Sunday, May 31, 2020

Google Lemonade: Blogger Label Menu "Bug"

I wrote and tested code for Bell Labs for over 40 years, so I have ignored the industries of computers and software because I learn a lot more studying railroads, bridges, steel mills, dams, coal mines, etc. But Google plans to force a new version of the blog authoring software down our throats. They initially claimed that it would be the default in late June and that they would force us to switch to it in late July. I see they have now removed saying when we will be forced to use it.

The text window in their feedback window is only 360 x 125 pixels. That won't even hold 144 words. Regular readers, about 20, know that I don't think in terms of 144 words or less. I've been known to write introductions that are longer than that.  I've had trouble keeping up with the information that I have been finding on Facebook before Google asked us to try the new software. This new software is putting me even further behind on my blog writing. So I've decided that, since Goggle has given me a bunch of lemons, I'm going to make some lemonade. In particular, I'm going to write some real life examples of software change. I'm not going to make a lot of my feedback public, but I am going to make at least my work analyzing the label menu issue public. It turns out, it is not a bug, it is a change that I can adapt to now that I understand what the needed adaptation is.

I discovered this problem when I tried looking for a post concerning the CB&Q. I could not find the label, rrCBaQ! So I'm going to start by using the old version to document the labels that I do have. Then I'll compare that to the labels offered in the new version.

In the new version the popup is the same dinky size no matter how tall the window is. According to a photo on the "better blogger experience" page, their design goal is to make it easier to use your phone. They seem to be so fixated on using a phone that they are ignoring how it behaves on a desktop. And the loss of the counts is NOT a "better experience." For example bridgeMovable having a count of 1 means that I haven't converted a post to one of the more specific movable types: lift, swing, bobtail, rolling, strauss, trunnion, rare. (I just fixed it.)

New Version
Note that CREATE has moved to the top.

I didn't find any labels missing from the first menu snapshot.

needsMap looks like another label that could be eliminated. I didn't find any labels missing for this screenshot either.
I thought rrBRC was missing, but then I found it between rrAmtrak and rrBaO. So they have switched from a case insensitive sort in the old version to a case sensitive sort in the new version. And uppercase letters are considered "smaller" than lowercase letters. That is why CREATE is now at the top.

Likewise, rrCBaQ, rrCGW and rrCSSaSB are not missing, they just moved from their old position to a position between rrBig4 and rrCaEI. Now that I understand there is a new rule for alphabetization, I'll quite studying the labels because they are not missing, and I now understand where to find them.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

IHB Icing Facility at Blue Island Yard

(Satellite, it has been replaced by a car repair shop)

Some general notes on icing platforms

Dwayne Weber posted
Does anyone know where this icing station would have been for IHB. This is a WW2 photo. Thanks!
[Some comments talk about what it was like to work in the ice house.
The chute is lowered and the ice poured down from the platform above.]

Dennis DeBruler commented on Dwayne's post
The south side of Blue Island Yard, 1938 aerial.
Mike Breski Notice the partially finished round house to the north west?
Dennis DeBruler I had never noticed that it was partially finished.
Digitally zoomed in on the above photo

The following photos are WWII Jack Delano photos from Lot 222.

We think of the railroads having to keep produce cool in the Summer. But they also had to keep it from freezing in the Winter. The gas holder in the background confirms this photo was taken in the Blue Island Yard.
LC-USW3- 014135-D

Placing charcoal heaters in a refrigerator car of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Heaters on the platform of the icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Refrigerator cars waiting to be iced at the icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The little carts on the platform are used for carrying the crushed ice up and down the platform and dumping it down the chutes into the cans


At the icing platform the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The chute is lowered and the ice poured down from the platform above.


Icing a car at the icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Icing a car at the icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

[We can see both grain elevators in the background.]
Michael Brandt posted


The icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The brick building on the left is the icing plant


The icing station of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. The brick building on the left is the icing plant


The icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

Michael Brandt posted
A cool Jack Delano pic from the icing platform of the IHB Icehouse .
A rare shot of both Grainery's in one pic.

