Sunday, January 31, 2021

Black Warrior Lock and Dam #17

(HAERSatellite) Also called the John Hollis Bankhead Lock and Dam

I labeled this wwTennTom because it shares the Tombegbee River part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.



"The original 1915 dam (the only one of the original 17) remains, though not easily accessible to the general public. The current dam is 1,400 feet wide, 77 feet high with a lift of 69 feet." [HAER-data]

The structural height is 111', and the hydraulic height is 103'. The spillway width is 1023' and it can pass 666,000 cfs. [The height and flow rate numbers seem too high.] It has a high hazard potential. [I hope that "high" rating was before the rebuild that started in the 1960s. Wikipedia implies the dam was replaced in addition to building the new lock.] It specifies 2 locks with a size of 285' x 52'.  [BankHeadLake] But judging from the satellite image, the 1915 lock next to the dam would be the 285' x 52' lock. The new lock that was under construction between 1963 and 1980 looks like a more standard 600' x 110'. "The 1963 turbine was replaced in 1997, but stopped working in 2015. In February 2019 Alabama Power invested $17 million to install a new American Hydro turbine, along with constructing a new control room and replacing headgates, stop-logs, wicket gates and other infrastructure." [bamwiki] AlabamaNewsCenter has four file photos of the spillway. A couple of those photos show that it uses sluice gates. The article describes the $17m modernization job, but I still can't find a MW figure for any of the turbines.

Photo from picryl, cropped
Alabama Power Co. built the powerhouse in 1963. The new lock was started in 1966, opened in 1975 and was completed in 1980. (bhamwiki provides a date of 1963 instead of 1966.)


JOHN HOLLIS BANKHEAD LOCK & DAM IN TUSCALOOSA COUNTY. - John Hollis Bankhead Lock & Dam, On Warrior River below Port Birmingham, Kellerman, Tuscaloosa County, AL

The following two photos were in the record for the Holt Dam instead of this dam.


Craig Dodson posted
Lock 17 the uppermost dam on the black warrior
Don Traut: How much traffic up that far these days?
Craig Dodson: Don Traut not much. Shoal creek mine closed last year. From here down does have some traffic.
By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Office of the District Engineer, Mobile, District, Public Domain,

Don Traut: Craig Dodson declining coal traffic is going to be hard to replace on many of our rivers.
BlackWarriorRiver, Photo by Nelson Brooke, Flight by
"A series of fourteen locks and dams were built on the river in the late 1800s. In the 1930s, work began to replace those dams with a more modern series of four locks and dams. The river is heavily used by barges for the transport of commercial commodities such as coal, coke, steel, wood, and chemicals. These dams have created a number of lake-like reservoirs stealing the river’s free-flowing beauty."

Saturday, January 30, 2021

1943 US-20 Julien Dubuque Bridge over Mississippi River at Dubuque, IA

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges, has several construction photos; John A. Weeks III; 3D Satellite)

This bridge replaced the 1887 Wagon Bridge.

John Weeks

"Its longest span is 845 feet, total length 5,760 feet and width 28 feet. The clearance below the bridge is 64 feet. When built, the 845-foot main span was the second longest over the Mississippi River, fourth longest in the United States and eighth longest in the world." This bridge is congested and Iowa DOT is working on building another 2-lane bridge just south of this bridge. [Historic Bridges]

Street View

One of several IDOT construction photos on EncylopediaDubuque
Quick Facts: When opened on August 30, 1943 the 845-foot span was the:
             1) second-longest over the MISSISSIPPI RIVER,   
             2) fourth-longest in the United States,
             3) eighth-longest in the world.
Ralph Hutches, Dec 2019

LC-DIG-highsm- 39829
Credit line: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Carol M. Highsmith's photographs are in the public domain.

Curt Smith posted
I think this is a early 70s slide before the flood wall was bulit at Dubuque alot of things gone now.The tanks in the photos gone.Interstate Power torn down a few years back.Put a few Acbl coal barges into that place.Fischer cold storage gone hotel and waterpark and casino in its place.Two of the boats gone the Arthur J Dyer I think burnt up in a fire many many years ago?Coal Queen gone Dick Bissell owned her in this photo.Then Capt Eldon Newt had her.Artco had her in later years.They scrapped her in Cassville years back.She was a Dubuque Boat Bolier works bulit boat along with Mary thats near Ice harbor entrance.Mary is only survior shes had diffrent names over the years.Shes siting in back of the ex Steamer Alexander Mackenise at Joliet as a few months back future unknown.Yellow tint is from my house fire heat got into the case some slides I couldnt save and had to throw away they were good ones to.

Jayson Young posted
Dubuque on the Mississippi
[The foreground is the gate in the flood wall to provide access to the harbor, which includes the 1930s William M. Black steamboat with tours. ]

Friday, January 29, 2021

Harvesting Ice and Iceboxes

John Rentschler posted two photos with the comment: "Ice Harvest on the Mississippi  .. Clinton Iowa  See the blocks of ice going up in the Ice House?"
Ed Schloz: And used sawdust to insulate the blocks for the next summer use!!!!
John Rentschler: The walls were insulated with 6-8 inch blocks of cork.
Tom Lindsay: When I was young there were lots of ice houses around still filled with saw dust.


