Saturday, December 3, 2016

Torrence Avenue and Aban/IHB/C&WI Bridges over Calumet River

1938 Torrence Avenue: (Bridge HunterHistoric BridgesChicagoLoopBridges; 3D Satellite)
swing C&WI: (Bridge Hunter)
1912 bascule C&WI: (Bridge Hunter)
1968 or 1971 C&WI: (Bridge HunterHistoric Bridges3D Satellite)

20150720 3319, south portals
Torrence Avenue is on the left,
Aban/IHB/C&WI is on the right

North portals

ChiLandmarks has two photos and the text:
The Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad Bridge is an outstanding example of a "tower-driven" vertical-lift bridge. Located on the Calumet River, the bridge is based on the early 20th century patents developed by the Kansas City-based firm of Waddell and Harrington. The bridge was fabricated and built by the American Bridge Co. of Gary, Indiana and the Corbett Construction Company of Chicago. The spans are suspended between a pair of 210-foot towers and have a vertical lift of 125 feet. Its towers rest on concrete piers extending 80 to 90 feet to bedrock, and the approach spans' piers and abutments are supported by metal shell cast-in-place concrete piles. The bridge's immense span is vertically raised and lowered by a system of 64 cables and four giant pulleys. The cables are connected to massive steel-encased concrete counterweights which are suspended within the towers' framework. The bridge is powered by gasoline motors housed at the base of the north tower. The Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad Bridge provides a dominating visual presence to the surrounding area. Today the bridge is no longer in use and is currently in a raised position.
[the towers on the right]


Chicago and Western Indiana was the terminal railroad for the Dearborn Station. This RR bridge carried the eastern branch of the C&WI to the Indiana state line where the tenant railroads of Monon, C&O, Erie, and Wabash connected with the C&WI to run their passenger trains to Dearborn. This branch was abandoned when Dearborn Station quit serving passenger trains. But IHB bought this RR bridge because they had assumed operation of Pennsy's Calumet Western Branch and that branch started using this bridge when their bridge got destroyed in 1962.
Bartholomew Broz posted
old Indiana Harbor Belt lift bridge that has been welded up since like 1993 that leads into the Port of Chicago I believe in South Chicago
Dennis DeBruler
A NS/NKP lift bridge is in the background.
The foreground bridge is at 41°40'09.9"N 87°33'32.5"W

As with most Chicagoland bridges, the first two bridges here were swing bridges. I haven't found any photos of them. In this photo, the swing bridge has been replaced by a temporary bridge so that they can build the 1938 lift bridge.
Rod Sellers commented on his post

In 1912, the swing RR bridge was replaced by a Strauss trunnion bascule bridge. I wonder why the Strauss bascule bridge was replaced. His bridges normally last until the present. There are several still standing the in the Chicagoland area. And the St. Charles Air Line Bridge is still raised for boats. Judging from the picture below, it appears that it was replaced because a longer span was needed for navigation after they wanted ocean-going ships using the St. Lawrence Seaway to use Lake Calumet.

Trainorders has more photos of the bascule bridge. I'm not a member, so only the thumbnails are available. But you can see it partially open like the photo below. That was the normal position for the bridge because it set too low to clear barge traffic. "Long, gradual approaches were built on both sides so the deck of the new bridge would clear barge traffic when down." [Seventyfive's comment on Trainorders]

Rod Sellers posted
Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad bridge over the Calumet River at Torrence Avenue. Single leaf bascule bridge built in 1910 by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. This bridge and 2 others (one to the east and one to the west) were recommended for removal as hazards to navigation. In 1972 it was replaced with a vertical lift bridge.

John W. Barriger III Flickr, flipped
[John not only caught the Strauss trunnion RR bridge, he caught the construction of the lift bridge for Torrence Avenue.]

Bob Lalich Flickr Photo

calumet river proposed straightening

Aerial view of navigation obstacles in the Calumet River at Torrence Avenue.

Scott Griffith posted
Any idea location?
Bob Lalich The train is EB, just south of the Calumet River on the C&WI, roughly 126th and Torrence. The bascule bridge was replaced with a lift bridge around 1971.

