Calumet: First and Forever

Chapter 2: Calumet-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River

Railroad Bridges

CFF-Photo 2.5.1
CFF-Photo 2.5.1

Photo 2.5.1. August 4, 1911. Looking west, the first bridge is for the Chicago & Joliet Electric Railroad and the second is for the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Two bridges crossed the Calumet Feeder near the west end of the route of the Calumet-Sag Channel. These bridges weren’t replaced, but new bridges were built just to the north where the new channel was built. (MWRD photo 4681)

CFF-Photo 2.5.2
CFF-Photo 2.5.2

Photo 2.5.2. September 11, 1916. The railroad tracks have been diverted for construction of new bridges over the new channel and temporary trestles have been built crossing the Calumet Feeder for the diverted tracks. Looking south, the Chicago & Alton tracks are on the right and the electric interurban track is on the left. (MWRD photo 5579)

CFF-Photo 2.5.3
CFF-Photo 2.5.3

Photo 2.5.3. The new channel has been excavated to the east of the railroad by November 28, 1916, and a foundation for the north bridge abutment is being constructed between bents of a trestle leading to a concrete mixing plant. At left is the base of the Lambert Station railroad water tank. (MWRD photo 5689)

CFF-Photo 2.5.4
CFF-Photo 2.5.4

Photo 2.5.4. A bottom dump rail car is unloading concrete materials on the trestle and, by April 16, 1917, the north bridge abutment is nearly complete. The long abutment will support bridges for both railroads. At right, between the timber pile bents, the south abutment appears to be about halfway completed. (MWRD photo 5863)

CFF-Photo 2.5.5
CFF-Photo 2.5.5

Photo 2.5.5. Wall construction to the east of the railroad bridge abutments is progressing by June 9, 1917. Looking west along the south wall, a steel bridge girder has been set in place in the left background. More to the foreground, a black pipe arches over the south wall conveying water from a pumping plant in the channel bottom to the Calumet Feeder. (MWRD photo 5976)

CFF-Photo 2.5.6
CFF-Photo 2.5.6

Photo 2.5.6. July 10, 1917. Looking north along the track of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, a riveted steel girder is being set on the north and south bridge abutments. Two of Heyworth’s employees are carrying a timber for use in setting the girder. The Lambert Station railroad water tank north of the new channel is an imposing landmark. (MWRD photo 6024)

CFF-Photo 2.5.7
CFF-Photo 2.5.7

Photo 2.5.7. July 10, 1917. Looking north across the deck of the new Chicago & Joliet Electric Railroad bridge over the Calumet-Sag Channel. The Chicago & Alton Railroad is at left and a few buildings in Sag Bridge are at right. The Lambert Station house is in the background to the left of center. (MWRD photo 6023)

CFF-Photo 2.5.8
CFF-Photo 2.5.8

Photo 2.5.8. Construction of the Wabash Railroad bridge and the railroad’s new alignment preceded excavation of the new channel. Looking northeast on November 25, 1913, the bridge south abutment is at right. The north abutment has not been built and the embankment ends across the valley floor. Raising and straightening the track alignment was a huge benefit for the railroad. (MWRD photo 4857)

CFF-Photo 2.5.9
CFF-Photo 2.5.9

Photo 2.5.9. November 25, 1913. Each of the piers in this closeup view of the south abutment is founded on bedrock. The south span of the deep girder over the valley floor will rest on the bridge seat at left. The District reimbursed the railroad for the design and construction costs of this bridge in section 7. (MWRD photo 4857

CFF-Photo 2.5.10
CFF-Photo 2.5.10

Photo 2.5.10. October 4, 1914. Railroad workers take a break for the photographer in the midst of changing from the original track crossing the valley floor at left to the new raised embankment heading southwest at right. This change occurred just south of 111th Street in Worth. (MWRD photo 5017)

CFF-Photo 2.5.11
CFF-Photo 2.5.11

Photo 2.5.11. September 8, 1915. Looking northwest from the old track alignment, the new three-span bridge is complete. The channel passes beneath the center span and the two center piers, like the abutments, are founded on bedrock. (MWRD photo 5181)

CFF-Photo 2.5.12
CFF-Photo 2.5.12

Photo 2.5.12. November 23, 1916. A year later during Green’s excavation of the channel, a void was found in the foundation of each pier adjacent to the channel. Representatives from the District and railroad met onsite to inspect the voids and determine a solution. It was determined that the holes didn’t threaten structural integrity and could be filled with concrete. (MWRD photo 5677)

CFF-Photo 2.5.13
CFF-Photo 2.5.13

Photo 2.5.13. August 30, 1917. Looking east, construction of the channel through the bridge opening has been completed. Repair of the pier foundations proved successful. As a precaution and due to the experience of channel side slope instability, a structural strut was constructed beneath the channel invert between the two piers to prevent horizontal movement. (MWRD photo 6153)

CFF-Photo 2.5.14
CFF-Photo 2.5.14

Photo 2.5.14. Two railroads intersect west of Blue Island. Looking north northwest from a switching tower on December 5, 1911, coming from the northwest is the B&O Railroad and from the north is the Grand Trunk Railroad to the right of center. A branch of the B&O approaches from the right. The man standing between tracks left of center is on the centerline of the new channel running east and west. (MWRD photo 4713)

