Friday, March 31, 2017

McCool (Portage) Junction: Aban/EJ&E vs. CSX/B&O

(Satellite, Track Diagram)      The EJ&E Porter branch is now the Prairie Duneland Trail.
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers (click the marker for more information)

Kevin Piper posted a history and some photos.

Scott Griffith posted
1945 diamond at McCool IN. with the B&O.

Ken Durkel commented on the above posting
Looking west with McCool Road in the foreground. M.D. McCarter photo.
Ken Durkel also posted
McCool, Indiana. Now part of Portage. B&O/EJ&E crossing. Train is eastbound, McCool Road is the grade crossing. M.D. McCarter photo.
Ken Durkel commented on the above posting
A summary of some comments by Wayne Hudak and Daniel Kopack on another Ken Durkel posting have some history of the junction and J line:
The B&O came through McCool in 1874. The J ended at McCool in 1888 and was finished to Porter in 1893. Originally, the Indiana portion of the J was to build from Valparaiso to the IL state line. They considered going to LaPorte.
Ken Durkel commented on the above posting
Another at McCool.
Ken Durkel also posted
McCool, Indiana. M.D. McCarter photo. Westbound B&O.

Ken Durkel commented on the above posting
And one more as a westbound moves across the EJ&E Porter Branch. Again an M.D. McCarter photo that I have.
Matt Lasayko Thanks for posting those pictures. When did that tower close?
Ken Durkel I think around 1964, at which time control of the interlocking was given over to the B&O dispatch in Akron.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chicago Ridge Junction: IHB/B&OCT vs. Metra+NS/Wabash

(CRJ, Satellite is below)
Nick Fry posted, cropped
This was one of five photos he had in another B&OCT posting

Mike Breski also posted
I saved the satellite image because it caught a replacement diamond ready for a maintenance window on a weekend. Also note that the track has been removed from the IHB side of the southern connector, but the NS side is still intact. Why not remove the turnouts from both sides if you are going to break the connection?

It appears the tower was on the north side (what CRJ calls the northeast quadrant) with the long part along the IHB. CRJ says the tower was in the northwest quadrant until at least 1994 when it was closed. But that quadrant looks empty. I extracted a big excerpt from the aerial photo to show how rural the area was.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Flickr from John W. Barriger III IHB Album
Bob Lalich 5y 
Chicago Ridge - Wabash crossing.
View looks railroad west on the Harbor. Note the CPL signal – this was owned by B&OCT and leased to the IHB.

Amazing how empty it was around here and how well-kept everything is.

And that train orer signal next to the tower – it survived long enough for me to shoot it in place ... but also to see it lie forlorn and broken in the ditch after they closed the tower around 1995.

Edward Kwiatkowski posted
Chicago Ridge Tower. (Closed 1993 and demolished in 1995) Chicago Ridge Illinois. October 1989.
Brandon McShane I believe it was torn down after a fire. Always a good train watching spot.

