Cavanaugh Junction

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Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:12 am

Hello good people,

I have a question about Cavanaugh Junction. Where the heck is it? Is it in Gary? I am heading to some of the least explored places (via YouTube) inside of Gary's city limits and do some low key video documentation. It's about the trains of course but it's also about the land. I am aware of the RR police and their jobs, I respect that but I am also hardheaded :twisted:

I also am requesting information about two train bridges that traverse the Grand Calumet River on Gary's Northwest side. I know that the route used to be a part of the old PRR line. I reckon that it is now owned by CSX and leased by NS to serve Indiana Sugars on Gary's East side. The two bridges in question can be seen directly North of the I-90 Toll Rd @ MP 12 if you are headed West. The area can be accessed via 5th Avenue by an unambiguous gravel pathway, in the area where the old Amtrak stop used to be. It is this pathway that crews used to get heavy equipment though the area when I-90 was being remodeled. It can also be accessed via N. Clark Rd if you are willing to walk a mile or so through swamp land and can deal with the local potential wild life. You might be able to actually drive to the spot from N. Clark Rd but I wouldn't recommend trying that. If you run into any problems (flat tires, bucks, stray dog packs etc) you are far from any type of help. I've seen RR crews drive to this place from N. Clark Rd a few dozen times down the gravel road and the tracks themselves. I've provided a few older photos and a map to aid with location.

Thanks,

Gary Indiana Railfan

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Photos taken early fall 2009. The tracks seen in the bottommost photo have been replaced as of 2014.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby Typhoon » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:25 pm

GaryIndianaRailFan wrote: I am aware of the RR police and their jobs, I respect that


You don't appear to respect that, judging by your pictures.

Cavanaugh Junction is just west of the Gary airport, by the Cline Ave toll road exit.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby cnw8835 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 3:11 pm

The bridge more to the south is the former Pennsylvania. The bridge more to the north is the former Wabash main from Toledo.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:49 am

@Typhoon @cnw8835

Thank you both for your prompt responses.

Typhoon:
I had thought Cavanaugh Junction was further to the south, like just north of Van Loon. Information about it is scarce, probably for good reason.
When you provided the location I knew exactly where it was. It's almost inaccessible. I used to work in that general area a few years ago at a company on Blane Street but didn't correlate that as being Cavanaugh. It's a pretty busy area. There's always RR officials lurking around.

I do respect the RR police. I've been fortunate not to have crossed any of the ones I've encountered, but as far as the bridge locations I mentioned I never seen any RR police there. It's a desolate area. I have talked to some of the conductors and engineers on the freight trains at various times. They seem to not have a problem with me being back there, as long as I stay out of their way. I can only speak for myself of course.

cnw8835:
Thank you for pointing out which was which. I would love to learn more about both RR's activities in that area specifically. I ask older locals about RR activities from back in the 60's on up in Gary in general and all I get are vague, half remembered dispositions. There's so much to learn about RR history in Gary. We have old physical monuments that are seen every day just laying around rusting into dust being forgotten by time.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:39 pm

The areas in question are best visited via the Internet. Arial photos as recent as this past April (2015) are online.

Last year's transfer of properties gave the former PRR from Clark Rd (QF 444.1) west to the new CN alignment (QF 445.6) to the airport. The former NS Sugar track from TC 244.9 (just west of the bridge and east of Clark Rd) to TC 246.6 (CSX Clarke Jct) was sold by NS to CSX with NS removing all track except the road crossing at Clark Rd. CSX will eventually replace the track and build a connection between QF 443.8 and TC 244.9. When complete CSX will have a connection from NS CP 501 through Clarke Junction to Tolleston separate from NS and CN tracks in the area.

CN has built their own connector from the CN City Track parallel to the former NS now CSX alignment reconnecting to NS' track at TC 244.7. The Sugar Track continues under NS ownership east to TC 243.1 (just east of Taft St). At that point a connection has been built connecting the NS line with the CSX former PRR line. And a connection has been restored between the former PRR line and the CSX Porter Branch. The diamond will be restored at Tolleston.

