Monday, November 28, 2016

UP/C&NW Lake Street Tower for their Chicago train station

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

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.

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.
Mark Llanuza took five interior shots in 1983.




Tom Guilbault at Lake St. Tower, 1983. Our thanks to Stan Peczkowski, former Lake St. Tower Supervisor for many years, who remembered Tom.

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.
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.

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

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.

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

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

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

Days are numbered.
Mike Howard Bridge D

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.

BRHS posted
Kerosene heating units keeping switches warm on the tracks leading to Chicago & North Western Station - December 20th, 1951.
[Obviously taken from the same location, but exposed better.]
Albert Carello That December was a really brutal winter!
Bruce DeMaeyer I was always of the opinion that the heaters were run by natural gas.
The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society Today, they are, but this was from back in 1951.
Bruce DeMaeyer Do you know when the change was made?
Jon Roma After the turn of the century, I think.
Patrick McNamara Jon Roma - Nonsense. These kerosene tubs were in common use thru the 1980s at Proviso and wherever there was a switch to be kept free of ice build-up.
Jon Roma Patrick McNamara, the question was asked when the change to natural gas was made at Lake Street interlocking. I might remind you that "around the turn of the century" was 20 years ago, and we weren't talking about Proviso 20 years before that.
Jer Centa And nowadays when switch heaters are on its called in as a fire..... every single year.......
Dave Rodgers When I first worked for the "J" I was in the B&B and we cleaned switches by hand (broom) and would fill these smudge pots and light them with a fusee. 1971
Lawrence Smith Memories of my childhood. Mom why r the tracks on fire?
A third exposure of that photo.
Kelly Harris posted
Love this photo! Can almost smell it. I love winter!

Brendon J Dock shared
[It is easier to see Clinton Street Tower under the signal bridge and to the left of the far train.]

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!

Two photos posted by Patrick Bullis with the comment: "OTC Lake St.. Built 1906? Still in use."


John Iwanski posted
I managed to frame this nice shot this morning as I walked into the office, catching Metra’s Chicago and Northwestern heritage unit next to the Lake St., Tower - with plenty of Union Pacific service trucks down on Milwaukee Avenue.

More views of what is controlled by 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.

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