Sunday, November 5, 2017

Destroyed Monon Bridge over Grand Calumet River

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, Satellite (the illegal scrapping has been cleaned up and only the abutments remain))

Patrick McBriarty's Forgotten Chicago posting  includes more information on this bridge after it discusses the Alton bridge that uses the same rare Page Bascule design.

Photo from
The existing bridge to the east is the NS/N&W/NKP + Erie + C&O bridge. (I had assumed that the Erie and C&O shared this bridge since all three go to the C&WI at the State Line Junction. But I learned that the Erie+C&O used the NKP bridge.

Birds-Eye View

Birds-Eye View
Pete Fileca posted
Monon in Hammond
Dennis DeBruler It is hard to believe that someone thought that river would become navigable. This was one of two Page designed movable bridges in the USA, and four in the world. Since someone then decided the river would not become navigable, Monon did not have to build the tower and machinery for the bridge. Thus we can clearly see the heavy curved member that contained the rack on the inside edge. The idiot that scrapped the bridge destroyed an example of one of the rarest bridge designs in the world.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
Dennis DeBruler Now the CN/GM&O bridge over the South Fork (Bubbly Creek) is the only one left in the USA.
[The comments on this post taught me about Michigan Central's Sohl Avenue Bridge.]

Pete Fileca posted
[Given the thick, curved member on the end, this looks like the Page span of the Monon bridge.]

Pete commented on his post

Mike Breski commented on Pete's post
Pete Fileca posted
Mike Breski Good angle looks like the river got filled in around where the base for the swing is. Had this mxied up with the NS swing bridge but still thinking the silt accumulated around the abutments.
Bob Lalich The river filled itself in. The construction of Gary Works in the early 1900s altered the flow of the river. Pollution was dumped into the river by most of the factories on the river and Indiana Harbor Canal.
Jerry Stack Hard to believe that the river was once navigable!
Someone started illegally scrapping this bridge, thus removing one of the four Page Bascule designs ever built. Chicago has the only operating Page Bascule in the world. Both Bridge Hunter and Historic Bridges have a lot to say about this destruction. The link in the caption below provides a news report.

The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society posted
Hammond bridge dismantler identified, investigation continues
Bill Grenchik The metal is contaminated ? What a joke.
David Daruszka No, during the demolition they dropped ties into the river with the possibility of creosote contaminating the water, The sediment in this portion of the river is also polluted. Dropping the bridge into the river and then pulling it out disturbed the sediment which then traveled downstream.
Richard Fiedler Lead paint and creosote. Once they enter the water it can enter aquatic life. Also can harm whomever is torching the Bridge. Nowadays when repainting a Bridge all scrapings and sandblasting sediment is vacuumed up and treated as hazardous waste due to lead.
Michael Young Bill this area has been a Superfund site since the 80's. The USACE has been trying to clean it up since then. Very nasty stuff to deal with. Lots of heavy metals & chemicals from local industrial sites.
[So dropping ties and steel into the river stirred up some nasty sediment. That is probably worse than creosote and lead. The Chicago Tribune was not allowed to dredge the Chicago River by their new printing plant because it would stir up the pollutants in the river bottom. They had planned on dredging the river so that they could continuine to recieve newsprint by Great Lake boats.]
Michael Dye posted
A photo, looking North, taken from a floodlight tower in the Erie's Hammond yard, in JUN 1957. The single Monon track to the left with the Erie's main and yard leads to the right. I believe that is Douglas Street in the foreground. [Actually, it is Clinton Street back when it still went across the tracks.]
Nice view of the layout of the Monon and Erie/NKP Calumet bridges, in the far background.
Photo taken by my late Grandfather, C.L. Coates, Signal Gang foreman, Erie Signal Gang 33.

Joe Usselman posted
The bottle train passing Hohman tower in 2011. The tower would be torn down a couple months later.
Craig Cloud The vacant area north of tracks former EL, Monon. Just out of photo is NS ex NW nee NKP.Joe Usselman Yep, and that's the bridge in the background some guy from whiting tried to steal.Dennis DeBruler Jack Morgan In the right background peaking out behind some trees. Monon's over the Grand Calumet River:
Joe Usselman
Michael Dye posted
NKP 763, at 'ED' drawbridge. Hammond, FEB57.
[Monon's bridge is on the left.]
Michael Dye posted
RR East view of 'ED' drawbridge, Grand Calumet River. Hammond, FEB57.
David Decker Read an article, about the guy that stole the old Monon bridge. I believe that he is serving time, for theft, presently.
[Monon's bridge is in the background.]
Provided from NWI (source)
The remnants of Hammond's Monon Bridge lie on the approach to the Grand Calumet River in this image taken in May 2015 by Hammond Department of Environmental Management officials.
[Kenneth Morrison got enough steel before being caught to receive $18,000 from an Illinois scrapyard.]

Never Mind Stealing Rail--Now They're Stealing BRIDGES!

As a general rule, scrappers have to be paid to take down a steel bridge over water due to costs being more than the value of the steel as salvage. The economics for a bootlegger, who isn't burdened by the cost of removing the timber portions (the article said creosoted timbers were left floating), nor worried about lead poisoning his employees by using cutting torches on lead based paint on steel may make it marginally profitable. I wonder if this bridge was only partially dismantled when the cutter discovered his costs exceeded his revenue.
Alex Huff

safe_image for Historic Indiana Bridge “Stolen” One Pound at a Time
[If you scroll down, there is a Maya 17, 2021 update.
"Morrison was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, and order to pay over $54,000 in restitution to the City of Hammond."]


Bill Molony posted another article: Court records: Whiting man accused of dismantling Monon Bridge faces federal charges
Josh Freeman Yeah thanks to this moron Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago outlawed collecting junk. Hammond Police have gone as far as arresting people digging through garbage cans for aluminum cans, and it's all because this guy had to ruin it for everybody. Well One Bad Apple spoils the bunch they say.


Document: Whiting man illegally dismantled Hammond bridge, faces federal charges  He was destroying this rare bridge design for over a year before someone noticed and put a stop order on it. By that time he would have also stirred up the polluted sediment in the river bottom as he let timbers and steel fall into the river.

I'm not going to read this because the topic is too depressing. I include it for completeness. Hammond railroad bridge theft trial hinges on question of ownership  (source)

UPDATE: Scrap metal dealer found guilty of stealing historic railroad bridge  (source)

Scrap metal dealer who stole bridge continues push to overturn his conviction It strikes me that if the dealer has enough money to pay the lawyer and court fees, then he didn't need the money from the bridge's scrap metal.

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