Monday, January 8, 2018

Englewood Junction: Pennsy vs. Rock Island

(Satellite, of course the tower is gone, some of the tracks have been lifted, and the Metra/RI tracks now go over the NS/Pennsy tracks. See the 1938 aerial below for a more accurate layout.)

Across the Pennsy tracks from this tower was the Englewood Station.

Bill Molony posted
Rock Island class P-33 4-6-2 Pacific-type #901, leading an outbound three car suburban train past the interlocking tower at Englewood Union Station in August of 1946.
[The Rock Island is leaving Chicago. The two story building just to the right of the train is the interlocking tower in the southeast quadrant of the junction with the Pennsy. On the right side of the photo, on the other side of the Pennsy tracks, is part of the Englewood Union Station.]

Bill Molony posted again

The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society posted
Rock Island class P-33 4-6-2 Pacific-type #901, departing from Englewood Union Station with a three-car suburban train in August of 1946.
The 901 was one of 50 4-6-2's constructed for the Rock Island by Alco in 1910.

Dennis DeBruler And a view of the south side of Englewood Tower.

BRHS posted
Dennis DeBruler: The two story building just to the right of the train is the interlocking tower in the southeast quadrant of the junction with the Pennsy. On the right side of the photo, on the other side of the Pennsy tracks, is part of the Englewood Union Station.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Mike Breski commented on a post

This used to be a 16-diamond crossing. That is, both the Pennsy and the Rock Island had four tracks.
David Daruszka commented on a posting
Photo taken following completion of track elevation.
[We are looking timecard East along the Pennsy tracks. The left/right tracks are the Rock Island. This view shows all four diamonds, but the tower is still under construction.]
David Daruszka commented on a posting, cropped
In better days.
[Note the signalling pipelines running along the southern Pennsy track.]

Robert Daly posted two photos with the comment: "Englewood Tower, October 5 1987. In 1970 part of a connection was built between the PC and Rock Island.  A few hundred feet of track was laid but the switches and signals were never installed. Apparently the intention was to run RI trains into Union Station. At some point the plan was abandoned and the tracks were removed. The second photo looking south to the RI shows where the tracks were installed."
Charlie DeWeese: I did an analysis of the Rock Island trains into Union Station. The proposed Englewood connection was partially under construction. My presentation blew the concept away. After the presentation, the Chairman of METRA, who was I think, Jeff Ladd, made a motion that they never consider that concept again, and someone amended it to allow two weeks for protest, and the motion passed. Best consulting outcome of my career.


Bill Molony posted
Pennsylvania Railroad EMD E7A #4244 and EMD E8A #4295, westbound at Englewood Union Station on the south side of Chicago in August of 1966 with a mail and express train.
Both units wear Penn Central-style numbers on their sides, in anticipation of the pending merger with the New York Central.
[The "armstrong" signaling pipelines would have been replaced by more modern controls such as relays and pneumaticdrive. ]

A track diagram:
PennsyRR (search for "englewood, englewood" in Fort Wayne to Chicago
The Rock Island route is now owned by Metra (Chicago's commuter agency) and the Pennsy is owned by Norfolk Southern. The long, slow freights of the NS were interfering with the fast, scheduled commuters of Metra. The NS route also carries some Amtrak trains that were being delayed by the congestion of this crossing. So $142 million was spent to elevate the Metra tracks over the NS tracks. Unlike a lot of crossings that no longer exist because one or both of the railroads have been abandoned, this crossing no longer exists because the routes were so important that they were grade separated.

Bill Molony posted
The Pennsylvania Railroad's interlocking tower at Englewood Union Station, on the south side of Chicago.
Bill Molony posted
The Pennsylvania Railroad's interlocking tower at Englewood was on the south side of the PRR tracks (shown in the foreground) and to the east of the CRI&P tracks (shown in the background to the right).
The Blackhawk Railway Historical Society posted
Carl Venzke posted
Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train arrives at Englewood Union Station on Chicago's South Side, October 22, 1965.
[Fortunately, the tower was not "skunked" by the train.]

Mark Hinsdale posted
Chuck Allen Soon ALL the diamonds will be gone!
Mark Hinsdale Yep. Bridge span now fully in place over the PRR. Never look the same again.
[Note the depot's Rock Island platform on the left side.]

