Monday, December 12, 2016

IC Ferry between Brookport, IL and Paducah, KY

Robert Tomb cover photo update
The "Cape Charles" was a rail car ferry converted to a suction dredge by the G&SIRR in late 1897. She is no longer on the equipment roster after 1918. The "Cape Charles" was origianlly built in 1885 for the Chesapeake Bay crossing of the New York, Philadelphie & Norfolk Railway. Rail cars were carried on the forward end of the boat with a two story cabins/dining superstructure aft of the walking beam engine. Sold to the East Louisiana Railroad in 1895 for the crossing between Spanish Fort and Mandeville, LA.
Cliff Downey shared his post:
This weekend Christian Goepel and Robert Tomb posted some great images of IC's Ohio River ferry between Paducah, KY, and Brookport, IL. While digging around in my collection looking for more photos, I realized that the first ferry trip took place on December 3, 1888!
The ferry service was started by the Chicago St. Louis & Paducah Railway. The CStL&P was incorporated in 1887 to lay track from Centralia, IL, (later changed to Marion, IL) south to Brookport, IL, with a ferry connection across the Ohio River to Paducah. The CStL&P and the Chesapeake Ohio & Southwestern Railroad were co-owners of the Paducah Union Depot Company, which built a new three-story depot on Caldwell Street.
The CStL&P, along with several other railroads stretching from St. Louis east into Indiana, was owned by George W. Parker. In early 1888 these roads were leased to a new Parker-owned railroad, the St. Louis Alton & Terre Haute Railroad, which finished construction of the Marion-Brookport line.
On November 23, 1888, the StLA&TH took delivery at Paducah of the "George W. Parker", a side-wheel ferry. This boat was originally built in 1879 as a traditional packet steamer and was used widely on the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers before being sold to the StLA&TH and being rebuilt as a railroad ferry.
The first ferry run took place on December 3, 1888. According to the Paducah News, the first train left the new Paducah Union Depot at 11am and was quickly ferried across the river. “In less than 40 minutes from the time [the train] left the depot it was hurrying through the Illinois woods towards St. Louis, which city it will reach at 8 o’ clock this evening”. Only nine hours to go from Podunk to St. Louis! (I know, I know, that was a big deal back in the day).
In 1897 the IC bought part of the StLA&TH (the NYC's "Big Four" got the rest) and in 1898 the IC leased the Paducah Union Depot Company for 99 years. The IC had previously bought the CO&SW (in 1893, but full control didn't come until 1896).
Shortly after IC took over the "George W. Parker" was retired. For the next few years the "DeKoven" and the "W.H. Osborn" shared duties. The "DeKoven" was later reassigned to IC ferry operations on the Mississippi River. In May, 1903, the "W. H. Osborn" was condemned and replaced by the "W.B. Duncan". The "Duncan" was the primary ferry on the Paducah-Brookport route until early 1918 when IC was ordered by the United States Railroad Administration to reroute its ferry traffic across the newly completed Metropolis bridge. Afterwards the "Duncan" also went south to other IC ferry operations on the Mississippi River.
The image of the Brookport, IL, "depo" (as it was labeled on the card) was scanned from an undated real photo postcard. Meanwhile, the image of the "DeKoven" was scanned from a heavily-weathered print. Both are from the collection of Cliff Downey.
Robert Tomb commented on the above posting
This is an RPPC of the "Duncan" at the Helena, AR incline.