Raymond Storey posted

The icehouse in Newburgh, IN, has been preserved.


Craig Jon Berndt posted
Pleasant Lake Ice Co., undated. Phone number 176. The blanket on the horse reads DEKALB xxxxx CO. HARDWARE.
Gail Barnard: Does this go back to the big old ice houses on the east side of the railroad tracks [NYC]? My dad (Byron Gramling 1912-1981) once drew for my son a schematic of the process with the cutting on the west end of the lake and conveyors up and over the road to where ice was stored in the big ice houses for use by the railroads in their passenger cars. I believe he said there was a kind of grass (he referred to it as swamp grass, but it likely had a scientific moniker) used to insulate around and between the big blocks. Quite a process in those days. One can only assume there were local outlets for the same product. Fascinating bit of history for a sleeping looking little town whose footprint went miles beyond. Gail Gramling Barnard.
[I suspect that NYC was more concerned about icing the refers than their passenger cars.]
Lori Smith DeMille: Last year, a couple of days before my father passed away, he had a day of clarity. He could not have any cold water, and he started talking about the ice house at Pleasant Lake as if he were still there in the moment. I didn’t know if there was such a place or not. Thank you for sharing this.

I learned from this video that the ice was stored in the smaller top compartment. I assume the bottom compartment is the colder food and the tall compartment is a little warmer. Of course, refrigeration made iceboxes obsolete.
Urban Remains


 Ice blocks were also used to load refers on the railroad.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

1909-1970s N&W/Virginia Bridge over New River in Glen Lyn, VA

(Bridge Hunter; Satellite)

Technically, the label should not be rrNaW because this route was still the Virginia Railway in 1928. But rrNaW is much more informative than rrMisc. The N&W mainline used to go under the bridge and it is still intact.

Doug Bess posted
This is my photo of the former Virginian Railway bridge over New River and the former Norfolk & Western at Glen Lyn, VA taken in the spring of 1968. Approximately four years later the bridge was removed due to the US 460 widening project. Only the concrete piers in the river remain today.
Jason Downard: Doug Bess do you have any pictures of the line between Glen Lyn and Kellysville before 460 was built?
Doug Bess: Jason Downard there is one on my blog. The link is Also there is a photo of the VGN powerhouse at Narrows.
"The VGN was in existence for a short 50 years. The many impressive bridges and tunnels (mostly in West Virginia) enabled the VGN to provide a superior gradient for hauling coal especially over that of N&W’s parallel route between Kelleysville, WV (east of Bluefield,WV) to Roanoke, VA and on to Norfolk....The electrified portion of the railroad between Mullens and Roanoke was dismantled in the last half of 1962."
Jason Downard: Doug Bess what I was really wanting to know is if there was a tunnel between Glen Lyn and Kellysville where 460 is now... Hales Gap Tunnel?
Doug Bess: Jason Downard yes there was. I wish I had taken a picture of it. It was right behind me in the photo of the coal train.

Jason Downard commented on Doug's post
Ted Gregory posted
Giant Virginian Railway Electrics over
massive New River/ Glen Lyn (WV[VA]) Trestle.
Correction: This bridge was demolished in 1972
VGN EL2-B 126 wb
June 12 1956
R J Cook
Ted Gregory shared

Jason Downard commented on Doug's post
Collection of Tracy Walker, License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

eBook via Bridge Hunter

safe_image for Demise of the New River Bridge
[This includes a nice history of the VGN route.
The piers are 90' above water level and the rails are at 120'. The bridge is 2,155' long.]

The piers are still standing.

Doug Bess commented on a post
Here is another view of the New River Bridge I took in 1968 looking eastbound. It was quite an impressive structure. I got word that the US 460 widening project would result in the removal of the bridge so I went with a railfan friend at the time to Glen Lyn, VA from the Charleston, WV area to photograph it.

Doug Bess commented on a post
not a good shot but here is a coal train going across the bridge at Glen Lyn, VA in 1968.
Ted Gregory: Wow that's awesome. 6 units!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Road Bridges over Great Egg Harbor at Beesleys Point, NJ

1928: (Bridge Hunter; see below for satellite)
1954: (Bridge Hunter; Satellite, eastern (northbound) lanes)
1973: (Bridge Hunter; Satellite, western (southbound) lanes)
2016: (no Bridge Hunter: see below for satellite)

Tom Ensman posted
NJ parkway over great egg harbor bay beesleys point NJ.
Ben Stalvey: 2250 and 4100 ringer

This excerpt catches the removal of the 1928 bridge on the left and the construction of the 2016 bridge.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Tom's post
The new bridge was done by Oct 2016. It looks like they were still removing the 1928 bridge. The article indicates that the marine operations were extremely tide-dependent.
[The new bridge was post-tensioned "in order to increase span lengths, reduce the number of piers, and provide for a wider, unobstructed channel."]