Mark Hinsdale shared
"Amtrak @ Two Months"
In early July, 1971, this was the view at Englewood from the head end of Amtrak eastbound Chicago-Detroit Train #360, the "Wolverine." Amtrak has been in existence for just over two months, and this train, along with an evening departure (and their two counterpart morning & evening westbound trains) now constituted the sole rail passenger service in the entire state of Michigan, which will be reached in about 60 miles near New Buffalo. Penn Central is in the process of "rationalizing" its physical plant here, shrinking the Pennsylvania Railroad's one time four tracked main line through Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, by removing one of the tracks. In decades past, scores of daily passenger trains stopped at the Englewood Union Station, also served by New York Central, Rock Island, and Nickel Plate Road. But by this date in 1971, only a handful remain under the Amtrak banner. Today, this scene is unrecognizably different, with Englewood station, tower and the crossing diamonds in the foreground all gone, and Metra's Rock Island District trains flying overhead across the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line. July, 1971 photo by Mark Hinsdale

David Daruszka commented on Bill's posting
Chuck Zeller photograph from 1965

Bill Molony posted
Pennsylvania Railroad Alco C425 #2416, leading an eastbound manifest freight train over the Rock Island diamonds and past the Englewood interlocking tower in July of 1966.
Dennis DeBruler shared
Most pictures from a tower are of a train, not the complexity of the infrastructure in the "armstrong" days. This would be looking westish across the RI and along the Pennsy. In the background are the bridge girders for 63rd Street. Imagine the labor it took to keep all of those pipelines clean and properly greased so that the leverman would be able to move all of that pipe and the turnout, signal, lock, etc at the end of the pipeline.
Richard Fiedler Our friend the late Rod Irwin worked second shift at Chicago Ridge and he was quite disgusted at the lack of proper care of the linkage and rollers. Seemed lubrication was a constant issue as well as alignment.
William Strassner's posting
Englewood Tower pipelines, ugh... PRR x RI.
Dennis DeBruler Most photos from a tower are of the a train. I love this photo of the infrastructure that gives us some insight into the complexity (and maintenance headache) of the "armstrong" days.
David Daruszka enhanced a photo posted by Bill Molony
Dennis DeBrulerYou and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. The building on the left is the Englewood Tower. Less than 24 hours ago we saw a picture [above] that had a bunch of signalling pipelines turn 90-degrees and head south. In this photo we can see some of those pipelines go way south.
Dennis DeBrulerYou and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. There is this 16-diamond crossing and the one in Joliet (Rock Island vs. GM&O+Santa Fe). Any others in the Chicagoland area? (21st Street Crossing had more diamonds, but it was by no means a neat 4x4 crossing.)
Brandon McShane Forest Hill had 16 diamonds (B&OCT, Panhandle, BRC and Wabash each had two mains).
Mark Llanuza commented on Bill's posting
Myself and NS company Photographer shot the flyover photo.
[I had the pleasure of having dinner with Mark and David Daruszka. Mark said they rented a bucket truck to get this vantage point. I believe he said that Amtrak would not cooperate with them so they had NS and Metra park their trains and then they waited for the Amtrak train to appear.]
William Strassner posted a 1968 Jerry J Johnston 1968 photo
The baby dummy / short Valpo local heading east.
William Strassner 100 lever S&F Frame, 59 working after 4th RI track removed, 33 spare, 8 spaces. Steve Schiefer and those 90 ish degree angles !
[We can see there are fewer pipelines running westish along the Pennsy tracks than in the above photo that was taken from the tower.]
Bob Poortinga One thing that was interesting about Englewood is that the westbound PRR track two (nearest the station) had two home signals. You could bring a passenger train into the station right up to the diamond and still run RI cross traffic. This was often the case in the morning when the Dummies were coming west during the morning rush on the RI.
Jon Roma Bob, do you know anything about the behavior the circuits involving the inner and outer home signals worked at Englewood? As you know, Joliet "UD" Tower had a similar arrangement wherein there was a crossing of two lines with a passenger station located at the crossing.