[A Bruce Meyer Photo]
David Daruszka updated
Evan Stair Look at the quality of the ballast. Wow...
William Schenold Is that 130th Street at the Crossing?
Bob Lalich Yes, that is 130th St. The C&WI bascule bridge in the background was replaced by a lift bridge around 1970. The lift bridge still stands but there are no tracks to the south of it. Torrence Ave now occupies the C&WI RoW. The C&WI was a very well maintained and busy RR at this time. This photo is a Bruce Meyer photo taken in 1958, from the Mark Stanek collection.
Tad Dunville I believe that Bend is where the CWI meets NKP and proceeds southeast adjacent to CSSB. There is still a lot of action here, but CWI is the missing piece. NS runs a small autorack yard and CSS runs plenty of passenger and freight through here. Now that I think of it, was this pic taken from the CSS bridge?
Bob Lalich Yes, the photographer was on the South Shore bridge. There was a flag stop for Ford City back then and there were walkways along the bridge.

James Boudraux posted
Torrence,130th & Saginaw St. Area...1958...Bruce Meyer photo...S.Kortvely Collection
Bob Lalich You might also consider adding that the photo came from the Mark Stanek collection. He sent it to me several years ago. I should have put all that info in a corner of the photo before I posted it.
Bill Smotrilla We used to love watching the switcher work the coking plant just north over the river bridge.

Larry Grzywinski posted
A MONON passenger train heading south bound at 130th Street on the far south side of Chicago, aka Hegewisch. The train just crossed the old Bascule Bridge across the Calumet River, the Torrence Ave Bridge is to the left and the Ford Motor Hegewisch assembly plant is to the far left. The Bascule Bridge was later replaced by a vertical lift bridge similar to the Torrence Ave Bridge. The train is on the C&WI (Chicago and Western Indiana).
Ken Morrison about to cross under the South Shore, and parallel it and the Nickel Plate to State Line Tower...
Gary Siatka By 1960 there were house being built to the right of the tracks. The tracks are now gone and Torrence has been moved where the tracks were.

Marty Gatton shared
Higher resolution and cropped.
Bob Lalich Flickr

Monon in Hegewisch - 1958

Here is an outstanding photo from 1958 of an outbound Monon train passing 130th St on the C&WI. The photographer is standing on the K&E/South Shore bridge. This photo comes from the collection of Mark Stanek, who sadly has passed away. The photographer was the late Bruce Meyer. Thanks to Joe Lewnard for that info.


Besides the attractive train, there are many details to look over, which adds to the enjoyment for me. The crossing gates were manually controlled by a gateman in the tower to the left of the train. There was also an automatic warning bell. I watched many trains pass this location from my parents' stopped car.


Notice the track alignment. The C&WI bascule bridge in the distance was the second to span the Calumet River at this location. The first was a swing bridge. The bascule bridge was built along side the old bridge and resulted in a small jog in the tracks.


The open area is now the Avalon Trails section of Hegewisch. Not long after this photo, typical Chicago style bungalos were built along the streets seen here, which had been laid out many years prior.


The industries that can be seen in the hazy background include Ford, Interlake Iron's (newly rebuilt at the time) coke plant, Wisconsin Steel, Globe Roofing Products, Continental Grain, Cargill, and Republic Steel.


A small portion of the Calumet Western Swing bridge can be seen as well. It would be hit by a seagoing ship in 1962 and never rebuilt.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Marty's share
In this Apr 2002 Global Earth image we can still see the abandoned C&WI right-of-way that was along Torrence Ave.
[Also posted is a Nov 2004 image that shows today's configuration.]

A lift bridge was considered too ugly for roads in the downtown area, so Chicago developed the dual bascule bridge design. But a lift bridge was considered OK for Torrence Avenue in this industrial area. Plus the needed bascule span would have been 80 feet longer than any current bascule design and would have cost twice as much as the lift bridge. [CLB]

The machinery for this bridge was placed in the tower rather than the normal practice of placing it in the middle of the span. [CityOfChicago]

The road swing bridge was replaced in 1935, and the railroad bascule was replaced in 1968 or 1971 depending on source.

Driving south, you can see the blue South Shore Bridge framed by the far portal

Street View

A 1984 Bob Lalich Flickr photo
C&WI Mainline Bridge
The MP Hammond local passes over the C&WI Mainline bridge over the Calumet River, 8-84.