John LaRochelle posted
The touring Flying Scotsman northbound on the N&W Wabash heading for Dearborn Station, Chicago, IL, about to pound the B&CT/IHB diamonds at Chicago Ridge Electro-Mechanical Interlocking Tower, Chicago Ridge, IL, at track speed 60 MPH. 1970.
John LaRochelle posted
Extra Wabash 557 South a Second CD-1, rounding the curve between Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge will pull up on the Chicago Ridge Interlocking, cut the Chicago Ridge IHB shorts off the rest of the train, shove back through the middle crossover, pull southward on the northbound main until the IHB shorts are clear of the IHB Receiving track switch, then shove the cut of cars into the IHB Receiving track, making the same reverse movement to get back on the train to head south.
Jeff Lewis FMs! Nice.
[To show up in a keyword search: Fairbanks-Morse]
John LaRochelle posted
Train Wabash DC-4 Extra 723 North about to cross the B&OCT/IHB diamonds at Chicago Ridge Electro-Mechanical Interlocking Tower Chicago Ridge, IL, on it's way to Landers Yard, Chicago.
John LaRochelle posted
Now for MILW fans. Extra C-Liner 25C West (Seymour Indiana, Terre-Haute, Faithorn MILW ( the old Chicago Terre Haute and Southeastern) Chicago Heights, North Harvey B&OCT, North Harvey to Bensenville IHB) About to pound the Wabash diamonds at 40 MPH track speed at Electro Mechanical Interlocking Tower Chicago Ridge, IL. These 'babies' were impressive. The portion of the house pictured in the lower left was in the southeast quadrant of B&CT Property and was rented for $1.00 a year by the B&OCT track foreman. 1963.
Evie N Bob Bruns Great photo, I worked on SE up to the end. Was in tower a number of times. Were you an operator your name sounds familiar? I recall a person with glasses and light wavy hair had a French last name like yours. That last unit is a 600 series switcher. It was used on the "Gary Line" job. This photo was probably taken on a Saturday as they picked up this engine at Delmar to take to Bensenville for servicing.
John LaRochelle Yes, I was the 2nd Trick Operator Nov. 1969 - Aug. 1980. A good friend and one of my mentors, Roderick (Rod) Irwin might also have been an operator you met there. Nice to see someone I met post on here.
Evie N Bob Bruns John, I remember going to the tower one night. We were always held at the Ridge as the B&OCT could not handle us so we were parked by IHB, no where to put us east of there. Tower door was always locked. I think it was you, you let me in and we talked. Told me of earlier in night a train stopped on crossing and had everything blocked. Police came to tower and tried to get in door was locked and they were yelling "let us in" which operator said no your trespassing. They went down on ground and started yelling up to window where they were going to arrest you if you didn't clear crossing. You just kept yelling out window that they needed to leave they were trespassing. Don't now why that stuck in my mind after all these years but I always thought it was humorous thinking of those cops down on ground yelling up to you and you yelling back. This was in mid 70's. Always something interesting happening back then. I have some train orders from Ridge I kept, need to locate them.
John LaRochelle Yes, the police often THREATENED me, and that's why I kept the door locked. Once they were warned they were trespassing, if they broke in, it would be an illegal arrest. I really wouldn't care one way or the other, because all the signals, especially the train order signals would be at STOP, and that would really create a 'NIGHTMARE'. Plus not even the management or special agents could run the place, just secure it until another qualified operator got there. They often THREATENED conductors with arrest, and the engineers would respond, 'Take the conductor, and I can't move the train without him." It's one of many reason why I quit and moved on.
John LaRochelle posted
Now for the IHB Fans, caboose hop 8814 shoving into the East Pass at the Electro-Mechanical Interlocking, Chicago Ridge Tower, IL., taken from a tower window. The 4 pipes on the ground are connected to levers 14/15/16/17, east pass switch, derail, and lock, west pass, switch. derail and lock. The pole and ladder visible in the left part of the photo is the Wabash train order signal. 1963.

Scott Malec The quadrant with the switch track from the southbound Wabash to the westbound IHB?
John LaRochelle Yes. That track was called the Wabash Receiving Track until the IHB closed the interchange. It may still be used for the N&W to connect with the Milwaukee Road as the old route through Union Staion's through track, Chicago, cannot handle certain freight equipment.
Chad Malinovsky Nice shot, I'll be throwing up signals there this afternoon.
John LaRochelle Fantastic!!! Do you work for METRA or N&W?
Chad Malinovsky IHB. We control the interlocking. We are in Cal City. We signal Metra based on their timetable, anything out of the ordinary then we coordinate with Landers.
Scott Malec Chad Malinovsky About how many trains a day are coming off the NS to the IHB and vice versa at Chicago Ridge these days?
Chad Malinovsky Barely 1 a day

Dave Arganbright posted
Chicago Ridge in 1989. My photo.
Scott Malec I grew up in the area and never saw any Southern power on the Forrest District. Great catch.
Michael Riha Southern 2861 is an EMD GP38AC built in 1971. As per Southern Railway practice, running long-hood first.

