Saturday, November 30, 2019

1909 Shoshone Hydroelectric Facilities on the Colorado River

I rode Amtrak's California Zephyr through Colorado on Thanksgiving, 2019. One of the things I saw was obviously the penstocks for a hydroelectric power plant.

20191128 0742-60+30c
From a satellite image, it is obvious that the two light brown penstocks on the left side of the photo above feed the turbines. I don't know what the dark brown penstock on the right is for. The two horizontal "brown lines" is I-70 plus US-6 plus US-24. The lower highway is the eastbound lanes and the upper highway is the westbound lanes. (A couple of "white spots" is glare off the observation lounge window.)

Photo from COLO,23-GLENS.V,1--4 from co0088

Street View from the upper (westbound) I-70+US-6+US-24 lanes

Street View from the lower (eastbound) I-70+US-6 lanes

17. Photocopy of photograph (original print at the Public Service Company of Colorado, Shoshone Hydro Plant Collection, Glenwood Springs, Colorado) Photographer unknown, Circa 1935, cropped

18. Photocopy of photograph (original print at the Public Service Company of Colorado, Shoshone Hydro Plant Collection, Glenwood Springs, Colorado) Photographer unknown, Circa 1935, cropped

19. Photocopy of photograph (original print at the Public Service Company of Colorado, Shoshone Hydro Plant Collection, Glenwood Springs, Colorado) Photographer unknown, Circa 1940, cropped

It is a run-of-river plant that generates 15mw using two units. [Xcel] The intake diversion dam was built just east of Shoshone Falls.
As I have seen in other places, the "falls" appears to be a rapids.


The above shot of the dam was cropped and exposure corrected. I thought it would be interesting to show what the raw version of the previous photo I took of the dam looked like. I took this one as soon as there was a break in the treeline, as did the person beside me.

Note that the gates are closed. It is no surprise that November would be a dry season for the Colorado River. I had noticed that the flow was almost gone in the river. When I noticed that, I said out loud "Where did the river go?" which was rather embarrassing. I took a photo of the very low flow in the river. The train was going rather slow through Glenwood Canyon, but a tree did manage to sneak into the foreground of this photo.

I took the photo below because of the bridge. But I now understand that we are seeing the upstream part of the 245' dam on the left. And the river is going under the bridge into 16'8" wide by 13' high diversion tunnel that was dug 12,450' through the mountain to the penstocks. The dam was originally built with bear trap gates, but they proved to be a maintenance problem so in 1930 they were replaced with four tainter gates. The dam also has flash boards that are believed to be part of the original construction. [historic-structures]

To carry its generated electricity across the state, Colorado Central Power erected a 153-mile transmission line from the Shoshone plant to Denver by way of Leadville, Georgetown and Idaho Springs. A second line ran to Glenwood Springs. About 37 miles of the Denver line were completed east of Leadville in 1907, and the entire line to Denver was finished by late 1908 or early 1909. After rising more than 1500 feet from the canyon floor, the line crossed some of Colorado's most rugged terrain, including Hagerman Pass (12,055 feet), Fremont Pass (11,346 feet) and Argentine Pass (13,532 feet). When it was completed, the Shoshone line was the highest transmission line in the world. Today the alignment remains essentially the same as the original, but the transmission towers have been replaced, and the entire network has been significantly altered. [historic-structures] It has become obvious that their source was HAER-data.
The original transmission line was 90,000 volts. That line has been upgraded to 115,000 volts, but most of the power generated is now consumed on the western slope. This HAER record was made in 1980 because the proposed I-70 construction would have "an adverse visual effect."  [HAER-data]

HAER-data, Map 1

As seen in the above satellite image of the rapids and this image of the dam, the river is not always dry between the dam and plant. That is, sometimes the flow in the river exceeds what is needed to fill the diversion tunnel. I checked Bing Maps for river flow. The image of the dam is unusable because it is in the shadow of the canyon wall. But an image of the rapids shows the flow was very low. In fact, it is hard to see where the river is. I include the image at full resolution because Bing Maps would not give me a link.
(The "creating link" comment never was replaced with a link.)
This video shows a heavy flow downstream of the dam.
(new window)

