Saturday, June 4, 2016

IHB's Blue Island Yard, Coaling & Yard Towers and Turntable; Steel Express Video


(Update: the yard tower "on stilts" came down in early 2020. [comments on a post])
Steven J. Brown posted
Conrail power in the Indiana Harbor Belt Blue Island Yard viewed from Halsted St in Riverdale, Illinois - June 10, 1977.
One of the few yards in the USA that hasn't changed a lot.
Steven J. Brown posted
Indiana Harbor Belt Blue Island Yard viewed from Halsted St in Riverdale, Illinois - June 10, 1977 and December 4, 2019. Forty-two years apart.

Michael Miller posted
Here is another scan from my slide scanning blitz.
Unknown photographer of Blue Island yard off of Halsted Street overpass, from August  22 1976
Steven W Panek posted
GECX leasers as seen from Halsted St at Indiana Harbor Belt's Blue Island Yard in Riverdale, Illinois on 11/19/2023
Yazen Kaissi: Is 2021 a yard slug?
Greg Kozlick: Yes.
[I included this photo because I could not determine which locomotive was the slug because they all have cabs. I presume it is one of the two locos behind the "rainbow consist."]
Brendan Horton: YN2 livery ages so much better than the YN3s. [I presume he is talking about CSX liveries instead of the BNSF livery.]

Michael Brandt posted
Bernie Smiths rail pics, the only picture I know of that captures the IHB icehouse toward the right, the Grainery and Arcady's.
[And there is a yard tower on the far right.]
Paul F. Barkley Sr: What are those two buildings camera left of the icehouse? And what’s that tower to the right of H&H’s smokestack by Halsted?
Michael Brandt commented on Paul's question
This is Central Cold Storage, to the left you can see the Hales Silos.

Richard S Eule posted
Anyone remember this? Blue Island Oct 22, 1965
Larry Hilb Harry Richters dad was in that tower when it went down. they just put it back up...still there today. [This is the comment that made me realize that the photo was of the yard tower laying on its side.]

Candy Lachman Birkenfeld posted
Jose D Nevarez IHB Blue Island on the left and CSX Barr yard on the right

Mike Breski posted
Photo is by J.D. (Tuch)
Tuch says: "The two towers on stilts are the east yardmaster's office on the top level and the trainmaster's office right below it [the latter office has been removed since this photo was taken]. The flat-roofed building just behind the light standard in known as "Longfield." This is the car inspector's headquarters and locker room. At one time the Blue Island crew caller was located in this building. The east yardmaster controls all movements at the east end of the yard, including the pull-down or trimmer jobs that work the garden (hump bowl) and all inbound and outbound trains. He also instructs the hump yardmaster on where to yard trains entering from the west, and tells eastbound trains at the hump end where to make their doubles if such is required."
I assume from the comments that this photo is Blue Island instead of Gibson. Blue Island was built in 1926 when Gibson's huge double hump yard could no longer handle all of the industrial activity. "Blue Island Yard had a 44-track classification yard and large facility for loading and servicing ice-cooled refrigerator cars. The yard became a departure point for many of NYC's eastbound road freights, while Gibson remained the terminus for westbounds. The eastbounds of course used the Harbor main to reach Gibson, where they either continued east on the MC main or headed north on the former CI&S to access NYC's ex-LS&MS Water Level Route at Indiana Harbor." (MikeBreski)

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
[I learned from Bob Lalich that the facility on the bottom was a giant icehouse. You can see the icing platform along its north side.]
This aerial shows the coaling tower that was significantly east of the roundhouse.
Mike Breski commented on his post

Bob Lalich commented on Mike Breski's post
Here is a portion of an IHB map dated 1958 which shows the roundhouse and a substantial East Yard. Some details on this map go back many years prior to 1958 and were actually gone by that date.

Mike Breski posted
B. I. Hump Tower with ME 1 standing by.

Chuck Roth posted
working Blue Island
[Another view of the yard tower.]
James Keats Jr. posted three photos with the comment:
Impending retirement at Blue Island... IHB SD20s 2920 and 2923 live out their final weeks on the IHB, working the yards and hump jobs.
Riverdale, IL
Taylor Rich Forgive my ignorance, but are they still legit ex-ICG SD20s? Internally?
Dillon Harrison Yes, They’re legit. Last time they were rebuilt or freshened up at all was when they left NREX and the Harbor Purchased them. And yes, They are being replaced by GP40-2W’s.
Dillon Harrison Dan Kleinhenz yes, Ex CN Wide cabs.
Greenwood Vytautas Champ Going to Silvis like the others?
Dillon Harrison Greenwood Vytautas Champ MEI East St. Louis is getting them.
Cody Phipps Send one to IRM.
James Keats Jr. Cody Phipps Only issue with that, is what I’ve heard, these units are being TRADED for the new ones. Meaning IHB won’t have ownership of them. No idea what will happen to them after that. That’s what I’ve heard though..
Dillon Harrison Side note: Sweet Jesus Blue is looking dead... Car counts must be way down... When I was working as Carman out of blue I use to have to walk full cuts on nearly all of those tracks except in the bowl.



