Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Jefferson C: Sesser, IL: Aban/Consol/Inland Steel Coal Mine

(See below for satellite information)

Adam Auxier posted
Illinois Central 6254 leads one of the last loaded coal trains out of the Rend Lake Mine, formerly operating by Consol. Rend Lake Mine was originally built by the Inland Steel Corporation to provide metallurgical and heating coal for their steel mills. Back in the 1980's they were the hottest trains on the IC besides Amtrak and the pigs. This line is now a combination of railbanked and abandoned.
Justin Sobeck April 2001 if I recall correctly...
Adam Auxier SESSER - After months of apprehension, Consol Energy on Monday idled its Rend Lake Mine, located two miles north of Sesser.
The mine idling does not come as a surprise to the 250 laid-off miners who were told several months ago by Consol officials that the mine would cease operation in early June. Company officials continue to label the shutdown as temporary and said the mine could reopen within six months.
When making the announcement, Consol officials blamed the layoffs on sagging coal sales, a mild winter and the fact that Consol has between 6 and 8 million ton of coal stockpiled nationwide.
The Rend Lake Mine is one of seven coal mines nationwide that Consol plans to idle this year. The loss of the jobs will only add to the high unemployment woes already experienced in several downstate counties, including Franklin County where a majority of the miners live.
The Rend Lake Mine was formerly owned by Inland Steel and began producing coal in 1967. Consol purchased the mine in 1986 and has operated it since then.
Bill Edrington Another nail in the coffin for coal mining in southern Illinois, sadly. When I was a student at EIU between 1971 and 1975, I used to see those Inland Steel unit coal trains going through Mattoon on the main line all the time.
Dennis DeBruler Thanks for the explanation. It is hard to imagine a coal train as a "hot" train. "Hot" would mean clear track. Was it also fast?
Adam Auxier They usually ran 60. The NB loaded Inland trains (i believe) didn't change crew in Centralia and operated with one crew from Rend Lake Mine to Champaign. Hence, the speed through town.
Dennis DeBruler I assume this is the mine we are talking about:

The big concrete storage silos still show up on a satellite image.
Aban RR Map
The silos in the northeast corner have been torn down.
Mark Hedger posted five photos with the comment: "Inland Steel Coal Mine #1 - Sesser."
Nick Koba Jr. is it still open ?
Mark HedgerAuthor Nick Koba Jr. No. Consol purchased in October 1986, converted to a longwall
and operated until 2002.








The silos for a mine further east got turned into grain elevators. But I can't find that info now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Fort Wayne, IN: GM Pickup Truck Assembly Plant


Screenshot from video in WANE
GM wants to build 1,000 more pickups a month at Fort Wayne Assembly
To put this into context, according to GM’s website, Fort Wayne Assembly already builds more than 1000 trucks each day.(It is interesting that they would not say how many trucks they made per month in another report. [DetroitNews])

Even though I was no longer living in Fort Wayne when GM announced they would build this plant, I heard about it because it was a big deal for a town that had lost International Harvester and General Electric. It opened in 1986. [GMauthority] The facility is 4.6 million sq. ft on 716 acres. It runs three shifts with 4,101 hourly and 332 salaried workers. [] This plant was bad news for Janesville, WI, because that is where GM used to build pickup trucks. I remember that Indiana added a new exit on I-69 for for the plant. Looking at a current satellite map, I see that is now where I-496 joins I-69 on the southwest side of Fort Wayne. Fortunately for Fort Wayne, pickup trucks have remained strong in the market place.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Using animals as "lawn mowers"

Putting some "Nature" into the "Towns and Nature" title of this blog.

MWRD updated

The goats and sheep are BAAAAAAAACK at work managing native prairie landscapes for the MWRD! Stay tuned for additional coverage of their activities at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant in Chicago. In the meantime, learn more about MWRD native prairies and green infrastructure at #goats #sheep #nativeprairies #greeninfrastructure #chicago #cookcounty #illinois


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Chrisman, IL: Rose Tower: CSX/Big4 vs. CSX/B&O/

(Satellite, it is a lot easier finding the location when both tracks still exist)

