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Monday, September 27, 2021



Allen Sydow posted two photos with the comment: "USS Midwest plant."


From their web site:

The Midwest Plant, a finishing facility that operates as part of Gary Works, is situated about 10 miles east of Gary in Portage, Indiana. Principal products include tin mill products and hot-dip galvanized, cold-rolled and electrical lamination steels that are used by customers in the automotive, construction, container and electrical markets.

United States Steel Corporation
Gary Works Midwest Plant
U.S. Highway 12
Portage, IN 46368
(219) 762-3131


  • 80" Pickle line
  • 52" and 80" 5-Stand Tandem Cold reduction mills
  • Electrolytic cleaning line
  • Batch annealing facilities
  • 43" Continuous annealing line
  • 54" and 80" Temper mills
  • 54" Double cold reduction mill
  • 48" and 72" Hot-dip galvanizing lines
  • 42" Electrolytic tinning line
  • 38" Tin-free steel line
Note how dirty their discharge into the lake is compared with Burns Harbor to the east.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Lost/PC/NYC Bridges over Chemung River in Corning, NY

19th Century: (Bridge Hunter)
20th Century: (Bridge Hunter; Satellite, they removed the piers and abutments)

Steuben County Historical Society posted
[Tropical Storm Agnes]
As the rivers rose in 1972, someone figured that 15 loaded coal cars would help anchor the Penn Central Railroad bridge over the Chemung River -- you can see the results. Bringing down a structure of this size suggests the horrifying force of the waters, and damage such as this did in several railroads here in the northeast. We're looking northward here -- in the background we can see the Corning Glass Works office tower, and the Corning Glass Center/Corning Museum of Glass.
Jim Kane: The Glass Museum had a "High Water Mark" way up high on the wall.

Octagon Fad shared
Fran Koch: seeing the downtown area firsthand after Agness........was so sad. And now, Corning has built a new facility in North Carolina.
Tim Fuller: The purpose of putting loaded cars or locomotives on flooding bridges was to reduce the likelihood of damage from the lifting effect of the moving water. Any surface in a flowing medium has a lifting effect dependent on the density and speed of the flowing medium - think back to your childhood and putting your hand out the car window to play with the air slipstream.
The major force keeping all bridges in place is gravity, so to counteract the lift forces of the moving river water, railroads routinely increased the weight on the bridge to increase the downward gravitational force.
Boaz Miller: Tim Fuller, well, fluid dynamic lift requires the fluid above and below the surface, so the hand in the airstream doesn’t work here.
It isn’t actually a lift; it is the tremendous shearing force due to fluid drag and lateral pressure on the support structures. Water is a very dense, heavy fluid and even a slow current can exert a massive shearing force against a stationary structure.
Bob Mason: Boaz Miller you are correct. Additionally with that much flow there is often some major scour occurring. If the water scours out a big enough hole and undermines the pier or abutment, the piers will topple over unless they are anchored to a cement pile cap on driven piles.
Bill Poole: The IHB does this frequently on the bridge over the DesPlaines River located @ McCook, Illinois.
Dennis DeBruler
There are several photos before and after it collapsed on this page:
The after photos show a lot of debris against the trusses and the piers are tilted because of scouring and/or lateral pressure. The debris would magnify the lateral force of the flowing water against the truss.

Art S. via BridgeHunter-19th

NYC was the north/south route.
1953 Corning Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

Another study in postcard colorization.
Via BridgeHunter-20th

1907 Postcard via BridgeHunter-20th


Did the piers tilt because of scouring or because of the tremendous lateral forces exerted by the flowing water against the tree debris against the trusses? Or because of both?

Saturday, September 25, 2021

NS/N&W Wye Bridges over Tug Riverand Woodman Tunnel (Ought One)

Bridges: (Bridge Hunter; Satellite)
Tunnel: (Bridge Hunter)

I was aware of the Keddie Wye in the west. I was not aware that the east also has an interesting wye.

1988 Everett Young Photo via BridgeHunter-tunnel, License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

ny Magnolia 677 photo via BridgeHunter-bridges, License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

One of seven photos posted by Aaron Bryant, the post is well worth a mouse click
Winston Dunbar: I'm surprised there aren't any inside rails on these curved spans.
Doug Bess: Winston Dunbar they only install inner metal guard rails on thru truss and thru girder spans. The reason I know this is because I drew up the standard plan during my time in the NS bridge office in Atlanta.