CFF-Photo 2.5.15
CFF-Photo 2.5.15

Photo 2.5.15. May 8, 1917. The stake in the foreground marks the north edge of the new channel in this eastward view. The railroad trestle leads into the manufactured gas plant and will be relocated when the new channel is constructed. The gas plant spur connects with the B&O branch south of the new channel. (MWRD photo 5926)

CFF-Photo 2.5.16
CFF-Photo 2.5.16

Photo 2.5.16. The gas plant spur is being relocated off the B&O branch line and a trestle is needed to cross the low ground before entering the west side of the gas plant. Looking southeast, March 5, 1918, the trestle is not yet completed. (MWRD photo 6410)

CFF-Photo 2.5.17
CFF-Photo 2.5.17

Photo 2.5.17. From the old gas plant spur trestle looking west, July 17, 1918, along the centerline of the new channel, abutments have been built for the B&O branch line. To the west are the B&O main line and the Grand Trunk tracks. After these tracks are diverted, the abutment will be extended west to serve as abutments for those bridges also. (MWRD photo 6568)

CFF-Photo 2.5.18
CFF-Photo 2.5.18

Photo 2.5.18. July 31, 1918. Riveted steel plate girders are waiting to be installed on the abutment for the B&O branch line at right. The main lines for the B&O and Grand Trunk have been diverted to the west and workers in the foreground are removing the main line tracks. When cleared, excavation will proceed so that the abutments can be built for main line bridges, (MWRD photo 6585)

CFF-Photo 2.5.19
CFF-Photo 2.5.19

Photo 2.5.19. March 25, 1919. Looking north from the southwest corner of the B&O branch line bridge, the bridge and tracks are complete while construction is underway for an extension of the north abutment for a bridge for a second track. A man is looking down from the tracks of the Grand Trunk main line, which has been reinforced by a temporary trestle until the tracks are diverted. (MWRD photo 6941)

CFF-Photo 2.5.20
CFF-Photo 2.5.20

Photo 2.5.20. May 14, 1919, taken from the old gas plant spur trestle looking northwest. Steel plate girders are in place for the B&O Railroad branch and main line permanent bridges. The dual track bridge consists of three parallel girders, the outer girders being smaller and the center girder being larger. Beneath the bridge, the extended abutment can be observed. (MWRD photo 7073)

CFF-Photo 2.5.21
CFF-Photo 2.5.21

Photo 2.5.21. September 8, 1919. Looking at the same bridge from the southwest, all four tracks for the B&O main line and branch are in place. The new gas plant spur trestle appears in the left background. (MWRD photo 7233.1)

CFF-Photo 2.5.22
CFF-Photo 2.5.22

Photo 2.5.22. May 5, 1920. Looking east, this view was taken from the temporary trestle for the diverted Grand Trunk tracks. Abutments for the Grand Trunk Railroad bridge are under construction immediately west of the B&O Railroad bridges. (MWRD photo 7519)

CFF-Photo 2.5.23
CFF-Photo 2.5.23

Photo 2.5.23. September 30, 1920. An accident occurred on the Grand Trunk bridge. As a bridge girder was being lowered into place, the stiff leg derrick boom failed, dropping the girder into the space between the abutments. The falling girder struct the adjoining temporary trestle, dislodging the tracks and ties. (MWRD photo 7867)

CFF-Photo 2.5.24
CFF-Photo 2.5.24

Photo 2.5.24. By December 3, 1920, the Grand Trunk bridge was being completed. Looking south, workers are installing three tracks on the four-track bridge, two main line tracks in the center and a local service line on the right. The left span is a spare for future use. (MWRD photo 7947)

CFF-Photo 2.5.25
CFF-Photo 2.5.25

Photo 2.5.25. January 28, 1921. The Grand Trunk Railroad bridge viewed from the southwest. The timber trestle behind each abutment is temporary. After the flanking channel walls are built, the timbers will be removed and the space behind the abutment will be backfilled and compacted to support the ties and track. (MWRD photo 8017)

CFF-Photo 2.5.26
CFF-Photo 2.5.26

Photo 2.5.26. December 5, 1911. Looking east, Western Avenue comes from the north, crosses Stony Creek while turning southeast to passes under the Rock Island Railroad viaduct. The railroad comes from the northeast, crosses Stony Creek and then crosses over Western Avenue, all in a straight line. Adding the new channel presented a challenging and complex engineering problem. (MWRD photo 4712)

CFF-Photo 2.5.27
CFF-Photo 2.5.27

Photo 2.5.27. Looking northwest, Western Avenue appears at right almost out of view, turning from south to southeast. The diversion for Western continued south, turned southeast more sharply, crosses the North Diversion Ditch on a temporary bridge and continues to pass under the south railroad viaduct as it did before. Coming from the left, the North Drainage Ditch is contained in a timber flume that passes beneath Western and continues through the north railroad viaduct. (MWRD photo 4998)