Bob Poortinga 6y
It is interesting that at this date, the C&WI uses one track on the bridge and the Cal Western uses the other.
Bob Lalich 6y
This was after NS had acquired the C&WI between SL and 81st St. They quickly removed track 1 between SL and 110th St. Track 2 was removed when the Hammond Times moved the printing plant to Munster.

Bob Lalich 3y
The CW connection to the C&WI was established after the CW swing bridge was hit by a ship in 1962. Here is what I have pieced together from various sources. Even before the CW bridge accident, plans had been drafted to replace the CW and C&WI bridges with a lift bridge in order to aid navigation in light of ocean-going ships using Lake Calumet harbor after opening the St. Lawrence Seaway. Replacing the NKP swing bridge was also part of the overall plan. It was decided not to repair the CW bridge after the 1962 accident, even though it would be years before the new bridge could be built and RoW obtained for the connecting track on the south side of the river. C&WI granted trackage rights to the CW between 123rd and 126th in 1964. I believe a temporary connection was established from the C&WI main south of the river to industrial trackage just to the east. A connection north of the river was built as well. This arrangement lasted until the lift bridge was opened in 1971. The C&WI lift bridge and the Torrence Ave bridge had separate operators.

ChicagoLoopBridges updated and Torrence Avenue Bridge
I was on 122nd St. taking pictures of the NS/NKP Bridge when I noticed this 3/4 view of these bridges taken across the Heron Pond Park. Those are the NS/NKP tracks in the foreground.

20160521 3312rc

This posting was my motivation for finding my pictures and writing this post.
ChicagoLoopBridges posted
The only CDOT vertical lift bridge marks 80 years on December 2nd. Learn more at:
[I notice the formal name is the Henry Ford II Bridge. No doubt because of the big Ford assembly plant just south of it. Judging from the first picture on the CLB page, the parking lot west of the north portal is public access. I had seen that parking lat in satellite images. But in this post 9/11 era, I was too chicken to turn on the access road to that area. Maybe I'll try it the next time I'm near that bridge.]
Michael A. Paus commented on the above posting
[Headed towards Lake Michigan.]

Mark Llanuza posted
ts Sept 1982 I'm standing on top of the Chicago South Shore Railroad bridge looking down on the former Erie Lackawanna main line with the Lake Shore Limited detouring on the former Erie rails .I went back in 1997 to the same location at Torrence Ave near Ford City Auto plant .The rails are gone only the famous draw lift bridges are still there .

Joseph Tuch Santucci Technically the C&WI at this location. This line could have been saved. The South Shore wanted to purchase it from State Line to Pullman Jct in 1985. NS had purchased the portion from Pullman Jct to 81st street in late 1984. CSS would use the BRC mains from Pullman Jct to Clearing Yard. The five owners of the CWI, MoPac, SBD, GTW and Conrail all had to agree. Conrail was dead set against it and would not budge so the deal died and so did the railroad. Oddly enough, NS acquired a portion from the South Shore overhead to Burnham Ave in the early 1990’s and built the Ford Chicago auto mixing on the old right of way.
Mark Bilecki Sr. The picture above was taken the day they had the steam excursion for Norfolk Western 611. The reason for the detours was because the cables broke on the old Pennsylvania lift bridge on the main over the Calumet River. I was sitting over by state line tower waiting for it. All the detouring trains came down the B&O and used the old Wabash connection to the C&WI into the city. Today the C& WI is long gone and so is the tower.Scott Nauert Conrail was also dead against Santa Fe acquiring the PRR Panhandle from Logansport - Pittsburgh, PA. What an absolute disgrace. Let me guess: this was under Stanley Crane's leadership?
Jack Fuller Conrail was profitable, whereas its predecessors were not, mainly because CR had a near-monopoly on rail traffic in the East. This allowed them to get better revenue divisions, and longer hauls. They did NOT want a western road encroaching into their territory!
Mark Llanuza Thanks Mark Bilecki Sr. for your help with the story .Yes i was was waiting for 611when this train showed up total surprise.
Tom Bedwell enhanced Bill Molony's posting
Amtrak EMD SDP40F #592, passing through the Hegewisch neighborhood with train #52, the Floridian - 1977.
[Note the two bridges in the upper-right corner.]