Andrew Urbanski commented on James' post
Around 11AM today [Jan 20, 2020]
Alex Sansone Andrew Urbanski too bad these engines are so cool. The sound is amazing and they are unique.What do the crews think ?

Mike Breski posted
A Fairbanks Morse loco works the east end of the yard. Photo courtesy of Charlie Stricker
• Blue Island Yard •
A Fairbanks Morse loco works the east end of the yard. Photo courtesy of Charlie Stricker. (from IHB Archives)

Looks more like an inbound local.

Dennis DeBruler When you say "the yard" for an old picture, do you mean Gibson or Blue Island? I understand both of them had hump yards in the old days.
Mike Breski That's the Arcadia Feeds grain elevator on the left off of 138th st Riverdale. Yes Gibson had a hump until early 80's when the IHB came close to being no more.
Dennis DeBruler Mike Breski Thanks for pointing out the grain elevator. This photo also helps me understand where that elevator was.
Rick La Fever Those FM's didn't last long on the Harbor. 1-2 years around 1949-50. They were transferred to New York Central proper.
Mike Breski Some of them made it about a year and a half those were the longest.
Dale Pruim Me thinks this train is westbound on 7 North. The photographer is on Halsted st.
The track to the right is 2 lead.
Mike Breski posted
Ready tracks; note EL locomotive in the background. Tuch says: "Blue Island did not have a major engine servicing facility since the Gibson roundhouse was less than ten miles to the east. Locomotives could be fueled and sanded, have lube oil or cooling water added, have brakeshoes replaced, piston travel adjusted, and make other minor repairs. In this shot you are looking roughly east. The clear track is the north ready track and the one to the right of the tank is the south ready track. You'll notice the concrete pad to the right of the clear north ready track. This was the fuel station. You can see the fuel racks."
NOTE: this facility was eliminated in 2004. All engine servicing is now done at Gibson Yard. (from IHB Archives)
Mike Breski posted
View from the B.I. hump (from IHB Archives)
Andre Schulz commented on Mike's posting
Candy Lachman Birkenfeld posted
Jeff Barks posted, increased contrast and lowered brightness
IHB Blue Island and CSX Barr Yard.
[Blue Island Yard is on the left (South) side.]
Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
mp1731 5y 
This is Blue Island Yard at the bottom of the photo. I believe Mr. Barringer's purpose of the photo was on the area now known as Barr Yard, which is centered in the photo. The yard seems to be in early stages of construction. Compare this photo to today's satellite views. Ashland Ave on the west and one mile east is Halstead.
swietlisty 5y 
The old turntable is there. You can also see where you could come off the IHB main and go along Thorton rd and into Barr Yard
Barriger RI Flickr, tim_zukas comment on the IHB 41 photo: "Same flight?"

William Shapotkin posted two pictures of the tower with the comment:
Here are pix of the "new" Blue Island tower Opened 1962 -- replacing the "old" tower). The exterior view looks S-S/W and was taken March 28, 1994. The interior view was taken Sept 6, 2001. Both photos taken by Wm Shapotkin
Ian Rock posted
Blue Island, Illinois, May 1, 1976
Photo credit: Ken Carlson
John Sickel posted
Northbound GTW GP38 passes new AMC Gremlins. Taken from the atop where the Rock Island Line crosses over the Blue Island yard. Blue Island, Illinois. 1978. Mark Llanuza photo.
Mark Hinsdale I most likely would have been working in the yard office in the distant background, under the microwave tower just south of the139th St. overpass. Was TM there 77-78. At that time GTW had 6 daily yard assignments at Blue Island (2 per shift), and daily transfer jobs to IC (Markham), C&EI (L&N-MP), RI (twice daily), MILW at Bensenville via IHB, B&OCT (Barr), and IHB (Blue Island Hump). 8 road trains, (four in each direction) worked at Blue Island, setting off to feed these transfers, and picking up traffic brought to BI for interchange to GTW. The daily yard assignments sorted it.
Dennis DeBruler Thanks for this info. I've been interested in how railroads in Chicago operate. You can't get that information from just the typical photo of a train. So you worked for GTW? How many other railroads worked out of IHB's Blue Island? Please consider joining Chicago Railroad Historians: I looked and I could not find you as a member.
Gerry Stephens Those Gremlins were coming from Kenosha, Wis. where the AMC (nee Nash) plant was located.

