Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oil Belt Railway

Ken Pryor Jr. posted two photos with the comment:
The Oil Belt Traction Company, later known as the Oil Belt Railway, based in my home county (Crawford) in Oblong, IL. Incorporated in 1909, this little railroad eventually had 25 mile of track, from Oblong to Bridgeport, IL. They were a poorly run operation that tried to cut corners far too much, resulting in poor performance and derailments. The train became known as the "try-weekly" because it would arrive in Bridgeport and then try all week to get back to Oblong. The OB interchanged with the Illinois Central in Oblong and the B&O Southwestern in Bridgeport. They officially shut down in 1916. Thanks to my friend Terry Ridgley for all the info he's given me on this line.
Not my photos. Dates and photographers unknown.
Richard Mead Lawrence Lore 
Kam Miller That 4-4-0 had to be bought used, too. Not exactly state-of-the-art in 1906.
Ken Pryor Jr. My friend documented in his paper that the locomotive was purchased used from the Illinois Central.


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I figured it had to be abandoned a long time ago because I could find no trace of it on a satellite image. A quick look at an old aerial photo was unproductive also.

I know there is oil around Effingham. I wonder if there used to oil in this area also because I noticed the town Oil Center is close by.

L&N Bridge over Green River near Munfordville, KY

Cliff Downey shared
"Louisville & Nashville RR" 4-8-2 2613 performs a photo run-by at the Green River bridge near Munfordville, KY, on October 24, 1959. The excursion was marking the 100th anniversary of passenger service over the L&N between Louisville, KY, and Nashville, TN. In this view the train is headed southbound.
In reality, the locomotive is IC 2613. The L&N no longer had any serviceable steam locomotives of its own, so it turned to the IC, which still had several dozen serviceable steam locomotives in storage. 2613 was pulled from storage in Centralia, IL, given a quick boiler wash and check up at the Paducah, KY, shops, and then sent east to Louisville. Photo from Chris Thompson collection.
Both Google and Bing had trouble rendering a 3D view. Bing did a little better.

Birds-Eye View

Is USA loosing another manufacturing capability?

America lost the ability to manufacture consumer electronics in the 20th century.

I've noticed that companies that make heavy manufacturing equipment such as forging presses have been bought out by either Asian or European companies. Typically the American plants are closed because the foreign companies are interested in just the intellectual property such as patents and equipment design. When you see a company announcing a new plant costing over $100million that will create less than 200 jobs, you know it is highly automated. I wonder how much of the equipment installed in that plant was made in the USA. Could the plant be changed to war production if the new equipment would have to be bought from the countries that we have gone to war with?

Now China and other countries are killing America's, and Germany's, steel industry by dumping their steel on the global market.

Ever since reading about the death of our consumer electronics industry, I have been worried about our ability to manufacture semiconductors, especially military grade chips. I worked at Bell Labs and we used to specify military grade instead of consumer grade microcomputers, memory chips, logic chips, etc. for our telephone switching equipment. Military chips can run with colder and hotter temperatures than consumer chips. I remember when I worked at Magnovox and we lost air conditioning in the computer room, the temperature was closely monitored. It finally got warm enough that they had to turn the IBM Model 40 off to make sure it did not get damaged. The room was not hot enough to make you sweat. One would be sweating long before you would have to turn off a Bell Lab's telephone switch. (But by the 1980s, the requirement for military grade chips was being relaxed because we needed bleeding edge designs and they were not available in military grade. Telephone switching offices have a battery plant to run the electronics. Hopefully, they have a diesel-generator set to run the air conditioning.) In a Facebook posting, Steve OConner added comments that indicate my concerns are well founded concerning the viability of our semiconductor industry.
China is dumping counterfeit electronic parts into the Pentagon's supply chain, two senior lawmakers alleged on Monday.Two Senators, John McCain, Republican-Arizona, and Carl Levin, Democrat-Michigan, said the counterfeits are putting U.S. troops at risk and undercutting the American economy.
One day before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the issue, the Senators offered details of the panel's ongoing investigation.....

They found about 1,800 cases of suspect counterfeit electronics being sold to the Pentagon.
The total number of parts in these cases topped one million.
The committee hearing will examine three cases in which suspect counterfeit parts from China were installed in military systems made by Raytheon, L-3 Communications and Boeing.