Friday, September 24, 2021

1907 RCP&E/CP/DM&E/C&NW Bridge over Missouri River at Pierre, SD

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; John A. Weeks IIISatellite)

RCP&E = Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad, 2014 to present [G&W]
DM&E = Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, 1986-2008 [american-rails, icerail]

I had already encountered the RCP&E because one of their bridges got washed out in 2019. So I had already sorted out the history of the corporate names for this route.

Why am I doing notes on yet another swing bridge? Because this swing bridge means that steamships used to come at least this far up the Missouri River. Since the Gavins Point Dam does not have a lock, now none of the Missouri River is navigable in South Dakota.

John Weeks, this web page has a significant history of the bridge

Street View

Peter Iverson posted
I'm mostly a lurker, but here is the Pierre, SD swing bridge. It was was built by the Chicago North Western, if memory serves, and is now used by the Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern Railroad (owned by the Wyoming and Genesee).

HAER photo via BridgeHunter via arch3IIc
[I searched the Library of Congress site for this HAER record, but I could not find it.]

arch3IIc, one of several detail photos taken for the HAER
[It doesn't look like the gears on the right side are meshing very well.]

Thursday, September 23, 2021

1906 BNSF/GN Trestle over Midvale Creek in East Glacier Park Village, MT

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; Satellite)

What are the odds that a street view would catch a light move?
Street View

Michael Krejci posted two photos with the comment: "I found this interesting. This is in East Glacier Park, MT. where they get very high winds. Trains were blown off the track here several times, then the RR installed wind breaks on the trestle and that solved the problem."
[There were some comments about the bridge being able to handle the additional lateral wind load.]
Andrew Matarazzo: William Phebus don't forget that the lateral oscillation of a steam locomotives side rods was usually calculated as part of the load on RR bridges. I'm sure someone performed a load rating to ensure it could handle the wind loads in lieu of daily steam traffic.
Robert Barker: cooper e80 live load design. I’m sure it will be fine.
Chad Hansen: Maintained that for awhile. Times they have to stop stacks cause of 100 plus wind gust.
Ben Cornelius: Amtrak’s Empire Builder on this route with its double-deck Superliner equipment has been held on occasion for 4-6-8 hours or more for the winds to diminish.
Billy Hallman: I wonder how many locomotive engineers were fired for train handling before they figured out it was the wind causing the derailments.
Gerald A. Edgar: Having stayed @ both E & W Glacier, & watching trains from the lodge @ W. Glacier, you can indeed get a vortex on that bridge given shape/direction of the deep valley. I encourage all of you to take the E.P. Builder there!
Ronaldo Pencato: Wind load is measured in Kips. Those wind screens don't put enough of a load on the bridge to matter. I build communication towers. We worry about wind load and sheer at elevation
Dave Stratton
A few miles East of there, SW of Browning, MT, the track turns North and South. It is on a fairly high fill and there use to be an anemometer that is tied into the signal system. If the wind speed was a predetermined speed (maybe 60 mph) It stopped trains.!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4... [See photo comments below about the wind screen that is here.]
Bob Avritt: Used to have containers scattered along the big curve west if Browning, Montana as well.
Jerome M. Motter Jr.: It kind of solved the problem. We still have wind warnings and have special rules when they happen. That's not even the worst spot. Down in Browning there is an even bigger and longer wind fence.


Jerry Urfer commented in Michael's post
Browning Mt. wind fence BNSF Highline Sub. Was employed in this area for years, strongest wind I was in was 128mph. Both fences have worked as intended for the last 15 years.
Troy Gladle: I always thought those were for snow drift control.
[Snow fences are built away from the track so that the drift doesn't dump onto the track.]

Dominic Deeble commented in Michael's post
I head to Montana 2-3 times a year. Always hitting the BNSF Hi Line Subdivision. Browning has a fence as well. Pretty neat engineering.

Yrral Ecirp provided this photo as a comment on a comment by Roger Mitchell: "In Colorado on Big Ten Curve on the Moffat Road ( currently UP ) south west of Boulder they laid in a siding and parked a long string of hopper cars full of gravel for the same purpose."
Kyle McGrogan: Kind of like the derailed and welded down hoppers on "Big Ten" curve west of Denver on the old D&RGW "Moffat Tunnel" line.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Steel Mill "Cobble"

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I've seen videos of something going wrong in a old bar or rod rolling mill and the bar "squirting" around the room. I always wondered why there were no panic-stop switches throughout the mill to stop it when things are going wrong. A comment on one of them called the resulting spaghetti of iron a "cobble." But then I forgot that term. Now I have again learned that term. This is the first time I have seen a coil rolling mill create a cobble. From some comments, it sounds like it is not a rare occurrence. I probably have not seen it because many mills have a "no camera" policy.

