Friday, February 12, 2016

Rondout Junction: Metra+CP/Milw vs. CN/EJ&E

NorthAmericanInterlockings:  photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo photo
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers (click the marker for more information)

Kevin Piper posted a history and twelve images.

A photo essay about its closing March 7, 2015.

Tim Shafer posted
Ed Fehrman posted
In this repost photo from Robert McCoy taken in December 1970, you can see Rondout as it truly was. On the EJ&E side, is the J section shed and gandy huts. On the top is the Milw Rd section foreman house and in the parking lot is the 50 gal drum we used to burn the trash. The photo was taken just six months after my first day as a yard clerk in the tower.

What looks like a Milwaukee depot was gone by the above Dec 1979 photo.
Mike Raia posted
CMStP&P FM diesel on commuter train passing depot at Rondout IL in 1960. Harry Evans photo, Lake States collection.
Mike Raia shared
Andre Kristopans: Until the first gallery cars came in, MILW commuter trains were mostly pulled by FMs. After that, the remaining old car trains were pulled mostly by GP9s.

Steven J. Brown posted two photos with the comment:
NOW AND THEN AT RONDOUT! Sixteen years apart, almost to the day!
August 11, 2017 - Soo Line 1003.
August 12, 2001 - Amtrak Empire Builder #8.


David Kamptner posted
Canadian Pacific SD40-2 5912 leads a westbound mixed freight through Rondout, Illinois. Photo taken several years ago.

Marty Bernard posted two photos with the comment:
Rondout Illinois is north of Chicago where the ex-Milwaukee Road's north/south mainline to Milwaukee crosses the ex-EJ&E more or less east/west line from Elgin to North Chicago, a suburb on Lake Michigan.  The Milwaukee's line to Fox Lake, IL (now Metra) and central Wisconsin branches off just north of the diamonds.  The abandoned Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee's branch (now a trail) to Mundelein flies over the Milwaukee just north of the diamonds and over the EJ&E a little farther east.
For additional detail see:
These two photos show the operator of Rondout Tower in June of 1977 handing up paper work to the EJ&E engineer and then conductor or rear brakeman rolling at maybe 25 mph across the diamonds.  I don't know if the paper work included Orders.  Note he is holding both loaded forks in first photo.
Marty Bernard shared
Bruce Harris: I used to grab orders at 50mph. Had to keep that speed going to dodge scoots.
Jonathan Schor: Bruce Harris And it is real fun handing up those orders - I did it on the old B&M. Really scary when these huge locomotives coming around a curve - and not slowing down a bit.
Bruce Harris: Jonathan Schor The tower operator did not hand them up by this point. He would climb a short set of stairs and have them in the hoop ready for us. He was safely back in the tower by the time we rolled through.

Ken Jamin posted
I just found this story in my archives. Please forgive me if I posted it before but, it’s too good not to share. The photo of me handing up orders at Rondout was taken by Bill Christopher in 1976. 
One evening long ago, as I was handing up orders to the evening “parade” of commuter trains at Rondout, I noticed an older gentleman sitting on the long wooden bench in front of the tower. He watched me without speaking as I ran down the steps every few minutes to hold the hoops where the engineer and conductor could grab the orders, then return just as quickly to the tower to line the signal for the next train. After several trains had passed, his curiosity got the best of him. 
“Watcha doing?” he asked, so I patiently explained the process to him. “What happens if they miss?” he asked. “Well, they rarely miss but if they do, they have to stop and get them because they are required to have them before going any farther.
I went back upstairs to line the signal for the next train and load the hoops with their orders. The orders the commuter trains received were usually the same every day, confirming that the single track ahead of them was clear of opposing trains and did not restrict their speed or authority for movement. As the next train approached I picked up the hoops and again descended the steel stairway to the platform. Positioning myself at trackside, I noticed the man was still sitting there, silently watching me.
As the engine drew near I raised the engineer’s hoop and the engineer caught the orders. Turning my attention to the conductor, I held the second hoop horizontally, level with the coach doors as I waited for the conductor to open up and stick his arm out. However, to my surprise, none of the doors opened and the last coach flashed by me.
“Now what happens?” he asked. Somewhat impatiently I again explained that they cannot proceed without the orders and assured him the conductor would signal the engineer to stop. Then he would run back so I could hand them to him. We both watched in silence until the markers on the last car disappeared around the curve, and the sound of the locomotive slowly faded away. The man just looked at me and said, “Really?”
A few minutes after the time the train was due to arrive at its final destination, Fox Lake, I got a call on the “city” phone. (By way of explanation, railroads had their own phone system but some of those lines were recorded so, whenever someone wanted to talk privately about something, they called on the “city” phone.) It was the conductor and he was frantic. 
“I am so sorry I missed the orders! I was busy collecting a cash fare and forgot all about it! You didn’t turn me in did you?” “Gee,” I replied in a serious tone, “I wish you had called a few minutes sooner. I didn’t know what to do with your copy of the orders so I put them in an envelope and mailed them to the division superintendent.” 
“Oh, Noooo!” he wailed. “You didn’t turn me in, did you?” Suddenly I began coughing. “I’m sorry,” I replied. “There seems to be a lot of smoke in here. It looks like some green tissue paper (train orders were written on green tissue paper) fell into the ashtray and burned to ashes. I don’t know how that happened.” We were both still laughing as we hung up.

