Saturday, April 29, 2023

B&O Sand Patch Grade and GAP Trail/WM Allegheny West Slope

I've already noted C&O's eastern slope grade on the Allegheny Mountains. The Sand Patch Grade was B&O's crossing of the Allegheny Mountains on their route to Pittsburgh, their Keystone Division. The B&O followed Wills Creek up the mountain. The grade ascended from Hyndman, PA, to Sand Patch, PA, and then went down to the Casselman River valley at Meyersdale, PA. The Sand Patch Tunnel was just east of the summit at Sand Patch. I read somewhere that the grade on the eastern slope was 2%, but I lost that reference.

1956 Cumberland Quad @ 250,000

"The state of Pennsylvania forbid the railroad from building through its borders during the mid-19th century (they feared the B&O would too steeply compete with their Pennsylvania Railroad)." So the B&O reached the Ohio River at Wheeling in 1852 and added a route to Parkersburg in 1857. Since they were denied construction in Pennsylvania in 1847, they underwrote the Pittsburgh & Connellsville RR. That railroad connected its namesake cities between 1847 and 1857. After a court fight with the Pennsy, B&O was able to finish a route between Pittsburgh and Cumberland by May 1871. B&O called this route the Pittsburgh Division, but CSX calls it the Keystone Subdivision. It is now the main route between Baltimore and Chicago for CSX. The summit is at Sand Patch. [american-rails]

The summit was just west of the Sand Patch Tunnel.  "The steepest part of the grade began at Hyndman and ran through Fairhope, Glencoe, and Mance to Sand Patch Tunnel." [Trains-tunnel]
CSX removed the SA Tower in Oct 2001 and removed the helper pocket in the spring of 2002. It did retain the crossovers and helper pocket at Manila. [ihavideo]

In 2018, this route was on a review list for possible sale. But a newly hired executive took it off the list. [Trains-route]

On the east slope, the yellow line marks the Sand Patch Tunnel and the purple line (near the middle of the map) marks Roddys Curve, which was the scene of  the runaway accident noted further below. Some of the photos of Hyndman ("Q") Tower show trains surrounded by "brake smoke." Some place I read that the grades in this area are 2%. But I can't find that reference. There are quite a few videos of steam engines working this area.
1956 Cumberland Quad @ 250,000

Western Maryland joins the B&O at Sand Patch and they share the route down the western slope to Meyersdale and the Casselman River. The Western Maryland route is now the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) Trail. I marked points on the trail for which I have written notes.
1944 Meyersdale and Berlin Quads @ 62,500

Michael McKenzie posted two images with the comment:
Several Railroad Men Killed Near Glencoe, Pa.
On Sand Patch Grade and Dash Down Mountain Side for Eight Miles - CARL MASTERS in List.
Sacrificing themselves in an attempt to save their runaway freight train from destruction, eight Baltimore & Ohio Railroad men were either killed or crippled for life about 6:15 o'clock yesterday morning.
The men comprised the crew of an extra freight train of forty-two cars, heavily laden with coal, which broke loose from the clutch of the brakes on the Sand Patch grade and after dashing madly down the mountainside for over eight miles, was wrecked near Glencoe, Pa.
The known dead are:
 CARL MASTERS of Hyndman, brakeman.
 NEWTON MARTZ of Kennell Mills.
The injured are:
 C. L. RINGLER, conductor, Old Town Road, Cumberland, badly injured about head, but expected to recover.
MAX A. SPETCH, fireman, 5 Woodside Avenue, Cumberland, both legs crushed and badly injured about body. Condition very critical.
 HENRY SMITH, brakeman, 14 Broadway, Cumberland, injured about head and limbs.
Those who are still missing and who may have been buried in the wreckage are:
 W. S. SMALL, brakeman, Cumberland.
 MARCUS SIMON, fireman.
One man not yet identified.
Bedford Gazette Pennsylvania 1912-12-13
(Not sure if the picture is of the actual wreck but it was the same location known as Roddys Curve.)
Dale Porter: Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 17, 1912
The train, made up of two engines and 42 cars loaded with coal, had just passed through Manila, Pa., when Engineer George Kennell, of Rockwood, Pa., noticed the increasing speed. He applied the brakes and discovered that something had happened. Realizing the train was beyond control, he called to his fireman to save himself and jumped. For eight miles the train dashed along taking all the curves until it reached a sharp curve near Glencoe. There one of the engines left the track, and the whole train piled after it, completely blocking the system. [Maybe Mance instead of Manila.]
Dale Porter: The Birmingham Age-Herald, Dec. 13, 1912, Page 8
Cumberland, Md., December 12, --Four trainmen and an unidentified trespasser were killed and six other trainmen wre injured, tow seriously, today whn a freight train on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad wrecked after a wil flight down the Allegheny mountains. The dead are: C. N. Martz; an engineer; Marcus Simon, firemen; W. T. Small, brakeman; C. F. Masters, brakeman; allof Cumberland, and the trespassers.

