Saturday, April 30, 2016

16th (Clark) Street Interlocking, My Pictures

Update: This posting is about my visit to this tower, I have already written the main posting for this tower.

20160416 2225
During my last visit to Ping Tom Memorial Park, I stayed on Wentworth north of 18th Street even though it was marked No Outlet because I was curious what I could see. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could go all the way north to the tracks because it is now overflow parking for the new fieldhouse and ballpark. Both of these are built on Santa Fe's former passenger engine service facilities. The back wall of the roundhouse would be along the new sidewalk in this streetview.

I walked over to a landscaped hill north the of the fieldhouse and took these three pictures to provide context.

Looking Northwest
Looking East
That is my van parked by the barricade.
Looking North
The IC tracks are in the foreground.
I used this aerial photo to confirm the land I parked on is fill of the old Santa Fe passenger facilities and Wentworth Ave. to create a parking lot for Ping Tom Pool and the baseball diamond where the Santa Fe turntable used to be.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
A closer look at the eastern view shows the edge of the connector bridge on the fill of the Santa Fe tracks on the left, the bridges over Clark Street in the middle, and the Metra interlocking tower. The Meadow Gold Butter cold storage building that has been converted to condos dominates the right side of the picture.
While walking back from the grassy area, I discovered that there is still a tie-plate stuck in the parking area.
During my visit to this area, there were several Red Line trains using the State Street Subway. To the right is a southbound train leaving the subway. Below you can see a meet in the distance and the tracks descending into the subway.

I went back to the grassy area north of the field house to get another picture of the St. Charles Air Line (closed position) and B&OCT (open position) bridges because this is a view I have never seen before. The tracks in the foreground are for the IC. The walkway on the other side of the tracks is part of the Ping Tom Memorial Park. This confirms they have filled the C&WI track area as well as the Santa Fe tracks along the IC embankment.

While I was taking this picture, I heard the sound of a diesel. I turned toward the east and grabbed this picture. Then I ran north towards the barriers so that I could shoot around the tree. The train seemed to be moving fast. (But I can't swear to it because I was busy running rather than watching the train.)  I wonder if the diamonds are OWLS because I did not hear any "banging of the diamonds." Trains on the SCAL, including the Amtrak trains, would have to go slow anyhow because they cross the movable bridge over the river and do a sharp turn south on the east end.

I was able to get a shot of the engine by the tower that was not skunked by the trees, barely. I rotated, cropped, and darkened this picture to update the initial posting. After I moved further around the tree, I took another shot because it was a long commuter even though it was a Saturday.
I ended with a west-to-east sequence of pictures taken from as far as I could go north and still not be trespassing on railroad property.
Looking Northwest

Close up of the diamonds with IC and the remaining connector.
I commented on a posting: "I found it fascinating that they did not remove the bridges. They just filled in the track routes. I assume the first pair went over the Santa Fe tracks and the second pair went over the above C&WI route."
Bob Lalich Yes, the near set of bridges went over the ATSF coach yard leads and the far bridges went over the C&WI. Going way back, there was a track between the two bridges which belonged to the Alton/GM&O. It also passed over the ATSF on a bridge and connected to the SCAL and CRIP/NYC. That bridge was removed in the WWII.

Looking Northeast

Looking East

I repeat the "looking North" photo because David's photo below made me realize that we are seeing the top of the embankment wall just beyond the fence.

David Charles Lindberg posted
[Southwest Limited backing towards the former Sante Fe coach yard.]

Friday, April 29, 2016

Using industrial locomotives to build the early paved roads

Steve OConnor shared
A Whitcomb locomotive made in Rochelle. Can anyone guess what it is helping to do?
Richard Mead Build US 20 ?
Steve OConnor In the post WW I era this was huge business for Whitcomb and other small industrial locomotives. Whitcomb industrial locomotives helped build the very same roads that would enable truck traffic to run them out of business a couple decades later.
Steve OConnor commented
The primitive trucks that existed in the post WW I era would not have done well on roads like these. The solution to paving roads was to lay temporary tracks along side the road and locate a temporary cement plant along the way and have these industrial locomotives haul gravel and the cement back and forth as the road progressed.
Add caption

Steve OConnor commented

Steve OConnor commented They hauled gravel for the road bed and also the concrete for the pavement.