The Moffat Tunnel is one of several diversion tunnels that have been built to carry water from the Colorado River Basin to the towns on the east side of the Rockies. But this power plant has water rights to what it originally could handle, 1250cfs. And because of the age of those rights, it has priority. During droughts, the managers of the intakes to the continental divide tunnels have to reduce their flow so that the power plant gets its flow. Because the plant returns all of its water to the river, these water rights provide water for uses downstream such as drinking and irrigation of peach trees. [HCN] This flow is also helps sustain "an important part of the local economy: rafting, kayaking and fishing." Maintaining a high flow in the river also helps dilute the salt coming out of salt springs, which of course benefits the farmers who use the water for irrigation. In fact, some farmers would like to buy the plant just to get the water rights. 15mw is a drop in the bucket compared to most power plants, but 1250cfs is not just a drop. "But Xcel continues to invest millions in maintenance at the plant and the utility says they have no plans to sell Shoshone or its water rights." [KRCC] The flow also helps save four endangered fish species. [InkStain]

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

1986 Rochester-Monaca Bridge over Ohio River

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges (built 1986); 3D Satellite)

It is also called the Monaca Rochester Bridge.

Monaca has three impressive truss bridges including this relatively modern one.

Street View

Jackson-Township historical preservation posted
The Monaca Bridge in the borough of Rochester, Beaver County around 1919.

Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals posted
In this week of Thanksgiving, we'd like to express our thanks to everyone who attended the Monaca Community Meeting on Thursday. We enjoyed the opportunity to meet you in person, and appreciate your valuable thoughts and feedback. (photo credit:
[Shell is building a huge polyethylene plant in Monaca.]

S Ock, Dec 2018

Ian Bowling posted
CSX Q331 passes over the ex P&LE Beaver Bridge to continue it’s journey West towards New Castle, PA. The tracks below are the NS the Cleveland Line and in the distance to the left, are the tracks for the NS Fort Wayne Line. Enjoy!
Bridgewater, PA
Roger Riblett shared
[The first road bridge is this bridge.]

Monday, November 25, 2019

1939 Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; HAER; BridgemeisterSatellite)

I was aware that the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was designed with a thin deck made of steel girders instead of a deep truss so that it would look "streamlined." I was not aware that this was a fad that other engineers adopted until recently. In fact, steamlining was a general fad in the 1930s. Four months after the Tacoma Narrows opened, engineers learned that fad was wrong because the bridge was torn apart by torsional waves. This bridge was David Steinman's streamlining mistake because he designed it with a lightweight deck. He learned it was unstable during construction so he added cable and floor stays to (almost) stabilize the bridge. (The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge was another "streamlined" bridge that had problems with wind. The designer, Othmar Ammann, added stiffening  trusses to the deck to stabilize it.)

Photo from ME,5-SEDG.V,1--5 from me0300

The popularity of Eggemoggin Reach as a yachting area called for a 200' wide channel at midspan with a minimum 85' underclearance, placing the roadway at 98.7* above mean water level. At the same time, the depth required for foundations at this location called for minimizing the length of the approach spans. This height problem was solved by employing steep 6-1/2 percent approach grades and a fairly short 400' vertical curve at the center of the main span. In this manner, the needed height was attained and the approach viaducts were kept to a minimum length. [HAER-data]
To meet the requirement of opening before the Summer tourist season, they had to work during the Winter. To minimize the hardships of working in the Winter weather, they pushed prefabrication techniques past what had been used before. In addition to assembling prefabricated modules for the deck and tower, they also built the cofferdams from prefabricated sections. And they used the prestressed twisted-strand cables that they developed for earlier bridges such as the 1931 Waldo-Hancock Bridge. [HAER-data]

