Posts Tagged ‘Coaling towers’

Steam Saturday: The Akron Coaling Tower

February 19, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Line never replenished 2-8-2 steam locomotive No. 4070 with coal from the former Baltimore & Ohio coaling tower in Akron. The facility had been out of service for well over a decade by the time the CVL began operations in summer 1975. In the photograph above, the 4070 is passing the coaling tower in September 1978. The light Mikado was turned here in preparation of its return trip to Cleveland. Of course at one time B&O steam locomotives pulling trains on the Valley Line between Cleveland and Akron did sit in this location to get a new load of coal.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Collinwood Coaling Tower

April 15, 2021

It is the late 1960s or early 1970s in Cleveland. Here is the no-longer-used ex-New York Central steam locomotive coaling tower at the old Collinwood engine house.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Got it This Time

September 15, 2020

Last month I traveled in a convoy with a couple other railfans in search of Indiana Rail Road trains in western Indiana.

We had a lull in our schedule so we hung out in Sullivan along the CSX CE&D Subdivision in hopes of getting a train passing beneath the coaling tower that straddles the tracks there.

Built in 1941 by the Chicago & Eastern Illinois, the mammoth landmark would probably be expensive to raze.

It hasn’t been used for decades but so long as it doesn’t interfere with current operations it’s probably better to just leave it in place.

Our hopes of getting something passing beneath the coaling tower were soon dashed when a CSX maintenance of way employee who happened to be passing by told us the line was shut down for track work that would be going on for several more hours.

The coaling tower wouldn’t be going anywhere and the track work would be ending with summer’s end so I decided to come back on another day, probably in September.

That turned out to be last Sunday. The weather was nice and I wanted to get out somewhere so I ventured to Sullivan on my own and hung out by the Frakes Street grade crossing, which is the closest public spot to the tower.

I hadn’t been there but a few minutes when I got my first train. That was the good news. The not so good news was that is was a northbound when I needed a southbound.

That northbound, the K721, an ethanol empties train that originates in Alabama and travels on CSX as far as Chicago, stopped shortly after its last car cleared Frakes.

The two tracks that pass beneath the coaling tower include a passing siding that ends on the north end of town.

Perhaps the ethanol train was waiting on a southbound. It wasn’t.

I don’t know why the K721 stopped, but after sitting there awhile it continued onward.

It turns out the ethanol train would meet a southbound about 45 minutes later.

That would be the manifest freight seen above, which enabled me to complete some unfinished business.

Although I’m pleased with the image, I could have done without the tree branches hanging out over the tracks.

I also wonder what this scene will look like next month when the leaves turn. Will it be colorful?

It’s starting to sound like planning for another trip to Sullivan is taking shape.


August 7, 2020

The plan was to hang out in Sullivan, Indiana, between catching trains on the Indiana Rail Road.

I’d never been to Sullivan but had seen photographs of the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois coaling tower that straddles the tracks of the CSX CE&D Subdivision.

So there it was a short distance from a public grade crossing. The prospect of catching a southbound coming through that coaling tower had me excited.

Alas, it was not to be. A maintenance of way window had the line shut down north of town. Trains were not expected to run again until the evening.

So although I walked away empty handed this time, you can be certain I’ll be back.

It reminded me of my first visit to the former Bessemer & Lake Erie in Conneaut that also ended with nothing. But I kept going back and was able get some good images.

Still Standing Though Fading

January 4, 2020

The Nickel Plate Road became a fallen flag in 1964 when it was acquired by the Norfolk & Western.

Yet a vestige of the Nickel Plate continues to stand in Frankfort, Indiana, although the affects of weather and age have faded it.

Shown is the former coaling tower in the yard, which has been out of service since the late 1950s but continues to bear the NKP herald.

Coaling towers are massive structures and the cost of razing them has probably ensure that some continue to stand decades after they ceased to serve a useful function.

Frankfort once hosted two former components of the Nickel Plate, the Lake Erie & Western and the Clover Leaf.

Lines of both railroads are still in place east of Frankfort, but the former Clover Leaf route to St. Louis has been abandoned west of town.

The tracks in Frankfort are now part of the Frankfort District of Norfolk Southern.

Efforts Started to Stop Deterioration of Grand Western Coaling Tower in Grand Haven, Michigan

August 25, 2015

The city of Grand Haven, Michigan, is working to stabilize a former Grand Trunk Western coal dock.

City engineers have created a plan to preserve the structure, which closed in 1958, and a fund-raising campaign has begin.

Plans are to slow the deterioration of the coaling tower by treating steel reinforcement bars that are exposed to the weather in an effort to slow or stop corrosion.

City Councilman Mike Fritz said that if the treatment process works, it make the structure easier to maintain.

“The whole thing is that we want to preserve it,” he said. “We don’t want to restore it – it will lose its identity.”

A U.S. Department of Interior guide to historical preservation says that deterioration occurs because of corrosion of embedded reinforcement bars.

Corrosion and rust cause the steel to expand, which leads to cracking and spalling of the concrete.

Repeated freezing and thawing can also result in concrete cracking, and scaling and micro cracking can extend into the concrete.

Portions of the structure’s interior were cleaned in January 2014. Screens were placed on the coaling tower to prevent animals from nesting and depositing waste inside.

Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1223 is on display next to the structure. Recently, the site has received new picnic tables, benches, a paved walkway and educational signs.

Coaling Dock Opens at Henry Ford Museum

April 24, 2014

The Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee Railroad has a new coaling dock. The facility on the railroad of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., is a replica of a Fairbanks Morse & Co. 50-ton coaling station that dates to 1926.

Construction of the coaling tower began last fall. It will be used to refuel the three steam locomotives the museum operates daily.

A coaling tower had been part of the master plan to go along with the roundhouse, which was constructed in 2000.

Work on the new coaling tower was hurried along due to construction of a new Amtrak station on the site that the museum had used to refuel its locomotives with a conveyor.