The icing platform of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad


Inside the ice storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. It has a storage capacity of almost 15,000 tons


Block of ice being sent up an elevator into the storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad

Michael Brandt posted
A block of ice being sent up an elevator into the storehouse of the IHB icehouse, from 1943 taken by Jack Delano.
Tom Siniawski: I worked at the old rip starting in 1970 and was told they weighed 400. Place was still in operation.


Inside the ice storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. It has a storage capacity of almost 15,000 tons

Carl Venzke posted
Inside the ice storehouse of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad. It has a storage capacity of almost 15,000 tons - January 1943 - Jack Delano photo

Candy Lachman Birkenfeld posted
IHB photo

Freight operations on the Indiana Harbor Belt railroad between Chicago, Illinois and Hammond, Indiana. The train goes off to the icehouse as the caboose is cut off and goes down a siding to the yard office

[On the left background is the yard tower.]

Update: I didn't have all of Jack's photos.
Michael Brandt posted
A picture of the IHB icehouse from 1943 taken by Jack Delano.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Tod Ave+Republic+McCook Ave+Kennedy Ave Interlockings: B&OCT vs. IHB

The railfan post below got me looking for the "Republic interlocking" in East Chicago. My 2005 SPV Map shows that there were four interlockings between B&OCT and IHB in about a mile along the B&OCT. So I'm doing all four in one post.

Instead of a satellite, I'm using a topo image because it still has the tracks that were in these interlockings. The numbering convention is the one used by the 2005 SPV Map except that I added 99 to represent what is labelled as Calumet Tower.

  • Tod Ave: 8
  • Republic: 9
  • McCook Ave: 10
  • Calumet Tower: 99
  • Kennedy Ave: 11

1953 Whiting Quadrangle @ 1:24,000 plus Paint
Interlocks 8-10 were obviously connections between B&OCT and IHB spurs. Kennedy Ave confused me until I looked at a contemporary satellite image. It was a crossover.

This is how I learned about the Republic interlocking.
Steven W Panek posted
With the Indiana Harbor Canal a little higher than normal due to recent thunderstorms in the past week,
CSX 3168 was the rear DPU on an eastbound manifest that had just cleared Republic interlocking on the CSX Barr Subdivision in East Chicago, Indiana on 5/23/2020

Today, the spurs associated with interlockings 8 and 10 are gone.
RR Aban Map
And the connection in the southwest quadrant of Republic is gone.

Evidently the water level of the Indiana Harbor Canal is normally rather high. I'm guessing from the images of the bridge that the girders are concrete instead of steel. It appears the purpose of the south fork of the canal is to help drain Grand Calumet River rather than navigation because all of the bridges across it are fixed.
Street View

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Lost High (Suicide) Bridge in Lincoln Park

(Satellite???, Since it was gone by 1919, I can't look for it on a 1938 aerial photo)


Joseph Ruzich posted
Check out my blog and read a story with postcards about Suicide Bridge in Lincoln Park. I think you'll like it!
It was a four-story tall bridge so that sailboats could pass underneath it. It was built in 1892 or 94. Unfortunately, it was high enough that it became a popular place to commit suicide. Fortunately, for a couple of amateur actors, falling off the bridge was not a guaranteed death. They did it in 1916 for a movie and survived. It was torn down in 1919. [WTTW]

Beer drinking, bicycle riding, Chicago photography club posted five images with a comment that is text copied from the Geoffrey Baer's WTTW article.
Raymond Kunst shared





Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lost/Interlake/Acme/By Products Coke Corp

(Satellite, west of Torrence between 110th to 116th.)

(Update: A web site about this coke plant. I just scratched the surface of these pages. But the interview with D.J. Podgorny caught my eye. And the Resources page provides the "how it works" information that I have been wondering about.)

Rod Sellers posted, cropped
By Products Coke plant, 1907. Eventually became Acme Coke Plant.

Tony Margis posted
Acme Coke Plant, aerial view, in 2004, 109th & Torrence.

safe_image for ACME COKE PLANT

This coke plant supplied the ACME iron plant, which supplied the ACME steel plant.
(I added the wwCalRiver label to make it easier to access all three Acme plants and because they did build a conveyor over the river to transport coke from here to the iron plant.)