Before the bridge was finished, unexpected wind-induced motion in the relatively lightweight deck indicated the need for greater stability. Diagonal stays running from the main cables to the stiffening girders on both towers were added to stabilize the bridge. [HAER-data]
Two years after the Tacoma disaster, Stienman's reinforcements got their test on Dec 2, 1942. "That day a severe storm ripped down the Maine coast, smashing into the bridge with winds of up to 80 miles per hour. The bridge oscillated in 12-foot waves that snapped a quarter of the cable stays, cracked the expansion joints, caused the suspension cables to slip through the cable ties, and generally wrought havoc on every part of the bridge. The damage was extensive, but when the gale blew itself out, the bridge was still standing.

"The storm left Steinman more convinced than ever that he was on the right track. What the bridge needed, he decided, was more of the same. Steinman added another, far more extensive set of cable stays, and he didn’t stop there. By 1944 there were vertical stays between the tops of the towers and the roadway, transverse stays that crossed over the roadway, and zigzag stays from the roadway to the main cable and back, crisscrossing the secondary cables the whole length of the span. The bridge became an enormous cat’s cradle of metal rope, as if it were woven by the hands of a giant." [InventionAndTech, p5]

"More recently, in 1993 the bridge received additional protection from wind. A special system of fairings that direct wind over and below the girders were attached to the outside of the girders." [Historic Bridges] These fairings were evidently the result of wind-tunnel testing done by the Federal Highway Administration. [ScienceDirectResearchGate, but I didn't request full-text]

This photo shows some gaps in the faring on the side of the deck. That makes it easy to understand what was added in 1993. If you look very closely, you can see diagonal cables as well as the usual vertical suspender cables. I think those diagonal cables are the cable stays that were added to help save the design. I'm still trying to figure out what the "floor stays" were.
When David Steinman heard that the Tacoma bridge was experiencing wind driven problems, he wrote to the authority and offered to provide a solution to their problem. But his offer to help was turned down. Four months later, when the bridge tore itself apart, he let people know that he offered to solve the problem, but he was refused. But given the need for additional solutions to stabilize this bridge and the more extreme length-to-dept ratio of the Tacoma bridge, some engineers think that no amount of additional cables could have saved the Tacoma. [InventionAndTech]

The caption on this construction photo implies that some of the prefabricated pieces were quite large.
PenobscotBayPress, Penobscot Bay Press file photo
The Mainland side tower being raised on finished piers and base in summer of 1938.

Unlike the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, MDOT successfully completed rehabilitation of this bridge in 2008. The narrow deck, 20' curb to curb, was replaced 9' at a time in sections of 200' so that traffic could use both lanes for most of the crossing. [cianbro]
MDOT via ChildsEng
The pier work consisted of removing deteriorated concrete and using stay in-place forms made of steel for pouring the new concrete. Leaving the steel forms in place will help protect the piers from ice. [ChildsEng]

Additional work was planned between July-Dec, 2013. [CastinePatriot] But that work spilled over into February, 2014. [WeeklyPacket]

1939-2013 US-1 Waldo-Hancock Bridge over Penobscot River near Hannaford, ME

1939: (Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; HAER; Bridgemeister; see below for satellite image)

I had duplicate posts for the 1939 and 2006 US-1 highway bridges. So this one is now the 1939 bridge. The 2006 cable-stay bridge is here.

I've been studying David Steinman, a suspension bridge designer. I discovered this is one of the bridges that he designed.

This photo has been moved to "2006 Penobscot Narrows Bridge."

Technologically, the Waldo-Hancock Bridge represents a number of firsts. It was one of the first two bridges in the U.S. (along with the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon, completed in June, 1931) to employ Robinson and Steinman's prestressed twisted wire strand cables, which were first used on the 1929 Grand Mere Bridge over the St. Maurice River in Quebec. The prefabrication and prestressing of the cables decreased the number of field adjustments required, saving considerable time, effort, and money. As an additional experiment in efficiency, the Waldo-Hancock cables were marked prior to construction, ensuring proper setting. This method had never been used before and proved successful in this instance. These innovations, invented and pioneered by Steinman, were a significant step forward for all builders of suspension bridges.

