Thursday, July 30, 2020

Concrete Paving Before Ready Mix Trucks Were Developed

Before ready mix trucks were developed in the 1950s, a mobile mixer was run at the site. Contractors would typically lay a narrow gauge railroad along the work area to haul in the materials.

MWRD posted
View looking southwest at the partially completed, northernmost section of McCormick Blvd. in Evanston, Illinois, on August 17, 1925. The road in the foreground is Green Bay Road (known at the time as Rail Road Ave.). The MWRD completed construction of McCormick Blvd. (originally McCormick Road) in 1926.

MWRD posted
Construction of the northernmost section of McCormick Blvd. in #Evanston on August 17, 1925, viewed looking southwest from the intersection of Green Bay Road (known at the time as Rail Road Ave.) Construction of McCormick Blvd. (originally McCormick Road) was completed in 1926, and it was named in honor of Robert R. McCormick, who was the Sanitary District's President before the construction of the North Shore Channel.

MWRD posted
Historical photo of the week: A Koehring paver and crew at work on a section of McCormick Blvd on July 15, 1925. The MWRD completed construction of McCormick Blvd. (originally McCormick Road) in 1926. It was named in honor of Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick, who was the Sanitary District's President before the construction of the North Shore Channel (1907-1910).
Bruce DeMaeyer This machine, a Koehring Mixer was a mainstay of concrete paving of this era, but what is particularly interesting is the use of a temporary rail line to haul the building materials to the site. Wonder why they did not use trucks?

MWRD posted
A mixer and crew pouring a 10-foot concrete slab during the construction of McCormick Blvd. on August 6, 1925, at an unknown location. The MWRD completed construction of McCormick Blvd. (originally McCormick Road) in 1926.

Doug Kaniuk shared
note railroad on the right
Dan Bartlett Are they mixing that concrete on site do you suppose? So maybe supplies in those cars? Don't look like they wold work well with concrete.
Dennis DeBruler They are mixing the concrete on site. Here is another view of the Koehring Mixer and a supply train.
Remember that the tires on a truck in 1925 were thin and the engine was small. Truck development did not make ready mix trucks viable until the post-WWII building boom.
Rick Aylsworth I'm thinking the cars hold a batch of materials in proper proportion, and get picked up and dumped into the mixer.
Daniel Herkes Yes, that's correct. I used to operate a batch mixer and the cement, sand and rock came prepacked. Sometimes you can't get a truck mounted mixer where you need it.

MWRD posted
A mixer and crew pouring the center 20-foot strip for a base of asphalt paving during construction of McCormick Blvd. on August 6, 1925. The MWRD completed construction of McCormick Blvd. (originally McCormick Road) in 1926. 
MWRD posted
A view to the northwest showing workers and paving equipment during construction of McCormick Boulevard between Howard Street and Oakton Street in Skokie, Illinois, on September 7, 1926. The MWRD (then named the Sanitary District) built the roadway between 1924 and 1926 and named it in honor of Robert Rutherford McCormick, who was the Sanitary District's President from 1905 to 1910.

MWRD posted
View looking southwest at the partially completed, northernmost section of McCormick Blvd. in Evanston on August 6, 1925. The road in the foreground is Green Bay Road (known at the time as Rail Road Avenue). The cars at middle left are on a portion of Grant Street that was eventually replaced by park space and is now the northeastern end of the Ladd Arboretum. The MWRD completed construction of McCormick Blvd. (originally McCormick Road) in 1926. It was named in honor of Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick, who was the Sanitary District's (now MWRD's) President during construction of the North Shore Channel.
[Note that the track has yet to be removed.]

Before you can lay concrete, you have to grade the road.
MWRD posted
Excavation for the construction of McCormick Boulevard on May 9, 1925. The MWRD completed construction of McCormick Boulevard (originally McCormick Road) in 1926.

posting by Chuck Edmonson concerning the first "seedling" mile built for the Lincoln Highway in 1914 near IL-38 near Malta, IL contains some pictures of the concrete mixer technology of the day.


