Monday, October 31, 2022

Kentucky River Locks and Dams Overview

The Kentucky River waterway system is like some I've documented in Wisconsin: it was viable in the 19th Century for commercial navigation, but not in the 21st Century. But the first four locks of the 14 that were built are still operated for recreational boating. This site also has a table that provides the open and closed-to-navigation dates for each of the 14 locks. [AbandonedOnline]

The first steamboat traversed the river in 1815. "Locks No. 1–5 were built between 1836 and 1842 and Locks No. 6–14 were constructed during the second building campaign between 1891 and 1917." The federal government assumed control in 1880 and repaired locks 1-5, which had not been used since the Civil War. By the time the USACE finished building locks 6-14, they were obsolete because of the railroads and automobiles. After WWII, "the river became a recreational destination, and pleasure crafts replaced the barges and towboats of the past. The upper river locks remained open for limited seasonal use during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1986, the Kentucky River Authority was established by the Kentucky General Assembly to manage the operation of Locks No. 5–14, which were decommissioned in 1990. Between 1996 and 2006, the upper river locks were transferred from federal management to the Kentucky River Authority. Some freight traffic continued to pass through Locks No. 1–4 until 2002. The United States Army Corps subsequently leased the lower river locks to the Kentucky River Authority, who continues to manage the Kentucky River locks today." []

Dams for which I have written notes:
Jimmy Nickels posted
A simple drawing showing the origins and the 259 mile trek of the Kentucky River. 
The North Fork begins in Letcher County, The South Fork begins in Clay County, and The Middle Fork begins in Leslie County. These three forks pick up various creeks and streams along the way.
The three forks converge at Beattyville in Lee County to begin the Kentucky River.
Along the way Northwest to meet with the mighty Ohio River, The Kentucky River picks up the Red River, Silver Creek, Dix River, and various other creeks and streams.
As it makes it’s way past Frankfort, it’s joined by Benson Creek and Elkhorn Creek.
The Kentucky River, a substantial force at this point, then flows into the Ohio River at Carrollton, Kentucky, making the mighty Ohio River even bigger.
Dave Bergman: While on the New River in WV, (another river that flows north) the rafting guide informed the group that since rivers cannot go over mountains, they must be older than the mountains that pushed up over time and ones the river now cuts through. That would make the KY and New Rivers two of the oldest in America.
Sam Adams: Dave Bergman I'm not sure about West Virginia, but the only true mountains, meaning thrust up, are Big Black, Pine, and Cumberland. The rest were created by erosion of the Cumberland Plateau.
Pattie Stivender: Dave Bergman New River is the second oldest river on earth.
Jim Wallace Gover: The St. Johns river in Florida is the only river in the US that flows north to the ocean. All rivers in Ky flow N to the Ohio.

ymaws, p3 (report describes LD#9 repairs)

HeartOfTheKentuckyRiver, p2

The improved resolution of the above made the following obsolete. But I did not delete it because I wanted to keep the references in the caption., at source resolution
This chart is also available in USACE-disposition. It is still hard to read the text, but at 200% I was able to determine that the lift for Lock #5 is 485-470=15'.

I had to search for a long time to find the basic information for a waterway: the minimum depth is 6' and the lock size is 145' x 38'. I found that information in this diagram:
USACE-disposition, p95
[I wonder how much it cost to produce this report.]

Locks 1-5 were built in 1842 using timbercrib dams, stone locks and wood gates. The reason I checked the lift of Lock #5 was because I noticed how small the men at the bottom of the gates appear in this photo. Note that paddle gates in the lock gates that were used to empty the lock. at 200% via KRA

Sunday, October 30, 2022

1922,2003 16th Street (David McCullough) Bridge over Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, PA

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridgespghbridges; B&T3D Satellite)

Street View

Note the two smokestacks on the right side of the photo below. I noticed them when I got the above view, but I did not want to make that view wider in order to include them. They still have Heinz 57 painted on them. pghbridges has information about the pylon sculptures including why they are brown instead of green.
Street View