The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society posted
After a weekend trip into Chicago for displays at Metra's Western Avenue shops and at a fundraiser for Shriner's Hospital, Soo Line 1003 heads back to Wisconsin over the Milwaukee Road-North district.
Shown here at Roundout, in the town of Lake Bluff, where the main line, hosting Amtrak's "Hiawatha" trains and Canadian Pacific freights to Milwaukee, heads north and the commuter line to Fox Lake breaks off to the west to a connection with the Wisconsin & Southern. All of it at one time was part of the vast (but underfunded) Milwaukee Road empire. #1003 will continue on to Janesville, Wisconsin and eventually to its home to the Wisconsin Auto Museum in Hartford.
Thanks to the Steam Locomotive Heritage Association, Metra, and other railroads, along with the volunteers, who made this possible.
Kevin Piper posted
Flooding and derailments often caused Burlington passenger trains to detour over the Milwaukee Road between Chicago and the Twin Cities. Here the eastbound combined "Empire Builder-North Coast Limited" roars into Rondout, IL, over Milwaukee rails on 4-18-65. PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN
Rob Conway shared
Sam CarlsonGroup Admin This looks like a Bill Ely (Blapper) photo. He used to, and maybe he still does, sell slides. I bought some from him that were taken from this exact same spot but of Milwaukee Road trains.

Rob Conway posted
Another busy day at Rondout. August 7, 2008.
Charles Heraver Look at that full J yard.
William O'Neal Stringer That was the hardest place to stop a train on the entire EJ&E coming into Rondout. From the overpass you can barely see way back there it is a sneaky down hill section and trains running west were always tonnage.
Ken Jamin As EJE Train 5 was approaching Rondout one warm summer evening, I heard the engineer ask the conductor on the radio whether he wanted to bring the whole train across the interlocking at Rondout, or just the cars to be interchanged to the Milwaukee Road. The conductor replied, "We'll worry about that when we get to Rondout." The engineer replied, "We're coming into Rondout." The conductor said, "I don't know where you are, but this caboose is still sitting right here at Leithton!" (Several miles west of Rondout) Apparently, some kids pulled the pin and turned an angle cock while the head end was doing the station work at Leithton. (Obviously, the engineer departed Leithton without conducting the required check of the air brakes to determine that the whole train was intact or without permission from the conductor.)

Fortunately, the head end had all the cars to be interchanged to the Milwaukee Road with them, so they delivered the cars as planned. Then the engineer asked me for permission to return to his train at Leithton but I told him he didn't need permission because, according to the rules, his train never departed Leithton, so off he went with just the locomotive.
I couldn't record an arrival time on the train sheet, because his entire train had not arrived. And by the time No. 5's head end returned to Leithton and finally highballed thru Rondout for Waukegan with the rest of their train, it was after midnight, so the train sheet showed train 5 passing RO without stopping, a day AFTER they interchanged the cars! I wonder if that ever showed up on an audit somewhere.
Rob Conway Ken Jamin
Great story! As I mentioned in a previous post, the J rarely had an uneventful passage through Rondout.
Ken Jamin The clerks at Rondout were supposed to physically walk the south (Milw) yard daily and after a train had picked up or set out to confirm the yard list was correct. Obviously, the clerks tried to avoid this by any means possible. For instance, whenever the Milw was setting out cars in the south yard, the clerk could do a "pull-by" of the cars as they pulled past the tower, prior to shoving into the south yard. And if shoving into more than one track, the head brakeman would tell us on the radio where he had made the cut, i.e., the head car on the track he was cutting away from. When the J interchanged cars to the Milw, the clerk could stand in the window in the north corner of the tower and make a pull-by as the cars passed the tower prior to shoving around the east leg of the wye. One afternoon, Paul came on duty just as J train 5 was crossing the diamond. Grabbing his clipboard, Paul quickly stepped to the window to catch the numbers. The train was moving quickly, making it difficult for Paul to write down the last three digits of each car, which he would later use to compare with the train list they would leave behind. "Dammit!" said Paul, "I missed one!...Shit! I missed another one!...Now I've gotta go down and walk the damn yard," he moaned. "Why is he going so damn fast?" he wondered out loud. Paul got his answer a few seconds later, as the markers of the caboose flashed by and I burst out laughing. Train 5 had already arrived, interchanged the cars to the Milwaukee. and tied back onto the rear portion of his train before Paul got there. I had already done the pull-by for Paul so I decided to have a little fun with him, railroad style. When Paul saw train 5, it was highballing for Waukegan! Oh, how I miss those days!
Mike Schattl Quick question.....Why wasn't the J train in the background of this pic lined onto the main??? It's going off the mainline into a siding which is rather short And the train is too long to allow for any opposing trains to pass...
William O'Neal Stringer Mike Schattl They just haven't thrown the switch yet. I would assume they are pulling through the yard with a Peter Baker hind end. They stored loads in the yard there all the time.