Steve OConnor commented on the above posting
Road building was often done with temporary industrial railroads. The terrible condition of dirt roads during rain made truck traffic all but impossible. The solution was to lay tracks parallel to the road and run small industrial locomotives to shuttle concrete from a temporary concrete plant erected along the road.
Steve OConnor commented on the above posting
A train loading up at the temporary concrete plant along side the road bed. Ironic that these locomotives were building the very roads that one day would help put them out of business.

MWRD posted
Historical photo of the week: Mixing concrete for construction of the Lockport Powerhouse walls on October 25, 1905.

Concrete for building big intercepting sewers was also mixed on site.

Tempe Town Lake Dam on Salt River in Tempe, AZ


While studying UP's bridge that they damaged in Tempe, AZ, I noticed in a satellite image that Tempe had a dam to put a river next to their river parks.

Screenshot via
3D Satellite
I zoomed into the gates on the satellite map to verify that they can be moved to offer no resistance to the water during a flash flood. That is when I noticed that the gates have a design that I had never seen before. At first I had assumed that it was a rack and pinion drive. But then I read that this "is the country's largest hydraulically-operated steel gate dam system." [] In the screenshot above you can see the hydraulic rams. They are clearly long enough that they can be extended so that the gates lie flush in the splash pool. "Using hydraulic lifts, these gates can be lowered to allow storm waters to pass through and raised to capture the tail end of the flow to re-establish the lake. About two feet of water can pass over the top of the gates while they are in the fully-upright position....The cost of this project, including removal of the previous dam system, was approximately $47 million." [] The above video explains that the gates are also lowered when the Roosevelt Dam discharges water.

This new dam replaced a dam that used inflatable rubber bladders that was constructed in 1999. A lot of work was done to ensure that the town's water allocation stays in the river channel and doesn't seep into the surrounding land. On the west end of the lake, they used cement stabilized levees with a cement-clay cutoff wall down to bedrock. On the eastern end, where the bedrock is much deeper, they lined the Salt River channel with clay and concrete. The have also installed seepage recovery wells. They do have to consume their water allocations to compensate for evaporation losses. The gates must be able to be raised while water is still flowing over them to capture the end of a flood event to refill the lake. [water-quality] Much of the lining of the river channel had already been done before building the dams to avoid channel erosion during flood events. [original1, original2]

The harsh desert environment was hard on the rubber dam, so it was replaced with the steel gate dam in 2016.
Evidently they have not had a major rain event since 2016 because the only image I have found of the gates being completely lowered appear to be during a gate test.
Screenshot via
And there is vegetation in the downstream riverbed. When I first looked at the satellite image, it struck me how low the flow of the river can get.
Indeed, it can get bone dry. A construction video made a point that they installed a rubber strip at the base of the gates to help seal the water in the lake. That means that the water in the lake is stagnant. I wonder if they have a problem with toxic algae growing on it. [DeBruler]
Vijay pentapati, Sep 2016
Evidently the lake is big enough that it doesn't have problems with algae, but sometimes the spillway does. But the next decent-flow event will flush that algae away.
Minette WILLIAMS, Apr 2018
The heaviest operational flow that I found.
Greg Roberts, Mar 2017
Some construction photos

(new window)  One of the bladders erupted in 2010 and they lost the lake. Also, the lake is the town's water supply. So if the intake is near the west end, that would provide some flow in the lake even if no water is flowing past the dam.

I paused the video to read the river gauge. That is when I noticed the link and bracket next to the hydraulic ram that can hold the gate in the upright position. I assume this is in anticipation of the maintenance activity of replacing a ram. You can also see the slot on this side of the river gauge where they can install a bulkhead gate.

(new window)  Of particular note is the number of times the old dam had to release water and they had to pump the construction zone dry again.

(new window)  Installation of the first gate. The gates were evidently fabricated in two pieces.

Unlike the two dams in Michigan, the downstream Salt River can handle the full flow of the billion gallons that are normally in the lake. So loosing just one-fourth of the dam should not have caused any downstream flooding issues.
Photo by Carter Radcliffe '11 via brophyprep
When PCL replaced the four rubber bladders, they also installed a sprinkler system to keep the rubber cool on hot days.

