Saturday, January 27, 2018

A derailment on a bridge

I normally don't do "just a picture" posts. But this one is worthy.

Joe Dockrill posted
from Richard Gauthier : must have been a fun one
You can't easily pull either boxcar away from the other because they are both stuck against a truss member. It does make me wonder how they "undid" this.

Lehigh Valley Connors Trestle

(Could not find satellite image of former location. It was dismantled in 1953. Schuylkill River is a drybed!)

Francis Otterbein posted three photos with the comment: "Schuylkill Haven, PA." Actually, the Lehigh Valley went to Pottsville, PA.

Francis posted again
This image captures the construction of the Lehigh Valley Railroad iron trestle at Connors Crossing, near Cressona, Pa., in 1890. Zoom in and note the men working on the iron pier in the foreground.
The trestle crossed the road from Pottsville to Schuylkill Haven, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Schuylkill Canal, the river, the flats and the Reading Railroad at Schuylkill Haven. The iron was unloaded from the Pennsylvania tracks by means of large derricks.





Dismantled 1953, note the arrows on the edges, this is a slideshow

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gasometers around Goose Island

In this aerial, we can see a couple of gasometers just east of Kingsbury Street north of North Street.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

This painting captures the northern of those two gasometers.
Nanny Suidman van der Wal posted
I am trying to find the origin of a 1929 painting made by my a great uncle (Peter Casper Maria Suidman) who lived in Chicago. The name of the boat and the proximity of Chicago does assume this must be Calumet river. Does anybody recognize this scenery on the painting around 1929? Thanks in advance!

Nanny Suidman van der Wal commented on her post
Update: we found an actual photo so this must have been a real spot along calumet or Chicago river (Goose Island)
[I provided this 1952 aerial to help confirm a 1948 date for the painting and photo.]
EarthExplorer: Mar 29, 1952 @ 23,600; AR1SA0000040040

A 1952 aerial photo ( has the foundation for the big gas holder shown in this 1954 photo. It  was built west of Kingsbury Street and north of North Street.

David H. Nelson commented on his posting with this 1954 photo

A 1962 aerial photo ( shows that the southern 1938 tower is hidden by the new one in the 1954 photo and that the northern one is gone. It also reinforces how massive the new one is compared to the old one because of the shadows in the 1962 photo.

VintageTribune also has a photo of the above gas holder.

There were two  more gasometers south of Division and east of the North Branch Canal. Judging by the rail spurs and the pile of coal as well as the big building with a conveyor, this is one of the places where they manufactured the gas. There was still a coal pile in 1952. The tanks and building existed in 1962, but the coal piles were gone.. It was all removed by 1963.


I think the gasometer in the background of this photo is the northern most in the aerial photo above. It looks like it was completely full in this photo.
Jim Shortz posted via Dennis DeBruler

WBEZ posted
Fun fact: Until the 1980s, enormous gas holders storing natural gas stood tall in Chicago - one was more than 350 feet high. Go back and see what Chicago looked like more than 40 years ago, before these landmarks were taken down.
Karen Operabuffa commented on a post
This photo shows two sets of gasometers - one on North Avenue, one on Division.
Darla Zailskas posted
Corner of Milwaukee & Chicago Avenues, picture came from a 1939 textbook titled Illinois, looks like a ghost in lower left corner, any info on the structures?
[I spent some time trying to find this tank before I learned that the caption is wrong. This is the corner of Milwaukee and Racine. [cushman] So we are looking north up Racine and this is the tall tank south of Division.]

I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader as to which gasometer this was. If you figure it out, leave a comment. It looks like the poles on the trolly is slanting forward. The ones in Fort Wayne, IN, that slanted backwards makes more sense to me.
Millard Iverson posted
North Ave and Clybourne 1965

The gas manufacturing plants made life unpleasant for the residents in the area.
"Little Hell" via Polluted Rivers, Public Domain
"Four girls standing in an empty lot in Little Hell in September 1902."
"The overcrowded, impoverished area on and around Goose Island became known as “Little Hell,” a reference to the conditions on the island as well as the coal-gasification plant that belched out smoke and flames nearby. It was occupied by a succession of immigrant groups who came to work in the steel mills and other factories along the North Branch."