The Waldo-Hancock was also the first bridge to make use of the Vierendeel truss in its two towers, giving it an effect that Steinman called "artistic, emphasizing horizontal and vertical lines." This attractive and effective truss design was later used in a number of important bridges, including the Triborough and Golden Gate bridges.
The Waldo-Hancock Bridge was noted at the time for its economy of design and construction. It cost far less than had been appropriated by the State Highway Commission.

[HAER from me313]

I include this view of the tower since this bridge pioneered the use of a Vierendeel truss in the tower. From a distance, a Vierendeel truss appears to be made with rectangles instead of triangles.

But if you look closely at the cross-members, they have plenty of triangles. I'm lucky that the portal street view in Bridge Hunter still has an image. Note only do the cross-members have lots of triangles, but there are vertical members that run through all three cross-members. The inside vertical members were eliminated in more modern bridge towers.
Street View

Street View

Ramil Sharifsoy, Nov 2011

"Built 1931; bypassed by new bridge 2006-07; Demolished 2012-2013; Removed from NRHP 12-18-2013" [Bridge Hunter] This is evidently another example where 80% Federal funding for a new bridge makes it cheaper for a state to build a replacement than maintain a nice looking bridge. I can understand how they let the cables rot so bad that it would no longer safely hold traffic. But since it was handling traffic, how can it be so bad that it can't be used by pedestrians? It seems like it would take a couple more decades of rotting before it would be too weak to hold itself up. (Pedestrian traffic has to be negligible compared to the weight of the cable and truss.)

Bay Crane posted

It has been replaced by yet another cable-stay bridge.
This content has been moved to "2006 Penobscot Narrows Bridge."

This photo has been moved to "2006 Penobscot Narrows Bridge."
This photo has been moved to "2006 Penobscot Narrows Bridge."
These construction photos also give us additional views of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
This photo has been moved to "2006 Penobscot Narrows Bridge."

This photo has been moved to "2006 Penobscot Narrows Bridge."

In a 2019 satellite image, the only thing left are the piers for the towers.

John Weber posted
Traveling in Maine I was fortunate to take this photo of these two bridges. Now the old bridge is gone.  Taken at the Penobscot River crossing. Called the Historic Waldo-Hancock Bridge.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

CB&Q Bridge over Des Plaines River

(no Bridge Hunter; 3D Satellite)

Terry Spirek posted his Flickr photo
Morning rush hour commuter train crosses over the old Des Plaines River bridge in Riverside IL.right before the BNSF. Replaced it.
Dennis DeBruler It looks like you had to tromp through some woods to get this photo.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3
You can see by the concrete on top of the stones that there probably used to be a truss bridge here.
Judging from the exhaust, it is still accelerating from the Zoo/Hollywood stop.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

BNSF/AT&SF 1909 Bridge over Kansas River at Topeaka, KS

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; John Marvig3D Satellite)

David F. Riker posted
Santa Fe steam engines on bridge at Topeka, Ks., over the Kansas River, July, 1951, during the great Kansas flood....which I lived through at Chanute, Ks.
Charles Smith I remember this very well..when the bridge fell locomotives went is still there! Yea I survied the great Kaw valley flood of 1951. This was the line to St. Joe... Correction! Three engines fell # 1035, 3167,and 4076, has yet to be recovered.
Charles Smith The Santa Fe had a white stripe painted high on one of the shop walls.. a marker of the great flood of 1903 when water crested at Topeka at 30.5 ft over flood stage. when the waters fell in 1951 they moved the marker up the Kansas river had crested at 37ft!
Jonathan Forrest Stroup As someone with a geo background and have seen rivers exceed flood stage, I would not trust any bridge when the water is lapping at the deck. No idea what condition the pilings are in and what could have been washed into the bridge and collided earlier.
More info on the flood is here.