PRR's Class S2 Turbine Locomotive

Bill Molony posted
Bill's comment:
Pennsylvania Railroad class S2 turbine drive 6-8-6 #6200, departing from Englewood Union station with PRR train #28, the eastbound Broadway Limited, circa 1947.
The 6200 was built by Baldwin in 1944, and operated between Chicago and Crestline, Ohio. Tractive effort at all speeds exceeded that of conventional steam locomotives of comparable size, weight and boiler capacity. It also exceeded the performance of a 6000 horsepower diesel above 40 miles an hour. Below 30 miles an hour, steam consumption was high; above that speed, it was far less than normal steam engines.
Frank Hicks Bob Bruneau said he recalled a number of times watching this thing pass by at Englewood. Some of the railfans nicknamed it the "volcano" because of the voluminous amount of crap that it would spew out the stack, ash and embers and stuff.
Stuart Pearson From what little I know, or have read this Locomotive when operated at Speed was a WONDER, but SLOW Speeds, and Reverse weren't economical.
Stuart Pearson Mainline High Speed operation was at 310PSI Boiler Pressure, however Slow Speed Operation would, on occasion drop Boiler Pressure as low as 85PSI, and in tuen created LOTS of HEAT in the FIREBOX that caused STAYBOLTS to POP/BREAK. It last a mere 2 years.

Mike Snow uploaded
PRR # 6200 S-2 6-8-6 sitting on the shop track
[Please follow the link because Mike has a nice commentary.]
Bill Molony posted
Pennsylvania Railroad class S2 6-8-6 steam turbine #6200 arriving in Chicago with the Manhattan Limited on the afternoon of June 13, 1947.

Milk Can

They held 10 gallons. And because they were rather heavy to begin with, they weighed about 110 pounds when loaded.
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Batavia Museum

Kolton Olson added
Note the milk can being used as a hitch stand. This is the type of milk can my grandfather used on his dairy farm before they switched to the pipeline and bulk tank. Kolton posted to a closed group, but I you can access the album of 30 pictures of other antique farm equipment  if you are a Facebook member.

Update: a video of a dairy back when milk was delivered with cans rather than bulk milk trucks. First they unload them. Do they weigh and sample each can or a batch of all the cans that came from one farm? The later would require some sort of marking and more careful placement in the box car of the "milk run" trains. Then you can see them putting the cans in and out of the washer. I wish someone would narrate it. I can guess what some of the equipment is. For example, I think the big round tank with a lid is a pasteurizer. I was surprised to see that a dairy would have a lathe.

Screenshot at -1.22
This shows that they do keep track of which cans came from which farm.

At 1:03 in this video, you can see someone pulling a cart with at least three milk cans getting ready to put them on the arriving train.

Photographer F. J. Bandholts captured this panoramic view of the Keokuk Union Depot in 1907. The photo shows
how the Depot is situated between the Mississippi River and the bluff. Image from Library of Congress [Note the milk cans being loaded into the baggage area of the first car of the passenger train. It looks like there is a baggage cart full of cans at the corner of the depot and two horse&wagons half full of milk cans. It appears it would take longer to handle the milk cans during the train's stop at the depot than it would to unload and load passengers. There is also a baggage cart next to the tender that is full of packages. Remember, this is the era of catalog stores, not big box retail stores. They would have to carefully pack the baggage compartment in the car to hold all of those packages and cans. And this is just one stop that the train would be serving.]

Clare Union Railroad Depot posted two photos with the comment:
                               10 GALLON MILK CANS
The Clare Union Depot was at one time a central hub for milk collection and distribution in mid-Michigan. The Ann Arbor Railroad recognized this, and in fact opened up their own creamery in Clare to supply their entire system’s dining cars with milk, cream, and butter. The Ann Arbor Creamery was in business until the early 1930s when they sold the trackside plant near the depot to Kraft who continued to operate the facility for several more decades.
The railroads served an important part in providing fresh milk to larger urban areas where dairy farms were scarce, and where unscrupulous city producers often watered down the milk, fed their cows with used grain and mash from distilleries, and/or added chalk to whiten their product , all of which earned its moniker “swill milk”.  Since fresh raw milk spoils quickly and is quite perishable, and since the days of safe, rapid road transport were in the distant future, cities like Clare served an important role.
(Note the milk cans in the depot photo from the early 1900s. These 10 gallon cans weighed nearly 110 pounds full, and even though the heavy gauge metal cans were handed roughly every step of the way, they were durable, stackable, and easy to clean. Railroad fee agreements for shipping full cans guaranteed free return of empties to the origin point.)
We have copies of way-bills of cream and milk carried on Ann Arbor passenger trains (faster than and more stops than freights) to dozens of cities around 1911, and even a detailed list of the 241 shipments from Clare in August, 1923, when the railroad collected $91.00 in fees. Cans were delivered that month to Swift Creamery in Alma, Beatrice Creamery in Durand, and Cadillac’s Sheery & Goodenough. 
For more information on the glory days of and the origin of milk runs in railroading history, stop by and see our exhibit at the Clare Union Depot, or go to and read their article “Moving Milk on the Railroad “
Stay safe
[I did not realize that they weighed over 100 pounds. The can itself was rather heavy. My uncle would have to left the loaded cans in and out of the cooler. The cooler held refrigerated water and the walls were higher than the height of the cans.]
Robert Warrick shared