Stuart Pearson posted
EJ&E Ry "GOLDEN GOOSE" depicted here approaching the Milwaukee Road Diamond at Randout. Photo Wallace Abbey.
Kevan Davis Time table west bound - navigational eastbound

LakeCountyHistory [1938, The article includes a description of the largest train robbery in U.S. history on Jun 12, 1924.]
Matthew Schoell shared
Jim Moran My grandfather took that picture.
Nhat Quan V. Do I was surprised until I saw that it is clearly in the floodplain of the N Branch Chicago river, and also the Des Plaines river is only a couple thousand ft away (west).

Steven J. Brown posted
Southbound RTG Turbo in Hiawatha Service getting hooped orders, crossing over and hitting the EJ&E diamonds at Rondout, Illinois - August 13, 1976. Can anyone ID the personnel?

Eric Berg posted
Southbound CNS&M car #306 crossing over the Milwaukee Road and EJ&E at Rondout tower on June 2nd, 1950. Photographer unknown. (CMStP&P controlled, now CP) (Note the semaphore style train order signal for the Milwaukee next to the pole, center of the tower)

Lou Gerard posted
Milwaukee Road FP7 102-C on a southbound freight passing Rondout Tower on New Years Day 1976.

David M Laz posted
David's comment:
The double track of the roundout junction north-south route through here is the former Milwaukee Road main line to Milwaukee and the Twin Cities. Chicago's commuter train agency, Metra, owns the line south of here and is used by their Milwaukee North Line trains. To the north, the tracks are the property of Canadian Pacific. CP uses trackage rights on Metra to access the Chicago area. Crossing Metra/CP here is Elgin, Joliet & Eastern's single track main line from Joliet.
Matt McClure Nice shot significantly before the Tower was closed last March.

William O'Neal Stringer shared
MP 32.3: Rondout -- Some E-7s lead the westbound "Afternoon Hiawatha" through the interlocking at Rondout. In 1935 the "Hiawatha" had instructions to slow down to 100 mph at this location.
William O'Neal Stringer Just for the record I don't want to be on or even near a train running 100 mph.Buzz Baxter I was on a train going across New Mexico in late 70s or early 80s where the porter or sleeping car attendant or whatever you call them now was in the vestibule told me he was timing us by the mileposts and we were doing 103 making up time after dropping off some honcho who had been in a special car so they had to obey the speed limit until they dropped him and his car off. It was on the old Santa Fe tracks if I remember right.
Jon Roma commented on William's post
From the Milwaukee Road's Milwaukee Division operating timetable #42, dated February 2, 1947 is the following excerpt. FYI, there was no specific speed restriction for the diamonds at Rondout applying to passenger trains at that time.
Dennis DeBruler Given that they were allowed to pound diamonds at 100mph, what were the restrictions for the drawbridges?
Jon Roma Dennis DeBruler, the only two drawbridges I know of on the First Subdivision of CMStP&P's Milwaukee Division are KK Bridge (which as of the above-dated timetable had a 60/40 speed restriction), and the Menominee River bridge, which fell within a 30/25 speed restriction that included curves coming into the old Milwaukee passenger station.
The whole Milwaukee Road timetable scan is available at if you are interested.
[Milwaukee Bridges in Milwaukee, WI]
Dennis DeBruler Both of those drawbridges are mentioned near the end of your excerpt. That is why their speed limit occurred to me. Thanks for the link.

Charles Haraver posted
Charles' comment:
Adam Robillard recently asked for a down on shot of a 300 class SW1200. I'm afraid this isn't the angle he was hoping for, but it is my only down on (sort of) shot that comes to mind right now. Since the HDs are out anyway, I thought I'd post this. January 8, 1999 finds the WRS-1 eastbound at Rondout led by 319. This unit is in a lighter green than his excellent model of 300. This shot was just a day or 2 after a blizzard. WSOR was dead at Rondout, Amtrak's B32s were having traction motor troubles with the blowing snow, the CP had trains parked, but the J ran as usual.
 Mike Heiligstedt Train occupying the crossing, but gates still up.

Charles Heraver Sharp eyes indeed! I don't remember if they approached the crossing prepared to stop or not. The WRS-1 had a veteran crew, so I'm sure they knew how to handle the situation.

Mike Heiligstedt I'm a signal maintainer.

The first minute of this video is pictures taken at Rondout in the late 60's. I love the tractor on the open autorack at 0:46.