CP/Milwaukee over Des Plaines River in Des Plaines

(no Bridge Hunter?, 3D Satellite)

Harvey Kahler commented on Sam Carlson's posting
I got this shot of Milwaukee Fs in orange and maroon crossing the Des Plaines River in Des Plaines in 1963,

IAIS/Rock Island over Rock River near Colona, IL

(Bridge Hunter, 3D Satellite, Street View)

One of 30 photos added by Mike Ironman

Marty Bernard posted
CRI&P four E-units with an intermodal train, at Colona, IL crossing the Rock River, in 1975, Karl Miller photo. The Rock Island bought UP E-units as UP ran fewer passenger trains.
Erik Rasmussen: Colona, IL crossing the Rock River.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

PRR and EJ&E Joint Yard (Schererville)

PRR is the Panhandle and NYC is the MC Joliet Cutoff. They cross a little further to the west at the Hartsdale Junction. The NYC track in the upper-right corner is the NS/NYC/Big4/Egyptian route.

Phil Vaclavik posted, rotated and cropped
The primary discussion of this photo is in the Beverly Junction notes
Bob Lalich An observation and question about the top [above] photo. PRR/PC regularly handled metallurgical coal trains destined for USS Gary Works, which were transfered to the EJ&E at Schererville. The locomotives and cabin car would run light to 59th St after dropping the cars at the yard in Schererville. I think the process would be reversed for the return of empties. The top photo does not show a cabin car, which would lead me to think that this was a power balancing move, maybe going to Colehour. Can anyone comment further?
In response to a question I made about Schereville Yard, Bob commented on David's posting
 I was referring to what is labeled "Joint Transfer Yard" in this PRR drawing. A few tracks are still in use.
I include this story post because it provides some insight as to how the yard was used.
David Dutro posted the comment:
A few of you have asked if I would share some additional memories of my friend Fred, so here goes. I will endeavor to relate these stories to you as accurately as I can remember and as they were told to me during my high school years from 1965 to 1969. Before I get into the storytelling portion of this tale, a little more about Fred Pahl.
Fred was about 60 years old when I met him in the summer of 1958, by all respects he was a big man, a little over six feet tall and shaped like an upside-down triangle, when he stood in a doorway, not much light got through. He had bright blue eyes, a booming bass voice, and almost constantly had a cigar in his mouth. I've included a picture of Fred during his early days on the J, he's the second one from the left. I have no idea when or where this picture was taken.
I've titled this one, If I were you, I wouldn’t turn in that time slip.
One of Fred’s favorite things to do was to talk about “the old days”, and the “way things used to be.” Although Fred enjoyed running the “new” diesels, and liked how clean they were as opposed to steam engines, but somehow his story telling always seemed to drift back in time when steam power dominated the EJ&E. Although Fred would never admit to it, I truly believe that’s when he was the happiest. During the course of our friendship I received many lectures about Walsheart, Baker and Stevenson valve gears, dry and superheated steam, the danger of letting the water level fall below the crown sheet, and the best and worst coal to use. (he didn’t have a lot of use for Illinois coal.) Fred’s face showed evidence of having fired and engineered steam locomotives; his face particularly around his eyes, looked like he had blackheads. Once, in a fit of naivety I asked him why he still had blackheads, he glared at me and said blackheads hell, those are cinders. “That’s what happens when you stick your head out the cab window of a steam engine you get cinders in your face, and they don’t come out.” Fred was also hard of hearing, in addition to being able to smell his cigar smoke out in the street, you always knew what was on television at the time. As an aside, he told me the FM Shark was the worst diesel he ever ran, you “had to stick half of your body out the cab window to see to switch” and I “was glad when the “son of a bitch” got returned. There you have it.
One summer evening, while we were sitting on his porch, a local was kicking cars around at close by Lasalle Steel. Fred began to talk about Hartsdale and how “damn” dark and dangerous it was out there at night. He often said how much he hated the place, working there at night was a lot like a blind man taking a walk in the dark. Switching operations had to be done with great care. For those of you who may not be familiar with the area, Hartsdale lies west of Griffith and east of Dyer. Until the early 1970’s it was a busy place. There was a fairly large sized interchange yard and sidings to east of the tower. The EJ&E had an eastbound and westbound wye that connected with the Pennsylvania Logansport line, and interchange tracks with the Michigan Central. Somewhere around an eighth of a mile or so east of Junction (Kennedy) Avenue there was a two-and a half or three story tall wooden platform. In the twenties and thirties, it was common practice for brakemen and switchmen to ride the tops of the cars, as signals were passed back and forth, the man stationed at the top of the platform would pass the signals to head end. If a signal was missed, it could mean a derailment, or someone getting crushed to death between cars. Fred said, there were three hard and fast rules, you had to have a light touch on the throttle, keep one hand on the brake valve and never take your eyes off the guy on the platform. You couldn’t afford make a rough coupling with guys on top of freight cars. Among other kinds of freight, the EJ&E received a considerable number of coal trains destined for US Steel from both railroads, the trains ranged anywhere from seventy-five to one-hundred-and-twenty cars long, and frequently had to be doubled and sometimes even tripled up before departing. The head end would be almost to Griffith while the rear end was all the way back at Hartsdale.
One snowy night they were getting ready to shove a cut of cars around the wye to the Pennsy, when they saw a Pennsylvania crewman running toward their engine. The crewman approached them, and asked for their help, one of their men had fallen between a cut of cars and was dying. They had to wait for the man’s family to be brought to the scene. As long as the train remained coupled together the man remained alive, when it was pulled apart, the man would die almost instantly from blood loss caused by internal bleeding. The Pennsy crew asked Fred and his crew to pull the cars apart once the family said their final farewell. They completed the task and went back to work, he said no one said much, everyone knew it could happen to them. Someone in Fred’s crew announced his intention to time slip for a days work for assisting the Pennsylvania. The rest of the crew, Fred included announced their intention to “beat the shit” out of the guy if he turned in a time slip for helping the Pennsy. I don’t know whether or not the guy ever turned in a time slip, but somehow, I doubt he did. Fred told me the railroad was a self-policing organization, one way or another they “took care of their own”