Levin, the committee chairman, told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference: 'Now, a million parts is surely a huge number.
'But I want to just repeat this: We've only looked at a portion of the defense supply chain. So those 1,800 cases are just the tip of the iceberg.'
The investigators found that counterfeit or suspect electronic parts were installed or delivered to the military for several weapons systems.
They include military aircraft such as the Air Force's C-17 and the Marine Corps' CH-46 helicopter, as well as the Army's Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defense system....

Investigators traced more than 70 per cent of the cases to China.
Nearly 20 per cent led to the United Kingdom and Canada, the lawmakers said.



“Early in the Iraq war, for instance, stocks of precision bombs were so reduced that the Pentagon ordered Boeing to ramp up emergency production. Boeing’s attempts to supply the military’s needs were thwarted by a Swiss company, Micro Crystal, which—angered by the U.S. decision to invade Iraq—ceased delivery of a key part, according to defense officials. Because no firm in the U.S. made the part, finding an American company capable of starting a new production line took the Pentagon seven months. If the most powerful military in the world could run short of a key weapon system against a third-rate military power like Iraq, what would happen if we faced a more powerful opponent such as China?”
In short, USA has lost most of its manufacturing capability that we had when we geared up for WWII production. Perhaps it won't matter because the next war might be a cyber and satellite war instead of a bang-bang, boom-boom war. But even a cyber and satellite war needs a semiconductor industry.

Chicago lost its movie making industry to Los Angeles, but at least that stayed in USA.

Chicago was the candy capital of the world until a sugar tariff caused many of the manufactures to leave the country. So in the end, the tariff did not protect the jobs of sugar producers, it also destroyed the jobs of workers in companies that used sugar.. But at least we still have Bloomers Chocolate so we should be able to make war rations.

Root Street Tower: Rock Island and NYC access to stockyards (Chicago Junction)

(Satellite)
NorthAmericanInterlockings:  photo photo photo photo
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers (click the marker for more information)
This tower controls access to the route that goes west from here. That route used to be how the Rock and NYC accessed the stockyards. They probably also turned their passenger trains using the wye with the Chicago Junction. This tower also controlled entry to their Root Street Yards.
Mark Hinsdale posted
Just a few miles out of Chicago's La Salle Street Station, Rock Island's 5:16 PM Main Line to Joliet" Express blasts out of the hole under the Chicago Junction Railway bridge (long gone), past notorious public housing projects (long gone), beneath steam era signal installations (long gone) and past Root Street Tower (inactive but still standing), in July, 1977.
Update:
Street View
Joe Usselman posted two photos with the comment: "Root street tower showing some of its heritage in 2015."
Zachary C. Gillihanhttp://www.rrsignalpix.com/tower_rootstreet.php
Lawrence Smith this was the tower that routed the NYC passenger consists to and from LaSalle St station into Root St yard - the passenger yard for NYC in CHI. The yard is vacant land now. i think the Chicago Junction wye was there too. Think the NYC (and maybe the RI) turned their trains on that wye. Needs to e confirmed.
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William Shapotkin posted some photos of the CJ's connection with the IC. Several comments were about this CJ connection with RI+NYC.
Ron Hull The NYC passenger car yard and commissary were located immediately south of Root St tower. The tower controlled movements in and out of the north end of the yard. There was also a north and south Y controlled by Root St, enabling movements from the joint RI/NYC line to the CJ. In Penn-Central days, we delivered most of the SV piggyback trains from the east to the CJ at Ashland Ave, then came back to Englewood with the engines and caboose - “cabin light.”
Rod Truszkowski Some of that right of way still exists over the Dan Ryan expressway at root street
William commented on his posting
Yes it does. And (from what a understand) is still used -- mainly for CRL movements from/to Ashland Ave Yard and for Metra equipment moves. Recently obtained (from a friend, Bruce Moffat) a pic of the CJ undercrossing of the PRR (PFtW&C)/C&WI at 40th St -- just a few blocks west of the Dan Ryan. The Stock Yards 'L' is DIRECTLY above the CJ at this point. View looks east in this pre-1958 photo.
Ean Kahn-Treras the only thing it should be used for is the occasional Metra MOW move. I've caught a switcher with a crane on a work train buried back in there on the CJ just east of the PRR/CWI overpass.