Kevin Piper posted
Eight brand new DT&I GP38-2's are being towed under Halsted Street at IHB's Blue Island Yard in Riverdale, IL, on 8-7-75. EMD put special colors on the 1776 for America's Bicentennial.
Mark Hinsdale posted
"Sweet Sounds"
A brace of big Alco & MLW power is about to back from the School Street bridge over the Indiana Harbor Belt in Riverdale IL toward its train made ready in Blue Island Yard. At this point in Conrail's early history, the new railroad was experiencing an acute system power shortage, and was leasing/utilizing just about everything it could find. July, 1977 photo by Mark Mark Llanuza Hinsdale
Scott Malec posted
Here is the diesel pit at IHB's Blue Island Yard as viewed from the Halsted Street bridge on 7/27/2008.
Chuck Mager That's not the "diesel pit." That track is called "6 pocket" The fueling and other servicing of the locomotives was moved to the Gibson roundhouse facility ( newly rebuilt to EPA standards). The BI "Ready Track" was shut down by the EPA. Six pocket was merely another place to hold equipment, as was 5 pocket evidenced by the sand piles laying around the rails.

Jerry Jackson posted three photos with the comment: "The hump at? Jim Drennan photos, my collection. Early 80's I'm assuming. The last shot is mine, still don't remember the yard."
Larry Cooper Blue Island Yard.
Jerry Hongoltz Blue Island hump I was always 3rd low man and pulled pins till dawn! When it was a slow night we would ride at the front of the unit with a .22 rifile and shoot at the herds of rats ! * edit We would tape the bottom of our pants legs so the rats wouldn't run up them now there's a pleasent thought!
Jeff Lewis What did the alpha-numeric number represent?
Chad Malinovsky Told the hump job what track to grab next. It's all gone now along with the CRO. Tracks are yelled over the radio and the new technology is still stall prone after 8 years. [I don't know what CRO means.]




Kevin Piper posted
GTW 5920 leads an eastbound freight leaving IHB's Blue Island Yard. The train will use nearby UP/MP rails to reach GTW at Thornton Junction. 12-16-89
Donny Albertson posted
Edward Dolle Yep. I remember when every railroad had three or four SD-40's pulling freight. I loved those times but I understand why they were phased out. To this day I love it when I see and old engine on a revenue train, even if it either in need of repair or being moved to another location.Jeff Lewis SP never met a locomotive it didn't want to purchase.Donny Albertson It was the PRR of the west!Jeff Lewis No doubt, huh? lol

Kevin Piper posted
PC U33B 2968 and EL SD45 3616 are stopped for a crew change at IHB's Blue Island Yard near Chicago on 1-9-77.
Douglas Kydd posted
Blue Island - 1974
Steven J. Brown posted
Visiting Fiat Railcar working in Rock Island suburban service from the tower at Vermont Street in Blue Island, Illinois - September 4, 1977.
[The background shows the yard.]
Steven J. Brown posted
Herd of IHB cows!
Nine Indiana Harbor Belt units make a power move in IHB's Blue Island Yard at School Street in Riverdale, IL - June 5, 1977.
[But I don't see any calves. I read something later that implied that IHB called all their end cab switches cows.]
Jerry Jackson posted three photos with the comment:
These Jim Drennan photos were on old Polaroid prints, warped and washed out and missing color. Location and dates unrecorded. I figured our IHB experts would know at least where.


Candy Lachman Birkenfield posted
Candy Lachman Birkenfeld posted
IHB photo
Dennis DeBruler
[According to the photo description, it is Blue Island because of the ice house facility. According to some comments, the hump yard tower is in the left background and we are looking East.]
Mike Breski The 2 tracks there are icehouse 1 and 2.
Larry Caschetta Yep that's the old switchtenders shanty. All the way to the right is the south lead.