Ad via HistoricBridges

1 of 5 photos posted by Bridges & Tunnels
You can get lost exploring the bridges of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania because there are simply so many to look at. But one of my favorites is the Sixteenth Street Bridge, a steel through arch structure that carries Sixteenth Street over the Allegheny River.
The first iteration of a bridge at this location was the Northern Liberties Bridge, a covered Burr arch truss structure, that was erected in 1840 and rebuilt in 1866. It became more simply the Sixteenth Street Bridge in 1868. The deteriorated structure, the last of its kind in the city, burned in a spectacular fire on the morning of April 23, 1918.
Back-and-forth on what share the city and county would pay for the new bridge and approaches led to years-long delays but finally, work was underway on the new Sixteenth Street Bridge by 1921 with steel erection by the Fort Pitt Bridge Works beginning that November. The new crossing was opened on the night of October 9, 1923. It closed for major repairs in 1981-82 and 2002, with work including bridge deck replacement, painting, and other miscellaneous structural work.
The crossing closed at 11 AM on July 7, 2013, and reopened at 5 PM following a rededication ceremony that renamed the Sixteenth Street Bridge the David McCullough Bridge after David McCullough, a renowned local author and historian.
➤ Check out more photos and history of this magnificent bridge at

Saturday, October 29, 2022

1903-1995 Kentucky River Lock and Dam #9


This was part of the Kentucky River Waterway.

It was closed to navigation in 1995. [abandoned]

This dam supplies water for more than 325,000 people. [stantec]

The height is 36' and it holds 16,000 acre-feet. [inspection]

ymaws, p28

The river was high enough to go over the auxiliary dam as well as the main dam and highlights the "bumpy" spillway of cell dams. Starting on page 35, ymaws explains why they choose a cell dam design and has a lot of photos of the construction.

0:30 video @ 0:13

The dam was replaced during 2007-09 with a new sheet pile dam at a cost of $14,747,000.
[This site has some more construction photos.]

ymaws, p11
This was the first dam on the river to use concrete. Locks 1-8 were rock-filled timber crib.
[This report was prepared by Stantec.]

ymaws, p19
Repaired during 2007-10 with a cost of $14.7m.
[This photo is not consistent with p28 nor satellite images.]

ymaws, p21

ymaws, p26

ymaws, p27

Many of the photos and diagrams explained how they poured concrete in the cells while they were still filled with water; that is, "in the wet." This page concerning the havoc caused by a high river was of particular interest.
ymaws, p51

uky, p13

0:30 drone video @ 0:08

Friday, October 28, 2022

Utility/KCS Industrial Spur Bridge over Blue River in Kansas City, MO

(Bridge Hunter3D Satellite)

The Armco/Sheffield Steel Mill had plants on both sides of the Blue River, so it had several bridges from this one on south along the Blue River. This bridge allowed coal cars to be delievered to the power plant in the northwest corner of the mill's site. It also carried a steam pipe so that the power plant could supply steam to plants on the east side of the Blue River. Normally, I would not notice a bridge that is this small. But when I Googled the steel mill, the BridgeHunter web page was the only one that gave me a correct address for the steel mill.

3D Satellite

The debris by the pier shows that sometimes the $286m flood-control project [Dennis DeBruler] gets used.
July 2013 Photo by Clark Vance via BridgeHunter

Now it carries several utilities, but no steam.
July 2013 Photo by Clark Vance via BridgeHunter

Near the bottom of this 1955 photo, one can see that there was also a high-line bridge right next to this one.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

1873 Aban/C&O Church Hill Tunnel in Richmond, VA

West Portal: (Satellite)
East Portal: (Satellite)

1895 Richmond Quad @ 62,500

Dale R. East posted two photos with the comment: "Richmond VA."

[I can tell by the road on top that this is the West Portal.]

Other photos show that there is water in this end of the tunnel.
Clinton Lewis, Dec 2021

Satellite plus Paint
Dale R. East: Dennis, I went to the other end and didn't feel comfortable going all the way to that one.
Dennis DeBruler: Dale R. East It does look like nature has reclaimed that end.
Dale R. East: Dennis DeBruler plus it was posted and fenced.