Dylan Edwards Flickr, License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)
This area is in the planning stages of becoming Topeka's Riverfront Park.
Bridge Hunter indicates that two of the spans were replaced in 1952 and it was lengthened in 1968. It also supplies the span details:

Span #1 - 6 Panel Warren Through Truss (Built 1968)Span #2/#3 - 7 Panel Pratt Through Trusses (Built 1909)Span #4 - 6 Panel Pratt Through Truss, Built Ca. 1902Span #5 - 6 Panel Baltimore Through Truss (Built 1952)Span #6 - 7 Panel Pratt Through Truss (Built 1909)Through Plate Girder Span (Built 1909)I-Beam Span (Built 1968)
John Marvig has different information. This implies that the bridge was lengthened in 1964 and that one of the 1952 replacements was replaced again in 1968.
The current configuration of the bridge, from south to north is as follows:
1-25' I-Beam Span (Added 1964)
1-75' Through Girder Span crossing River Road(Built 1909)
1-7 panel, pin connected Pratt Through Truss (Built 1909)
1-6 panel, riveted Baltimore Through Truss (Built 1952)
1-6 panel, pin connected Pratt Through Truss (Built Ca. 1940, Relocated Here 1968)
2-7 panel, pin connected Pratt Through Trusses (Built 1909)
1-6 panel, riveted Warren Through Truss (Built 1952, Added 1964)
The bridge rests on entirely concrete substructures, which have been modified since the original construction of the bridge.

I labeled piers #4 and #5 because they appear to be the ones that were lost and that dumped three locomotives into the river during the 1951 flood. The two spans and one of the locomotives is still in the river. This view also shows how high the water would have been to be lapping at the deck. I think the water is relatively high in this Jun, 2019, view because it appears the trees have some leaves in the water. I'm reminded that the Plains States did see a lot of flooding this year. The above Flickr photo does show a lower river level. I've read that sometimes the river is low enough that you can see the top of the fallen spans.
Street View
The 1909 bridge was built because the original bridge got wiped out by a flood in 1903. [John Marvig]

Friday, November 22, 2019

Fire/((Rosenbaum+C&O)/Calumet Elevator and Norris/Peavey) Grain Elevators on Calumet River

(Satellite, these silos were north of the slip and occupied the land that is now covered with petcoke in the saved image below)

In 1901, Rossenbaum was Calumet Elevator and Norris was Peavey Grain.

The first of five photos of the 1939 fire

John W. Barriger III Flickr
Bob Lalich commented:  Calumet Elevator, later Norris, later ADM - 102nd St. and Calumet River. This elevator replaced a bunch of older elevators that burned in 1939. Note C&WI RS-1 powering the train.

Nick Fry shared
Bob Lalich This elevator was demolished in the early 1980s.

The grain elevator in the left background peaking out from under the iron ore bridge caught my eye.
The sixth photo on idaillinois

Digitally Zoomed

I saved the satellite image because the petcoke piles are now gone. The silos were in the lower-left corner of this excerpt.

The Chicago Board of Underwriters of Chicago
 [Multiple elevators were consumed by this fire. The coroner's report ruled "Accidental, caused by spontaneous combustion." I believe accidental, but Chicagology agrees that was a dust explosion. “It was no use,” said Fire Commissioner Michael J. Corrigan. “The heat was so intense at the height of the fire that the water streams were turned Into steam before they even reached the walls.”]
Pat Judge Harvey My parents used to talk about the smell several months later when the grain began to ferment. 
I recently found pictures of this fire in a family album.
Neal Ciciora Those grain elevators by Fallstaff and the ones along the river south of 95th street used to explode and have fires quite often. Usually nobody was hurt in them but sometimes there was a tragedy.
William Bork Didn’t grain elevators at 106th and the river burn also? Mid to late 60’s?
Gloria Scherer Lang William Bork yes it did. During a cold snap. I remember the firemen with ice on them from water spray. Don’t remember the year.
Craig Holmberg Louis Dreyfus (Rock Island) Was just south of 106th st and the river, became some of the Wisconsin Steel property.

