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Posted by Jersey Mike on Sat Apr 9 16:26:13 2011

Well for those of you who dislike America's great rail freight transportation network I have arrived at the City of Chicago, home of the world famous L. In the two days I was to spend in the Windy Apple I had plans to head down to the Museum of Science and Industry to check out the U-505 (the tour turned out to be a bit of a letdown). Later I had plans to visit the John Hancock Tower and take a trip on Metra out to Western Ave. While that last bit will be covered in the next set, everything else will be shown where where I travel around the downtown area via either the L or Metra Electric (for the MSI).

You can see all these great photos, including the non-rail Chicago scenery here at this link. You can also continue reading and check out the small sample of photos that I deemed to have best illustrated the trip.

We begin at the Randolph-Wabash loop station with the latest monument to Donald Trump rising in the background like some sort of giant dick. I guess buildings and their owners do share things in common ;-)

A short ride on a Green Line train later I arrived at Clinton St station which is adjacent to the old Chicago Northwestern Station which serves METRA's Union Pacific run commuter rail services north and west of the city. I caught an inbound train with Nippon cab car #8445 in the lead navigating its way through the field of doubleslip switches.

Unfortunately the old dwarf semaphore signals have now been removed, but Lake Street tower is still an active with its original GRS Model 2 machine from the first decade of the 20th Century.

Later I took the METRA Electric down to the 63rd St station, which is a flag stop and kinda in a sketchy neighborhood. The reason I didn't get off at the normal stop for the MSI about 10 blocks earlier was that I wanted some pictures of the 63RD ST tower....which turned out not to be at 63rd St, but 4 blocks north at 67th St. Anyway here is my train on the center local track taking the Approach Diverging Y/Y signal at the home signal.

At 63RD ST the straight route from the local tracks leads to the South Chicago branch so all continuing local trains on the main line must make a diverging move after traversing the extra rare mainline 4-track scissors doubleslip crossover.

Returning from the museum at the 55th-56th-57th-St Station I was lucky enough to catch a southbound mixed freight on the CNIC main line with CN SD70M-2 #8833 in the lead.

The train was so long that it had a pair of C44-9W mid-train helpers. In this photo we see #2678.

Eventually my express train arrived for the trip back downtown. Unfortunately METRA does not mark the numbers of its electric stock on the front, only the train number.

METRA Hi-Liner #1552 on the storage track at Van Buren Station.

Tail end of my train as it departs for the final hop to Randolph St station. I couldn't linger log at the Van Buren St station as I had heard reports of significant gang activity in the area.

Yup, that little box on stilts is TOWER 12 on the downtown L loop where Orange and Green Line trains join the action. In this case an Orange line train with #3282 enters onto the loop in a clockwise direction.

My night shots st Clark Junction weren't turning out so well, but I did get this cool shot of a train dispatcher's model board on the platform at Belmont.

Of course no trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to Millennium Park and the world famous Pritzker Pavilion.

Next it was time to railfan from the air as I went to the top of the John Hancock Tower. Unlike the Sears Tower which provides good views of all the major above ground stations, but best I could make out from the top of the John Hancock was the still active CY tower on the UP North Line and METRA's Western Ave complex way off in the distance.

What was visible from the John Hancock included the top of the Trump tower, which looks a might better than The Donnald's top.

And the Oat Street and North Ave beaches on Chicago's North Shore. You can thank the Carribean Blue water to all of those "invasive" zebra muscles which ended up filtering out all of the pollution.

There was a reasonable view of part of the Howard L which is used by the Brown and Purple lines at this point.

Back to the Loop we find a Brown Line train with M-K car #3386 at Quincy.

TOWER 18 was sporting its new, Chicago Style, look after the loop was completely re-signaled. The tower remains open with the operator using a brand new panel interface, instead of a "video game" system. my Green Line train is about to make a turn against traffic to head down the Lake St branch.

Back at Clinton I caught Boeing car #2530 heading eastbound.

The A Bridge at Lake St interlocking appeared to be about to get some new signal heads.

Meanwhile I hit the street to capture LAKE ST tower from a non-traditional angle.

LAKE ST is still operated by the Union Pacific Railroad and sports a standard UP interlocking nameplate. The tower has been very well cared for and does not suffer from Tower Window Syndrome or other ailments.

Amtrak operated its own LAKE ST tower until just a few years ago. Their LAKE ST sported a US&S Model 14 interlocking machine that ran the north end of Union Station. After the south side towers were closed control of that portion of Union Station was transfered to a large panel inside Amtrak's LAKE ST. However a few years ago the north side complex was re-signaled and the operators were put into offices to play video games.

The Lake St bridge presents an excellent view of the Chicago Merchandise Mart. One of the largest buildings in the world it had its own stop on the Brown Line and features space where wholesalers can sell various sorts of merchandise to retailers.

Signals on track #1 were lit up at CP-CANAL so I had some encouragement to wait for whatever METRA train was about to depart.

My patience was rewarded by a another train of Boeings on the Green Line framed in front of the Merchandise Mart.

For whatever reason METRA/Amtrak had chosen to replace the old school pneumatic point machines with low-profile US&S M3s which are normally used on transit systems with third rails.

View of the scissors crossover in LAKE ST interlocking looking south into the darkness of the Union Station overbuild.

Eventually the METRA train did pull out behind MP36-2S #419 in that really cool next generation paint job.

The consist contained about 4 cab cars, but only one really counted as such, #8536.

Although tinted green the water of the Chicago River appeared to be quite clean seeing as how the water flowed inland towards the Mississippi in order to keep pollutants away from the water intakes on Lake MI.

The Chicago Sun Times presented a great backdrop for a train of 2600 series Budds on the Lake St L.

And shortly thereafter an eastbound train of stripped and wrapped Boeing 2400's passed by. Ironically these Boeing cars were now running only 2 blocks from the new headquarters of the company that built them. Talk about being forced to eat what you cook XD I wonder if when those cars are retired I'll be able to buy one here. ;-)

We'll end with a rear view of that up and coming Chicago Opera Company.

Well that brings us to the end of this journey. I hope those of you who asked for more transit vehicles were appeased. Next week we will take a trip out to TOWER A-2 Western Ave and come back via the Lake St L.


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