A connection between the CSX Porter Branch and the NS Sugar Track is under construction that will allow the NS Sugar Track to be abandoned between TC 243.1 and TC 241.4 (just west of Virginia St).

When all is done a westbound train on CFER will be able to go west on CSX Porter or cross the diamond and be able to go West on CSX to Clarke Jct and NS CP 501 or take the connection just north of the diamond over to NS cross the river to where the track connects to CN and enter Kirk Yard. A westbound train on CSX Porter will be able to enter the former PRR and do the same ... NS is using the new connections to get trains to Kirk Yard.

Visiting the southern connections near the CSX Porter Line and Indiana Sugars via road crossings is trivial. I passed through there a couple of weeks ago, driving carefully on the publicly accessible landscape of bumpy city streets and potholes. Welcome to Gary.
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Re: CSX/NS Airport Relocations

Unread postby justalurker66 » Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:58 pm

A couple of illustrations to show the changes made and planned.
Clarke.jpg
North End

Tollston.jpg
South End
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:18 am

justalurker66 wrote:The areas in question are best visited via the Internet. Arial photos as recent as this past April (2015) are online.

Last year's transfer of properties gave the former PRR from Clark Rd (QF 444.1) west to the new CN alignment (QF 445.6) to the airport. The former NS Sugar track from TC 244.9 (just west of the bridge and east of Clark Rd) to TC 246.6 (CSX Clarke Jct) was sold by NS to CSX with NS removing all track except the road crossing at Clark Rd. CSX will eventually replace the track and build a connection between QF 443.8 and TC 244.9. When complete CSX will have a connection from NS CP 501 through Clarke Junction to Tolleston separate from NS and CN tracks in the area.

CN has built their own connector from the CN City Track parallel to the former NS now CSX alignment reconnecting to NS' track at TC 244.7. The Sugar Track continues under NS ownership east to TC 243.1 (just east of Taft St). At that point a connection has been built connecting the NS line with the CSX former PRR line. And a connection has been restored between the former PRR line and the CSX Porter Branch. The diamond will be restored at Tolleston.

A connection between the CSX Porter Branch and the NS Sugar Track is under construction that will allow the NS Sugar Track to be abandoned between TC 243.1 and TC 241.4 (just west of Virginia St).

When all is done a westbound train on CFER will be able to go west on CSX Porter or cross the diamond and be able to go West on CSX to Clarke Jct and NS CP 501 or take the connection just north of the diamond over to NS cross the river to where the track connects to CN and enter Kirk Yard. A westbound train on CSX Porter will be able to enter the former PRR and do the same ... NS is using the new connections to get trains to Kirk Yard.

Visiting the southern connections near the CSX Porter Line and Indiana Sugars via road crossings is trivial. I passed through there a couple of weeks ago, driving carefully on the publicly accessible landscape of bumpy city streets and potholes. Welcome to Gary.


Intriguing. Visiting these spots isn't trivial to me. I live in the city and I see them everyday. Walked up these tracks dozens of times and developed an intimate relationship with them. I live close to the NICTD main, closer to the 1993 accident site (can see the spot from my backyard). I can get to the bridges mentioned earlier via a shortcut in the neighborhood, and have been doing so all my life. The old timers used to take me back there to fish.

I've been seeing crews working on the tracks and seen the shiny new connection just east of Taft Street, where NS engines are often left idling on the old portion of the Sugar Train tracks. I had a feeling they weren't doing all of that work just for the Sugar Train to get through. Interesting how trains will be able to get to CN Kirk Yard from there. NS has already been using that stretch of track for a while now, but I haven't witnessed any trains coming from the CSX line using the new Taft connection myself.

I would love to see the diamond restored between Grant and Cleveland. Used to take a shortcut over the 100 year old Michigan Central tracks and across the old diamond to his house off 10th & Garfield. We called those tracks "The High Lines". I described them as belonging to Michigan Central, but I've seen those tracks be described as belonging to the old Wabash RR too. Would like to know when the last trains passed over those tracks, and why it was decided to completely abandon them. I don't want to see them go, but be repurposed into some type of walking/biking trail, like the one they recently opened up in Chicago using an old El line.

