Loading Coal Into a Lake Freighter

It’s the spring of May, 1943 and Jack Delano has traveled from Chicago a short way to the east. Here he observed the loading of a lake freighter at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s docks in Sandusky, Ohio.

Huge machines would haul a railroad hopper car up a steep ramp, tie down the car, then roll it over to dump it’s contents into a chute. This would lead down to a hold on the waiting ship. After emptying, the car would be released, then rolled back down another ramp to a yard below. An enormous operation, but one which worked well.

One can see the N&W hopper car in it’s inverted position, with it’s coal load pouring out. And down on the deck of the freighter four workmen can be seen; one directing the loading, and the others battening down the hatch on an adjacent hold.

Note the Algoma Central Railway herald on the side of the ship down below it’s name.

Loading Coal Into a Lake Freighter

Proviso Yard Overview

It’s a dreary and frosty day in December of 1942, and Jack Delano has arranged to get an aerial view of the Chicago and North Western’s Proviso Yard. The plumes of smoke and steam vapor provide a bit of brightness, providing an interesting contrast to the bleak surroundings.

Mr. Delano took quite a few photographs from his elevated perch, and this is perhaps my favorite. But this is only a portion of his view that day as the original slide is badly damaged and I chose to crop out a sizeable chunk on the right, resulting in this composition.

Located in Melrose Park near Chicago, this yard is presently in use by the Union Pacific Railroad.

C&NW Proviso Hump Yard

The Victory Garden

While visiting the Chicago and North Western Railroad’s Proviso yard near Chicago, Jack Delano spied this group of workers tending to a Victory Garden on the property. It’s a chilly day in April of 1943, and there are still traces of snow here and there. But these fellows are working a tiny plot of ground with something obviously cold tolerant.

Victory Gardens were quite common during both of the world wars. They were promoted as a way to reduce the load on the normal food production, and even the savings of tin, all of which were vital to the war effort. These gardens were also considered a morale booster in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

The Victory Garden

Playing With Fire

. . . or perhaps more appropriately, working with fire.

We’re at the roundhouse of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in Blue Island, Illinois. Jack Delano wandered into the blacksmith shop in the building one day in April of 1943. There he captured this view of Blacksmith John Kelsch (pronounced as Kelseh) working at his forge.

Steam locomotives were an interesting machine in that so many of their components were hand fashioned. When a replacement part was needed, the shop forces would literally make one. And blacksmithing was an essential part of that operation.

John Kelsch, Blacksmith, CRI&P RR

Re-tiring a Locomotive Driver

Jack Delano liked to visit the various back shops of the different railroads that he photographed. Seventy-seven years ago he stopped in at the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe’s locomotive shop in Shopton, located at the bank of the Mississippi River in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Though it’s March of 1943, he found the toasty spot in the shop when he came across the area where locomotive drivers had their tires replaced. The tire is the outer ring on the driver wheel. It forms the running surface of the driver, along with the flange of the wheel. These wear over time, and can also become damaged, therefore the driver is built to handle this by enabling the maintenance folks to replace this outer ring.

Removal and installation is accomplished by heating the tire with a gas-fired apparatus that will cause the tire to expand. It can then be either removed, or installed over the large rim portion of the wheel. When slipped on and then cooled, the tire contracts tightly around the rim, holding it firmly in place.

This operation must have been an impressive thing to witness in person!

Re-tiring a Locomotive Driver

Insulating a Boiler

I have to confess that this photograph surprised me. I had thought that the asbestos insulation applied to a steam locomotive boiler was in the form of blocks, similar to bricks. Perhaps that is one of the ways it was done, but this view shows the worker lathering on the asbestos mix like shaving cream. I wonder if this is just a coating over the blocks to fill in the joints and seal it all in?

Jack Delano captured this view at the Chicago and North Western’s 40th Street locomotive shops near Chicago. The date is December of 1942.

I imagine the lawyers and OSHA would have a field day if this procedure was handled this way nowadays! I’d hate to be the worker who has to clean all the dried up mixture off of the handrails and other appurtenances.

Insulating a Locomotive

Backshop Locomotive Repairs

On a chilly day in December of 1942 Jack Delano visited the C&NW Railroad’s 40th Street locomotive shops. He captured this crew as they were re-installing the smokebox front on one of their 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives. If one looks closely, a worker can be seen lying on the boiler just in front of the stack as he aids in guiding the enormous cover into place. Also a bit of another worker can be seen in front of the locomotive, his foot resting on the steam chest. A third worker on the shop floor keeps his eye on the progress.