Doug Kroll posted
In the late summer of 1984 the B&O mainline over Sand Patch suffered extensive flooding that closed the line for a time. The line had been reopened, but reconstruction efforts continued as here along Willis Creek where fill material is being dumped to rebuild the washed out roadbed on October 15, 1984.
Mark Ponton: I believe that was the same flood that destroyed Hyndman, PA
Brian Bland: DIFCO side dumps
Mark Ponton shared
Ronald Baer: A lot of good men worked.very hard and long hours to get trains running on one track 2nd track took several month longer to complete! Had good leadership with Mr. Hardy and Joe Bippus to coordinate the massive effort! Lot of great Foreman and track man doing all they could. I am glad I was part of that group.

The grade is good for a lot of railfan action.
Scott Gwynn posted
A B&O 'Big Six' 2-10-2 on Sand Patch during the war. Photo by my father.

Scott Gwynn posted
A B&O 2-8-8-0 leads an oil train up Sand Patch during the war. Photo by my father.

Scott Gwynn posted
A 'Big Six' 2-10-2 has a wartime freight in tow as it climbs Sand Patch. Photo by my father.
Richard M. Castiglione: Back in the days they had track crews maintaining there 10 or so miles each daily .

David Paul commented on Scott's post
Nearly the same angle in October 2022

Scott Gwynn posted
A pair of B&O helpers shove hard on the rear of a wartime freight climbing Sand Patch. Photo by my father.
Fred Leif:Telegraph Pole is MP 212/10
The train in the picture is an Eastbound at Keystone - about 1 mile west of Sand Patch - the tender of the 2nd helper is on the road crossing of Glade City Road -- the Western Maryland Viaduct over the B&O is out of sight at left side of photo about 1/2 west. Check it out on Google Earth.
[I checked it out on Google Maps.
The second boxcar is Great Northern.]

I suspect this is the same train, just a little later.
Scott Gwynn posted
A pair of helpers shove a wartime freight upgrade on Sand Patch. Photo by my father.
Tom Davidson: First helper appears to be a Q-7f 2-8-2, judging by the valve gear hanger. Second is harder to ID for sure, but probably an S-1 or S-1a 2-10-2.
Joanne Roberts: My dad wrote a book about Sand Patch..Charles S Roberts
Kurt Turner: Say Q4b 2-8-2 w/vandy tender followed by S1a 2-10-2 with 6 wheel trucks under vandy tender as helper behind the I-12.
Bryce Walat: I spy a Pete Marquette boxcar and am I-12 caboose!
Dennis DeBruler shared
Some comments identify the caboose on this B&O train as I-12.

Scott Gwynn posted
A pair of B&O trains approaching a meet on Sand Patch during the war. Photo by my father.

Pete Zimmerman posted
"Snaking" is the descriptive word for this piece of action. The front engine of 7606 swings back and forth as it grinds up Sand Patch Grade at Mance, Pa., April 28, 1957. (Robert F. Collins photo)
Wade Rice Jr: The original of this is in color.
Linda John Roan: I thought it was Mance.
Franklyn Warren Pucci: Linda Roan, you are correct it is Mance, Pa. And it looks to be a westbound before entering the east portal of Sand Patch tunnel. Amazing simply amazing !

Scott Gwynn posted
A B&O helper shoves a wartime upgrade on Sand Patch. The climb is evident in this photo. Photo by my father.
David Paul: Looks like between the Keystone viaduct and Keystone road [could not find].
JayKay Wirsing: Very dirty stack.
[I've noticed that in several of Scott's photos that the fireman were really "pouring on the coal." B&O didn't care about excessive coal consumption in the middle of coal country?]

Scott Gwynn posted
A B&O 2-10-2 helps what appears to be a reefer train on Sand Patch during the war. Photo by my father.
Chuck McAbee: Likely that was a all refer Banana Train from the United Fruit Pier at Locust Point to Chicago.
[Two people commented that they remember where the bridge was, but neither provided the location.]

