Friday, March 30, 2018

CB&Q Union Avenue Tower and Wash Rack


Marty Bernard posted seven photos with extensive documentation. And he posted a photo looking East out of the tower.

Steven J. Brown posted
Burlington Northern E9m 9904 at Union Avenue Tower in Chicago - March 29, 1988.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Mark Hinsdale posted
Before "MH" Tower...
Nearly forty years ago, Burlington Northern's Union Avenue Tower in Chicago, controlled the busy interlocking plant blending traffic from the "Racetrack," the St. Charles Air Line, and the wyes to/from the ex Pennsylvania Railroad main line leading toward either Union Station or 21st Street. Today, this area is controlled from the BNSF Dispatching Center in Fort Worth TX, and the tower is long gone. July, 1977 photo by Mark Hinsdale.

Timothy Leppert With this E and train size westbound, the engine is wide open here just off the canal street 25 mph and will stay wide open to 70. We named the Dispatcher now controlling this "Union Avenue Dispatcher".
David Viglielmo Timothy Leppert This is the tower my grandfather always hid us from in the engine while heading to the car wash.

Joel J. Sieracki What are the small lights above the windshields?
Timothy Leppert These were a test. I'll dig out the paperwork. There were a lot of tests during the time the E's were in service. We tried many HEP designs after removing the steam generator. The loco's started with 24rl Straight Air and ended up with New York AB PS68 - probably the best Air for commuter service. Their On Time performance at retirement is hard to duplicate with today's operation.
Keith Wagner They were red EOT lights for when pushing
Tom Skowronski No, they were white strobes for visibility purposes. They did not last long. I did see them in use. The only "protection" in push mode was red class lights and later the red marker they put under the headlight.

Mark Hinsdale shared

Marty Bernard shared
Bill Edrington Great shot. What were the odds of getting not only the BN dinky but also a Campbell’s 66 Express “Humpin’ to Please” trailer, with “Snortin’ Norton” the camel on the side, heading south on the Dan Ryan?
Ron Hull In the late 60’s/early 70’s Penn-Central had trains symboled NYQ/QNY that ran between Selkirk NY and Cicero IL. Back then, work rules mandated that a road crew could only bring a train to it’s “home rails” destination yard, so with NYQ the Elkhart road crew would bring the train as far as the main line at Englewood yard, then they’d get off of the head end and an Englewood yard crew would then take the train down the main to the wye at 16th St., then over the St. Charles Air Line to access the Burlington (to us it was “The Q”). As NYQ typically got into Englewood sometime after 9:00pm an effort was made to get it past the pictured tower, Union Avenue by 11:59pm in order to “save the per diem’, the charges the PC paid to the Burlington for having their cars on PC rails. I often wondered if management appreciated our efforts or was even aware that we tried to save our pathetic employer a few bucks.

I believe you can still see a couple of corners of the foundation. Especially the southeast corner. I highlighted the remnants with red rectangles.

Update: Lou Gerard posted a 1990 photo of the tower and an Amtrak train on the south leg of the wye to reverse its direction into Union station.
A comment from that posting:
Harold J. Krewer Pretty sure the tower was closed about the time when they moved the Galesburg dispatching office to Fort Worth, which was early 1994.
Steven Holding posted two photos with the comment: "Union Ave Tower on CB&Q/BN 1973 posted there."



Gary Hosek posted
Westbound passenger train - Halsted Street Station - Chicago - May 1948 - Russell Lee photograph.
Marty Bernard You can see the Union Avenue home signals at the end of the platforms and rectangular Union Avenue Tower just to the right of the signals. The Dan Ryan would be elevated just beyond Union Ave, Tower if it were there. The St. Charles Air Line can be seen taking off across all the tracks from Union Ave. Tower.

Gary Hosek posted
Harold J. Krewer A Phase I E5, possibly even the 9911A. Later units (9912A-B to 9915A-B) had a different style of anticlimber and coupler doors.
Timothy Leppert Near Halsted Street, Union Ave Tower.
Dennis DeBruler It appears the building on the left has been converted to an office building with a story added on top.!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...
And, as usual, the fire protection water tower has been removed.
Dennis DeBruler The car wash facility is now between the coach yard and Union Station:!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4...
Bob Lalich The branch to the lumber district is seen diverging to the right.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob Lalich's comment on Gary's post
So the photographer was facing East. I put a red rectangle around Union Avenue Tower.

Terrence Donahue posted four photos with the comment:
I took this photo in October 1985 of EMD E9 Unit #9904 (ex CB&Q 9977) getting a wash down at the rack near 16th and Morgan. Fifty years earlier, Zephyrs would go through the same apparatus to wash down after a long journey. This locomotive would be one of the few surviving E-Units, becoming Illinois Central #100.




John W. Barriger III Flickr
Bob Lalich:  Looks to have been taken from Union Ave Tower.

Marc Mainekoff posted six photos with the comment: (also posted)
Back in the early 90's I got a phone call from a friend that worked for the BN about a business train on the racetrack on it's way into the city. Well after a quick trip down Lakeshore Drive to downtown and over to Union Ave. I got lucky as the train was waiting for a signal. BN 9920 leads the train into Union Station.
[You can see the shadow of the tower in his first three photos.]