Based on the partial view of the locomotive’s number on the sand dome, this is likely a class “E” engine built by Alco’s Schenectady Works in the early 1920s.

Despite the debris seen on the shop floor, the workers apparently liked to keep the locomotive itself tidy evidenced by the broom on its running board, along with a spare on the work platform.

C&NW Steam Locomotive Repairs

Switching at Proviso Yard

Jack Delano had visited the Chicago and North Western’s Proviso Yard earlier in the winter of 1942-43 before his journey out West. But he’s back and busy documenting railroaders at work in C&NW’s huge yard near Chicago. It’s April of 1943, the snow is gone, but there is still a chill in the air. A switchman is seen lining a switch in the never-ending task of sorting freight cars.

Considering this is the middle of WWII and the burden placed on the railroads during that time, the yard is surprisingly empty. Perhaps though it’s a reflection on the efficiency of the crews as they labor to keep the trains rolling.

Many of the rails appear to have a yellowish cast to them. I doubt it’s rust as zooming in on the original hi-rez image doesn’t suggest that. And I’ve noticed this same coloration in several other photos taken of Proviso Yard. But I’ve never seen an explanation of what this is. Anyone care to venture a guess (or perhaps, the actual reason)?

Switchman Lining a Switch

Commuter Train at Proviso Yard

Jack Delano is back from his trip out West on the Santa Fe, and is again visiting the Chicago and North Western’s Proviso Yard near Chicago. It’s a dreary day, apparently the last of winter in May of 1943 as the snow appears melted away.

Mr. Delano caught this commuter train arriving at the yard’s shelter stop. It will soon be filled with the workers heading home for the day. One would assume by the location and dress that these are railroad men, likely shop workers and clerks.

The train is comprised of old open-platform passenger cars, with the last car displaying the proper kerosene markers. And if you look very carefully, you can spot the brass knob on the back door. Note the shelters on either side of the tracks, even older retired open-platform passenger cars (sans the platforms and steps) sitting on the ground. One can see this area separated from the yard by a wooden fence. And another wooden fence separates the two mainlines, presumably to discourage folks from disembarking the train on the side toward the adjacent track.

Commuter Train at the Proviso Yard

Crossing the Missouri River

In March of 1943 Jack Delano caught a ride on an Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe freight train heading west out of Chicago. Hopping rides on different trains, he eventually made it all the way out to California. In the early part of the journey the train crossed the Missouri River on the bridge located near Sibley, Missouri. This river crossing is on the portion of the route between Marceline, Missouri and Argentine, Kansas.

Jack captured this view from the rear platform of the caboose as they cleared the bridge itself and were back over land. This bridge still stands today and can be seen on Google Maps.

Crossing the Missouri River

Loading Oranges

We see thousands of photographs of trains in just about every conceivable location and time. But we don’t often get a glimpse into what’s in those trains. When Jack Delano’s AT&SF freight train reached California, he ventured out to see some of the industry there that was using the railroad to ship their commodity.

He came across the California Fruit Growers Exchange, a co-op orange packing plant in Redlands, California. Here he documented this worker loading oranges into a reefer (a refrigerated rail car). These reefers were usually assembled into a large block of cars, and were shipped on an expedited schedule to the markets in all points East.

This is March of 1943, and while some early experiments were being conducted with mechanical refrigeration, most cars were still cooled by ice loaded into bunkers in the ends of the car. One can make out the ventilation grilles above the stacks of orange crates, the bunkers already filled with ice chunks. These iced reefers would still see service well into the late 1950s.

Loading Oranges in a Reefer

Spiffing Up the Power

It’s March of 1943, and we’re in the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe roundhouse located in the Argentine Yard in Kansas. Jack Delano photographed a worker washing down the nose of one of the road’s diesel locomotives.

This is a four unit set of EMD model FT locomotives, each producing 1,350 horsepower. The set had an “A” unit (a unit with a cab) on each end, and a pair of “B” units (without cabs) in the center. The road considered this a single 5,400 horsepower locomotive. While many FT locomotives were sold as a pair of semi-permanently units, the Santa Fe ordered theirs with conventional couplers at the end of each unit, thereby giving them more flexibility in their arrangement.

ATSF FT #103, Argentine, Kansas