Mike Gramm posted
Actually, this was cut with a plasma cutter in the steel car shop at east joliet, I watched
[A more complete picture]
Lance Wales posted
Back when you could roam around Rondout as long as you were careful, a southbound Milwaukee Road with a quartet of GP38 products (360, 362, 363 and 351) wheel 113 cars over the EJ&E diamonds with caboose #992228 on the rear. Saturday, May 28, 1983.
Andrew Stephenson Is the green signal on the left for train orders? It's obviously not a block signal.
Lance Wales Yup, that's a TO signal.

Sam Carlson posted
MILW at Rondout, IL in May, 1976.
Sam Carlson posted
Rondout Tower on June 20, 1982 at 6:25pm. Crossing of EJ&E and Milwaukee Road, 32.5 miles north of Chicago Union Station.

Sam Carlson posted
It used to be that only dwarf signals protected the crossing of the EJ&E and Milwaukee Road at Rondout, IL. Well, maybe we should say the dwarfs protected the J, because the MILW had searchlight signals. Why the J was reduced to using dwarfs, I'll never know, given that the EJ&E was way overbuilt in most other respects. Here we have EJ&E 659, a brand new SD38-2, running long hood forward as God and the EJ&E intended; and 903, a reengined Baldwin centercab that had only about a year to live before being replaced by 659 and its ilk. We're at Rondout, IL, looking west at a westward train in March, 1974.
Alex Sansone Why did the J have SD38-2's with dynamic brakes ??? And the cnw's didn't.
Jay Reitsma the CNW SD38-2's were also equipped with creep control for the hump yards.
Joseph Tuch Santucci They used them for train handling. As far back as the 80’s the dynamic brake was the preferred method of braking. They were great when bringing westbound down the hill into East Joliet.
Kevin Kelleher CNW's were ordered to work the hump!!!!
Ray Weart The EJ&E opted for dynamic brakes on their SD38-2's and spent $13,390 in 1973 dollars to have the order in which the 659 was delivered so equipped. The 659 came in an order of four SD38-2's placed in late 1973 and finally delivered 01-22-1974. The order covered EJ&E 656-659 and as built they had dual controls so they didn't have to be turned. Actually the 659 is running backwards as the short hood end was the front
Jeff Kehoe Just a quick FYI for you on the cost of those dynamic brakes; that's $74,387.78 in today's money!
Charles Heraver I'll bet the crews loved the dynos coming down the hill in to WaukeganSam CarlsonGroup Admin Remember how they'd use them coming into Rondout? Sometimes they'd positively scream into town!

Sam Carlson posted five photos with the comment: "Three train meet in South Rondout. The train with the F unit had just made a setout to the J. October, 1973."
1, At Rondout, IL in October, 1973.

2, At Rondout, IL in October, 1973.

3, At Rondout, IL in October, 1973.

4, At Rondout, IL in October, 1973.

5, At Rondout, IL in October, 1973.

Sam  Carlson posted
Grabbing orders in March, 1986.
Dennis DeBruler A mix of open and covered auto racks. And the covered auto rack has a lot of "excessive height" paint.
Charles Heraver posted5-16-87---Lake States Summer was in full swing. Train #11 is about to hammer the J diamonds behind a GP9 - SD10 - GP38 - GP30 locomotive consist.

Sam Carlson posted
An EJ&E engineer once said to a Rondout operator, "Sir! I exist!"
"So," said the operator, "Should that create in me a sense of obligation or urgency?
July 4, 1982.
Charles Heraver Back when #10 on weekends had to caboose hop out of Waukegan. THe road crews could not make up their train per union rules.
Sam CarlsonGroup Admin Charles, that's true, but with a 3 unit locomotive consist, I'm thinking it may have been coal train power returning after making the big drop at Waukegan.
Ken Jamin I once had to hold a caboose hop (No. 10?) for 20 min. before I could give him the rail, due to continuous conflicting traffic on the Milw mains. The J DS was furious with me! I kiddingly told him that, whenever I’m unsure which train to let go first (EJE or MILW) I reach in my wallet to see which RR is on my pay stub, and that’s the signal lever I reach for! Then he was even madder! The EJE shared the cost of the interlocking but we were paid only by the Milw.
Ken Jamin No. 10s condr. would sometimes burn the garbage from the caboose beside the track while the head end was picking up cars at RO. One summer Saturday it set one of the ties burning. I asked the J DS if there was anyone around who could put it out but no one was handy. I called him back a few min. later and told him I had taken care of it myself. He thanked me and asked how I did it. I told him, “I can’t tell you how I did it on this (recorded) line but I’ve been wanting to do that to your RR for a long time!” The DS was not amused.
Sam CarlsonGroup Admin Well, other than Marshall Brown, almost none of those J engineers knew how to give you a good move. So if you had cross traffic, then give 'em a red and make them wait. They were never in much of a hurry anyway.
Ken Jamin There was another J engr. who loved to run fast. Wendell Bishop! I think his only regret was that there were only eight notches on the throttle!
Dennis DeBruler Sam, Ken and Charles; thanks for the comments. It makes the photo come alive.
Mark Llanuza posted
Eastbound at Rondout tower 1990
Jon T. Hochstetter Railroad east going compass southwest......