Scott Gwynn posted
A B&O EL3 2-8-8-0 leads a wartime empty coal train west on Sand Patch. Photo by my father.
Michael McKenzie: Looks to be taken right between Glade city crossing and the Keystone Viaduct.

This photo is in the same position. Since we are on the western slope, the above empty train is going downhill and the loaded eastbound is going uphill. No street-view driver has gone through this location.
Scott Gwynn posted
A pair of helpers shove on the rear of a coal train climbing Sand Patch during the war. Photo by my father.
Kurt Turner: Looks like just east of Western Maryland heavy Keystone Bridge toward Sand Patch with the access road coming up from the creek under the piers and spans beside the 3 track B&O.

Scott Gwynn posted
A B&O 2-10-2 heads up a wartime freight on Sand Patch. Photo by my father.
Michael McKenzie: That is the Glade City crossing.

Andy Chabot posted
A Little Help...
'80's style helper consist on Sandpatch
Richard Todd: Nice Andy. Color on both lashup and scenery.
Louis Capawana: WHOA! L&N, (?) CHESSIE & B&O! Cool.

Andy Chabot posted
Sandpatch In The '80's
*This is the front of the helper consist I posted yesterday*

Bill Rettberg Jr. posted
Checking out what I was up too, lol! Westbound helper on Sand Patch just west of Hyndman Pa. 1971
David Andrew Wieting: PA had a limit on how much hp could be behind a caboose. If it was above a certain amount the caboose had to go behind the helpers. But the law seems to have been tailored in such a way to allow most helper configurations to operate as in this photo.
Bill Rettberg Jr.: In all my years on Sand Patch, I never saw the caboose placed behind the helper power. That includes the Chessie era when two SD40 or 40-2s were holding down the Hyndman helpers. Obviously not a vigorously enforced law.
Couple of corrections. On occasion they would cut a helper about 20-30 cars into an ore train, and leave the caboose on the rear. But I only saw that maneuver only 2-3 times, including once in the early CSX takeover. Once in awhile, the caboose crew would ride in the helper since they stopped to cut the helpers off at the summit.
Randy Broadwater: The PA rule said > 3500HP the crew was supposed to VACATE the caboose, i.e. move to the helper locomotive(s). I'm sure that didn't always happen.
Matt Orvak: When I worked that subdivision in the early 2000s I had an oldhead tell me they were shoving against a caboose one time and it actually lifted it off the rails. And it set back down on the rails without derailing somehow. He said it was a real butt pucker moment.

Bill Rettberg Jr. posted two photos with the comment: "One of the great treats photographically speaking was to get an eastbound coal train dropping down Seventeen Mile Grade in Maryland, or as in this case. Sand Patch in Pa. Train has brakes working for all their worth as train slides through Glencoe."
Bill Rettberg Jr.: 1972
[Comments indicate the train would be running with full dynamic braking and 10lb of air brake reduction.]
Michael McKenzie: surprisingly Sandpatch to Hyndman is 17 Miles as well.
William Wheelock: From my experience, the heat is being generated by the brakes, but a lot of that smoke is due to the oil that leaked out of the journal bearings burning off the wheels.
Bob Ciminel shared


Friday, April 28, 2023

Apr 27, 2023: Opening of Houbolt Road Bridge over Des Plaines river in Joliet, IL


The bridge opened Apr 27, 2023, but the widening of the existing road between US-6 and I-80 is expected to take a few more months. And they expect some truck stops to be built along that road.

fhwa, Source: Credit to I-80 Coalition

CenterPoint is building this toll ridge to help relieve the traffic jams that were created when intermodal terminals and warehouses were built south of Joliet. I've learned to avoid I-80 in Joliet and IL-53 south of Joliet.
map via wjol


"The Houbolt Road Extension leverages the industry’s growth and invests in the community’s quality of life. This added route provides a more direct path for trucks to access I-80, taking traffic off local roads like Route 53 and giving them back to the families and our neighbors who use them every day."
[They should have given the local roads back to the residents a long time ago. And I'm sure the truck drivers will be more inclined to serve the area if they don't have to set in traffic jams for long periods of time.]
1:19 video @ 0:57
"Houbolt Road Extension – Girder Raising – July 2022"

Note that much of the "land" that we see in the river in the above video was removed when the bridge was done.
The $170m project was privately funded. It is the first privately built toll road in Illinois.