Mark Edmund DaSacco posted
A real nasty cobble that happened in the roughing mills. Both cranes had to hook up the heppenstahls to take it off the roll bed...
US Steel, great lakes works hot strip mill.
Michael Prihoda: What is and what causes a “cobble”?
Mark Edmund DaSacco: The front of the steel being rolled catches for some reason and it's going so fast that there's no time to stop it piling up behind. When it happens in the coilers at the end of the process when it's being rolled into a coil it's called a purot.
[Some comments indicate that if they are rolling cold steel or in the roughing mill (where the sheet is still thick), the cobble can cause damage to the equipment.]

I think this is the same mill, but a different cobble.
Mark Edmund DaSacco posted
Cobble in the mill.
US Steel, great lakes works, hot strip mill.
Michael OConnor: Making X-Mas cookies.
Kenneth Treharn: The old accordion trick. Sometimes they really pack them in if their slow on the Stop button. Pin that looper and get a hook to get the cobble chain thru then into the bull ring.
Tony Mason: I remember when the ETS line in Fairless had train wrecks. It was an all night job to get it back online.
Andrew Jackson: Pin that looper before you go in to clean that out! [Since the steel is under stress, I presume he means that there is a risk of the steel flying around after the cutting torch relieves the stress.]
Richard F Luzzi: I’ve seen em try to take too big of a bite at a seven stand and sheered a 2’ thick spindle and sent the gears thru the top of the gearbox. Awesome power from the motor room.
Andrew Jackson: Richard F Luzzi I’ve seen cold bumper slabs get ran into a roughing mill stand #1 and jam everything up. Talk about 12hours of burning.
Bill Beatty: Weirton used to run a lot of Stainless for J&L. When they wrecked it would take quite a while to clean up and repair any damage.
[It sounds like the production crew changes the work and backup rolls while the milwrights remove the cobble.]

Micheal Coff posted, cropped
Aiiiiight den.
Chris Judge: .Time to call the burn gang
Micheal Coff: We don't have a burn gang for this. Its just one guy per turn to clean up messes like this and do maintenance and roll changes.
Matt Burton: 84 USS Gary works? [Michael confirms this.]
Kipp Bell: At least it stayed on the table.
Derek Bakle: We all chip in to cut cobbles at Steel Dynamics Inc.
Joe Makarowski: Push it off, come ahead!!
Kenneth Treharn: I've seen lots of cobbles over my career. Less of a mess on that side of the finishing Mill than a "pile up" at the Coilers.
Thomas's Dallas: Blame it on the roll shop grinders.
Dominic Mosconi: Thomas's Dallas exactly what they did I was a roll grinder.
Richard F Luzzi: table hoods make it look like finishing mill runout table on its way to coilers but, the gauge looks a little thick. I served my Motor Inspector apprenticeship at the 84” Hotstrip USS while it was being built. Took 3 years before the first slab ran thru it.
Micheal Coff: Richard F Luzzi its the holding table. Between the rough and the FM. Good eye.
Bryan Wilt: Looks like money to me! (I work for a mill service company so we remove and process cobble and all the other revert from the mills)
Robert Washkevich: My grandfather's brother retired from the 56" hot Mill in '79 and when I talked to his wife , my great aunt, she knew about cobbles cause he would come home complaining about a "cobble". I worked in the 68" hot strip starting in '97 and many times they would side pull with the crane to get it out and I had to put the cable back in the sheave on the auxillary hoist.
[Search for "Groumoutis" to see a video of workers standing around watching a rod mill running bad. This is the type of video that makes me wonder why there are not panic-stop switches in the mill. Groumoutis adds "That one doesn’t compare to the one we called the super cobble. The super cobble was over 2000 feet of rebar. A electrician did a download and cause the pulpit to lose control of the shears so they never cut."]

Chris McNeal commented on Michael's post
Nothing like burning about an hour into the shift.

Now that I know the technical term for a rolling mill booboo, it occurred to me to do a search for "steel mill cobble" on YouTube. There were several results. This was the first one. I wonder if the glass on the pulpit would survive being hit by the cobble. (viewing length is 3:08)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Whaleback Boats

(Satellite, "The last above-water Whaleback ship in the world!" [SuperiorPublicMuseums])


Teri Miller commented on a post: "Yes, the Meteor is still there and she is turning 125 on October 1st! [2021]"

"The first whaleback boat was constructed in Duluth, Minnesota in 1888 and was christened 'McDougall’s Dream.' Subsequent boats were built across Superior Bay at a boatyard in Superior Wisconsin." [mndigital, this site has several thumbnails with links, but every link I tried gave me a 403! But none of them show a fully loaded boat] (Captain Alaxander McDougall developed this curved-hull design.)