NYC/MC Hartsdale Yard


PRR is the Panhandle and NYC is the MC Joliet Cutoff. They cross a little further to the west at the Hartsdale Junction. The NYC track in the upper-left corner is the NS/NYC/Big4/Egyptian route. It was called the "Danville Secondary" by the railroad crews. [post comments] MC and EJ&E ran parallel to each other through here with MC northish of EJ&E. The yard on the left of this diagram is a joint PRR+EJ&E Yard. The EJ&E Griffith Yard has actually expanded.
(Update: Pennsy also had a "Hartsdale Yard" in this area.)

ejearchive has a detailed map of the Hartsdale-Griffith area. I found it in a 1965 USS Detail Rail Maps section under Maps link at the top.

This yard was used to help interchange cars between NYC's Elkahart-Kankakee trains (k a e l and e l k a) and the Hartsdale Local. The local would serve the Ford Plant at Chicago Heights and "Kellogs at Munster on the Hartsdale siding. The Hartsdale local would come up the Wye Hill, pick them up. and deliver them then set out the empties." "These cars were on time delivery." [various Phil Boldman comments on a post]

Not only is the Hartsdale Yard gone, the main track has been torn up in places. Why not tear up all of the track since...
...they have dumped ballast and ties at various places along the remnant track to make it unusable.
Because the remnant to the left is accessible from a connection with the NS/NYC(Egyptian) route. Note that they have blocked the MC track to the west of this connection. I see no industry along the remaining remnant, so is it a storage track?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1887+1905,1954 BNSF/NP Bridge over Columbia River at Pasco, WA

(Bridge Hunter, no Historic Bridges, 3D Satellite)

The 1887 wooden NP bridge built here was the first bridge across the Columbia River. To accommodate the S-Class locomotives, the previous bridge was replaced by steel in 1905. "A vertical lift draw span replaced the swing span in 1954 when completion of McNary Dam opened the river to barge traffic as far upstream as Richland." [Richard Doody via Bridge Hunter]
Street View
[Over the second truss from the left, you can see a crane in Lampson's test yard.]

HistoryLink via Facebook
Print of wood cut by E. L. Krause, Courtesy Washington State Historical Society (385.061)
[This link offers a significant history of the 1800s bridges at this site.]

Street View

HL Mencken posted
Northern Pacific Railway, Pasco, Washington, 1925, reinforcing Bridge 1, crossing of the Columbia River.

Sue Arnoldus, Aug 2020

Steven J. Brown posted
Southern Pacific 4449 is on her way home to Portland after attending Washington Central's Steamfest in Yakima. She spent the night in Kennewick and has just crossed the Columbia River to use the wye to get pointed the right direction at Pasco, Washington - November 19, 1989.

Douglas Butler posted
Credit to History Museum of Hood County: NP Rail Swing Bridge constructed in 1887 was replaced with a vertical lift bridge in 1905 located in Pasco, WA crossing the Columbia River.

Scott Lewis posted five photos.





I-43 Tower Drive Bridge over Fox River and Cement Cargo in Green Bay, WI

(Bridge Hunter (explains who Leo Frigo was), 3D Satellite)
The official name is the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge (60+ photos).
Its initial name was Tower Drive Bridge.

(For my future reference: swingbridge closed because a train is coming in the upper-right corner.)