They tore down an old bridge that used to connect to the "High Lines" in the same spot where the new connection is, just east of Taft. That would certainly put a dent in any type of preservation plan keeping the original line intact. Fortunately I took photos of the bridge before it was demolished. Included a few photos of the bridge just for kicks for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. This bridge used to be the 4th largest out of the old bridges in the city, and the 2nd largest one west of the one that still traverses Rt. 12.

Photos taken 2008
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Photos taken 2014
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Last edited by GaryIndianaRailFan on Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:37 am

Getting back to my original post question for a tick, I had mentioned I used to work in the area I suspect Cavanaugh Junction to be. I have a photo of the spot in case anybody wants to confirm or deny if I'm anywhere near it or not.

Photo taken late fall of 2008
Image

I imagine that it pretty much still looks the same way 7 years later but maybe slightly busier. It was pretty busy back in '08.

The bridge is an NICTD bridge, the tracks that run under it were EJ&E I believe, now of course CN. You can see this spot from 5th Avenue (Rt. 20), just east of Cline Avenue (SR 912). It is not easily accessible at all. The I-90 toll road entrance/exit ramps sit right behind this bridge to the north of the Grand Calumet River. I assume you can see the entire area better from the toll road or from the South Shore Line for that matter, although you might only get a good glimpse for a few seconds. From my perch at the old gig, I had a spectacular unique view of trains running in, out and over this spot. If this is Cavanaugh or the immediate area of Cavanaugh, then I've pretty much been there and know how to access it (but I won't be doing that).
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:05 am

GaryIndianaRailFan wrote:
justalurker66 wrote:Visiting the southern connections near the CSX Porter Line and Indiana Sugars via road crossings is trivial. I passed through there a couple of weeks ago, driving carefully on the publicly accessible landscape of bumpy city streets and potholes. Welcome to Gary.


Intriguing. Visiting these spots isn't trivial to me.


Trivial is easy. When I say visiting a site is trivial I am saying that it is easy to get to (public roads, no trespass).

I have attached an edited diagram of the CN line including Cavanaugh Junction. The diagram is from 2014 and the tracks have shifted around the airport so there may be minor changes. The diagram is not to scale. Railroad west is the top of the diagram but the tracks are headed geographically south for that section of the line so read this as south at the top and north at the bottom, geographically.

cavanaugh.png

(Track curves are not shown nor the new connection to CSX that is under construction between Cavanaugh and MP 44.)
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:35 pm

Based on the location of signals in the April 2015 aerials, it appears the entire wye is now included in Cavinaugh.
(The old location of Cavinaugh was near the old end of the runway.)
Cavinaugh.jpg


The signals are located on the Calumet Spur to the (geographic) west, CN Matteson on track 1 to the (geographic) south (by the toll booths), and CN Matteson on both tracks governing the crossover at the (geographic) north (track 2 in both directions, track 1 westbound protecting the crossover and entrance to the wye).

You might be able to get there by visiting the National Guard. I do not know how far one can travel on the access road around the airport without passing through a gate and becoming a trespasser. The access road is outside of the new runway fence limits (with an "airside" access road inside the fence) but I believe there is a gate or signage on Chicago Ave that would restrict access to the new access road. The National Guard compound has its own fencing at the end of the access road.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Sat Sep 26, 2015 2:30 pm

justalurker66 wrote:
I have attached an edited diagram of the CN line including Cavanaugh Junction. The diagram is from 2014 and the tracks have shifted around the airport so there may be minor changes. The diagram is not to scale. Railroad west is the top of the diagram but the tracks are headed geographically south for that section of the line so read this as south at the top and north at the bottom, geographically.


Okay cool so I would have been way south of Cavanaugh in the photograph, close but no cigar. Yet I do understand now where it is. According to your diagram my photo was taken just north of MP 42, right at the CSS&SB overpass, off by a mile or so. I was so close! :roll: Part of it can be seen from Cline Avenue for sure now.