Ahh, Rondout, IL.....the place where trains never went the direction they were pointed at!

Now a question. Trains on the North Shore elevation, were the as railroad north-south or east-west? The CNS&M was really a north-south operation. Did the Mundelein branch follow the mainline?
Eric Royburn posted
A Detour loaded Columbia Coal, CP#881, with CNW8514,CNW8549. IIRC, the spine line had a derailment, so the CNW routed just a couple this way. This was the only one I got, my only CNW by Rondout Tower. A rainy May 7, 1994.
Sam CarlsonSam manages the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for The Rondout Files. This wasn't a detour. C&NW would bring the train in from the west, past Proviso Yard 9 and on up to Bryn Mawr. There it would take two crew vans to effect a crew change. One would come from Proviso and grab the C&NW crew. The other would grab the MILW crew from the Elmhurst Holiday Inn and take them to Bryn Mawr. Two different van companies would be involved, but I worked for both of them. I've been the crew hauler on both ends of that move, so I know! I've also beaten 881 from Bryn Mawr to Portage to dogcatch the same crew that I put on 881 at Bryn Mawr. Boy, were they surprised to see me!
Sam CarlsonSam manages the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for The Rondout Files. In reverse, the crew change would be at Signal 32 on the C&NW, which was behind an apartment complex off of River Road in Feehanville, IL about a mile west of Deval. It made more sense to do it that way because of road crossings to block or not block.
One of three photos posted by Matt Heeren
[The comments are interesting.]
Rob Conway posted
Westbound going through the plant. Eastbound Scoot is "on the bell" as is Waukegan bound EJ&E train #9.
Wiring is done, but still struggling with the micocontroller programming, but I'll get it figured out.
Can't wait to get the finished product to IRM's Spaulding tower where it belongs
[There are quite a few interesting comments.]

Ken Jamin posted
Since I often refer to my experiences when I worked at Milwaukee Road Rondout tower, this is what the board looked like when I worked there 1973-79; 85-88. Over the years the board had some modifications made as tracks and switches were removed. When the tower closed @ 4 years ago (the control point is now controlled by the CP dispr. in Mpls.) the board was immediately removed and donated to the Illinois Railway Museum. It has been lovingly restored to its' 1970s condition by Rob Conway who took this photo. I'm told that he is also restoring the circuitry so that visitors can try their hand at operating a real CTC machine. Kudos to Rob for his hard work.
If you're curious, The track occupancy lights superimposed on the track diagram were white and indicated that a train was in that circuit. Circuits on the plant were just a couple hundred feet long, while the approach circuits were miles long, giving the operator ample time to line the route for the approaching train if he/she had not already done so.
The top row of lights are for the switches, and there are two positions; "N" (normal) which displayed a green light and "R" (reverse) for a diverging route and displayed a yellow light. Both ends of crossover switches were controlled by a single lever and operated simultaneously.
Switches for the desired route were always lined first, as lining the signal locked the switches for the route selected. To change the route, the signal must be returned to red which started a timer running so that an operator could not change the line-up directly in front of a moving train. The power to the switches was supposedly cut off while a train was in the circuit, but just to be safe there was a hard and fast rule about never attempting to move a switch lever while a train was passing over it.
The bottom row was for the signals. Vertical position displayed a red light and was the position levers were left in when no route was lined. For trains moving from right to left on the board, the desired signal lever was moved the the left "L." When the lever was moved in either direction, the corresponding light on the panel was green. However when a train passed "knocked down" that signal, the indication on the board returned to red.
The actual aspect or physical appearance of the signal in the field was determined by the circuitry, based upon what route was lined and whether the block(s) ahead were occupied. For example, if the operator lined the route for a straight through movement and no trains were in the block(s) ahead, the home signal displayed "Clear" (green over red over red). If the operator lined the train for a diverging route, such as a westbound commuter train headed for Fox Lake, or to cross over to the other main track and the block(s) ahead were clear, the signal would display "Diverging Clear" (red over green over red) etc.
Edward Ehrlich "Rondout Tower, this is 70's extra. We've got 18 for the "J" and 24 for the Chicago Storage. Over"
Ken Jamin "Milwaukee Road operator Rondout to 70's extra. Roger that. You can hold the main. Cut 'em off behind the home signal and I'll line you into six track when you're ready. Tracks one and two are clear in the J yard. Lemme know where you make the cut. There’s eight and two for Chicago on the runaround. Milwaukee Road operator Rondout tower, out!"
Edward Ehrlich "70's extra to Rondout Tower. Roger that. Here we come!"
[I don't really understand that exchange, but that makes it even more valuable as captured history.]
Jeffrey Varney A little information about the rest of the board/display. In the lower left corner, the large dark panel contained the manual control for the crossing gates at Rockland Road. Next to that panel are the indicators for the dragging equipment detector at Lake Forest. When tripped by a train, an alarm bell rang and a red light came on. There was a button you could press to silence the bell. In the lower center of the board was the trap circuit for the track diamonds. The diamonds were insulated from all of the other track circuits on either railroad. They could be reset by the operator, but the signal department kept a seal on the reset buttons. Next to the right, were the levers and displays for the train order boards. If the operator had orders for a train, the operator could set the signal either clear, stop or for a form 19 order. The last panel on the right was a maintainer call button.
Ken Jamin Somebody taught me a "cheat" for re-setting the dragging equipment alarm buttons without breaking the seal wire. If you carefully unscrewed the button about two turns, the stem extended long enough to re-set the alarm. But if you unscrewed it too far, if fell off inside the machine and you had to call the maintainer.
Jeffrey Varney In later years, the seals had disappeared and it was no problem to reset the detector. I remember the first time it went off when I was working...scared the hell out of me!
Mark Deringer Brings back a lot of memories when I worked at West Wye Tower in KC. And at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Drawbridge. At one time the operators at West Wye Tower worked with the Rock Island dispatcher, I think in Dec Moines, the KCS dispatcher in Shreveport, and the Milwaukee Road dispatcher in Ottumwa, Ia.
Bill Mulger That takes me back to my South Kensington days. 68 lever miniature interlocked frame down one side and an 80 switch panel at the other. Damn we moved a lot of stuff bitd