This is an excellent example of a modern video style that I don't like --- a bunch of closeups that are so close it is hard to figure out what is happening. For example, I guess this chute is at the end of a conveyor belt rather than a part of a ready-mix truck.
0:53 video @ 0:11

Ozinga posted seven photos with the comment: "In honor of Houbolt Bridge opening today, let’s take a trip down memory lane! Thank goodness for this bridge or we’d have to barge your car across the river like we did with our trucks."







On one of my trips to Brandon Road Lock and Dam, in order to avoid the I-80 jam, I got of I-355 at US-6, took that West to Briggs Street, then South to Mills Road, then West to IL-53. And there I sat through several traffic-light cycles trying to go North on IL-53 to Patterson Road. Now I take US-6 thorough Joliet to Brandon Road. The stop-and-go traffic in Joliet is better than the stop-and-stop traffic around the intermodal yards.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

1956-90s Father Baker Bridge and Buffalo Skyway in Buffalo, NY

(Bridge Hunter broke Mar 22, 2023; Satellite, the Union Ship Canal now serves a park instead of steel mills)

"The two plate girder spans measure 348 feet and at the time were the second longest on any structure in the United States" [BuffaloStreets]

Joe Sparacio posted two photos with the comment: "Father Baker Bridge going up.......going down."
Bill Stone: My grandfather was a pile driver and drove all the piles in 58/59 and my father pulled all the piles out in 89/90.
James Cotton: If I had a nickel for every time snow closed that bridge……
Jim Myers shared


Brian R. Wroblewski commented on Jim's share
The worst part is that they should have fixed it instead. Gateway Metroport in Lackawanna has expanded their operations at the former Bethlehem steel ore dock site to the point of pretty much being maxed out on space. They have ownership of the Union Ship Canal wharfage, but they can't use the upper 2/3 of the waterway because the Father Baker isn't there anymore & that section became a park instead. If the bridge was still there, they'd be able to further expand right around the corner & have more room for new business at the port.

Comments on Brian's comment

Buffalo History Gazette Photo via David Flickr

Even though the high bridge over the canal has been replaced by a regular bridge, the high bridge over the Buffalo River still remains.
Street View, Jun 2022

Jim Cavanaugh posted
Stephen Owen: a lot sure has changed in this picture. no riverworks, harborcenter, wilkenson pointe, almost all of cobblestone is undeveloped. Canalside construction had just started. hopefully the next 15 years show even more progress.
Jim Cavanaugh shared
From my Archive The final image in this series from November 2004. This image from over the Outer Harbor looking North illustrates the geographic importance of Buffalo's industrial growth in the early 1900's The mouth of the Buffalo River flows into the eastern end of Lake Erie and then on to the Niagara River. Not visible is the terminus of the Erie Canal that was in the upper center of the photograph until it was covered by the I-190 Thruway. The image also showcases the Buffalo Skyway spanning the Buffalo River.
The high overcast skies of this series shows the waterways to their best advantage.
Jon Fiden posted
1955 photo. Skyway being built and a G tug in the background... Families friends father was an iron worker on the Skyway project
Mary Durlak: What's the building on the right?
Brian R. Wroblewski: Mary Durlak the Dakota elevator.
And contrary to what you might hear or read, it was NOT removed to build the skyway, as seen here...

BUT, some people want to remove the whole Buffalo Skyway even though it carries almost 40 thousand vehicles a day and has an expected remaining lifetime of 4 or 5 decades! "Many people consider the Skyway to be a barrier to development of our waterfront." [BuffaloStreets, other articles had paywalls] So build some more pedestrian crossings. In fact, in someplaces, the crossing can go under instead of over the road.
Street View, Jun 2022

And remove these houses and barriers so that the entire waterfront can be accessed from both ends.

3 photos of constructing the skyway piers

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Canadian Pacific (CP), Kansas City Southern (KCS) and Merger (CPKC) Overview

According to a Facebook comment, they CPKC also got the Panama Canal Railway.

Ted Gregory posted, cropped

It looks like CN found some partners to help it compete.
UP (source)
[I sure hope the intermodal interchange between CN and UP in Chicago is done with steel wheels rather than rubber wheels. (CSX forces interchange to be done with rubber wheels.)]
safe_image for New Transcontinental Rail Route Announced Through Chicago
This article implies the interchange will be done with steel wheels using CN's EJ&E route.

I guess CN will be beefing up this connector between their GM&O and EJ&E properties.