The day after I came across the above post, I saw this post. Milk cans were used until the 1960s when glass pipelines and bulk tanks became available.
Jeff Farley posted
How the milk was collected from farms before the advent of tankers.
[There are 1,619 comments on this post.]

The bucket he is pouring into a milk can is the bottom part of a milker.
John Neiley posted
[The funnel like thing held a strainer.]

And this is what that bucket looked like during milking. The hose going off to the right behind the cow is going up to a vacuum line that went around the barn. It is what powered the milker.
24:28 video @ 18:00

Monday, April 25, 2016

47th Street Tower: C&WI vs. IHB + GTW

NorthAmericanInterlockings:  exterior      interior
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers, click the icon to get more information

(Update: an explanation of the 1908 signalling system  900 trains a day!)

John DeWit Woodlock II posted
CR 5022,5050 @ 47th Street Tower-Chicago,IL 00 JUN 88.
Dennis DeBruler After four years of following Facebook groups, this is the first photo I have seen of this tower. Was it along one of these tracks south of 47th?,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
John DeWit Woodlock II You have the location.

Bob Lalich commented on Bill Molony's posting concerning C&WI's 47th Depot
Bob Lalich's text:
This station was located next to a very impressive interlocking plant at the junction of the GT, IHB Stockyards line, and leads from C&WI's coach yard and engine terminal. Here is a 1953 photo from the tower, which was located on the south side of 47th St. The trackwork includes a crossing through a switch!
Stan Stanovich ...Bob Lalich, I've seen this general area more days of my working life over the last 20+ years than not! The tower stood until 1999. I'm having a little bit of a problem orienting myself with this photograph! We're looking as the bird flies south here, the Stockyards line (49th line) is off to the right! To the left is the C&WI main toward 74th St and the Pennsy, completely out of sight to the left?!!!
Bob Lalich I'd say it's a bit SSW but you got it Stan Stanovich.
Phil Schmidt About when did the GTW and IHB stop using the 49st line from Elsdon? And is it still useable? I seem to remember something about it being restored by the CREATE project.
Stan Stanovich ...when I moved to Chicago in 1995 and started to work in the area as an engineer for what was then Conrail, the GTW/IHB connection just southwest of 47th St tower was basically all still in place. It appeared as if it hadn't been used in MANY years. It was all taken out in 1999 when the C&WI/Metra southwest route was relocated west of C&WI's former 51st St yard. Prior to this, the C&WI mains sat in between former PRR 55th St yard and 51st St yard. With the line relocation they became intermodal strip tracks 40 and 41 sort of effectively combining 55th St and 51st St into one yard, instead of dividing the two! It is collectively known today as the NS 47th St intermodal yard. I understand that earlier in time they were originally located where they were moved to in '99!!!

IHB stopped using the east/west route when the stockyards closed and GTW stopped using it when it quit running passenger trains to Dearborn Station via the Chicago & Western Illinois. Norfolk Southern must have bought the Metra/UP land along the Metra former C&WI mainline to expand its 47th Street Intermodal Yard.