Mark Llanuza posted
EJ&E at Roundout tower 2005
Chris D. Gardner I hate to be a nitpicker, but it's Rondout, not "Roundout".
One of several turbo train photos posted by Robert Daly
Northbound train at Rondout, Dec 6 1980.
Matt McClure posted four photos with the comment:
Rondout, Illinois has significant history as the Milwaukee Road crossed the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern here. Later came the North Shore's Mundelein Branch. Later abandoned, the branch is now a bike trail with a fabulous bridge for photography along with the now-closed Rondout Tower. Be care NOT to park north of the EJ&E where a private club has a parking lot. Photos from March, 2015 the week the tower closed--some three days earlier.


Ken Jamin posted
Try modeling THIS interior in HO scale! 
This was the clerks area in Rondout tower in May, 1978. Note the teletype machine, IBM keypunch machine and tape reader. The clerks typed the info from paper waybills into the keypunch machine, which made punch cards. (The tiny pieces of paper that were punched out were called “chads.”) The perforated cards were then put into a machine which “read” the holes in the cards and transferred the information to a paper tape, by punching a different pattern of holes in the tape. The tape was then put into a machine (right foreground) which transmitted the info to Muskego, Bensenville or Green Bay yards. After a train list was sent, the pale yellow tape was wound up like a figure 8 around the clerks fingers, marked and stored.
Note how the tape from the machine goes into a wastebasket reserved for that purpose. One day someone from B&B or Track Dept. used the basket for a spittoon for their tobacco. The clerk was irate and made the offender clean the basket and the tape. LOL.
Clerks also received train lists on the teletype and they can be seen hanging on the wall behind the teletype machine. Also note the typewriter and the “candlestick” phone on a scissors extension and headset at left.
Clerks also had to make a physical yard check every shift if the yard had been switched, or if a train had set out or picked up cars. (That's why clerks were called "mud hops.") It didn't always happen, especially in bad weather. Our Asst. Supt. called that a "steam heated yard check." LOL. Once, when a clerk walked the yard after the previous clerk swore he had already done so, he said, "Imagine that! That SOB walked on top of freshly fallen snow without leaving footprints!"
When they were delivering cars on more than one track in the south yard, the conductor would tell us on the radio the number of the head car they left on each track. That, combined with a "pull-by" observation as they pulled the set out by the tower, told the clerk how to write up the track list the next crew worked from. However, clerks did not have to walk the J yard.
On one occasion, two clerks almost got into a fight when they wrote down different numbers for the same car. It turned out they had walked opposite sides of that track and the car in question had DIFFERENT NUMBERS on each side!
See how easy and simple it all was back then? NOT!
And after they cut off the clerks jobs on weekends the operators had to do the clerks work but did not have to walk the yard. I’m sure they would have made us do that too but we couldn’t leave the tower unattended that long.
Ken Olson Ah yes we all remember the hanging chads that decided an election. I am pretty sure the cards were typed according to ASCII codes
Dennis DeBruler Modern (8-bit) IBM cards used EBCDIC code. The Teletype (AT&T) used ASCII. The card punch in the photo looks like an older model, so it would be just BCD, which I believe was a 6-bit code. It could not enter lower-case letters.
Don Hitchcock posted
Rondout 1964
Brad Kanary Talk about David and Goliath.
[I didn't even notice the switcher behind the centercab until I read Brad's comment.]
A reminder that CN now owns the GTW (the loco) and the EJ&E (the tracks).
Miles Jajich posted
Local Across The Diamond - Rondout, IL
I never realized that the tower building also used to be a commuter stop. Most photos of this tower "skunk" those doors to the waiting room with a train.
Sam Carlson added
Andy Baumann Rondout with the Metra (if it was called that then) waiting room built underneath.
Sam Carlson By the time of this shot, this stop had been abolished and that waiting room was occupied by a few seats, a thundermug, and a big ice maker.