Google Earth, Feb 2013

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

1927 Guernsey Dam on the North Platte River near Guernsey, WY


There is an HAER record. But its data file is just captions for the photos. The problem is that none of the photos have been digitized!  

Guernsey Dam and spillway. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
"Guernsey Dam is a 135-foot-high, diaphragm-type embankment of sluiced clay, sand, and gravel....200 laborers were at the site at the mouth of the small canyon, using steam shovels to gather broken rock for the dam’s embankment. Trains hauled the material to the dam site and dumped it from trestles on each side of the embankment. Completed on July 13, 1927, Guernsey Dam stores water and also controls flow from other dams on the river."
[I wish I better understood where the sluiced material was placed in the dam. I've read that sluiced dams are now considered dangerous. Most of the article explains that Guernsey State Park was a pioneer development of recreation sites.]

The two-generator powerhouse with its surge tank is in the left background, its gatehouse is in the foreground, and I think the two gates in the right background control the input to the powerhouse.
Street View, May 2012

In the satellite image, there is no water flowing in the spillway. But in the street view below we can see they are releasing water in that spillway. That release would explain why we see a gap at the top of the counterweight stack in the above street view.
Street View, May 2012

US Bureau of Reclamation
Spillway Capacity At Elevation: 52,000 cfs at top of active conservation pool of 4420'.
Top of inactive conservation pool: 4370'
Crest Elevation: 4430'
Crest Length: 560'
Auxiliary Spillway: No [more on this later]
Hydraulic Height (Normal Operating Depth at Dam): 96'
Net Generation: 12,108,622 kWh.

Does net generation mean the total during its lifetime of 94 years? I think so because the installed capacity is low.
It was built with 4.8kw. During 1992-94 the generator windings were replaced to provide an installed capacity of 6.4kw. "Guernsey Power Plant is operated on a seasonal basis during the release of irrigation flows to satisfy downstream demands on the North Platte River in Wyoming and Nebraska."
Turbine Type: Francis   Rated head: 70'   Power Factor [Percentage of the year that it runs?] 26.1%
  "An emergency contract was awarded and completed in FY 2003 for stabilization of rock on the hillside above the power plant and transformer deck to prevent a potentially catastrophic rockslide that might have damaged the power plant and transformers and resulted in an oil spill into the North Platte River." 



The dam and powerhouse under construction. Bureau of Reclamation

* Reservoir is considered "full" when pool elevation is at top of active conservation pool. Percentage is based on total reservoir volume below that level.

This is the second dam I remember seeing with a "trench spillway." I saw the first, Sanford Dam in Texas, just a little over a month ago. I think that dam has the deep spillway because the watershed is in a desert. But the Rocky Mountains are not a desert. I also noticed that they do not specify an elevation for the top of a flood pool. And the conservation pool is within 10' of the crest. The above "triangle diagram" reinforces that there is no flood pool. The following diagram for the Keyhole Reservoir, WY, shows what the "triangle diagram" looks like for a dam that does have a flood pool.

That would explain why Guernsey has a deep spillway with a big sluice gate at the opening. It needs to be able to release a maximum rain event rather than retain some of the water for flood control. And I have concluded that the structure in the satellite view below is the input to the hydropower plant. That means the dam can generate power only when the reservoir is full, which makes sense since it doesn't do flood control.

You can tell this is a wilderness area because Global Earth doesn't have a lot of images of the dam. This one has the maximum flow in the spillway. It appears that they are releasing water even though the reservoir is not full. This confused me until I read that the outflow supplies water for irrigation. Obviously, irrigation would be higher power than a little power generation.
Global Earth, Aug 2009

Monday, January 25, 2021

Trail/WICT/IC 1887 Bridge over Sugar River in Belleville, WI and Stewart Tunnel

Bridge: (Bridge Hunter; John Marvig; no Historic Bridges; Satellite)
Tunnel: (Bridge Hunter; John MarvigSatellite)

The ICG abandoned the line in 1985, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation decided the line was of critical importance.
The Wisconsin & Calumet was contracted to operated the line, and continued with moderate success until 1993, when the tracks were embargoed.
Between 1993 and 1999, the line was used for motor car enthusiasts, with hope of returned freight service.
This service would never return, and the tracks were removed in 1999, and the state of Wisconsin and Stephenson County purchased the line.
In Wisconsin, the line is currently the Badger State Trail, which heads directly into Madison. One short stub of the old line remains in Madison.
In Illinois, the Jane Addams Trail uses the line between Freeport and the State Line.

Greg Mross posted
Ex-IC bridge in Belleville, WI, now a really nice bike trail. Even has a tunnel!
[Note the dimensional stone abutment.]

Tim Shannahan shared

I was going to pass on a pin-connected truss until I noticed it was an Illinois Central bridge. This was on an IC branch that went from Freeport, IL, to Madison, WI. 

Street View

John Marvig states that Wisconsin had nine tunnels at one time. That is because tunnels were common in the Driftless Area. The Driftless Area was left untouched by the latest glacier. So some big hills remain because they did not get sliced off by the glacier.

Photo taken by wikipedia user WISkies, License: Public domain: Released by author
[Parts of the tunnel are bare cut limestone.]