Judy Goby Oxtoby posted
Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad
A passenger train speeds past a track crossing and railroad switch tower identified as a Big Four and C.H. & D Tower at Chrisman, Edgar County, Illinois, about 1915.
Bill Edrington Thanks for sharing this. This was “Rose” Tower, which sat in the southwest quadrant of the crossing of the Big Four (New York Central System) and Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton (later the Baltimore & Ohio) on the south side of Chrisman. The train in the photo is a southbound Big Four passenger train heading toward Paris.
The Big Four line was the Egyptian Line. The 2005 SPV Map shows CI&W, Cincinnati, Indianapolis & Western as the B&O predecessor. It doesn't list the CH&D. So did the CH&D start building in Ohio and then changed its name to CI&E before it got to Illinois? I checked the 2005 SPV Map volume that covers Ohio and Indiana, and it does show CHD as another predecessor to B&O. The specific predecessor in Illinois doesn't matter to me because by 1928 it was the B&O line between Decatur, IL, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Ravenna, KY: CSX/L&N Car Repair Shop is now Kentucky Steam Heritage


Kentucky Steam Heritage posted
Kentucky Steam to Partner With Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects in Creating Kentucky Rail Heritage Center
For Immediate Release
July 30th, 2018 - Lexington, Kentucky
The Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation (KSHC), a 501(c)(3) public charity announced Monday that they will be collaborating with Lexington-based Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects (SCB) in creating the long-term vision for the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center.
The Kentucky Rail Heritage Center project was announced in May, when KSHC unveiled a partnership with CSX Transportation to purchase a large tract of decommissioned ex-L&N rail yard in Ravenna, Kentucky for economic development.
The Rail Heritage Center will be a living restoration shop, showcasing the rehab and maintenance of historic steam locomotives. The sprawling campus will creatively integrate a rail-based tourist attraction featuring train excursions with recreational space, technical skills training component and a regional community center complete with restaurants, shops, and lodging.
Chris Campbell, KSHC President, looks forward to the partnership with the highly-acclaimed Architectural firm.
“Sherman Carter Barnhart is the perfect fit for helping us craft the long-term vision for this region-changing economic development project,” he said in a statement Monday. “We are hoping to create a progressive environment while utilizing design components that harken to the region’s industrial past. The goal is to produce a modern campus that’s timeless as well as distinctly Appalachian. SCB’s body of work makes them a perfect fit for this exciting endeavor.”
Sherman Carter Barnhart is based in Lexington with offices in Louisville and Paducah. They have been designing award-winning projects for civic, educational, institutional, and private clients throughout the region since they opened in 1979. They have earned a reputation for design sensitivity to both the site and project context by creating buildings tailored to their surroundings and function, yet sensitive to the environment. The firm has won over 120 design awards, including the Kentucky Society of Architects Distinguished Firm Award, and their work has been published in numerous trade and professional journals.
Newby Walters, Business Development Director for SCB, provided encouraging words for the partnership.
“Sherman Carter Barnhart is proud to be working with KSHC on this exciting project which we all hope will spur economic development in this region. We are always interested in designing projects that will showcase the history of Kentucky and this rail-based campus, showcasing historic steam locomotives, will be an exciting project to work on with KSHC and CSX. We look forward to beginning our collaboration.”
Initial renderings and site plans will be developed over the next few months. More information will be published when available.
For more information on the project, contact KSHC President Chris Campbell at
Visit to learn more about Sherman Carter Barnhart.
T.J. Mahan We're trying to be diverse, more than a RR museum, a hodge podge of activities. One of our tenets is to not turn into a boneyard for rust. Only have what we can use and maintain.

I saved a satellite image because there should be significant changes to this property.
It still has a footprint of part of the roundhouse.
The initial purpose for building a steam locomotive restoration shop was to give the C&O 2716 the TLC (Tender Loving Care) that it needed. Trains Magazine, Aug 2018, p60, reports that the C&O 2716 is currently stored at Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, KY (201+ photos). A Flickr album of the restoration.

(new window)

But in the meantime, they have used their new Ravenna location to save NKP 587.
By Jeremy C. Schultz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Nickel Plate Road 2-8-2 Mikado steam locomotive #587 in the restoration shops at the ITM.
Like the Yacht Club in Port Huron, MI, it seems that Nobelsville, IN has their elitists that don't want ugly industrial stuff in their town. I've been seeing postings for a couple of years about them kicking the Indiana Transportation Museum out of town. I have not been following it closely because it is too depressing. A couple of years ago the elitists stopped the state fair specials that would run passenger trains to the fair grounds during the state fair. ITM would carry 10,000 people and earn money to help fund their operation.
Knoblesville refused to renew ITM's lease because they wanted a trail, and the judge gave ITM 2 weeks to get their "junk" out of Forest Park. A lot of ITM's railroad cars were wrecked in place and hauled away as trash. Fortunately, the Kentucky Steam Heritage people offered this new facility to restore ITM's NKP 587 steam locomotive. It took 7 truck loads, but they were able to get the steam locomotive and its tender moved to Ravenna. ITM itself plans to relocate to Logansport, IN.
Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. posted
Welcome to Kentucky, 587!
Please Consider a donation to Kentucky Steam Heritage:
Donations will immediately fund our restoration shop, the Kentucky Rail Heritage Center as well as to help cover costs of the 587 move.
This shop will eventually be an epicenter for steam locomotive restorations...and unexpectedly, its first tenant will be NKP 587 - rather than the locomotive we have leased from The Kentucky Railway Museum, C&O 2716. 2716 will be moved once the shop is ready for rail transport.
In this shot, 587 parades through the streets of beautiful Irvine, Kentucky in Estill County, just down the street from Ravenna.
Read more about this unexpected turn of events at our news page

