Saturday, February 29, 2020

MWRD: Creating a 40' Head for the Lockport Powerhouse


(Update: A lot more photos of the newer USACE lock are here. Those notes also have some videos from tows going through the lock.)

More about this photo later.
20140614 0259

When the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal (CS&SC) opened in 1900, it terminated at a control structure north of 9th Street at Lockport, IL.
There was a 160' bear trap gate in this gap to fine tune the flow of water out of the canal into the Des Plaines River to maintain the proper water level in the canal. That gate has been removed because the powerhouse now provides the day-to-day control of the water level. The sluice gates are still intact in case flood waters need to be released from the canal.
There is about a 40' drop in the land between this control structure and the confluence of the canal with the Des Plaines River just south of the CN/EJ&E Bridge. This drop is why the I&M Canal had its first four locks between just north of Division Street and north of the CN/EJ&E tracks.

To take advantage of this 40' drop, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), then known as the Chicago Sanitary District, made a canal down the slope by building concrete walls on both sides with earth fill on the sides. This 3D view shows the east dike.
3D Satellite
And here is a view of the drop of the land along the west dike.
Now we have the context needed to explain the top photo. That photo was taken from the bus that was driving along the west wall to take us to a tour of the powerhouse. I knew we were driving along a high wall, so I was trying to get photos that showed the height. I also knew, from taking photos in the Rocky Mountains, that it is hard to show height from above. Here are the rest of the photos I took on this part of the trip.

On the trip back to the parking lot, I took a photo looking South when we were on the 9th Street Bridge to capture what I thought was a rather high level of the Des Plaines River. The blue on the left is the higher level of the canal.

Or maybe the river is always this high.
Street View, Oct 2019
I also got a view of nature taking over some sunken barges.

While taking some photos of a towboat, I caught a view that shows the canal level higher than the surrounding land. Of course, it is not as high at the 9th Street Bridge as it is at the powerhouse and lock.

It is worth noting that dikes were used at the original terminus of the CS&SC so that the base of the control structure would be above the Des Plaines River to maximize the flow from the canal to the river during floods. The MWRD must have been really worried about being able to divert flood waters because, when the extended the canal in 1903, they added a butterfly dam near the beginning of the extension. Note two contour lines coming close together near the end of the original canal, especially on the east side.
1954 Joliet Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
Those two contour lines continue down to Division Street. I've read that the dikes were 15' tall at 9th Street.
1954 Joliet Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
Starting at Division Street, more contour lines are added. That makes sense because the I&M Canal locks are along this stretch.
1954 Joliet Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
Although I think the big pile of contour lines on the west side of the canal south of the powerhouse is a mistake.
1954 Joliet Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
On the right of the photo below, we see the west wall of the USACE lock. In the background, from right to left, is the tall, narrow gates for the old  22' x 120' x 34' lock, the current control structure and the powerhouse.
HAER IL-164-H-10

MWRD posted
Workers pause for a photo while casting concrete blocks for the Lockport Powerhouse walls on October 25, 1905.

MWRD posted
A rock crushing plant is seen in this photo from October 25, 1905, reducing the size of excavated material during construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal extension near Lockport. The four-mile extension was excavated by the MWRD between 1903 and 1907, and included the construction of the Lockport Powerhouse, dam and lock, which are located at the mid-point of the extension. The area features an elevation difference between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Des Plaines River of approximately 36 feet, which allows for the generation of hydroelectric power at the powerhouse. 

MWRD posted
A view to the south from a bridge at 9th Street in Lockport, Illinois, showing construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal extension on November 9, 1905. 
Dennis DeBruler commented on the MWRD post
As they worked their way south, they didn't have to dig as deep, but they had to build a higher embankment on the sides of the canal.