It sure isn't too often that they get over here.
David Daruszka I think the inactive tower is still there at Root Street, used by the MOW Department.
William commented on his posting
You are correct, David Daruszka -- Root St Tower (on the ROCK) still stands, albeit no longer an active tower. Here is a pic, taken by the late Don Davis (a long-time ROCK (and later METRA) employee) looking E-N/E. (Understand the housing project in background is now gone.)
William commented on his posting
And an interior photo -- also taken by Don Davis:
Ron Roma commented on William's posting
Here's a shot I took at Root Street in 2010 (after the tower had closed), taken with permission. The CTC panel at right controlled trackage as far south as 51st Street.
This shows how the Rock Island yard was removed to make room for the Dan Ryan and the wye for Root Street Junction. It also shows the CHA projects of Stateway Gardens and Robert Taylor Homes.
Lynette Wilson Sharp posted
1960s


Edward posted a couple of 2017 photos.     This posting of one of the photos has some interesting comments.

A posting asking about tracks east of this tower that used to connect the Illinois Central to the Union Stock Yards has a lot of interesting comments.

Mark Vogel Flickr Album

D.W.Davidson Flickr Photo  (Some of the high-rise "projects housing" buildings are in the background.)






Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hell Gate Bridge

(Bridge HunterHistoric BridgesSatellite)
Albert R Brecken posted
Section of the Hell Gate Bridge that spanned the Easr River as viewed without the massive "portal" towers at each end of the span.
Arch bridges push out as well as down on their abutments. I always assumed the portal towers provided mass to help resist the outwards forces. But this indicates that they are just decorative. The bridge was completed in 1916 when railroads could afford to spend money on decoration. I then assumed that this must be one of the places in New York where the bedrock is at the surface so they could easily anchor the bridge to bedrock. But then I learned that caissons had to be sunk 90 feet to reach bedrock. [nycroads] I wonder how much of the expense for building to decorative portals was used to build foundations for all of that masonry.

nyc-architecture

 Historic Bridges
In fact, the bearing is mounted to the base at almost a 45-degree angle indicating the arch does push out about as much as the weight of the arch pushes down.

It was the longest steel-arch bridge in the world when built, and it "was named after the narrow channel of strong waters and dangerous rocks in the East River running underneath the structure (known as Hell Gate)." [parachute] "The Hell Gate Bridge would be the last NYC bridge to collapse if humans disappeared, taking at least a millennium to do so.... Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1912 and 1917 for the purpose of connecting the Pennsylvania and New Haven railways, its 20,000 tons of steel spans 1,107 feet from the shore of Astoria to the Bronx's Ward Island." [gothamist]

I've seen both 1916 and 1917 for completion dates. This project finished in 1916, but evidently additional track work was needed before through trains could use this project:
The arch bridge, the two smaller bridges and the viaduct were completed in September 1916. On March 9, 1917, the first Pennsylvania Railroad train - the Federal Express service between Washington and Boston - went over the Hell Gate Bridge, completing the first uninterrupted rail service between the two cities. [nycroads]
Library of Congress: HAER NY,31-NEYO,167--18
I did not realize until I saw some of the HAER photos on the Bridge Hunter site that the approach viaducts are non-trivial structures in their own right.
Library of Congress: HAER NY,31-NEYO,167--16
Little Hell Gate Bridge now spans land instead of water. Historic Bridges notes:
It uses a design that is rare anywhere, but almost unheard of in North American, the inverted bowstring truss. It is a deck truss where the bottom chord takes on an arch-like shape.
The reason this unusual design was chosen was as unusual as the design itself: the engineer wanted to give a greater clearance for boats near the piers. This is odd because boats usually would want to pass under the bridge as far away from the piers as possible.
I was able to manipulate a 3D Satellite image to capture much of the length of the structure. Historic Bridges estimates it to be 3.6 miles long based on a diagram of the East River Bridge Division of the New York Connecting Railroad.