Paul Petraitis posted
Unidentified yard, C&EI?
Bob Lalich I believe it is IHB Blue Island looking west from Halsted.
Brian Watt Looking at the Yard Light positions in the back left, I would be inclined to agree.
Joel J. Sieracki That cluster of distinctive yard lights are still there along 1-57.
Brian Watt exactly
Jeff Grunewald Looks like a big gas storage tower in the distance.
Bob Lalich commented on Paul's posting, 1938 aerial
Yes, there was a gas holder west of the yard.
Joseph Tuch Santucci posted
Soo Line train 204 is getting an air test at the east of of IHB's Blue Island Yard before beginning its journey to Terre Haute and Louisville. Today its headed up by candy apple red Soo 738 and 752. The derelict Hales Elevator, a landmark in railroad photography around Blue Island Yard is in the background. This was the late summer of 1992.
Herb Theodore Alway got our power out of the Hales when we ran the CP trainsJoseph Tuch Santucci That was designated locomotive servicing track so the roundhouse crews could move engines from the ready track to the Hales tracks to keep the ready track from getting plugged. Plus we used the Hales tracks for outbound east bound trains as well. There was yard air plants on the east end of each track.Herb Theodore Joseph Tuch Santucci I took off from there once with a new conductor who forgot to uncouple the yard air system they had hooked up, we dragged 5 feet of pipe out of the ground.

[Thanks to Google breaking the search function on April 3, 2018, I can't find my posting on the elevator.]
Tom Carter shared
A sextet of Conrail power in Chicago on August 30, 1978, including ex-Reading GP35 3640, ex-Erie Lackawanna U36C 6593, built-for-Conrail SD40-2 6413, ex-EL U25B 2571, ex-PC nee-PRR GP35 2355, and ex-EL SD45 60??. Click for larger and sharper image.

Jerry Jackson commented on Tom's share

Mike Breski commented on Tom's share
That's the Blue Island ready track EPA shut it down. Ready tracks; note EL locomotive in the background. Tuch says: "Blue Island did not have a major engine servicing facility since the Gibson roundhouse was less than ten miles to the east. Locomotives could be fueled and sanded, have lube oil or cooling water added, have brakeshoes replaced, piston travel adjusted, and make other minor repairs. In this shot you are looking roughly east. The clear track is the north ready track and the one to the right of the tank is the south ready track. You'll notice the concrete pad to the right of the clear north ready track. This was the fuel station. You can see the fuel racks."
NOTE: this facility was eliminated in 2004. All engine servicing is now done at Gibson Yard. (from IHB Archives)
Mike Breski posted
[Facebook isolated this photo from its context:]
Mike commented on his own post
[Yard office is near] Halstead on the end east end of east yard hump is on west end off Ashland.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Mike's post
Street View of IHB's Blue Island yard with the office on the left from Halsted Street looking West,!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZwVhVqOm...

Candy Lachman Birkenfeld posted
A friend was kind enough to send me this photo of our office building
Thought I’d share with all of you
Blue IslandCraig Dickson WOW! I like the Halsted overpass in the background too! Thanks.

1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
Ken Schmidt posted
Cold and snowy, the usual conditions for railroading in Midwestern railroading. Early in the morning of January 1991, Blue Island yard of IHB sits at the ready for arrivals and departures. The glow of both switch point indicators, and smudge pots further expose the time of day. At that time, Stewart Avenue [Tower] is still operating, and cars are sitting at the Hales. Alas, the landscape has changed.
This photo has been moved to "IHB Stewart Avenue Tower"
James C Bradley posted
After some rain fall the night before, a veteran Indiana Harbor Belt SW1500 (1524) and it’s slug (474) are on hump duty, as they begin to shove a large string of steel coil cars up and down the hump at IHB’s Blue Island Yard in Blue Island, IL. These switchers are definitely an iconic around Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Taken: 5-20-19
Jerry Jackson commented on James' post
1988, IIRC. Is this BI?
James C Bradley yes

(new window)   source posting
Andy Engels Interesting to see they still had the old 3278 terminals. [3278 is the mainframe terminal the data clerk is using. I used to use them on IBM's Time Sharing System (TSS) when I went to work in 1973 at Bell Labs.]

Mike posted [I can't get a link] four photos with the comment:

It's 1950 a Fairbanks Morse loco pulls into 7 north Blue Island Yard from the east end of the yard.
Arcadia Feeds grain elevator on the left Photo taken from Halstead St. bridge..
Fairbanks Morse 7112, an H20-44, switches the Gibson west end
Bonus pic.
Photo's courtesy of Charlie Stricker (from IHB Archives)
IHB received it's first 5 of 11 Fairbanks Morse loco's in July 1948 by February 1950 they were all sold to the NYC.


[A closeup of the water tower.]



J. D. Santucci describes his experience as an engineer with this hump yard.

Arturo Gross Flickr 2018 Photo, lots of UP power, some BNSF power, and Metra 192 headed back home from a rebuild. A good view of rather full classification tracks as well.

Some photos and videos of SD20s because they are evidently being retired

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