Sam Carlson posted
Rondout Tower on December 29, 1995. Rondout is where the Milwaukee Road and the EJ&E crossed, about 32.5 miles north of Chicago.

Miles Jajich posted
Two Over The Diamond - Rondout, IL (6/22/19)

Miles Jajich posted
Miles Jajich Basically everything that was running on this line around the time was having some sort of delay. A two hour late Amtrak Hiawatha, an hour late inbound Metra, and a 30 minute late outbound Metra.

No one had any clearance until the outbound got past the switches and searchlights. The Amtrak then rolled out, with the inbound following behind. The outbound then reversed, stopped, then continued its way on the Fox Lake Subdivision.
Fred Van Dorpe Miles Jajich i don't see why they had to make the outbound go north past the control point. Couldnt they have made it wait at the signal south of the crossovers, then let the Hiawatha and inbound pass by on main 2, then let the outbound through? Something doesn't add up. If only one of the mains was occupied south of rondout and the other main not occupied, the outbound wouldn't have had to do that unusual movement.
Miles Jajich Fred I believe there was something going on down south on Main 2, because when they sent the Hiawatha through, they kept it on Main 1. When the inbound train was sent, it was switched from Main 2 to Main 1 as well. That might explain why they had to bring the Outbound through first.
Fred Van Dorpe That would explain it, thanks!
Greenwood Vytautas Champ Wow, I’ve never seen Metra go beyond the switch to the Fox Lake Subdivision, even for traffic reasons - very cool.
Miles Jajich Thank you.

On weekdays, there are two trains that continue to Rondout past the searchlights and switches after making its last stop.

There’s one in the morning that terminates at Lake Forest and one in the evening that terminates at Deerfield. These both then continue onwards to Rondout without passengers.

Once stopped past the searchlights and switches, they return back to Chicago after sitting around, making their first stop at Lake Forest.
Steven J. Brown posted
Canadian National GP38-2 IC 9604 (built 1974 and GP38-2 GTW 4903 (built 1972 as MP 890 to MP 2041 to GTW 5703) on the EJ&E crossing the Milwaukee Road (yes, I'm in denial) at Rondout, Illinois - December 3, 2019.
Chris Keating I didn't know they were still running to Waukegan?
Ray Weart I thought I saw you chasing us Steve that day. Chris Keating, we don't go to Waukegan anymore. We have two customers in North Chicago we serve and that's the furthest we go. We get a track authority to M.P. 72.5 but only have to go as far as 70.5. Both of those engines have been replaced by a single IC GP40. We go up there Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Gregg Wolfersheim Ray Weart 2 motors? Must be a lot of business up there!
Ray Weart We had two for a short time at Schiller Park and my Asst Sup said to use both. HE doesn't have to tell me that twice, LOL.
Andrew Sonkin Job L501
I've generally quit saving photos of trains here because they are becoming redundant. But the timing for this one was to special to ignore.
David Kamptner posted
Both of Amtrak's Empire Builder's are seen meeting at speed at Rondout.

Sam Carlson posted, cropped
MILW Motorcar shed, Rondout, IL
Ken Jamin: That one was for the section foreman. There is another one across from the tower for the signal maintainer. I've got a couple stories about those.

Rob Conway posted
Some crazy things have happened over the years at Rondout. Most of them we saw coming. A few snuck up on us. And then there those that completely caught us off guard.
I never even imagined the possibility of a third main track, but here we are on August 15, 2021 as Amtrak #8 is not only passing a still standing tower, but also passing the beginning phase of the third main installation!
Amazing stuff.
Comments on Rob's post
Metra-favors link