Chuck Roth posted
Chicago Ridge Tower circa 1983
We are looking north making the semaphore indication for Chicago bound N&W trains.

Bob Finan commented on Chuck's post
IHB (B&OCT) and N&W (Wabash) Tower, at Chicago Ridge, IL April 19, 1988 by the late Roger Puta.....
Jon Roma For those not familiar with the tower, these views look roughly northeast along the Wabash (toward Chicago).

Ray Weart commented on Chuck's post
And an N&W TO and clearance card for the deadhead move of the Orland Park suburban equipment to Decatur back when that used to happen on Friday nights.

Chuck Roth posted three photos with the comment: "Ridge Tower as it looked in 

Ean Kahn-Treras did nw do much interchange to the Harbor for Riverdale? Didnt know they had a double track connection back in here.
Michael Polk There used to be a small three +/- track yard that those double connections fed into on the south side of the IHB there too.



Mike Breski commented on Chuck's post

Screenshot @ -1:06
Eastbound 0n the IHB at Chicago Ridge.. 1986.
Terry L. Hunt Came off the GTW at Blue Island one day headed to Proviso around 1500. Harbor west dispatcher calls and says: "Hey Trunk! Can you get by the Ridge by 1545? Otherwise you're gonna have to wait for the scoots. " I say: "Line me up." I look over at my student and say as soon as we can take her up to 40. He looks at me and says nobody does 40 on the Harbor. I say today we will. We clear the Ridge with time to spare. Shortly there after Harbor West comes on and tells us ; "Take the runner and tie her down at Broadview. Oh by the way thanks."
Cody Andrews Fastest train I've ever seen on the Harbor.
[When I railfanned the IHB up by UP/C&NW, I was impressed by how slow the trains moved.]
Ken Schmidt When was the last time you saw truck frames in a train's consist? Both GTW and MILW had them as the went through Blue Island. Neat film.
Mike Spencer Those pipes from the tower...
Mike Heiligstedt Mike Spencer they look as bad as the pipeline at state line. Winter makes it even more fun !!

Petcoke, KCBX Terminals, and Beemsterboer Slag

EPA, note the van for the scale of the petcoke pile
British Petroleum converted their huge Whiting, IN refinery to process the oil produced from the tar sands in Canada. (Update: operating costs of oil sand production is $16.06/b and being reduced as they expand. And they have some other operations that produce even cheaper oil. [platts]) Unlike regular crude oil, the results of distilling the useful fluids out of the tar-sand crude was not asphalt or paraffin, but "petcoke." As an environmental threat, Indiana outlawed petcoke being stored in the state of Indiana. So the Kock brothers piled it up in Chicago, uncovered, at their KCBX Terminals.

I remember reading articles in the Chicago Tribune about residents complaining about the dust and water pollution caused by these piles. (Indiana was right to keep the stuff out of their state.) Kock agreed to build an enclosure. But I see now that they have decided to remove the piles from the city because it was estimated that enclosing the mess would cost $120 million and the Chicago Department of Public Health did not give them a 14-month extension. I wonder where they now pile up the petcoke.

The current satellite images were taken when the piles still existed, so I have captured the pictures. When you click the Kock Carbon icon, the company claims it is a "Firewood Supplier." What a euphemism for dust polluter.

I see the Kock brothers gave up trying to keep the dust under control and this facility is now empty.
Before the Kock brothers bought it. Tom Carter posted three photos with the comment:
Rail to Water Transfer Baldwin DRS-4-4-1500's 363 and 362 at their facility in Chicago's East Side neighborhood, just south of E 100th St. and just west of the Calumet River, on August 30, 1978. You can see a corner of the 100th St. bridge over the Calumet River at the left in the first photo, and the I-90 Skyway bridge behind it is visible at the left in the second photo. They also had DRS-4-4-1500 364, but I didn't see it that day. As the name implies, Rail to Water Transfer loaded freight cars onto and off of boats and barges. Initially they primarily moved coal, but added other products as they went along.