Kentucky Steam Heritage Corp. posted two photos with the comment:
For the first time in our organization’s history, we have a steam locomotive under roof!
After many hours of volunteer work, we have prepared the shop for indoor storage of Nickel Plate Road 587. The engine has been stored outdoors for the past several weeks after we moved her from her former home in Noblesville, Indiana.
KSHC has contracted to restore the locomotive to operation for Indiana Transportation Museum for eventual use back in Indiana.
Work will commence on the engine as capital becomes available through ITM and their fundraising partners’ efforts. about a stablemate 🤔

Some details concerning the vacate order and the move.

C&O 2716 arrived a year ago today. I think "today" was July 29, 2020.

Fort Wayne, IN: Indiana School for Feeble Minded Youth

(Satellite, the land is now a city park)

I've seen a photo of this facility before, but now I can't find any notes about it. The photo showed the fire escape "tubes" from second story windows that I remember seeing as a kid when we traveled down State Street. (I wonder when State Street became State Blvd.)

Tommy Lee Fitzwater posted three photos with the comment:


Indiana School for Feeble Minded Children

Ft. Wayne, Ind.



The Indiana School for Feeble-Minded Youth in Fort Wayne opened its doors in 1890 on East State Street, in an area that was, at the time, in the country. The school's campus included the Administration Building, cottages, a school, an industrial arts building, a hospital, and a gymnasium. The vocational arts were divided by gender, with men learning carpentry, agriculture, painting, upholstering and the making of mattresses, shoes and bricks, and the women learning the domestic arts of cleaning, cooking, canning, dressmaking, loom weaving and laundry. Residents came from all over the state. In 1931, the 1130 resident capacity facility housed 172, and had a waiting list of 200. That same year, the legislature changed the school's name to Fort Wayne State School.

In 1960, many residents moved to the new site at Stellhorn and St. Joe Roads, but some residents continued to live at the old school for about 20 years. After a number of years in which the State Street campus was inhabited by vagrants and rats, the Administration Building was demolished in 1982 to make way for North Side Park, which became Bob Arnold Northside Park. The Park Department saved a stone archway to leave as memorial to the former residents.

The "new" location is now also gone. Ivy Tech has used that land for expansion.
AsylumProjects, this page has three more photos

FortWayneReader has a more detailed history. The architects also designed the City Building.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Ashtabula, OH: Pennsy roundhouse still stands


Josh Guerney posted two photos with the comment: "The abandoned PRR Ashtabula roundhouse."
Dennis DeBruler I didn't even know PRR had a branch up to Ashtabula. I see Conrail was the one that abandoned the branch.,-80.../data=!3m1!1e3

[I'm sorry that the links in the above text are garbage. Google is threatening us with a new version of blog authoring software that is far worse than the existing version. One of the joys of the new version, which they are still claiming is an improvement, is that, when you copy text onto a clipboard, it replaces the link in every URL with garbage. I reported this corruption of user data weeks ago. In fact, more than once. But, like all other feedback, it seems to have gone into a bit bucket. I now try to go back to the old version before I copy text, but I forgot in this instance.]



Street View
Bob Mcgilvray Jr. posted three photos with the comment: "Ashtabula, Ohio - Pennsylvania Railroad roundhouse - January 2020 - 41.874380, -80.798523"
[These notes seem to be jinxed. In this case, I forgot to copy the "posted" link.]



Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob's post
Thanks for specifying that it was Pennsy. I had to check a topo map to see how Pennsy threaded itself through NYC territory.
1969 North & South Ashtabula Quadrangles @ 1:24,000

Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob's post
 I see on a satellite image that the roundhouses of Pennsy and NYC were within about a couple blocks of each other.,-80.../data=!3m1!1e3