Friday, February 28, 2020

MWRD: Butterfly Dam in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

(HAERSatellite, gone)

A butterfly dam is a movable dam. Gates the full depth of the canal hang from a swing truss. This one would normally be open as shown because it was intended to help with flood protection. Evidently MWRD wanted to make sure that they could divert excess water through the control structure that is just beyond the dam on the left in this photo, which is looking upstream. Since this dam design is so rare, I have added the "wwDamTech" label on this post. The only other movable dam I remember reading about was an emergency swing dam on the Canadian side of the St. Marys River.
Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3A--7 (CT) from il0434

VIEW OF THE CHICAGO SANITARY AND SHIP CANAL BUTTERFLY DAM FROM THE NORTH - Lockport Historic District, Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, Butterfly Dam, Lockport, Will County, IL

The Butterfly Dam was constructed in the middle of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal for the purpose of providing flood protection for Joliet and other points on the canal west of Lockport. The dam is unique in that it is suspended from a Pratt truss bridge which is supported by two concrete piers. The dam is on a pivoting mechanism, so it can be turned to cross the canal and block the flow of water. It is 30 feet high, and has six electrically operated valves on each leaf. The need to use the dam for flood prevention seems never to have arisen. [HAER-data]
You can clearly see the dam in the middle of the navigation channel in this old photo. I include part of the control structure to provide context for the location.
1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP, at photo resolution
MWRD posted
Construction of the Butterfly Dam on March 18, 1907, looking south from the north end the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal (CSSC) channel extension at Lockport. Between 1903 and 1907, the Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD) extended the CSSC and built the Lockport Powerhouse and Lock in order to generate hydroelectric power and to allow passage of watercraft between the Des Plaines River and the CSSC. The Butterfly Dam was built in 1907 and was intended to prevent downstream flooding in the case of a failure of any part of the channel extension structures including the channel walls, powerhouse or lock. The steal leaf of the dam could be rotated to close off the flow of water in case of an emergency. Such an emergency never occurred and the Butterfly Dam was removed in 1985.
Top Fan
In the background is the first image I have seen of the 9th Street Bridge.

Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3A--6 from il0434

6. View of the south end of the dam looking northwest with Lockport visible in the background - Lockport Historic District, Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, Butterfly Dam, Lockport, Will County, IL

[Actually, this is looking southwest at the north end of the dam! In the background we see the grain silos, the 9th Street Bridge and the Cargill elevator]
As the above photo shows, we can't trust the directions in the photo captions. But it doesn't matter because the dam was symmetrical. We can see six electric motors for the six "valves." It is not at all clear to me what the open position of the "valves" looks like.
Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3A--3 from il0434

3. North end of the butterfly dam showing stone abutment - Lockport Historic District, Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, Butterfly Dam, Lockport, Will County, IL

Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3A--4 from il0434

4. Center section of the dam showing the pivoting mechanism - Lockport Historic District, Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, Butterfly Dam, Lockport, Will County, IL

MWRD posted
Construction of the Butterfly Dam, at left, and the west wall of the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal (CSSC) channel extension at Lockport, Illinois, on June 18, 1907. Between 1903 and 1907, the Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD) extended the CSSC and built the Lockport Powerhouse and Lock in order to generate hydroelectric power and to allow passage of watercraft between the Des Plaines River and the CSSC. The Butterfly Dam was built in 1907 and was intended to prevent downstream flooding in the case of a failure of any part of the channel extension structures including the channel walls, powerhouse or lock. The steal leaf of the dam could be rotated to close off the flow of water in case of an emergency. Such an emergency never occurred and the Butterfly Dam was removed in 1985.
Gary Ward: The Ninth St swing bridge is visible in the background.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Division Street Bridges over I&M Canal, Des Plaines River and CS&SC at Lockport, IL

DPR Bridge, 1899: (Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges3D Satellite)
CS&SC Bridge, 1905-1993: (Bridge Hunter; HAER; Satellite, gone)
I&M Canal Bridge: (Bridge Hunter; 3D Satellite)

CS&SC = Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal

Bill Law posted
The Old entrance to Lockport, IL over the Desplaines river, off U.S. 66 (Route 53). Abandoned. Division Street
Dennis DeBruler The shape of the trusses indicates that you were on the west side and the island indicates that you were on the north side.
There is a third truss buried in the trees on the far side.,-88.../data=!3m1!1e3

When I first came to the Chicagoland area, I not only drove Division Street from State Street in Lockport to IL-53, I went south on an access road along the SC&CS to visit the Lockport Lock. Now Division Street is closed to the public between Praire Avenue in Lockport and the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve. This is what you encounter when you head east along Division Street in the preserve.