Craig Holmberg commented on Marty's share of Tom's posting

Note this following terminal is served by just ships and barges, there is no railroad.

Satellite, Beemsterboer Slag
The self-unloading laker in the river is being loaded. It looks like they are also loading barges that are docked in the slip.
Satellite, KCBX Terminals
A contemporary satellite image shows this facility is still being used.

I knew Kock was creating piles of nasty stuff in the city. But I did not know the name of the company was KCBX Terminals until I saw the following two photos and captions posted by Craig Cloud.

4   BRC 526 pulling empties out of KCBX Terminal summer 2002 or 03
[I recognized the Skyway in the background which further motivated me to dig into this BRC activity.]
6  BRC TR set sitting by KCBX Terminal South Deering taken sometime 1998 or 99 forget month
KCBX Terminals transloaded other materials between railroad, barge, and ships before they started handling petcoke. The other materials include "coal, salt, slag, cement, clinker, and ocean freight docking and loading services." [Bloomberg]

It is good to know that someone in USA has figured out how to use this waste product.
Bob Lalich Flickr

INRD on BRC 12-29-11

INRD is currently running petroleum coke trains from KCBX Terminal on the Calumet River to a gasification plant near Terre Haute. This shot on the BRC of an empty train on its way to KCBX was taken near 92nd and Eberhart.

1996 Art Gross Flickr of tugboats docked at the KCBX rail-to-water transfer facility.

1996 Art Gross Flickr of an overview of the loading equipment

1996 Art Gross Flickr of loader framed by the truss of the 100th Street drawbridge

1996 Art Gross Flickr of Canadian Enterprise being tugged north past the loading equipment

1996 Art Gross Flickr of Joseph H Frantz loading in the distance     a closer view    some tugboats

1997 Art Gross Flickr of Charles M. Beeghly loading at the KCBX rail-to-water transfer facility

1997 Art Gross Flickr of tugboats working at KCBX with Algorail in the background

1997 Art Gross Flickr of Charles Beeghly at night:  1  2

2012 Art Gross Flickr of Algorail passing KCBX terminals and the Manitowoc

I can't find the first article I saw on CN transloading petcoke in Indiana after Chicago effectively kicked Koch off the Calumet River. Given my cousin could not put some cabins by a lake on a farm he owns because Indiana said that would be destruction of wetlands, I don't see why CN+BP should be able to bury some wetlands with something much more polluting than cabins. Maybe BP decided to barge the petcoke to Indiana Harbor and ship it out the Seaway.
CN backs off rail yard project; groups still worry petcoke transit will harm neighborhoods

Big Four's Peoria and Eastern/Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western

The Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad was incorporated on August 28, 1866 and built a road between Pekin and the eastern boundary of Illinois. It merged with a line in Indiana to form the Indianapolis, Bloomington and Western Railway (IB&W or I Better Walk) and opened for traffic on October 1, 1869. The IB&W became the Peoria and Eastern Railway and then on February 22, 1890 the Big Four assumed control. In the 1920s, the official name changed back to the Peoria and Eastern but NYC retained ownership.

1 of 8 maps posted by Dave Durham
[This is a rather early map because several railroads are missing. It was created at least before 1881 because that is when the Nickel Plate started operation. [Dennis DeBruler]]

In Urbana, the P&E shared a depot with the Wabash. In Champaign their depot was located near Neil and Randolph. The last passenger train passed through Urbana in 1959.