IC Accounting Office

(Satellite, given the first photo, I'm guessing it was the grass lot in the northwest quadrant.)

Robert Daly posted two photos with the comment: "This was IC's accounting office at 63rd and Woodlawn. The main line ticket office was located on the first floor. Photos taken November 3 1988. The site is now a parking lot."
[I think the "parking lot" is the remnants a small business.]
Cliff Downey: Robert Daly thank you for sharing. I have some photos of the building, inside and out, when it first opened in the 1920's. Will try to find them on the hard drive and share them.
The interior photos depict a completely different era from today. There was no such thing as "casual Friday" in the 1920's. Men always wore jackets and vests, and women wore white dresses. Of course, there were no computers. Instead there were shelves from floor to ceiling, neatly filled with ledgers, tarrif books, and large binders.


This reminds me that 63rd used to be a very commercial strip.
1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

In 1972, 63rd looked about the same. Including the Jackson Park "L" still existed.
EarthExplorer: Oct 26, 1972 @ 30,000, AR1VDCR00010482

The next aerial that is available is 1991. But the scale is just 60,000, and I would have to order a copy. I'm not that curious about how this neighborhood has evolved.

I did do a quick look at Global Earth. The small business was still standing.
Global Earth, Sep 2000

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

NS/Southern Cut/Tunnel under Tunnel Hill in Indiana


Jim Pearson Photography posted
After a 1.5 hour wait, I caught Burlington Northern Santa Fe 6739 as it led Norfolk Southern 167, as it passes through the cut at Tunnel Hill on the NS Southern East District just north of Depauw, Indiana, as it makes its way east to Louisville, Ky on April 15th, 2023. This cut was made close to the old existing tunnel where the trains used to run.
Tech Info: DJI Mavic 3 Classic Drone, RAW, 24mm, f/2.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 200.
Jim Pearson Photography:

I added a red line to show the approximate location of the tunnel. You can clearly see the abandoned route to the east because of the tree line.
Global Earth, Apr 2017

SpeedShot Train Photography posted
A Westbound Norfolk Southern Intermodal train rolls through the rock cut in Ramsey Indiana / 9-6-22
Roger Riblett shared

Dennis DeBruler commented on the post
I wonder when they daylighted the tunnel. The new route is not on a 1970 topo map, but it is on a 1985 topo.
1946 Depauw Quad @ 1:24,000
Will Fleckenstein: What does “daylighted a tunnel” mean?
SpeedShot Train Photography: Will Fleckenstein opened it up as shown in the photo vs leaving. Tunnel here

SpeedShot Train Photography posted
The Norfolk Southern Interstate Heritage Unit Leads a freight train through the Ramsey Indiana cut Eastbound / September 2022
This was actually a camera shot as well. There are a bunch of cutouts in the fence on the bridge here!
Roger Riblett shared

Dennis DeBruler commented on Roger's share
This cut replaced a tunnel.,-86.1937686,519m/data=!3m1!1e3
Jim Pearson Photography posted
Norfolk Southern 4124 leads NS 168 west through the cut at Tunnel Hill, just west of Ramsey, Indiana on November 4th, 2023, as it heads west on the NS Southern East District. This rock cut was made close to the old existing tunnel where the trains used to run.
Tech Info: DJI Mavic 3 Classic Drone, RAW, 22mm, f/8, 1/240, ISO 100.

Jim Pearson Photography added
Waiting on a train between Depauw and Ramsey, IN at the Tunnel Hill overpass on the NS East District!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Audubon Parkway bridge over and "The River Queen" B-E 1650 on the Green River

(no Bridge Hunter; Satellite)

I spent some time looking for the Bridge Hunter post for the bridge over the shovel until I finally remembered that they don't document UCEBs (Ugly Concrete Eyesore Bridges).