Andrew Heraver posted
Here is my picture of Amtrak#8 passing the tower and what tends to be the third track in Rondout IL. With Rob Conway and Ken Craig. Taken on 8-15-2021
Gary Clark posted
Rondout reconstruction: July 03, 2022.
Jerry Nolan: I haven't been following the construction activity very closely. If I may ask, where is the new third track going to go after it crosses Hwy 176? Is it going to simply curve west and parallel the existing track on the Fox Lake Sub?
Timothy Pitzen: Jerry Nolan the existing turnout that leads to the J-Line will eventually tie into the siding when the new bridge is built. The third track will tie into the J-Line main track. We still have to install a crossover and turnout to get from Main 1 to Main 3. That will happen later this year.
Ken Jamin posted
Lance Wales just sent me this beautiful photo he took of me at Rondout in the summer of 1987. It answers a question I have had for a long time about how long the hotbox detector was read out at Rondout as the machine is clearly visible to the left of the desk. The recording tape on the left, for No. 2 main track, is still hanging down a few inches, which tells me that a short train, probably an Eastbound Amtrak, had recently gone by the detector, which I believe was still located at Russell Rd., just a couple hundred yards south of the IL/WI state line.
Lots of small details in this photo, e.g., the red pen lying across the controls for the train order signals (near the soda can) was used to make notes in the CTC log. The red and white panel and the desk microphone below it were the EJE radio. Under the panel was the EJE train sheet which is lying on the controls for the EJE train order signals. I have no recollection of what the computer screen and keyboard were used for.
Jeffrey Varney: are correct! The detector was located near Russell Road. I remember that the eastward trains always called Rondout saying that they were approaching the detector at Russell. I am not sure when they moved the detector to Gurnee and made it a talking detector, but it was prior to mid 1996 because that was when I came back to Rondout from the Dispatcher's office. I see that I was not the only operator that kept something to drink on the desk!
Ken Jamin: The Russell detector was located at MP 47 and Wadsworth, which was controlled by the C&M dispatcher (“DS”), was at 42.9. The procedure for eastward trains was that the DS would not clear the signal until the Rondout operator confirmed that they were ok by the detector.
This got quite challenging with longer trains because, by the time the caboose of the train cleared the detector, the head end was already getting quite close to the approach signal for Wadsworth. We had to quickly read and interpret the tape, which was not always easy if there was a marginal reading, and then jump on the DS line and advise him that train was ok so he could line the signal.We also had to notify the train by radio, which presented another challenge because we shared the channel with very busy Bensenville yard so sometimes it came out sounding something like,
Rondout is MP 32.3
Richard Oppenheim: This procedure was even more ludicrous for a freight train coming East on #1 main since the first signal at West Wadsworth was a mile and a half West of the one at Wadsworth on #2 main. Adhering to the existing instructions basically required bringing trains almost to a stop before the ok could be received. The procedure clearly dated to the days before the trains and towers all had reliable radios. For that reason I had no qualms about ignoring the antiquated instructions and lining up the trains in advance so that they could run on clear signals, knowing full well that trains could still be stopped if a high reading occurred. If anyone has stopped to consider the fact that Westward trains ran over the same detector without a controlled signal anywhere close, I think the obsolete instructions would have been discarded much sooner.
Ken Jamin: Erich Rudolph The first month I worked at Rondout, @ Feb. 73, a freight derailed at track speed while passing the tower. I was never so frightened in my life. It was one of the only times I did not go downstairs to roll a train by the tower as we were required to do. Ironically, it may have saved my life as a wheel set came to rest right where I would have been standing!
But the incident made me “gun shy” and I rolled freight trains by from somewhere near the back edge of the property for a long time afterwards.
And, even if you are outside the tower to watch trains pass, there is always a danger of being injured or killed by shifted loads, dragging steel banding, things falling off. Tower operators saw it (and dodged it) all over the years.

In his comments on a post by Sam Carlson, 992012 was the "pizza caboose."
July 1976 at Rondout.
"I really appreciated all the times you let me up in the tower and llet me walk around in the yard. Seems like there was always a couple of cabooses there, and yes - II too gave myself tours. One caboose that always seemed to be there was the 992010. Rob and Bill and I used to call it the Pizza Caboose we would order a pizza and have them deliver it to the caboose.. Once I cooked a salisbury steak in that caboose."

Marty Bernard's postings: 1977 with three trains and 1962 including station and 1977 hooping orders at 25 mph.

Sam Carlson postings: four first generation Milwaukee diesels pulling a mixed freight,    with a rainbow,     EJ&E 659 running long hood forward,   five photos of a three way meet including a F unit

A Milwaukee Road passenger train photo.
Several more photos of this junction showing the hooping of train orders

Marty's Flickr photos: handing up paper work to the caboose and engine crews; another to the caboose. and three pictures of a "traffic jam:" 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (SE Delmar tower Nice view of them shoving around the wye to the Milwaukee.); to an engineer.

video of NKP 756 (a steam locomotive) pulling an excursion train through the junction. Notice that the whistle had more visible output than the smoke stack. Of course, the whistle is steam, which is just water. This video shows that a steam locomotive does not need to pour out a bunch of black smoke. But at -0:48 it does look like it switched to black smoke. The crew must have spotted a group of railfans, and they still feel a need to "put on a show" for them. I counted 18 cars. A lesson that passenger trains used to be long. And the variety of old cars made them a rolling museum.

Video starting with a MoW crane.


  1. I was so upset when the CN bought out the EJ&E. Miss those gorgeous bright orange and silver SD-38-2's the most. I despise the CN for doing that.

  2. I remember waiting at the Rondout 176 single track crossing for the EJ&E SD-38-2's to creep by the crossing at a mere 10-15 mph blasting their horns in the late 1990's late at night. It was a real treat..

  3. I wish the EJ&E or even the CN would have donated one of their SD-38-2's in the beautiful orginal paint scheme to the Il railway museum in Union Il. That would have been awesome!!

    1. CKIN got 818 with the J-ball on the side. And that shortline was famous for retaining the liveries of the locomotives.