3D Satellite
THE HELL GATE BRIDGE TODAY: The Hell Gate Bridge, which today has the 17th longest main steel arch span in the world, continues to play a central role in rail transportation in the Northeast. Only three of the four tracks are used on the bridge. The two south tracks carry Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains, while the north inner track carries CSX and Norfolk Southern (the owners of the former Conrail routes) freight trains. The north outer track is no longer in operation. [nycroads]
Pdro Ramos posted
The Hellgate Bridge
John H Campbell III It is said that the Sidney Harbour Bridge is based on the Hell Gate, just 60% bigger.Pedro RamosPedro and 704 others joined RAILROAD BRIDGES, TRESTLES, TUNNELS AND CUTS within the last two weeks. Give them a warm welcome into your community! Yes it is
Charlie Bowyer posted
April 16, 1978. Hell Gate

Charlie Bowyer posted
Another view of Hell Gate from the rear of the Colonial April, 1978.
Robert J Ruotolo posted
Hell Gate - NYC
CatskillArchive
Marc Dufour shared two photos with the comment:
Hell Gate bridge, New-York.
I’ve heard that “one of the piles sits on a geological fault that had to be bridged underwater”. But I haven’t been able to find anything about that.
Would anyone have pointers to this, like diagrams of the substructure?
Timothy Daugherty Still standing??
Michael Sprintz Very much still standing. It’s how every Amtrak NEC train gets between NY-BOS. 
There is also a freight link via a third unelectrified track, which connects to Fresh Pond Yard of the New York and Atlantic.


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Tommy Byrne posted
Construction of stanchions for New York Connecting Railroad to the Hell Gate Bridge.
Ellis Simon The New York Connecting Railroad, a joint venture of the Pennsylvania and New Haven Railroads, built and owned the bridge and the rail lines on Long Island. The railroad’s main (freight) line connected with the LIRR Bay Ridge branch at Fresh Pond Jct. and a (passenger) branch line connected with the LIRR at Harold interlocking for access to the East River tunnel and Penn Station.
Marc Dufour shared
Building the Hell Gate bridge piers.
Marc Dufour I read somewhere that one of the abutments of the arch section is directly above a geological fault, so they had to build an underground/underwater bridge to span the fault.
Would you have some information regarding that?

Robby Cavada commented on Tommy's post

Robby Cavada commented on Tommy's post

Robby Cavada commented on Tommy's post
oldnyc has several pictures including a couple of the Randall Island Viaduct and one of a bearing.

Dave Frieder has an interesting collection of photos of this and other bridges in the New York area.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Illinois Watch Company: Springfield Factory

From posting in Lost Illinois Manufacturing
This factory in Springfield was built by Illinois Watch Company. As the watch business declined, the Sangamo Electric Company grew to fully occupy the factory. By 1962 Sangamo "employed 2,800 workers making electric transformers, meters, time switches and speedometers. In 1978 a French company bought Sangamo and closed the Springfield plant." Sangamo's contribution to WWII was "anti-submarine sonar and mica and paper capacitors, as well as watt-hour meters." [Lost Illinois Manufacturing posting]

In case the Facebook "posting" link is not permanent, I include the first two photos from the posting and summarize the posting.

This 1927 advertisement explains why an "electricity" company got started in a watch factory. In the 1920s electricity was unreliable and the 60-hertz frequency was not accurate, so they used electricity to wind a 24-hour mainspring of a clock that used "a precision jeweled lever escapement as the heart of the movement."

As electricity became reliable and accurate, the mechanical escape clock became obsolete. But the company had already started making watt-hour meters and other products and continued to grow.

(One of the first commercial atomic clocks was bought by a power company so that they could make small adjustments in their 60-hertz power so that over a period of time a day would average, with atomic precision, 60cycles*60seconds*60minutes*24hour cycles.)

By 1970, the company had four other plants in the US and 6 other plants in the world. So when Schlumberger bought the company in 1975, they closed the Springfield plant in 1978 by moving its production to other plants.

Satellite
The factory site now has the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and a McDonalds.

At the end of the posting are the links: county and company.
Update: It is a 52:08 long silent film. The You Tube comments are extensive.




Springfield Rewind posted
Sangamo Electric 11th St - Nov 1967

C&NW Lake Street Tower for their Chicago train station

(3D Satellite)
Mark Llanuza, scroll down
Chicago & North Western Historical Society posted
This is a C&NW company photograph of the approach to the "Chicago passenger terminal" taken some time in the late 1940s. The west end of the boiler house for the station can be seen at the far left of the photo. It still stands and is used as office space today. Busy times on the railroad! Se the photo below this one to see the interlocking board in the Lake Street tower which controls these tracks. Where is the rapid transit bridge over the tracks?
Mark Ratzer The CTA bridge is behind the photographer - Lake Street tower is just north of the bridge, and appears to be the vantage point for this north-northwestward facing view.