I do know of tracks being moved/removed in that area, yet I haven't seen the actual overpass removed from across Industrial Highway (Airport Rd as it's know now). Doesn't mean they haven't done so. I haven't been that direction in a few weeks. The only thing I don't like is Chicago Avenue is now cut off from where the new trackage sits all the way to Cline.

I think that Gary Avenue would be a better way to view Cavanaugh. It is on the other side of the CSS&SB tracks & the Grand Calumet. Gary Avenue literally slices right through the area and is not restricted in any way as far as I know. I'd have to pay the toll twice to see the whole wye. Gary Avenue would take me right past the National Guard facility too, as an added bonus I guess. Plus side is that I wouldn't be arrested for trespassing and jumping fences. Jumping fences is not my thing anymore lol
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat Sep 26, 2015 5:57 pm

You can peak through the trees from Gary Ave ... photography would be easier if you use the buddy system - one driver, one photographer. You will be looking behind you to see the Calumet Spur signal from Gary Ave and between trees to see anything to the north. The last I saw there was a place to make a U-turn before the toll gates (at one's own risk). The east access road for Cline Ave is close to the new tracks but not close to the junction. Buddy system photograph may help there. I'd try not to attract too much attention.

Your mention of fishing earlier in the thread made me think that it might be a good idea to buy some fishing gear, a license and "go fishing" at some of the photo spots I'd like to visit. It is crazy that someone going fishing can openly trespass on a railroad ROW to get to their fishing spot and be ignored but someone walking the same path with a camera sets off homeland security alerts. I have seen a lot of trespassers while rail fanning ... people without cameras that could have taken some good photographs. Maybe I could dress like a jogger and not have to pay for fishing gear.

I would not try that near Cavanaugh ... too many levels of police to attract. I am surprised that Gary Ave and Cline Ave access are not posted as "no stopping no standing no parking". Gary Ave is posted as no pedestrians (it is the ramp to the Toll Road).
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:06 am

Not a lot of room to pull over on Gary Ave. Might have to try it this fall after all the vegetation hibernates, and during the time of day when traffic isn't as heavy. Speaking of trespassing, the FRA has a http://fragis.fra.dot.gov/Trespassers/. If you zoom in to NWI you'll see the frequency of 'reported' trespassing is very low, especially in the areas we are talking about (not saying that to justify jumping fences). Also, a neat feature if you click on certain portions of the lines, a window appears and gives you basic information about who owns the specific portion of track you clicked on (some of it needs updating), how long that zone is in miles and if there have been any trespassing incidents. The frequency is so low it barely registers.

The areas I'm interested in have not been made a priority by CN, who's police might be the most unwarrantedly overzealous police around, with the exception of Cavanaugh Junction obviously. The inner city tracks are completely unsecured and are becoming busier by the month.

Now when we get to talking about the infamous Pine Junction - then I could see why patrols would be stepped up to a certain extent. Used to visit Pine Junction on foot, back in the summers of '08 & '09. It was a helluva walk. The swamp gas was atrocious and the mosquitos were too. There were CSX RR patrols around then, but I used a cell phone so my presence was almost completely ignored because they couldn't see any cars or equipment. I would sit far enough away from the tracks not to raise suspicions but I could see them literally coming from a mile away straight up Clark. I found out that Pine Junction would be best visited very late at night into early dusk by car, but who wants to be in the dark? I also used to visit Pine Junction in '09 by driving from the US Steel truck entrance at Buchanan Street west to N. Clark Rd. If you read a conventional map you won't see the road but if you use Google maps you can see it clearly. Found out I could get there that way by accident. It was the first year after the recession, the mill was all but shuttered and there was very lax security. Doubt if you can do that now.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:32 am

A quick trip through Gary on Sunday ... the Sugars line is disconnected. Trains serving Indiana Sugars must enter off of the CSX Porter Branch. At the Tolleston end the line has been severed from the track headed north. The temporary switch that allowed trains on the Sugars line to go to the plant or to the CSX line has been removed.
Gary Sugars Nov 2015.jpg
Disconnected Sugars Track - The old turnout is to the left ... the NS track now curves over to meet the CSX track.