Illinois Central Railroad Scrapbook posted two photos with the comment:
January, 1918, was one of the coldest months ever recorded at Paducah, KY.  Daytime high temperatures rarely exceeded 20 degrees, and at night the temperature often dropped below zero.  To make the situation worse, throughout the month the area was hit with several feet of snow.
Thanks to this extreme cold weather the Ohio River froze over, not just at Paducah, but upstream along the Ohio River to Louisville and beyond.  The Tennessee River (which flows into the Ohio River at Paducah) also froze over.  All along the rivers, people flocked to walk on the ice, sometimes to the opposite shoreline and back.  There are even reports of adventurous folks driving their cars across the ice.
For the most part the IC wasn't affected by this extreme weather, with the exception of the Ohio River ferry service between Paducah and Brookport, IL.  As these two photos shows, the "W.B. Duncan" was left stranded on the frozen river, with a passenger train on deck!  It is unknown how many passengers may have been aboard when the ferry became stranded, but presumably they were evacuated from the ferry when it became obvious the ferry wasn't going anywhere. 
Fascination with the frozen river soon turned into concern, for it became obvious that the ice was slowly but steadily being pushed downstream.  Large piles of ice, some exceeding 10 feet in height, began appearing around Paducah.  As the ice piled up, residents began to worry that something was about to happen.
That "something" happened early on January 29, 1918, when a massive ice dam on the lower Tennessee River, stretching for several miles, broke apart and roared downstream.  Newspaper reports described the roar as deafening and bystanders were left frightened and stunned by the sight of the ice rushing downstream.  When the operator at IC's drawbridge across the Tennessee River saw the ice roaring towards the bridge, he became so frightened that he abandoned his post and disappeared for several hours!  The IC had to dispatch an extra operator from Paducah to replace the AWOL drawbridge operator.
When the flood of ice, snow, and miscellaneous debris reached Paducah and other downstream ports such as Joppa and Cairo, IL, 14 boats were crushed by the ice and sank.  Two others were damaged.  The scene was repeated all along the lower Ohio River as boats were ripped from their moorings.  Some were crushed while others were carried by the flood as far south as Memphis.
The "W.B. Duncan" survived unscathed, but its days at Paducah were numbered.  On April 2, 1918, the newly formed United States Railroad Administration ordered the IC, NC&StL, and CB&Q to consolidate their facilities at Paducah to help improve the wartime flow of passengers and freight.  As part of this decree the IC was ordered to immediately begin routing its passenger trains from Carbondale across the newly completed P&I bridge at Metropolis, IL.  A few weeks later the IC was ordered to also route its freight trains across the bridge.  Once this happened the Paducah-Brookport ferry service was abandoned and the "W.B. Duncan" was reassigned to ferry routes on the lower Mississippi River.

[I wonder if it worked one of the ferry routes near New Orleans.]



Illinois Central Railroad Scrapbook posted two photos with the comment:
Brookport, IL, and the Illinois Central Railroad (part 1 of 2)
Brookport, IL, (known as Brooklyn prior to 1901) is on the banks of the Ohio River, opposite Paducah, KY.  Except for a hiking trail laid on an abandoned railroad bed, there's little evidence that Brookport once was an important gateway on the Illinois Central for moving freight in and out of western Kentucky.  What follows is an abridged, nutshell version of Brookport's railroad history.
In 1887 the Chicago St. Louis & Paducah Railway began laying track from Marion, IL, south towards Brooklyn, some 53 rail miles away.  But the sleepy village of Brooklyn wasn't the CStL&P's ultimate destination.  Instead, the CStL&P wanted to reach Paducah, KY, and make a connection with the Chesapeake Ohio & Southwestern Railroad.  The CO&SW ran from Louisville, KY, south through Paducah and Fulton, and onward to Memphis, TN.  Paducah was growing rapidly, and the CStL&P wanted part of the action.
To facilitate a ferry connection into Paducah, the CStL&P and CO&SW joined forces and formed the Paducah Union Depot Company.  PUD was given the task of building a union passenger/freight station near downtown Paducah and build a ferry incline on the Kentucky side of the river.  CStL&P was responsible for building a ferry incline on the Illinois side of the river, plus buying a ferry, the "G.W. Parker".
On March 1, 1888, before the road was even complete, the CStL&P was leased to the St. Louis Alton & Terre Haute Railroad, but the CStL&P continued to operate independently for a few years afterwards.  The first CStL&P train departed Paducah on Dec. 3, 1888.
In the 1890's the Illinois Central Railroad gobbled up several smaller railroads in the South and Midwest - including the StLA&TH, CO&SW, and PUD.  Thanks to these purchases, Brookport suddenly became one of the three places where IC trains crossed the Ohio River - the other two were Cairo, IL, and Henderson, KY (prior to 1904 the IC operated its own ferry across the Ohio River at Henderson, but that year obtained trackage rights on the L&N's bridge).
Completion of the Cairo bridge in 1889 sparked a traffic boom on the IC, and traffic grew even more when the IC double-tracked its Chicago-New Orleans route.  But the single track bridge had trouble accommodating all the traffic.  Plus, the bridge had to be modified several times as cars and locomotives grew larger and heavier.  To avoid the Cairo bottleneck, IC routed as much traffic through Brookport as possible.
(to be continued in part 2)
Cliff Downey shared