Marty Bernard commented on Marc's post
I played with one of your photos, I hope you don't mind. It still could use a little more work.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Marc's post
Union Tower was just West of Union Avenue.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Marc's post
I saved a satellite image because who knows how long the overpass of the branch that used to go down next to Sangamon Street will remain.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3

Marty Bernard posted two images with the comment: "CB&Q Union Avenue Tower, Chicago, 1963."
Marty Bernard shared
Union Avenue Tower was near the west corner of the wye south of Union Station. It had a pistol grip machine. The top center (north) of the Model Board (track diagram) are the connections to the CNW and St. Charles Air Line. At the close end (east) of the Board shown are the north and south legs of the wye. The north leg (turning up) goes to Union Station. The south leg was used mainly by intracity freight transfers to and from the Q's Clyde Yard in Cicero. The full wye was used to turn the Q's intercity trains. At the moment the picture was taken there were no trains in the plant (no lights on the board), a rare happening allowing me time to grab a shot. Also rare that all but one or two of the pistol grips are in the normal (as opposed to reverse) position. The picture was taken August 1, 1963 while I was a student towerman there. 

Ignore point "C". It's the home of a railfan.

Marty Bernard posted views of B&O trains from this tower with the comment:
The Route Out of Grand Central Station, Chicago
Trains leaving Chicago's Grand Central Station ran south for a short distance then turned west just short of the St. Charles Air Line and crossed the South Branch of the Chicago River on a double-track lift bridge which has been in the up position, I assume, since soon after Grand Central Station closed in 1969. Then the tracks continued west crossing over the south end of the PRR Coach Yard (now Amtrak), the south leads from Union Station, and the south end of the CB&Q Coach Yard (now Metra/BNSF). The tracks dropped to ground level and continued west under the Dan Ryan Expressway, and past CB&Q's Union Avenue Tower.
The pictures below were taken from the Union Avenue Tower when I was a student leverman there and should be considered grab shots.
The tower was on the south side of the east/west CB&Q tracks at the beginning of the race track to the west. There also was a freight transfer track that went all the way to Clyde Yard. The track just north of the tower went east to the south leg of the wye and to the tracks coming south out of Union Station. The next two tracks to the north went east to the double-north leg of the wye and eventually to Union Station. The next tracks went east to the BNSF/Metra Coach Yard. The next tracks went east up the St. Charles Airline ramp. All these tracks and the track to the train washer were controlled by Union Avenue Tower. Then the were a few local tracks switched by the CNW connected to tracks to the west. Lastly the farthest north tracks were those from Grand Central Station. The trains in the photos are on these tracks. Union Avenue Tower is long gone.
Captions with photos.
Marty Bernard shared
1. A B&O train from Grand Central heading west. The first car is under the Dan Ryan Expressway.

2. A B&O light engine move.
John Clark: Thinking 1963 or early 1964, before the C&O put the "kabash" on the sunrise paint on the noses.
Marty Bernard: John Clark August 1963.
John Clark: Might add that E6A is looking pretty spiffy as well.

3. A C&O Geep with a local freight move. Those are Empire Builder cars on the CB&Q tracks close to the tower.

4. I have included this map to assist in understanding the the location of these pictures. The yellow line represents the tracks out of Grand Central Station. Union Avenue Tower is in the lower left.
Anthony Caci: A single track remained and it was in very occasional use into the early 1990s, as I recall. A string of flats or other cars would be parked there, and months later they'd be gone, and after some time another set of cars would be moved into place. CSX was no doubt exercising its right of ownership on the land that had sat unused since the station came down.
Marty Bernard posted
SOO Line SW12100 and Caboose on B&OCT
SOO 2126 was taken from CB&Q's Union Avenue Tower, Chicago on August 1, 1963.  The view is looking north and a little east. The bridges are the Dan Ryan Expressway. Union Avenue Tower was at the end of west legs of the wye south of Union Station.  The closer tracks belonged to the CB&Q and lead to the St. Charles Airline and Union Station. The tracks with weeds belonged to the CNW and the tracks further north belonged to the B&OCT and went to Grand Central Station. The CNW tracks dead ended there not going further east. The B&OCT and the CNW tracks no longer exist.
Marty Bernard shared

Jan Zweerts commented on a post
Photo taken from Union Tower looking west circa 1981.

Marty Bernard posted
Looking Out Union Avenue Tower's East Windows
Union Avenue Tower was at the west end of the wye south of Chicago Union Station. It was a CB&Q tower. This photo from August 1, 1963 is looking through the east windows of the Tower. We see the Dan Ryan Expressway above the tracks and Union Avenue below, going under the tracks. The rolling stock left to right is Train 123's Motor under the Dan Ryan, Train 133 heading west, Train 23's Motors (the Afternoon Zephyr) and GM&O Train 2 (the Abe Lincoln). "Motor" is what a diesel was called by the tower man and the dispatcher. Trains 123 and 133 were Dinkys. The Abe Lincoln is being turned on the Wye. Above Train 133 you can see the St. Charles Air Line taking off.
My guess "motor" was to distinguish diesels from steam. Union Avenue Tower is long gone. It was the start of the Q's Racetrack.
[Mark Hinsdale pointed out the freight house on the right side of this photo.]

Marty Bernard shared
Comments on Marty's share
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