Chicago & North Western Historical Society posted
This is a C&NW company photo of the interior of the Lake Street interlocking plant which controls (even today) the switches leading into the - now - Ogilvie Transportation Center. See the photo above to see how busy the operators were.
Given Mark's answer, I was able to locate Lake Tower. Zoom out and look at the tracks. The number of double-slip turnouts in that throat to the train station must be a maintenance nightmare.

Update:
Jon Roma commented on a post

C&NW Historical Society posted
This is what the inside of the Lake Street "tower" looked like in 1948 on this C&NW company publicity photo held by the C&NW Historical Society. The tower controls the "throat" of the tracks into the old Madison Street Station - now the "Ogilvie Transportation Center." I am told that it still looks like that today!
Carl Venzke posted
C&NW's Lake Street Tower, Chicago - The diagram in the Lake Street interlocking tower for C&NW's North Western Terminal in Chicago

David Daruszka updated
Jon Roma commented on David's posting
This isn't quite the same angle, and there's a bit of lens distortion, but here's a picture of Lake Street taken in 2012 when the tower and interlocking machine were 101 years old.
Mike Froio Love the oak paneling and details.
Craig Sanders Quarter-sawed oak was usually reserved for upscale homes at the time this tower was put into service, but the railroads thought it to be appropriate here. Nice, classy touch!
[Several comments about the maintenance of this machine including:]

Jon Roma This type of machine never had pipelines. It was an all-electric plant that went in service in 1911 with the C&NW's then-new Chicago passenger terminal.

There have been numerous revisions to the outside plant, like replacement of the semaphore dwarfs 
with LED-equipped color light signals, replacement of the switches and switch machines, and removal of the movable point frogs, and modernization of the circuitry. However, the machine depicted, which includes mechanical locking inside the oak cabinet, is still in service in 2018.

Michael Morris posted
Dennis DeBruler We get a glimpse of the Lake Street Tower on the left. I understand that this is one of the few interlocking towers in Chicago that is still staffed.
https://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2016/11/c-lake-tower-for-their-chicago-train.html
David Daruszka commented on Michael's post
And once the tower was inhabited by a beautiful woman who beckoned railroaders to their doom.

Michael North posted seven photos with the comment: "Chicago & Northwestern Lake street interlocking January 1990. The last time I ever photographed or witnessed this relic."
Brandon McShane The tower is still there but the controls have been modernized and of course the semaphores are gone.


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Signal and overall upgrades were underway. A massive project that would be the end of the vintage 2A's there. 

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RTA commuter train leaving. Pre Metra ? F40 ?
Jason Simon Sure was the early 90’s. There where 10 RTA colored engines left in the metra system. The bilevels where all RTA painted (rare to find a RTA marking) CNW cars. I use to take the NW line in with knowing of the crews.

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CTA crossing over the CNW plant.
Mike Howard Shortly after these pictures were taken the CTA replaced the bridge and the rest of the Green line .Charles Scherer Lake st. L

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 The train sheds, end of the line or the terminal.

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2A high signals on the bridge on the elevated.
Mike Howard Bridge D by Halsted St

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Days are numbered.
Mike Howard Bridge D

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Classic C&NW 2A signal bridge in downtown Chicago with the color light signal replacements up now awaiing cut over. 2A's would soon be history. Sears tower can be seen in the background.
Mike Howard Bridge A at Lake St. interlocking plant




Chicago & North Western Historical Society posted
This Christmas Eve 1951 Chicago and North Western company publicity photo shows the Chicago terminal "throat" with kerosene heaters being used to keep the switches thawed. The heaters are now natural gas fed.
Rod Truszkowski posted
[1915 Smoke Abatement Report, p497]
David Cole posted two photos with the comment:
A study in then and now...The 400 departs North Western Station in 1953. Today these are the throat tracks of the Ogilvie Transportation Center... North Western Station sounds soooo much better!
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Two photos posted by Patrick Bullis with the comment: "OTC Lake St.. Built 1906? Still in use."
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More views of what is controlled by this tower

See Clinton Street Tower for more information on the location of this tower.

A 1:42 video of tower operations (source link).  Joel Kirchner 16 tracks funnel into 6 leads and you can go from every track into every lead. Just a couple hundred movements a day!

At 1:23 in this video, this tower appears on the left.