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Showing posts from November, 2019

Riverton, Alabama, a Damming Casualty (And the Railroad that Served It)

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Once located in the far northwestern corner of Alabama , the townsite of Riverton on the Tennessee River is now underwater, after the construction of the Riverton Lock , which began in 1895 and was fully completed in 1911. The first major upstream landing on the Tennessee River was Riverton, a former town site in Colbert County, Alabama. Riverton was located on the east side of the junction of the Tennessee River and Bear Creek, across Bear Creek from Eastport. Colbert and Bee Tree Shoals were immediately up river from Riverton and prevented major river traffic between Riverton and Florence, Alabama, for six months of the dry season. Before the town was inundated however, a branch of the Birmingham Sheffield and Tennessee River Railway , which later became the Northern Alabama Railroad, ran between Margerum and Riverton. Despite being a branch of the Northern Alabama, the Riverton Branch only connected to the rest of the route via the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, which later be

Long Island Rail Road's Abandoned Cedarhurst Cut-Off

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The Cedarhurst Cut-off is one of the abandoned branches of the Long Island Railroad . Incorporated as the New York and Rockaway Railroad  in 1871, the abandoned section began near present day Laurelton Station and continued south in between Lansing and Edgewood Aves, crossing a bridge at North Woodmere Park, continuing down to Cedarhurst. The branch has been abandoned and rebuilt twice, creating a rather complicated history of the relatively obscure line. It was first abandoned after the LIRR took control in 1876, it was rebuilt in 1905, but was never put into revenue service and instead was only used to route equipment.  Thirteen years later, it was abandoned again in 1918. It was rebuilt yet again in 1928 as a LIRR ploy to protect their right-of-way from development, but the branch was nonetheless considered redundant, and it was abandoned for good in 1934. Despite not having a revenue train in the last 100 years, and not any development since before World War II, there are still sm

The Cemetery Next to a Particle Accelerator: St. Patrick Cemetery

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In the early 1950's, at the height of new discoveries in nuclear energy, Argonne National Laboratory had outgrown its original campus at the University of Chicago , as well as the forest where it had conducted other experiments during the late 1940's, where currently the world's first nuclear reactor remains buried today . The site chosen would be on 3,500 acres in unincorporated Downers Grove Township in DuPage County, IL. What was once farmland would be converted into space to develop energy, weapons, and other Cold War inventions designed to keep the United States as the premier superpower in all things technology. However, two of those acres held cemetery land owned by a nearby church, St. Patrick's. The decision was made to keep the cemetery in its original location, as opposed to relocating it to accommodate the laboratory. As such, it is impossible to travel to this cemetery by vehicle, but you can walk along the former Bluff Road from the Waterfall Glen Fo

The Nevada Short Line Railway

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The Nevada Short Line Railway was the last independent short line railroad to run in the State, beginning service in 1913. ( Right of way ) The line connected Oreana, NV with the silver mines at Rochester, NV along a 12.5 mile route. The line came near, but did not connect to, the Southern Pacific at Oreana, as it was a narrow gauge line. The railway did not last long enough to convert to standard gauge, although was planned to do so. Image and History Like many independent short lines across the US, the NSL did not last long. Floods, lack of equipment, inadequate freight, and insufficient funds doomed the railway. It was scrapped in 1920, after having last operated in 1918. Thanks as always for reading!

The Unbuilt Southern New England Railway

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The Southern New England  Railway was an incomplete railroad proposal to connect Palmer, MA with Providence, RI, first chartered in 1910. The line would've been owned by the Grand Trunk Railway to compete with the New York New Haven & Hartford Railroad in the area. To be competitive, the line would have much smoother grades, and more bridges over valleys, to create the shortest route feasible through the area. Right of way of the unbuilt railway in red. Wikipedia Commons . Construction began in 1912, but stopped shortly thereafter due to worldwide economic conditions. By 1916, grading in Massachusetts was complete, but expansion of the line into Rhode Island had been postponed. Although World War I occurred during this time, it was not the ultimate cause for the line's failure. The Grand Trunk Pacific (a GT subsidiary) was bankrupt during this time, and the GT itself was to be amalgamated into the Canadian National Railway system, who wished to focus more on Canadian rai

The Indian Creek Valley Railroad

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The Indian Creek Valley Railroad ran along Indian Creek in Pennsylvania, beginning at a junction with the B&O Railroad , and running 22 miles northeast starting in 1910. The junction was aptly-named as "Indian Creek". ( Right of way ) While its primary haul was timber, like many Pennsylvania railroad lines, it hauled coal as well, in addition to passenger trains. Towns along the route included Jones Mills, Indian Head, Melcroft, and Champion, PA. Image and History By 1926, the right of way would became part of the B&O, who would abandon the line in 1969 after timber and coal movements became too unprofitable for the line to remain. Today, two sections of the right of way are rail trails , with a connection between the two sections planned for the future. Thanks as always for reading!