Toad Brajkovich posted
My dad was 18 helping build this bridge.
Larry Grzywinski Which bridge, the railroad or Torrence?
Toad Brajkovich Larry Grzywinski both from the ground up

On of six photo of St Marys Challenger going from Lake Calumet to Lake Michigan

Pete Fileca posted
C & wi By the ford plant
Daryl Guthrie That was the bridge a boat knocked down had to detour around for long time.
Mike Breski commented on Pete's post
Dennis DeBruler Nice. C&WI and Torrence Ave with NS/NKP in the background.
Bob Lalich Wisconsin Steel closed in 1980. Prior to closing, IHB did move cars to and from WSW. After the plant closed, IHB's Irondale business was primarily grain.
Mike Breski Cargil I think also Horse Head Industries zinc oxide, crews hated going there whole place was mucked up with that white powder like mud and a few other small industries back there.
Bob Lalich I forgot about Horsehead. I remember that plant as Great Lakes Carbon.
Mike Breski Your reply triggered my memory and now GLC too.

Todd Lewis posted, cropped
Cook county torrence ave, Abandoned Erie Lackawanna railroad bridge burnham,il the yard mainline and support facilities are all long removed, this bridge is permanently in the raised position to return to nature.

Larry Grzywinski posted
The IHB crossing the formed C&WI vertical lift bridge over the Calumet River. The Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) had purchased the bridge after the C&WI went out of business. At present it is no longer in use. The lift bridge to the right of it is the Torrence Ave. vertical lift bridge and just beyond the bridges is the Ford Motor Hegewisch assembly plant. The photo was obtained from an IHB calendar.
The photo was taken in 1988.
Rod Sellers Bridge has official Chicago landmark status.
Larry Grzywinski Rod Sellers which one, the railroad bridge or Torrence Ave. bridge.
Dennis DeBruler Larry Grzywinski The railroad bridge. The road bridge doesn't have it. I read speculation that the road bridge doesn't have it because the City owns it, and they are not worried about that one being torn down.
Rod Sellers It was landmarked with a group of 12 "Historic Chicago Railroad Bridges." Group includes Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad Bridge located near 126th St. & Torrence Av. and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad Bridges (Pair), located near the Skyway & 98th St.
Dennis DeBruler This preliminary recommendation has just 11 bridges. I wonder which one got added.
Chuck Giometti I think when I was a teen some guy drove into the river cuz the gates were not activated but the bridge was up.
Dave Wielosinski Chuck Giometti I was the accident investor on this. There were two cars involved, one going South and the other going North. The original report was a railroad car went in.

Torrence was temporarily rerouted across the C&WI bridge so that they could refurbish the road bridge during 2011-2013 while keeping one of the few north/south arteries in this area open. That refurbish work also repainted the C&WI bridge.
3D Satellite

Even this 2D satellite view shows the old configuration of detouring the road on the RR bridge. Yet Google has a 2018 copyright on the imagery.

A 2012 Bob Lalich Flickr photo caught the RR bridge being used as a road bridge while the road bridge is rebuilt.
wsry1754 7y 
I remember my Uncle Robert E. Kleonne (a former C & O engineer), my first ex. railroad boss David E. Winkleman, (a former Erie Lackawanna brakeman and engineer), and railroad photographer / locomotive engineer Mark Stanek (Chesapeke & Indiana Rwy.) These gentlemen keep talking about when they built this bridge brand new. Also talked like it wasn't very long after it was built and then the railroads that ran on it started to shut down.
Bob Lalich 7y 
The C&WI lift bridge was put into service around 1970-71. When EL was abandoned by Conrail in 1976, traffic on this portion of the C&WI dropped dramatically. In roughly the same time frame Chessie rerouted former C&O of Indiana trains into Chicago via B&O at Wellsboro. Once Family Lines rerouted their former Monon trains into Chicago via GT Munster and ex-C&EI Thornton/C&WI Dolton in 1981 the line was doomed. Your uncle and friends are right, the bridge served a relatively short time.

Martin Joda posted four photos with the comment: "Vessel passing under the Torrence Avenue center lift bridge."




8 photos and a link to a video

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