Illinois Central Railroad Scrapbook posted three photos with the comment:
Brookport, IL, and the Illinois Central Railroad (part 2 of 2)
A 2 part mini-article discussing IC's line into Brookport, IL, and especially the Brookport-Paducah ferry.
A 1916 timetable listed two mixed trains running daily between Carbondale and Paducah, plus two mixed trains running just between Metropolis and Brookport.  
Brookport's time in the spotlight was short-lived, however.  After the United States entered World War I, the nation's railroads almost ground to a halt, for they were not prepared to deal with the surge of wartime traffic.  In response, most major railroads were seized by the United States Railroad Administration.  Soon, the USRA began ordering sweeping changes to railroad operations nationwide, all in an effort to keep wartime traffic moving.
On April 2, 1918, the IC, NC&StL, and CB&Q were ordered to consolidate their Paducah facilities.  As part of the order, IC passenger trains that used the Brookport ferry were rerouted across the recently completed Paducah & Illinois Railroad bridge at Metropolis, IL.  Freight trains were ordered to switch to the bridge a few weeks later.  (Keep in mind this was before the Edgewood Cutoff was built).  Rail traffic into Brookport dropped dramatically once the ferry quit running, since the town was now at the stub end of a mainline route that ran through mostly rural terrain.
USRA control of the nation's railroads ended in 1920.  Then in 1922 the IC announced plans to buy a one-third ownership in the Paducah & Illinois Railroad and to build the Edgewood Cutoff.  During construction of the Cutoff, the old CStL&P line between Reevesville and Metropolis was rerouted.  These changes meant that Brookport was no longer on a mainline; instead, the 6.2 miles of track from Metropolis was now classified as a branchline.
Rail service to Brookport continued on an irregular schedule for 50+ years after the ferry quit running.  In the mid-1970's the Illinois Central Gulf was on a mission to abandon or sell as many branch lines as possible, and the Brookport Branch was an easy target.  The branch was abandoned in 1975 and the right-of-way was turned into a hiking trail.
Cliff Downey shared



Vintage Railroad Photos pre-1975ish South, Midwest and Western states posted

From 1888 to 1918 the IC and its predecessor lines operated a ferry across the Ohio River between Paducah, KY, and Brookport, IL (originally named Brooklyn - the name changed in 1903). The ferry incline on the Paducah side was next to the yard at 6th and Campbell Streets.

On the night of November 19, 1905, a crew was switching the yard with 0-6-0 199. Around 9:30 p.m. the crew went to spot three loaded freight cars on the incline. Alas, the air brakes on the cars were not connected, and the brakes on the small yard goat were not enough to keep the three cars, and number 199, from rolling off the end of the incline and into the water. Number 199 and one of the cars were photographed the next day waiting to be fished out of the water.

The IC continued to use the Paducah-Brookport ferry for a few more years. On April 2, 1918, the newly-formed USRA ordered the IC, CB&Q, and NC&StL to consolidate their facilities at Paducah. IC's passenger trains that had been using the ferry were immediately shifted to the newly formed P&I Railroad bridge at Metropolis, IL, and IC's freight trains using the ferry were shifted to the bridge a few weeks later. The last IC ferry assigned to Paducah was the "W.B. Duncan". After the Paducah ferry operation was shut down, the "W.B. Duncan" was reassigned to the Helena-West Helena ferry across the Mississippi River.

Photographer unknown, Cliff Downey collection.

Raymond Storey posted
IC car ferry Padukah KY
Mark Rickert Notice how it's on land.

The yards were on the east side of town and the ferry slip was under the north approach of the US-45 bridge over the Ohio River.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Christian Goepel posted
IC 199, passenger train, and Ohio River ferry terminal near Paducah, Kentucky, at an unknown date. Ferry is the GW Robertson, allegedly. Photographer also unknown.

David Cantrell posted
WH Duncan ICRR transfer steamer connected Brookport, IL and Paducah, KY, 1912.
-- Illinois Central Magazine
Thomas E Lucas She looks like the IC Pelican, working out of Helena AR to Trotter's Point MS below Memphis.

No comments:

Post a Comment