The Unsigned Interstate Highways

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Despite being the highest standard of highway in the world, the Interstate Highway System has a few highways which, despite being fully part of the system, do not carry such a signed designation. This mirrors Illinois' Unmarked  Highway System, although there are far fewer unsigned Interstates. Image" I-296 acknowledged on a 1978 Michigan Map. I-296 is the "hidden" designation for US-131 between I-96 an I-196 in Grand Rapids. ( Interstate-Guide.com ) Since I began learning about the Interstate System in my youth, the fact that there existed "hidden" Interstates fascinated me. Today we'll go over some of these routes, and why they aren't signed as an Interstate. Alaska & Puerto Rico: The Interstate Highway System at its inception was much different than it is today, with regard to funding. During the initial construction of the system, 90% of the funds for the roads were provided by the Federal Government. Most Interstate highway projects to

Magilligan Point's Abandoned Railway

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Magilligan Point is located on the Northern coast of Northern Ireland, across from Greencastle in Ireland, which it connects to via ferry. The nearest railway line is about four miles south at Magilligan. Image: Discover Northern Ireland But it wasn't always that way. A f our mile branch line to connect to the ferry was built and opened in July 1855 by the Londonderry and Coleraine Railway . This branch was only served by horse power , not steam, however. ( Right of way ) This line would be one of the first to close on the entire island of Ireland, as just three months later, in October 1855, the line fell into disrepair, and would be abandoned. At least one proposal for reopening the line would come many decades later near the turn of the century by the Midland Railway, a successor to the Northern Counties Railway, of which the L&C eventually became part of. It did not materialize, and Magilligan Point has thus not been served by rail in over 160 years. During this time, the

The Laona & Northern Railway

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The Laona & Northern Railway was a logging railroad in northern Wisconsin, which connected the town of Laona to the Soo Line Railroad  at the aptly-named Laona Junction, beginning service in 1902 along an 8 mile route. ( Right of way ) Laona & Northern Steam Engine . Image: Laona History It converted to diesel power in the 1950's, but kept one of its steam engines as a reserve. Soon after, it began using this engine to transport passengers along the run, in addition to continued lumber transport. Today, the lumber operations have long ceased, but part of the line continues as a heritage operation known as the Lumberjack Steam Train  & Camp 5 Museum, giving tourists a glimpse into the history of logging railroads in the area. Lumberjack Steam Train #4 Postcard According to the museum , "in the late 1890s, Camp Five began operations as a logging camp in northern Wisconsin. All logging camps were numbered sequentially as railroad logging operations were opened in new

US Highway 124

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At the creation of the US Highway System , there were numerous spur routes that were both less than 300 miles long, and existed in only one state. One of these was US Highway 124 , which ran between Peoria and Biggsville, IL. Part of the original list of US Highways in 1926, it was just 80 miles in length. The route was easily incorporated into Illinois' state highway system in 1938, with the majority being present-day Illinois Route 116. Image: Michael Summa via USEnds. Officially codified by AASHTO in 1991, the process of removing US Routes that are less than 300 miles in length, and run within just one state, has been an ongoing process since the development of individual state highway systems. IDOT 1935 Map via USEnds.com Thanks as always for reading!

Unfortunate Railroad History Preserved in a Cemetery Plot: Showmen's Rest in Forest Park, IL

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On June 22, 1918, a tragic train crash occurred near Hammond, IN. 86 people lost their lives with another 127 being injured in the crash, which was caused by an engineer asleep at the controls. Known as the "Hammond Circus Train Wreck", most of the casualties were workers and performers for the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus . Photo: Northwest Indiana Times Early that morning, one of three Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus trains had stopped to oil up a wheel bearing, with the rear car jettisoning out onto the mainline, when a troop train was coming up behind it at full speed. Immediately upon impact, the four rear cars of the circus train caught fire, trapping anyone inside. Unfortunately, nearby marshes were the only source of water to fight the blazes. Sadly, they were nearly to Hammond, which was the next stop on their tour. The two other trains had made the journey safely. Image: The aftermath of the wreck, attracting numerous people to see the wreckage. (Wikipedia Commo