in this map.
One of the few photos I have seen of the B&OCT bridge in the down position.
One of six Rick Burn photos posted by Marty Bernard. Some of the other photos include this bridge.
Sam Dickey shared a link
Troy Nolen Wonder why they left rails on it, there's no railroad on either side of that bridge for 40 years.Gord McOuat Removing the rails affects the weight of the movable part of the bridge and counterbalancing which can foul up bridge operation most often noticed trying to get a bridge back down from the up position. These bridges are so well balanced they normally require very small electric motors to move them. If you move the rails, you have to put back the equivalent weight.

James Clary posted
Roosevelt Street Bridge - Chicago
Dennis DeBruler The upright bridge behind it is the B&OCT, now abandoned. The span that is still down is the St. Charles Air Line, which many condo owners wish was abandoned.
Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places posted
‪St. Charles Air Line Bridge on the right, and a former railroad bridge used by the B&O Terminal Railroad, now permanently upright on the left. Chicago, IL.

Jeff Lewis shared
Photo by Dan Boro (Nov. 2019)
[Most of the comment was deleted because it was wrong.]
Marshall Beecher I don’t believe the B&OCT bridge can ever lower again. It doesn’t move, as far as I know, as there are some linkage issues preventing it from lowering, not that there’s any rail traffic affected by it anyways.
Sayre Kos Have we approached Todd for a final determination?
Todd Pearson Sayre Kos I can get it to drop...... may want to clear everyone from the commissary and 14th street engine shop😂
You know I got reprimanded by a roadforeman over that bridge. I was telling new hires you had to climb it and carve your name in the top tie to be a real railroader in Chicago 😂😂😂
She told me the bill from Chicago Fire would be sent to me the first time they had to rescue some poor slob stuck up on that bridge 😂😂😂
Todd Pearson If I see the maintainer there I’ll ask if it can be lowered .We just missed the chance during the bi annual bridge lift to get the sail boats back to their storage for the winter.

Absolute Altitude Aerial Photography posted
Absolute Altitude Aerial Photography posted from an album of eight photos
[I included this one because it illustrates how the above photo was modified.]

Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak Southwest Chief equipment turns on the wye at 16th and Canal in Chicago - February 13, 1988.
Dennis DeBruler Back when the B&OCT bridge was still down. I had never noticed that its counterweight is a monolith rather than two "elephant ears" like the St. Charles Bridge has. Both bridges were designed at the same time, but the St. Charles bridge was originally installed with a longer span over the original South Branch channel east of here.

Scott Griffith posted
love this pic of 16th st bridge

Rick Smith posted
B&OCT (Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal) RR Strauss Heel Trunnion Bascule Bridge. Reportedly, the aerial view was shot from a drone camera aimed at the truss portal toward the ground. The rather spooky view also shows the St Charles Air Line RR Bridge (on the immediate left and still in use) in its closed position.
Also known as the B&OCT 16th St. bridge, this structure has been permanently pinned in the raised position, since perhaps around 1986. It remains under ownership of the CSX RR (CSX Transportation Co.), successor to the B&O RR and which currently controls the still-extant modern-day B&OCT RR. The B&OCT bridge is the smaller of two similarly designed bridges (the larger being the St. Charles Air Line bridge) moved side-by-side during the 1930s, as required for realignment of the Chicago River South Branch.
Before the bridge was decommissioned, it served primarily the former B&OCT Grand Central Station, located at Harrison and Wells Streets. It also served B&O, Soo Line, and Chicago Great Western (CGW) freight houses nearby. That passenger terminal was razed in spring 1971. All tracks on the approaches to this bridge have been removed, and the right-of-way has either removed and/or partially redeveloped. The bridge rails remain in place.
[photo - photographer undetermined]
Geoffrey Moreland shared
David Daruszka: Both bridges are registered historic landmarks, as are a number of other moveable railroad bridges.
Comments on Rick's post

Marty Bernard shared
The Early Amtrak Illinois Zephyr
Initially Amtrak scrounged for equipment and found some of CNW's. Captions with photos.

Marty Bernard posted
AMTK SDP40F 502 with Train 4, the Southwest Limited, backing out of Chicago Union Station on July 3, 1978. Note the Amtrak on the St. Charles Air Line.
Dennis DeBruler: Back when the B&OCT Bridge was still down.
Marty Bernard shared
Jack Ryan: In this photo Conrail’s Chgo Division and train dispatchers were located. It’s the red brick two story building under the bridge counter weight.

Street View, Jul 2019
I just noticed (Nov 16, 2022) that the counterweight on this side (North) of the B&OCT bridge is gone. If you look at a satellite map, this is now a bridge to nowhere because it was used for passenger service. Specifically, the tracks east of the bridge and west of Canal Street have been removed. So the bridge is always up and counterweights are not needed. Since there are cars parked near the north side, I presume they wanted to remove the risk of some concrete falling onto a car.

In the background of the steam locomotive NKP 765.

I didn't watch because I don't care for "urban exploring" (trespassing) videos, but I include it in case others are interested: 5:37 YouTube Video.

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