The Sep 2020 version of the blogspot software is a lot worse than the previous version. But the one thing they did improve was the search function. (Which wasn't hard because the search function of the previous version broke on April 3, 2018.) So I took advantage of the "body" search option and copied photos of whalebacks from other posts I have.

1: Steve Vanden Bosch posted
Chicago Harbor with a Whaleback and a Lake Michigan Carferry Barge on the near left. This photo is from the Library of Congress.

2: Gerald Vilenski posted
A Whaleback entering Weitzel Lock in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Circa 1910. Looks like the little girl in the foreground may be taking a picture with a box camera...
Paul Mathews Can't get that close anymore

Mike Harlan shared
Del Jackson Probably a Kodak 620.
William Worden This is whaleback barge 131, so she might be waiting for a line from her towing steamer out of the photo ahead of her, or it might be the steamer behind her. There's another photo in the Library of Congress/Detroit Publishing collection that shows 131 in the lock with the Mariska, which would have been her towing steamer.

1: Al Miller posted
Views of a glass plate print of the Soo Line whaleback Washburn loading. Although the elevator says Duluth, I believe this actually is in Superior, Wis.
[Al's posting includes three closeups of the whaleback boat.]
Tim Pranke Al, I don't think I have seen this one before. And you are correct, this is Superior, the elevator that burn a couple years ago.
Al Miller Tim Pranke This is a 1980s print made off a glass plate neg that I believe was shot by D.F. Barry, who set up shop in Superior for a time and apparently did some work for McDougall in the early days to help publicize the whaleback design.

Mike Harlan shared
Greg Sumser I believe that elevator is STILL standing near BARCO in Superior.

Dennis DeBruler shared
The first photo is of interest. According to Google Earth images, it burned between Sep 2006 and Sep 2008. It appears it has been disassembled for the wood.…/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x52ae53fa…
It looks like these elevators are also being "mined" for wood.…/@46.7388935,-92.1018…/data=!3m1!1e3
Rick Aylsworth Yes, it was being salvaged for timber at the time of the fire.
Bob Summers Estimated date for this photo? Looks like a steam engine room on the left, so likely before they had electric motors?
Dennis DeBruler The first whaleback was built in 1887, so this could be before electricity became popular. Or they may have converted it to electricity but they hadn't bothered to tear down the steam plant. I think it is safe to say that it is old enough that it originally operated with steam instead of electricity.
I just noticed the wires in the foreground. But I don't think those are electric power wires.
We are also left with the question of what did the conveyor on the right go to.
Bob Summers Dennis DeBruler based on my research the mills and elevators here in central Kansas converted to powering with electric motors mostly in the second decade of the 20rh century, may have had electric light a little earlier. When our first concrete terminal was built in Hutchinson in 1913 they used electric motors, and the mills and older wooden elevators were starting to change over from the coal fired steam power plants. Lots of fires in those days. I suppose the conveyor you mentioned when to another laker loading pier to the right.

Steve Vanden Bosch posted three photos with the comment: "This photo from the Library of Congress 4a0608u shows an unidentifed Whaleback Steamer at Illiniois Steel Works South Chicago in the 1900's."
Alex Parker It looks like the Pathfinder later known as the Progress.
Built 1892. Scrapped 1934 [Illinois Steel Works was one of the companies JP Morgan bought to create US Steel.]

Hunter Green Beaded Infinity Scarf Necklace and Earrings 3


Don...The UpNorth Memor... Flickr
SS PATHFINDER WHALEBACK STEAMER Alexander McDougall & American Steel Barge Curved-decked Snout-nosed Ship built Duluth Rices Point or Superior Howards Pocket1

1: Mark Mcgowan posted
One of the Great Northern's iron ore loading docks at Allouez Bay, Wisconsin in 1897.
Michael Ponsetto: Whaleback, there’s one preserved in Superior, WI ... SS Meteor
Mark Manz: Michael Ponsetto yea one. It’s the only one, anywhere, that was preserved.

1: Detroit - Area Railroad History posted
1906 Detroit waterfront. Note the whaleback freighter.
Thomas Rubarth They look very similar, but are too small to be the Boblo Boats. I think the smaller one might be the ferry to Bell Isle, but am not sure. These were pre-bridge (1929) and tunnel (1930) days, so there was a lot of Detroit/Windsor passenger ferry traffic.