It appears they have had some local rains in the Summer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

1912 or 1915 UP/SP Bridge over Temp Town Lake in Tempe, AZ and the UP destruction of said bridge

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; HAERSatellite)

The sources seem to be about 50/50 concerning the construction date of 1912 vs. 1915.

Second video in azfamily
[The derailment of about 10 cars caused the south (right side) span to collapse and a fire to break out.]
"Tempe officials said one of the derailed cars contained cyclohexanone, a pale and oily liquid that is toxic and flammable. It's used to make nylon and paint remover. HAZMAT crews placed a foam layer over the car to keep it cool and prevent any chemical vapors. The chemical is leaking into a storm drain that goes into the riverbed on the west side of the dam. Crews are testing the area and working to stop the leak. The other two cars on the train track were transporting chemicals but neither are a hazardous concern right now, the City said. It's unclear what impact the derailment will have on the wildlife in the area.
The cars that burned for hours were carrying lumber, some of which fell into the lake."
No one was injured. But the collapsed span was over a highway, so UP really lucked out.
[There is s truss span crumpled up under and around those covered hoppers.]
A significant test of the range of a snorkel.

The bridge had its annual inspection on July 9. UP had derailed a dozen cars on this bridge just last June 26. The temperature was 115. But I assume the rails are used to temperatures like that. [azfamily] I saved 12 posts from Facebook about this derailment. But I'm not going to look at any of them. I'm happy with the amount of information in this azfamily page that Bridge Hunter referenced.

This was when I realized that the collapsed span was over a highway.
Street View
And UP was lucky that their wood trestle escaped the fire. It looks like some utilities lost their  conduits.
Street View
Someone updated Bridge Hunter on the same day of the derailment. According to a comment, the bridge carries pipelines.
Bridge Hunter Maricopa County Index


1. Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge, Ash Avenue Bridge and Mill Avenue Bridge from Tempe Butte looking northwest. - Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge, Spanning Salt River, Tempe, Maricopa County, AZ

[The first dam to create a lake was not built until 1999. The current dam was built in 2016. [DeBruler]]
This photo appears to have been taken after a rain.. This bridge is the only bridge that has survived all of the Salt River floods since 1915.
HAER ARIZ,7-TEMP,3--6 from az0253

6. Photocopy of photograph [original print located at Arizona Photographic Associates, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona]. Photographer: Herb McLaughlin, circa. 1965 AERIAL VIEW, LOOKING SOUTHEAST TOWARD TEMPE BUTTE, SHOWING, FROM TOP, MILL AVENUE BRIDGE, ASH AVENUE BRIDGE, AND SOUTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD BRIDGE - Ash Avenue Bridge, Spanning Salt River at Foot of Ash Avenue, Tempe, Maricopa County, AZ

HAER ARIZ,7-TEMP,3--14 from az0253

14. Photocopy of photograph [original print located at University Archives, Hayden Library, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona]. Photographer unknown, 1902 VIEW SHOWING TRAIN WRECK ON MARICOPA AND PHOENIX RAILROAD CAUSED BY BRIDGE FAILURE RESULTING FROM FLOOD DAMAGE - Ash Avenue Bridge, Spanning Salt River at Foot of Ash Avenue, Tempe, Maricopa County, AZ

Photo by Police Chief Sylvia Moir via DailyMail

safe_image for Arizona Corporation Commission Approves Tempe Railroad BridgeJoe Cayer They actually opened the bridge last night! [Aug 12, 2020] The flood of rail traffic is about to begin...Frank Loulan I looked at the KJZZ news report and they just reported yesterday afternoon that the AZ Corporation Commission had given approval for the reconstruction of the bridge. Clearly the rebuilding didn't happen LITERALLY in a matter of hours. Either they were very slow in reporting or UP had been working on it all along prior to receiving permission from the ACC to rebuild!!John Ciolli Bill Chrisman it's 10mph right now. I was the 3rd train across it last night/morning. Frank Loulan I think you are correct, Charlie, as the previous speed limit was only 15 MPH around that curve on the north side of the bridge as I recall. (I still have some old timetables around the house here somewhere, but can't lay my hands on one at the moment to confirm that.)

