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 Post subject: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 12:22 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 5022
Found this photo on the internet last week:

https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5546/9520 ... 65cb_b.jpg

The photo identified as 250W, North Judson, Indiana. Not sure about the supposed date, but my guess is that it is early 1900's or thereabouts. What's interesting is the connection to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum. I took a photo standing on 250W this past Saturday, looking in the same direction (north). The Erie track is shown in both photos; double track in the old shot; single track these days. The current rails cross 250W and then end a short distance east (right in the photo). The current Erie-North Judson bike trail can be seen and Indiana state route 10/39 is just beyond that. Just to the left in the photo is the area where HVRM's Easter Egg and Pumpkin trains end up.

Here is the reason for this thread; although the old photo is identified as 250W, there is a question about it. Note the box like structure just to the west (left) of 250W. It has been identified as a concrete bridge abutment. There is no creek there today. Could there have been one in the past? Also, the box is on one side of the road, but not the other side. Perhaps this is not a concrete bridge abutment after all, but what could it be? Opinions welcome!

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:18 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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If the old photo was from out here in the West I would say it might be an irrigation channel that was later removed, but that would be weird in the Midwest (where I am from originally) where irrigation is not needed normally.


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:25 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:31 am
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Location: Northern Illinois
Les Beckman wrote:
Here is the reason for this thread; although the old photo is identified as 250W, there is a question about it. Note the box like structure just to the west (left) of 250W. It has been identified as a concrete bridge abutment. There is no creek there today. Could there have been one in the past? Also, the box is on one side of the road, but not the other side. Perhaps this is not a concrete bridge abutment after all, but what could it be?


It appears that a culvert crossed under the road at that location, and the structure you see is part of the culvert headwall. Below is a photo of a similar one, from an FHWA publication. Since the land use appears to have changed in the century or so between the two photos, perhaps an examination of old USGS topographic maps would show the drainage in the area around the time of the older photo.


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:22 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3053
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
I concur with Peter Nicholson that the object on the left in the early photo is one side of such a culvert; the other side is hidden behind weeds or other growth. It even looks like part of the opposite wall is visible through the weeds.

I do think it's another location. What stands out is the sharp rise of ground at the right in the new photo. It's not there in the old one, and it doesn't look like an embankment or foundation to support something.

Who would just pile up dirt like that in such a place?

The road in the newer photo also shows a lot more in the way of waves than in the older shot. Both roads are essentially just following the ground. I can't imagine the ground changing that much in a location like this.

There is also a curve to the right in the newer photo, almost at the edge of visibility. There is no such curve visible in the older photo; in fact, it almost looks like there might be a gentle curve to the left, at a considerably greater distance than the one in the newer shot.

I doubt there was much in the way of changes to account for all this. Such a road, without some considerable increases in traffic, wouldn't normally get a lot of improvements or changes in civil engineering. That doesn't look like the case here.

Alternately, could the location be the same, but the cameras facing in opposite directions at the times of the respective photos? What does this road look like today, looking in the opposite direction?


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:51 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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PMC, Peter, J3a-614:

Thanks for your comments. The area around North Judson, was known as the Kankakee Marsh, and drainage ditches to control the water for the Kankakee and Yellow Rivers, was, and is, common in the area after much of the Marsh was drained. Was there such a ditch in this location? I just don't know.

I can see now the other concrete headwall covered in vegetation, on the opposite side of the road.

There is no sharp rise of ground at the right in the current photo. That is just heavy vegetation. Although museum track goes across the road for a very short distance, it is hard to see because of the weeds, trees, etc. The same where you see that "rise".

I can assure you that there is no curve (outside of a slight "jog") in the road as 250W goes off into the distance. It IS a straight road.

The next intersection for 250W looking south (instead of north), is far enough off in the distance, that it could not be the old photograph.

Also note that the is a slight "hump" in the road as it goes off into the distance which occurs in both photos. Hard to see in the old one, but it is there.

I've looked at other spots in the North Judson area using satellite photos, where the Erie crossed over a road with another road in the near background, but haven't found anything yet that quite meets the criteria. But, I'll keep looking.

Thanks again for the comments.


Les


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
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Location: Philadelphia Pa
If you look at older maps, you will see a 1964 topo map in particular that shows a "pipe line" running near the railroad at the location of the grade crossing in question, to a point about 1200 feet East.

Now, if you look at the original picture, you will see there is fresh concrete pipe laying next to the ties and track car, and if you look closer, in the background before the corn fields start, there is also more concrete pipe stacked up.

Is it possible that for flooding/irrigation purposes, they enclosed a small creek that once ran in the location?

If you go east of the crossing about 3500 feet or so, the ROW crosses a creek called Bogus Run, and looking at older aerial photos, you will see what looks to be a dry canal bed heading both east and west from this creek, along side the Railroad ROW. In current aerial photos via Google Earth, you can see several more rigid irrigation canals running around fields in the area.

I'd imagine the mound of dirt now covered in grass, is possibly part of that construction.

Just my thoughts from looking at the photos.


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:28 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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Junior -

Thanks for your input. All good points. BTW, the pipe line still runs alongside the old Erie (now HVRM) right-of-way.


Les


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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:27 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Les Beckman wrote:

Thanks for your comments. The area around North Judson, was known as the Kankakee Marsh, and drainage ditches to control the water for the Kankakee and Yellow Rivers, was, and is, common in the area after much of the Marsh was drained. Was there such a ditch in this location? I just don't know.


You westerners keep mentioning irrigation ditches, but believe me, in this part of the country we had the opposite problem. According to Les, the area was known as the Kankakee Marsh. Marshes form in depressions in the land that are underlain with hard clay, which is pretty impervious to water. The land was excellent farmland, IF it could be dried out. Looks like the first effort was open ditches, but if ditches have to run a long way, getting adequate 'fall' is a problem. The next improvement is drain tile, whch can run deeper, thus farther to an outfall at a lower elevation. Much of the farmland in the Midwest has had field tile installed at one time or another; at first in trenches dug by hand, later when mechanization was introduced, longer, larger, deeper runs were possible. It's still going on... from corrugated extruded plastic "perf pipe" in the fields to concrete culvert pipe under entire suburban subdivisions. Not unusual at all in this neck of the woods.

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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:13 am 
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Location: Hamilton, Illinois
I had my doubts because of the large trees on the left, but I guess in 100 years they might reach that size. The farmed area on the right (or the left, for that matter) in the old photo might show up with the owner's names in old plat books (perhaps at the county court house). If the ownership history can be traced down to the present, that might identify the site. P.S. I found Indiana historic plat maps online -- but running out of time to continue the research tonight!

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 Post subject: Re: Erie Railroad grade crossing question
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:27 am 
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After searching old plat maps and topographic maps (Denham quadrangle) online, I think the 250 West identification has to be correct. But I couldn't get back into the earlier 1900s in the sources I located. For some reason I couldn't access the Wayne Township plat for Starke County in the IU library collection -- there are multiple Wayne Townships in Indiana.

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