CFF-Photo 2.5.28
CFF-Photo 2.5.28

Photo 2.5.28. August 9, 1916. Western Avenue is coming from the north in the left background. The new bridge over the new channel, shown by the two concrete abutments, was constructed in almost the same location as the earlier bridge over Stony Creek. The railroad is in the right background and the diverted Western Avenue railing crosses the view from left to right. (MWRD photo 5531)

CFF-Photo 2.5.29
CFF-Photo 2.5.29

Photo 2.5.29. February 9, 1917. A light dusting of snow covers the nearly completed Western Avenue Bridge. Trolley tracks and wide sidewalks are featured on this three-girder fixed span bridge. Diverted Western Avenue crosses the middle ground to the left and curves back, crossing the foreground from left to right and through the railroad viaduct. (MWRD photo 5763)

CFF-Photo 2.5.30
CFF-Photo 2.5.30

Photo 2.5.30. A month later, on March 16, 1917, and from a different vantage point on the railroad embankment, diverted Western Avenue is totally in view. The North Drainage Ditch diversion flume is also visible in the lower left corner. (MWRD photo 5801)

CFF-Photo 2.5.31
CFF-Photo 2.5.31

Photo 2.5.31. By Aril 20, 1917, the northbound roadway and sidewalk was open to traffic. The southbound trolley tracks were being used, but the southbound roadway and sidewalk were still being worked on. The top of the diversion flume is visible to the left of the south end of the bridge. The railroad viaduct remained unchanged, but the railroad bridge over the old Stony Creek was about to be changed. (MWRD photo 5875)

CFF-Photo 2.5.32
CFF-Photo 2.5.32

Photo 2.5.32. May 8, 1917. Looking west at the southwest face of the railroad bridge over old Stony Creek, the top of the flume diverting the North Drainage Ditch appears in the right foreground. The flume passes close to this abutment. The railing in the middle ground at right is on the east side of the Western Avenue diversion. The concrete and masonry of this abutment reveals it has been modified at least twice since the railroad was built in 1852. (MWRD photo 5923)

CFF-Photo 2.5.33
CFF-Photo 2.5.33

Photo 2.5.33. May 8, 1917. Looking east at the northeast face of the same bridge, the flume in the right foreground is farther from the abutment and excavation for the new channel appears in the distance through the bridge opening. The concrete and masonry of this abutment shows similar changes to those seen in the southwest abutment. (MWRD photo 5922)

CFF-Photo 2.5.34
CFF-Photo 2.5.34

Photo 2.5.34. In front of the northeast face of the same abutment, June 4, 1917, one worker sets a timber plank to form a casing while another brings more planks along the top of the flume. The casing is for a shaft being excavated to bedrock for a bridge pier that will support a new abutment and be part of the north channel wall. (MWRD photo 5965)

CFF-Photo 2.5.35
CFF-Photo 2.5.35

Photo 2.5.35. July 24, 1917. Two workers are depositing concrete into the top of the form for the new bridge pier. The two other workers will use long steel rods to pack the concrete in the form, eliminate air pockets and force the concrete to bond with the steel reinforcing rods in the form. (MWRD photo 6056)

CFF-Photo 2.5.36
CFF-Photo 2.5.36

Photo 2.5.36. June 13, 1918. From the Western Avenue Bridge looking northeast along the northwest side of the new three-span Rock Island Railroad bridge. The new channel passed beneath the center span, the southwest span was used for the temporary flume and the northeast span was short with nothing beneath it. (MWRD photo 6502)

CFF-Photo 2.5.37
CFF-Photo 2.5.37

Photo 2.5.37. Timber bents were placed in the opening of the Rock Island Railroad viaduct over Western Avenue to support a temporary span. The span, shown on July 17, 1918, provided for a track diversion to the northwest so a new span could be erected on the adjoining bridge over the new channel. (MWRD photo 6570)

CFF-Photo 2.5.38
CFF-Photo 2.5.38

Photo 2.5.38. A water main attached to the southeast face of the Rock Island Railroad bridge had to be detached and supported so the span could be replaced. Working off the top of the flume beneath the bridge, September 16, 1918, temporary supports for the water main are being installed. (MWRD photo 6637)

CFF-Photo 2.5.39
CFF-Photo 2.5.39

Photo 2.5.39. A shaft is being sunk to bedrock to support a new pier for the Rock Island Railroad bridge over the new channel. The detached water main is supported by timber piles driven next to the railroad bridge. Looking west at the southeast side of the bridge, March 25, 1919, illustrates the long time it is taking to complete this bridge. (MWRD photo 6938)

CFF-Photo 2.5.40
CFF-Photo 2.5.40

Photo 2.5.40. May 14, 1919. A similar view, nearly two months later and from farther northeast, reveals a new northeast abutment to the right of center and backfill being placed near the new pier. (MWRD photo 7077)

CFF-Photo 2.5.41
CFF-Photo 2.5.41

Photo 2.5.41. The new bridge for the Rock Island Railroad is complete, as shown on December 3, 1920, looking east from the Western Avenue Bridge. Pier caps on top of each abutment, which are integral with the channel walls, support the bridge center span. A small gap in the channel wall to the right of center is left open for rail access. (MWRD photo 7948)