Bill Neill shared
You may have seen coverage of this July 29 derailment and fire on the Union Pacific Railroad's Tempe bridge. Several cars of a Tucson-Phoenix train derailed on the approach to the south end of the bridge with several plunging onto the road and parkway below. No one was injured, but the south end of the superstructure was so badly damaged that UP decided to blow a portion of the bridge up and rebuild it rather than attempting to extricate the remaining derailed cars.

safe_image for Regulators approve repair of Tempe Town Lake bridge damaged by train derailment
The bridge is part of a spur route off UP’s California-to-Texas main line across southern Arizona, and the railroad said it needed to reconstruct the bridge to restore service to metro Phoenix. Since the derailment, UP has routed some of its freight trains into metro Phoenix by using a Burlington Northern Santa Fe branch line that connects with the competing railroad’s main line across northern Arizona. The railroad will pay for reconstructing the bridge and the damaged parkway, the commission said. [And, of course, the NTSB is still investigating.]
Majdi Abbas It's done already [Aug 14, 2020] and taking traffic. [payware of 7, an interesting video of the rebuild including the energetic felling on Day 5 of a span with freight cars still on it popped up] "The reopening came two weeks after a portion of the bridge collapsed on July 29 when a freight train derailed, sending a few cars to the ground below. "
Chad Pendarvis commented
Shawn Smith posted five photos with the comment: "UPRR derailment, Tempe AZ."





Sam Beck commented
[The regulators would not allow a pylon in the median. They forced UP to span the entire parkway. The concrete beam trestle replaced the truss that was blown up.]

105 photos of the cleanup and then fire

safe_image for NTSB releases preliminary report on July's Tempe train derailment[The FBI fournd no criminal activity, but the cause of the derailment is still under investigation. The damage is estimated at between $8-10 million.]

Another report

Curtiss Pool provided a link for a share
Travis Willhoite: The chemical in the tank car had a flash point of 116 degrees Fahrenheit and it was 118 when we got there it was pretty nerve racking.
Scott Thomas: I was there three weeks ago [that would be Oct 12] and not one trace of damage left.
Mark Walls: I was the Engineer.
They haven’t said officially but I heard it was the rail. I believe it had just been fixed previously because there had been a slow order right there a few days earlier.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Mark Twain Bridges over the Mississippi River at Hannibal, MO

1936-2000: (Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; HAER)
2000: (Bridge Hunter; Satellite, this was an extension of I-72 across the river)

Missouri State Archives via Bridge Hunter, License: Public domain: Released by author
June 3, 1952
I think the 2000 bridge is interesting because they used a through truss span over the navigation channel. Were tied-steel arch spans still in development a couple of decades ago?
Street View

Missouri State Archives via Bridge Hunter, License: Public domain: Released by author
June 3, 1952

I include this one because the smokestacks caught my eye and the fact that they used a through truss span over land.
Missouri State Archives via Bridge Hunter
This shows that the truss over land is spanning a lot of railroad tracks.
Missouri State Archives via Bridge Hunter
04-16-1951 Hannibal during flood

Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places posted
The Mark Twain Memorial Bridge spanned the Mississippi River, connecting Hannibal, MO with the State of Illinois at Aladdin. The bridge was a Public Works Administration project, opening in 1936, coincidentally as part of US-36.
Before the bridge was built, automobiles could cross the Mississippi River at the nearby Wabash Bridge, which was built, and remains, as a railroad bridge. Originally opening as a toll bridge, the tolls were removed in 1940
In 2000, the bridge was demolished and replaced with a new bridge of the same name, carrying the newly-extended I-72 into Missouri, as well as US-36. A portion of the old Mark Twain Memorial Bridge remains is preserved at Cardiff Hill Overlook Park in Hannibal.