A comment Rod Sellers added to his post
Acme Coke Plant 112th Torrence Avenue. Top of coke ovens Battery #1. Coal was loaded into the ovens through the round openings in the top of the ovens. Attached photo shows view from top of Battery toward the coal bunker (large concrete structure) which loaded coal into a Larry Car which then loaded the individual coke ovens where it was baked into coke, the fuel for blast furnaces.

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

Rod Sellers posted
East Side / South Chicago #5 trolley at approximately 116th and Ewing view WNW. Republic Steel blast furnace and coke plant in background.
[The gasometer on the left side of the photo would be for Wisconsin Steel. The "dimmer" one that is left of center would be for Interlake/Acme/By Products Coke Corp.]

Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?
Rod commented on his post
Answer: Acme Coke Plant coal car rotary dumper. Attached photo shows dumper in May 2004 a couple of years after plant closed.

acme coke plant: car dumper

map of By Products Coke Corp (predecessor to Interlake and Acme)

Coal bunker and battery #1 of coke ovens from ACME Coke Plant share
Rod Sellers comment on a share

Rod Sellers posted
 Torrence Avenue approximately 112th Street view north, 1938. Wisconsin Steel on the right, Acme / Interlake Coke Plant on the left. First building on the left (partial view) was the light oil building. Next building on left is the gatehouse and entrance to the coke plant. Attached photo is gatehouse and entrance to plant a few years after the plant closed.
Lucille Tidmarsh Torrance ave, I went to the building on the left to apply for a job in the office, I was all dressed up but that building was so grimy and dirty I had to stand the whole time, not a clean chair in the place.
Rod Sellers commented on his post
Attached photo is gatehouse and entrance to plant a few years after the plant closed. Photo by Rod Sellers Sept 14, 2004.
Street View

Bob Green commented on Rod's post
Eight photos from an album by Gabe Argenta. Since he considers being copied as flattering, I'm more than willing to flatter him.








Rod Sellers posted
Where am I?

Rod Sellers commented on his post
Quench Tower at Acme Coke Plant, August 2004. Coke plant is located at 11200 Torrence Avenue but the tower is located on the south portion of the property, approximately 115th or so. The tower was used to dump water on the freshly baked coke to stop it from burning any further. The upper portion of the tower was made of wood and over the years has fallen apart and is no longer standing. Attached photo was taken in May 2004 a couple of years after the plant closed.
John Orlando Plant closed in 2002.
Ernie Sanchez As a child riding in the car with mother I believed that the tower made clouds, which caused it to rain. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of tower. My great grandfather Giovanni DiFillipo worked there if it is the gas plant near 112th and Torrence.
Roger Yates The old Republic Steel plant on Ave "O" had a similar coke making facility on the north end. I worked there as a millwright helper during the summers of 1969, 70, 71 and 72. Recall the huge cloud of steam that would erupt when the hopper car loaded with red-hot coke was "quenched". A great job meeting interesting "real" people and learning what "real work" is all about. For a good read...."Fireflies in a Jar...A Milltown Reverie" by Georgia Nejak Kraff.

Michael Mora posted
Great vintage photo of activity at Interlake Steel coke plant, April 1958, 112th & Torrence. "Hot cargo of coke being dumped into a wharf from which it will be transferred by conveyor system to blast furnaces for use in melting iron ore." GE Photo Collection, Museum of Innovation and Science, available at
Andy Nossem: I worked at a coke plant a few years ago and they still do it the same way, furnace to car to quench to warf.

Bob Green posted seven photos "What left of Acme Steel’s Coke Plant Chicago. Shut down November 2001. Photo taken in 2016 and 2018."
I copied this one because of the comments
ShawnandDebby Arlow: They shut it down fully charged?
Bob Green: Not full charges. Enough to crate gas to keep them hot till the sale failed.

Bob Green commented on his post
Acme Steel's coke conveyor belt bridge over the Calumet River in Chicago. No longer standing. IH Wisconsin Steel and Acme in the background, no longer standing. Picture taken from Republic Steel.
It was the only suspension bridge in Chicago while it was still standing.

safe_image for 1995 14:41 video