20150702 2416

Jeremy Brzycki got a better view past the trees of the trusses over the DuPage River.
Jeremy Brzycki posted
Ben Felber Wow alot to dial for an emergency....911 would be quicker.
Josh Anders Ben Felber and 911 would have to call one of them numbers to open a Damn or somthing. 911 wouldn't be much help there unless people where under water already.
Adam J. Bader Sr. What causes the water flows?
Dennis DeBruler A sudden change would be caused by these control gates being opened to lower the level of the water in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.,-88.../data=!3m1!1e3
I don't know when the last time was that they were opened.

The MWRD got an even better view back when it was being used. 
MWRD posted
Dennis DeBruler commented on MWRD's post
I was surprised that the bridge across the CS&SC in the background was on a significant angle to this bridge. But a topo map confirms that the bobtail bridge was over the canal.
1954 Joliet Quadrangle @ 1:24,000
I remember when I came to the Chicago area in the 1970s that I took Division Street to the road along the canal to go to the visitor center at the lock. And then I continued across these bridges to get to IL-7. Now Division Street is closed before you can get to the lock's access road.
maybe the bridge in the back is swung open letting a barge pass
It did. A bobtail bridge is a swing bridge with an offset. This bridge was very similar to the 135th Street Bridge that is now preserved in a forest preserve.

Bob Dodge commented on Jeremy's post
West Division Street Lockport Illinois
["Bridge has a slight curve between pratt span and Main Parker Spain." [Bridge Hunter]]
It takes more guts than I have to go down the access road along the west side of the CS&SC canal to get to here to take the above photo. I chicken out when I encounter the gates across the access road.

Joel Craig posted
This is the seldom-seen east side of the Division St bridge near Lockport, IL. Back in the day, Division St. connected Rt. 53 to the west, and IL 171 through the heart of Lockport. This iron bridge spans the DesPlaines River, and then a swing bridge crossed the Sanitary and Ship Canal. On the east side of the canal, there was a sharp bend in the road, and then Division continued into town. It was "a thing" to see how fast you could drive across these one lane bridges and make the quick bend, without wrecking your car. The west side of this bridge is blocked off, but accessible in the Lockport Prairie Forest Preserve property. This photo was taken from an access road on Water Reclamation Dist. property.

The top photo in eBook has a 1948 view of the three truss spans.

The Bridge Hunter page for this multiple-truss bridge has several photos by three people. They recognized the historic significance of these pin-connected trusses.

The bobtail bridge that used to go over the canal is similar to the 135th Street Bridge that has been preserved in a Forest Preserve.
Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3B--7 (CT) from il0435

GENERAL VIEW OF THE BRIDGE IN OPERATION - Lockport Historic District, Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, Swing Bridge, Sixteenth Street, Lockport, Will County, IL

There is something wrong with the view above because the view below looks more appropriate. Is the canal partially drained above so that they could do work on the bridge? Both views have the 9th Street Bridge in the background, so they are both looking North.
Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3B--1 from il0435
This is the view I would expect to see for the bridge in operation.
Photo from HAER ILL,99-LOCK,3B--5 from il0435

This old aerial view shows that there was a jog in Division Street to accommodate the bridges.
1939 Aerial Photo from ILHAP
Was the 1939 photo taken during a drought? The river is significantly narrower than today's river.