I have an article that describes the Joliet arrangement; I believe the leverman was only able to clear the outer home signal to bring a train up to the inner signal at the diamond with an opposing train if a timer had indicated that train was stopped. I'd have to hunt down the article because I'm not sure my description is complete or accurate.
Bob Poortinga Jon, I am not sure, but I believe the leverman had to use the "come on" button which displayed a stop and proceed indication at the first home signal. I don't think a timer was involved.
William Strassner that sounds more familiar, so they would KNOW it is only a short move in, NOT across... S&P or maybe RESTR to advance... have to ask Bob Fredland if he recalls.. ?

William Strassner again posted
JJJ pic, another good pal Bob Fredland worked C&WI, RI and later US&S. He had time at Englewood Tower along with the PRR Operator ! The baby Valpo 'Dummy" is seen ebd, #456, the smaller of the two PRR Local trains to Valparaiso.
Dennis DeBruler As a Chicagoland fan, let me thank your for Jerry's photos. I've seen a lot of photos of Englewood, but these are new views of the junction. Most of the photos have been from a platform.
William Strassner Jerry and I being real PRR / then PC folks, albeit NY Division, would stop in, say hello and get OP permission to wander the plant, being careful of course !
Dennis DeBruler I remember that you were employees. That is what makes these views so unique. I'm glad you visited Chicago.

Dennis DeBruler posted
In this 1968 photo by Jerry J Johnston, I highlighted a couple of rows of brackets. I assume each bracket held a roller under each pipeline. Is there also a roller above the pipeline? I know of museums that have preserved towers that still used levers. But I don't know of any museum that preserved some pipelines.
The location is looking across the Rock Island along the Pennsy from Englewood Tower,…/englewood-junction-…
Richard Fiedler Yes there were rollers under the pipe at intervals to support it. Bellcranks were used where the pipe changed directions.
Dennis DeBrulerYou and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. Thanks. I have updated my notes on pipelines:
Rod Truszkowski And during winter if they iced up smudge pots were used to heat them up
Richard Fiedler Also once a route for an approaching train was lined by having the proper levers thrown the tower man would set a electro mechanical timer mechanism that would lock the whole plant locking all the levers until a time that the timer would wind down permitting a different route and combination of levers to be thrown. Like most railroad systems lessons were learned in blood because under pressure a tower man could become confused and if the plant were not locked down it could be possible to line a route start a train through the plant and then line another but conflicting route and start another train through the plant thus causing a collision and or wreck. If a tower man made a mistake and lined a wrong route, waiting for the timer to expire and release the plant would cause delays and probably a confrontation with the Trainmaster and other officials. Timers sort of resembled an electric meter covered in a glass housing with a large knob in front.
Rod Truszkowski They still had some at kinsington tower on the old IC when I was breaking in there in the early 70's
Craig Sanders Man!!!
Do I love this pic!
Books have been written about everything railroad except switches, switch towers, and the technology. We need on in this topic.
Richard Fiedler commented on Dennis' posting
Timers are on the bottom of the model board.
Dennis DeBrulerYou and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. Thanks for the explanation as to why there were timers. I've read comments that mentioned them, but never understood the "why."
Steven J. Brown shared
Aboard the dome on the Amtrak Capitol Limited at Englewood in Chicago - April 28, 1989. — at Chicago (Englewood neighborhood), Illinois.Mitch Markovitz Yep. The first street is State, then 63rd. The railroad is at an angle (for the folks out there just tuning in and not familiar.)
[Inbound on the former Pennsy. It is too close to the tower to see State Street. The stone embankment on the right would be along 63rd. We see the Rock Island bridges across it. To the left of the train we see one of the girders where the Pennsy crossed 63rd. The station must have been towrn down, but the Rock Island platform is still standing.]

Mike Breski posted six photos with the comment:
Another batch of shots from Enlewood Tower/Jct
Photos from North American Interlocking.

Jon Roma The mechanical pipelines were retired using public monies when the Dan Ryan Expressway was built in the Sixties. The roadway passes below the tracks about where the puzzle switch in the background is located.
Chris Koehler Too much welding...






  1. Wonderful series, old pal Bob Fredland worked there RI side, along with a PRR OP back when.

  2. My Dad's first job after WWII was block operator at this station. Moved on to Pennsy dispatcher on Lumber street in Chicago