Donna Grady Ebelhar posted
Green Coal shovel moving down Green River closely under the Audubon Parkway bridge when it moved from Rockport to Spottsville.
January 1989
Roger Shocklee: I pumped water out of the barge after it was loaded during Christmas 1988. We worked 12 hour shifts waiting for the river to drop so it would fit under the bridges.
[Winter is generally the low water season for rivers.]
Matt Weyand shared
Gibson Smith: 1650-B
Wendell Bennett: That's showing somewhere around 50' tall stripped down .
Devery Patterson: Looks like the 1650 that was at vogue & Alston.
Pretty sure it’s the one we dismantled at vogue. We took it to Alston surface and built it back.
Wayne Pruitt: This was the shovel named “The River Queen”. It came from the River Queen mine and arrived downriver at Spottsville Ky. Green Coal Company put her to work there. I was oiler on this same machine for several years. She was laid to rest at the Spottsville mine in the mid 90’s

There are certainly a lot of land tattoos for strip mining near Rockport.

Vicki Embry Dant posted two images with the comment: "The first picture is of a postcard from Green Coal Company. The second picture tells about the machines."
Terry English: Great pictures. The shovel was the BE1650B and the dragline was the Page that pulled back for the BE1650B at the Green Coal Company Panther Mines.


Jim Bartlett posted
1650 Pit 1983
Terry English: We had a BE1650B Shovel, BE1050B Shovel, BE480W Dragline and a Page Dragline....

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The Kingsbury Thrust Bearing

Hydropower plants pioneered big generators. The first plants used units with horizontal shafts. Here are some examples.

1907 MWRD Lockport via Dennis DeBruler

1907 Croton via Dennis DeBruler
1909 Dam #4 via Dennis DeBruler

1911 or earlier via Dennis DeBruler

1911 Marseilles via Dennis DeBruler

1913 Healey Falls via Dennis DeBruler

In 1896, Professor Kingsbury invented a thrust bearing that required just one thrust collar on the shaft. [26:57 video @ 7:29] He was researching oil lubrication, and he figured out how to use oil under high pressure to support high forces between the single shaft collar and the bearing. This allowed a bearing at the bottom of a vertical shaft to support the tremendous weight of a generator and its turbine. While watching the video, I realized that the waterwheels in the Lockport and Croton powerhouses had balanced axial forces. Specifically, the water comes out of both sides of each waterwheel. 

The ASME has some different dates: "His first experimental bearing was tested in 1904. He filed for a patent in 1907, and it was granted in 1910." The first Kingsbury bearing in hydroelectric service was installed in the Holtwood Hydro Plant in 1912.
1912 Holtwood via Dennis DeBruler

The 1913 Keokuk Powerhouse used roller bearings in half the units and Kingsbury Thrust Bearings in the other half. The bearings were four times larger than the prior art, so they were effectively experimenting with thrust bearings. 
1913 Keokuk via Dennis DeBruler

This is the post that motivated me to research thrust bearings.
Pacific Northwest Hydroelectric Power Plant Operators posted @ 0:03
For everyone out there like me that wondered when the Thrust Bearing Oil Pump (High Lift Pump) pressure relief valve would ever operate, the answer is every single time the pump initially starts. Pretty cool to be able to witness this with the thrust bearing tub completely removed.
[Note the "fountain" of oil near the middle of the screenshot.
We can see that each shoe has a pipe that feeds it oil.]

Shove the slider to about 0:12 seconds and listen to the shoes drop.
Pacific Northwest Hydroelectric Power Plant Operators posted
Once in a lifetime opportunity to see the thrust bearing shoe stripper bolts doing their job during a unit brake jacking evolution.
Neil Jacobson: Amazing how much suction power there is between two metals with a fluid between them.

Another video with the comment: "Thrust Bearing Shoe Stripping."
Neil Jacobson: If I remember right there is a permissive limit switch that has to be closed to allow start up.
Andy Michel: Neil Jacobson Yes, based on pressure.

The above referenced video (26:57) made me realize that just because a shaft is horizontal does not mean there are no axial forces. That was when I checked the diagrams of Lockport and Croton and realized that the water wheels have just radial forces because the axial forces are balanced. But steam driven turbines would have a massive amount of axial force because of the steam pushing against all of those blades. That is why this turbine has five thrust collars. It is from the early 1900s and high-performance, single-collar thrust bearings have yet to be invented.
Dennis DeBruler