Jon Vandyke posted
5-9-21 A windy cool day arrival of the Alpena going under the Tower Dr. Bridge into Green Bay, WI

This posting brought I-43 tied-steel arch bridge to my attention.
Jeff Rueckert posted
The last vessel in for the Season , Michigan Docked in Green Bay
[Judging from the power line towers, this tow is docked at the US Oil Fox River Terminal.]
"To comply with St. Lawrence Seaway standards, there is 120 feet of clearance under the bridge structure to the normal water level." [Bridge Hunter]

"Because of the bridge's height and slope, it is prone to being shut down during high wind warnings, heavy fog, blizzards, and icy conditions." [PayneAndDolan]

Jon Vandyke posted
5-16-21 Just wanted to share this picture of the Tug Bradshaw McKee Barge St. Mary's Conquest inbound into Green Bay last night going under the Tower Dr. Bridge. Enjoy!

Jon Vandyke posted
6-2-21 Tug G.L. Ostrander with Barge Integrity inbound into Green Bay, WI this Wednesday morning with Cement.

The cement loads must be headed to this distribution facility north of a cement factory.
Jon Vandyke posted
7-21-22 American Mariner unloading Limestone from Calcite, MI at the Fox River Dock Terminal in Green Bay this Thursday summer morning with the Tower Dr. Bridge to the right.
[The closest dock I could find to Tower Bridge that handled aggregate piles was the Western Lime Corporation. But the angle doesn't look correct. Google Maps doesn't know about "Fox River Dock."]

The approach spans to the steel-girder spans were concrete.
WebCam Snapshot
"Built 1981; closed Sept. 25, 2013, after the deck was found to be sagging; reopened January 5, 2014" [Bridge Hunter]

[Pier 22 sank two feet.]

[A dramatic demonstration of the flexibility of steel. But I'm surprised the decking didn't crack.]
There are three videos at the end if you want to listen instead of read. I found them before I finally found some reports on the problem and fix.
Industrial byproducts [e.g. fly ash because this area was old fill], highly corrosive black, powdery material in the soil, caused some underground steel supports to corrode and buckle under the weight of one bridge pier. A state investigation found that pilings under four other nearby piers had also corroded. Repairs to the bridge began in November 2013 and focused on hoisting up the sunken section of the bridge while neutralizing the corroded sup-ports. Crews installed deep, concrete shafts underground that, instead of the pilings, support the weight of the piers. Before this, a $1.6 million project built two steel support towers to prop up the bridge and prevent it from sinking further.
The bridge was closed for three and a half months for repairs, with a bill of $18-20 million. The Federal Highway Administration approved emergency funding for the repairs, which covered most of that cost. It was reopened in January 2014, but crews will perform additional preventive maintenance and other work in the spring and summer. The estimated impact of closing the Leo Frigo Bridge was $139,000 a day (approximately $14.5 million). 
"In winning the project, Payne & Dolan faced penalties of $50,000-a-day for a delayed reopening. The repair project solution involved erecting two temporary towers to prevent the bridge from sagging further and ensure worker safety while performing permanent repairs to the bridge. Payne & Dolan then placed new pilings at the bases of piers 21 to 25. Next the approximately 1,600 ton superstructure was moved back into place via hydraulic jacking.  The project was completed in time to allow the bridge to be opened to traffic two weeks ahead of schedule on January 5th, 2014; just in time to accommodate a sold-out crowd heading to Lambeau Field to watch the Green Bay Packers face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC wild-card playoff." [PayneAndDolan]


Within the report WisDOT explains their analysis and repairs. Determining old industrial soils used as fill, such as fly ash, corroded steel pilings causing pier 22 to buckle. Engineers determining five supports in all were surrounded by the soil requiring extensive repairs to them all.

"We put four concrete foundations down into rock - tied existing pier into those posts and solidified the foundations," said Buchholz.
Buchholz says the repairs provide corrosion protection for 75 years.  A near tragedy caused by corrosive fills that based on this document transportation engineers will now be more wary of.
"The soil showed fly ash fill,  but we never asked was it corrosive or not corrosive," said Buchholz. "What this shows is now we need to be asking those questions when you run into fly ash fill."
The report also tells how WisDOT installed corrosion monitoring equipment at eight sites on both sides of the Fox River that will be checked every two years.
Final cost of project $15 million.
NACE has links to the 3000 page final report. Fortunately, the report starts with a 3 page executive summary.
Final Report, Part I, page 2 of the Executive Summary

(new window)

(new window)

(new window) (Includes diesel pile driver action.)