[CUMTDBrehm, Kara, “Peoria & Eastern Railroad, 1866,” ExploreCU, accessed March 30, 2017, history

Map from OminousWeather. also ExploreCU
As with many railroads built in the 1800s, a bigger part of the story is what became of the route in the 1900s. Since the NYC retained ownership, this route became part of the Penn Central and Conrail issue. According to Abandoned Rails, the last train to run from Bloomington to Danville was a Conrail train in 1999 just before Conrail was split. NS immediately mothballed the line. The line between Bloomington and Mansfield is a light blue (below) because it is "embargoed and STB discontinued...playing keep-away with CN-IC with it." ["mudchicken" in Trains]  (Update: NS has formally filed for abandonment.) The segment between Mansfield and Champaign is dark blue because the track still exists. The rest is medium blue because the rail is gone, but NS has rail banked the RoW. A remnant exists in Farmer City to connect a grain elevator to CN/IC and in Mansfield to connect an elevator to the NS/Wabash.

Above map plus Paint

The green segment is the Vermillion Valley Railroad (VVRC). (The 2005 SPV Map labels this segment WRC. But WRC is not in the Appendix.) The remainder of the Indiana route is abandoned because some of the piers for the bridge across the Wabash were compromised. It looks like the VVRC exists not because of a grain elevator, but because of an auto-part manufacture --- Flex-N-Gate Covington.
P&E Railway (red) and NYC system (orange) as of 1918

Roger Kujawa posted
Danville, Urbana, Bloomington and Pekin Railroad 1869 Map. Later the Peoria and Eastern and finally Conrail.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gifts (Nickel and Copper) from the Heavens

The company says Frood is the only area where it will suspend operations.
However, Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said it will also look for other ways to cut costs, thanks to a sharp decline in metal prices. Prices have dropped 50 per cent since 2006, when Vale took over Inco.
"During the war, Frood supplied about 40 per cent of the nickel that went into artillary weapons." [cbc.ca1]

Satellite     Frood is in the upper-right corner of this mining area.

The company said the mine’s future has been under review for some time citing metal prices, “ongoing market challenges, and recent seismic activity that restricted production below the 3,000-foot level. [NorthernOntarioBusiness]

The articles indicate that the ore left in this century old mine has become low grade and the mine was nearing the end of its life cycle. Judging by all of the landscars on the satellite image, there is still a lot of mining in the area.

Dennis DeBruler So we are talking about nickel and copper. The restriction of below 3000 feet because of "seismic activity" is interesting. Unlike the oil producers in Oklahoma who can claim it is somebody else's wastewater well that is causing peoples dishes to rattle (and walls to crack), this company is probably the only source of earth shaking.
Tyler L Hoar There are still several other places around Sudbury basin to mine the meteor. And with this being solid Canadian shield and not soft earth, you take seismic activity seriously.
Dennis DeBruler A meteor? Fascinating.
Tyler L Hoar Comet, Meteor, Asteroid. Some massive object from outer space hit the area a loong looong time ago. 

Joe Petrus studied rock samples to try and determine what hit Sudbury 1.8 billion years ago. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)
[Joe concluded that it was a comet, not an asteroid, that blasted a hole 14 kilometres deep.]
It’s been long believed the Sudbury Basin was shaped by an asteroid that hit the region more than a billion years ago, but a Laurentian University researcher now says it was likely a comet.
The Sudbury Basin is the second largest known impact crater on Earth — 62 kilometres long, 30 kilometres wide and 15 kilometres deep. [cbc.ca2]
Actually, the object from space did not have the metals. But it created a hole deep enough that it allowed mantle to come up and fill the basin. "A subsequent shock wave shattered the surrounding rocks, riddling them with fissures and faults that filled up with precious minerals from the melted rock below." It was discovered in 1885 while building the Canadian Pacific Railway through the region. [cbc.ca2]

Update: When a Northern Ontario article about the closing of a crushing plant did not mention until the near the end that the metal being processed was nickel, I asked if that was the only metal in Northern Ontairio. The answer reminded me of this posting.
William Littrell Northern Ontario (North of Parry Sound)


Iron ore
Platinum Group Metals