Even the plain bridge over the I&M canal has changed since I first came to the Chicago area. In fact, this one changed since I started writing this blog in May 2014. On one of my trips to check out Lock #1, I noticed that Division Street was closed over the canal. Below is the old bridge. You can see the steel I-beams that were added under the deck as a "patch" to prolong its life.
Photo by Steve Conro via Bridge Hunter

This street view shows the replacement bridge.
Street View

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Three IC branches fed by Otto Tower and Bloomer Line

Heading west from Otto Tower was a route that fed three IC branches. My 1967 IC map does not have the Tracy branch. I had to use the only older map that I have, 1891.
<source of map is lost>
Unfortunately, system maps are not geographically accurate. Fortunately, AJ Grigg's abandoned railroad map is quite accurate. The Tracy Branch is the green trace that goes northwest, then northish of Buckingham, IL. This branch, along with branches of the EJ&E and GM&O, were obviously built to serve the Northern Illinois/Peabody Coal Company. This post discusses where this branch crossed the NYC Kankakee Belt.
AJ Grigg's Abandoned Railroad Map
I use the following topo map with a green line to highlight the Bloomington District that went from Otto Tower on the IC mainline to Bloomington on the IC central charter route. The yellow line highlights the IC Pontiac District that used to go from the Bloomington District south of Kempton to the central charter route south of Minonk. The blue line will be discussed later.
1958 Peoria and Aurora plus 1957 Chicago Quadrangles @ 1:250,000
Zooming in on the west end of the Pontiac District we can see that the segment between Flanagan and the central charter route had already been abandoned by 1958. But what is really bizarre is that the route is labelled Illinois Central Gulf. ICG was not created until 1972!
1958 Peoria Quadrangle @ 1:250,000

Treelines still mark the wye where the Pontiac District joined the Bloomington District. This junction was called Saxony. [abanicp]

Now the entire Pontiac District is abandoned and the west end and the east end of the Bloomington District is abandoned.
The middle part of the Bloomington District is now owned by the shortline Bloomer Line (BLOL). This shortline also owns the former-Wabash route between the former-IC route and Gibson City that was abandoned by Norfolk Southern. CN still owns the track between Herscher and Otto Tower.
The [BLOL] railroad was formed by purchase of the former Illinois Central (now-CNIC) line from Hescher to Barnes, IL. The track from Kempton to Colfax, IL is in operation. The railroad started operation in June, 1985. In May, 1990, the railroad acquired from N&W (now-NS) the line from Strawn to Gibson City. [casr]
A user comment on the Pontiac District abandonment is interesting:
This is the former Illinois Central Pontiac District. It was of light rail, as were the Bloomington (Bloomer Line) and Rantoul Districts, and most grade crossings were protected only by a crossbuck. Interlockings consisted of dwarf signals on the Pontiac District and sometimes, signals that required opening the interlocking cabin and operating levers to get a green or yellow dwarf signal.
The connections at Saxony and Minonk were merely switches to the Amboy District and Bloomington Districts of the Illinois Central. There were no signals, just a wooden telephone booth. There were horns to use in inclement weather or other unfavorable conditions at Pontiac, where also a Wabash branch crossed.
Of these three light-duty lines, only parts of the Bloomington District survive as the bloomer line.
George R. Carlisle
formerly Urbana , IL
Another view of the abandonments. This includes other abandonments such as the Wabash route from Strawn to Manhattan.
AJ Grigg's Abandoned RR Map
Four of the resources I studied, ChicagoRailfan, Bloomer Line, Shortlines and the above abandoned RR map indicate the Bloomer Line goes past Cullom. But I have to agree with AbandonedRails that service ends at Cullom. That town does have an elevator with a yellow fall protector.
Street View
I found a cut of cars stored north of town until the track disappeared. It may have disappeared because it is under weeds and/or dirt because you can see track further north. But I see a truck, instead of track, on the RoW by the elevator in Kempton.