In the upper-right corner, I noticed the long, narrow shadow on 47th Street. That is probably cast by the tower. You can also see the really long shadow over the tracks of the smokestack in the photo.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

chicago and western indiana railroad posted
47th street tower where the dispatcher was located and the c.t.c. computer for 4 towers
Paul Jevert: Erie 4-8-4 Northern
Eric Reinert: The Erie didn't have any 4-8-4's. This looks like a Grand Trunk Western train, probably The Maple Leaf.
Dale Windhorst: Did Dearborn station have its own dispatcher or was it also controlled from here?
chicago and western indiana railroad: all typical operations were carried out of dearborn until the 1976-1977 era, then they relocated to 51st street and the santa fe building. the dispatchers office may have been located at a different location maybe...because the c.t.c. system was installed around 1973-74 era for 40th street and 47th street..
Paul Jevert shared
C&WI 47th St. Tower

William Shapotkin posted
This is the one-time 47th St Tower of the C&WI in Chicago. Operations on the C&WI (23rd-74th St) were already under control of a Dispatcher at Metra's Consolidated Control Facility and the tower did not have long for this world when I took this photo in the Summer of 1999. View looks N/W.

William posted again
Bob Lalich I spend a fair amount of time in the trailer on the right, when the Metra dispatcher was located there. John Vaisvil was the weekday dispatcher, who had hired on with the C&WI in the early 50s. He had been a signal maintainer, tower operator, and a dispatcher. John was always patient and gracious with my unending questions, and I learned a lot from him. RIP!
Chuck Roth posted
William Shapotkin Looks as if 47th St Tower has already been decommissioned and that operations are being run out of the trailer (at left).
Bob Lalich commented on Chuck's post
47th St interlocking was the junction of the GTW with the C&WI. The tower also controlled the leads to Wabash's 47th St Yard, the C&WI coach yard and engine terminal, the leads to Erie/EL 51st St Yard and IHB's stockyards branch. Here is a diagram reflecting the layout after a new route control interlocking machine was installed in 1953. At that time, there were 250 moves through the plant daily, according to an article in Railway Signaling magazine.

William Shapotkin commented on his posting
Jon Roma commented on William Shapotkin's posting
47th Street Tower controlled quite a complex plant. From the diagram, which has north on the right, the tower controlled a lead to the Erie Yard, the junction between C&WI's freight and passenger mains, as well as the connection to the GT and CJ. This diagram dates to 1942 and comes from a C&WI interlocking diagram book in my collection.
Bob Lalich The plant included leads to the C&WI engine terminal and coach yard as well.

John Uhlich commented on Chuck's post
I remember at one time that the 47th St. and 40th St. interlockings were electro-pneumatic plants where they employed compressed air to actuate the switches. I believe Hayford used the same type of switches too. I strongly doubt that type of switch is still used.

Friday, April 22, 2016

NS/NW/Wabash Bridge over Wabash River in Attica, IN

(Predecessor Bridge, no current Bridge Hunter?, no Historic Bridges, Satellite)

Jeffrey Bossaer posted
Westbound Wabash Railroad freight train on the Wabash River bridge at Attica, Indiana, 1938. Photo courtesy of the Linden Depot Museum.
James Beudreaux posted
Jeffrey Bossaer This picture is courtesy of the Linden Depot Museum. It is in their display along with many others from Attica. Some of them do have the photographer's name. They were going to scan them for me, but are understaffed so they suggested that I just photograph them with my camera. The pictures that I got from the museum were used locally for displays and educational programs, and preserved in the form of printed materials, discs, and flash drives and given to libraries and historical organizations. None were ever sold. I posted this picture and many others, on this page back in November 2017. Glad to see them spread around some.

Bird's Eye View

Jeffrey Bossaer posted
Wabash Railroad bridge spanning the Wabash River and Pine Creek at Attica, Indiana before 1922. Notice a little bit of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad bridge in the lower left corner of this picture.
[I did not realize the Chicago & Eastern Illinois had a branch up here. That goes on the "todo" list.]
Bill Molony posted a link from WorldWideRails

Jeffrey Bossaer posted two photos with the comment: "FOUNTAIN COUNTY
Then (1938 Wabash Railroad) and now (Norfolk Southern Railroad) crossing the Wabash River at Attica, IN."


Jeffrey Bossaer posted three photos with the comment: "Two wrecks on the Wabash Railroad, Wabash River bridge at Attica, Indiana, April 5, 1914, and trains running again one week later."

[The comments include five of the photos that are in this post.]

April 1914, temporary repairs.

Jeffrey commented on the first photo above.

Jeffrey Bossaer posted six photos including a couple of historic photos.

Jeffrey Bossaer posted eight photos concerning the passenger train wreck on the bridge in 1914.

Jeffrey Bossaer posted more information about the wreck in the comments.

12 images about two wrecks on Apr 5, 1914    The iron bridge was not replaced until 1922.
Jeff posted 12 again and then shared.