Marty Gatton also shared this link
The most spectacular fire involving grain elevators occurred on May 11, 1939 on a slip near 102 nd and the Calumet River. An explosion occurred at the Rosenbaum Elevator A near Commercial Avenue and then spread to Elevators B and C progressing toward the river. The fire then jumped the 100 foot wide slip to the south and ignited the Norris elevators 1 and 2. By the time the fire ended 5 elevators were destroyed and 9 individuals were killed. 20 freight cars were also burned in the 4 million dollar blaze. The Chicago Fire Department had two fireboats at the scene which helped put the fire out relatively quickly. Crowds estimated at 25,000 watched firemen battle the blaze. Fires at the site continued to break out sporadically and the remains of the fire gave off a stench for several months. [SECHS Newsleter referenced by a Rod Sellers comment on a post
Steve Redick posted
From what I can tell this was a large format copy negative of a classic old shows to be from the Clarence Woodward collection and was shared with us through the courtesy of Bill Friedrich. you should be able to see some great detail..lotsa rigs drafting from the Calumet River....
Here is a link to some relevant info including some newsreel footage

Marty Gatton shared
17:21 video @ 14:44

Michael Mora commented on Marty's share
I recently stumbled upon some interesting vintage photos of Movietone newsreel cameramen filming this massive grain elevator fire. Here's one and link to rest .

This aerial photo was taken the year before the fire.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
The following aerial photo excerpts are from the next frame on the film roll. The exposure is a little better.
Dennis DeBruler commented on Nick Fry's share
It appears these concrete silos existed in 1938 and that they were the only thing to survive the fire. The danger of wood grain elevators burning is exactly why the industry learned how to build concrete silos. I include 100th Street along the top and the Chicago Shipbuilding drydocks in the upper-right corner to help correlate this image with today's satellite images.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Nick Fry's share
A closeup of the concrete silos. They do look like what I saw in a 1973 aerial photo. The silos were gone in a 1983 aerial. The 1939 fire explains why all of the other buildings look different.

Also Rod Sellers comment on a post
For additional information about this and other local grain elevator fires see the article "Grain Elevators" from the July 2019 SECHS Newsletter in the files section of this page. Attached diagram illustrates how fire started in Rosenbaum A, burned east toward the Calumet River destroying Rosenbaum B and C then jumping over Slip No. 2 and burning Norris Elevators 1 and 2.

Bob  Lalich commented on Nick Fry's share
Here is a Life magazine photo of the elevator taken in 1951.

Dennis DeBruler replied to Bob's comment
This photo shows the many tracks north of the elevator in this 1977 topo was used for storage. Are those iron ore cars? They look rather short.
Bob Lalich Dennis DeBruler - the hoppers are coal for Rail To Water.

eBook, p1748, 1920 (Chicago starts at page 1706, Result 3 of the query "calumet river rail to water"

Michael Mora posted
"Repairing a Lake Carrier after a collision," late June/ early July 1905 at dock of then Chicago Ship Building Company, 101st and Calumet River. Detroit Publishing Co. photo, from Maritime History of the Great Lakes,
[Bob Lalich identified the grain elevator in the background as one of the Rosenbaum elevators. Since this photo was taken in 1905, this would have been before the fire.]

Page 49

Digitally Zoomed

Page 50

Digitally Zoomed

Page 51

Digitally Zoomed

This one is where the fire started.
Michael Mora posted
Circa 1895 photo of Calumet Elevator A, 102nd & Calumet River, Dock No. 3. Built 1894.  And package freighter Seneca docked and loading grain for Buffalo (see comment by Fred Bultman below).  Site of dust explosion at 8:50 am on May 11, 1939, followed by massive fire that spread and destroyed four other nearby grain elevators, too. From The Marine Record, Aug. 29, 1895, available on
Clarence Totleben: In the 1970's the only elevators left were the Pillsbury on about 103rd and of course the realto at general mills.