Improvements on the old PRR line ... new track laid from Tolleston north past US 20. Last weekend the US 20/5th Ave crossing and the Taft St crossing were closed for track placement and repaving. New crossing protection is under construction (full cantilever signals with gates). The gates have not yet been installed at US 20.
PRR US 20 Gary Nov 2015.jpg
Former PRR rebuilt. Crossing of US 20.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:29 am

Not sure when ... but the new signals are up and running at CSX Tolleston from all directions (including from Fort Wayne). The diamond has not yet been restored.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Sat May 14, 2016 2:40 pm

justalurker66 wrote:Not sure when ... but the new signals are up and running at CSX Tolleston from all directions (including from Fort Wayne). The diamond has not yet been restored.


Yes, I've been watching the rebuild the PRR/Wabash line, mainly the Wabash, as of today it is incomplete. This past fall I took photos of the construction NS did at the 5th Avenue crossing. I haven't taken a close look at it in the past month but they have crossing gate mounts set up without the actual gates themselves installed, some of the structure is still wrapped in plastic, wiring and warning components aren't completely hooked up. NS blocks traffic for about 45 minutes at that part of 5th Ave, sometimes twice a day.

New signaling installed further up the Pennsy line, located right next to the Gary Sanitary District. Further northwest up the tracks NS destroyed the old Wabash track layout all the way to the airport area, replacing it with new tracks that run adjacent to the old lane immediately after the bridge that traverses the Grand Calumet River.

To the southeast of course the old Wabash and PRR lines has almost been completely ripped up. I wonder what they are going to do with the PRR trackage lane, which is the western line closet to Chase Street? Besides the dense vegetation that grew along that line being chopped down it's been completely untouched from Taft Street to just behind the Swift property by the airport.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sat May 14, 2016 5:00 pm

CSX had the arms up on the 5th St crossing but the eastbound crossing arm was broken in a February wind storm. It looks like they decided to remove the arms from both directions instead of replace the broken arm.

The old PRR should be being rebuilt from 5th St to just west of the Grand Calumet River. Once the line is north/west of the river it will swing over to the former NS line. The PRR is abandoned west of Clark Rd and will not be rebuilt. At least the first 3/10 of a mile east of Clark Rd will not be rebuilt as the tracks swing over to the Wabash.

There is a new connection between CSX and CN north of the airport between Cline Ave and Airport Rd. I do not believe it was active the last time I saw it but the track appeared to be in place. This will give EB CSX traffic access to CN and Kirk Yard (and WB CN traffic access to CSX).

At last look the new connection from CSX Clarke to the Wabash (now CSX owned) that will connect to the PRR north/west of the Grand Calumet River has not been built.

North Gary CSX.png


The "Stop Sign" noted on the attached drawing is where NS trains must stop and not proceed until given permission by the WCL-CN Kirk Yard Yard Master. The signs are just east of Clark Rd. There is a tag reader just west of Clark Rd. (NS has a tag reader just east of Taft St. Google still has the old CN railroad tracks shown through the airport. Those are gone.)

A few weeks ago I saw an NS train waiting at that stop sign, but it was not long enough to block 5th St (close, but clear of the crossing circuits). There is about 6000ft between the stop sign and 5th St. Only about 1500ft between 5th and Taft St (and 4300ft between 5th and the connection to CSX north of Tolleston Jct). If a train is over 6000ft and not let into the yard it is going to block 5th St.

There are not many places one can put a 6000ft train without blocking a crossing. The nearest to this location would be on a single track section of the CSX main line. Eastbound NS trains would face the same fate, waiting on a CSX signal for Tolleston and likely holding short of Taft St so they are not blocking both Taft and 5th St.
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby GaryIndianaRailFan » Sun May 15, 2016 10:07 pm

justalurker66 wrote:There are not many places one can put a 6000ft train without blocking a crossing. The nearest to this location would be on a single track section of the CSX main line. Eastbound NS trains would face the same fate, waiting on a CSX signal for Tolleston and likely holding short of Taft St so they are not blocking both Taft and 5th St.


5th being blocked doesn't bother me all that much. You can go around the 5th crossing taking the bridge that traverses the Wabash/Pennsy tracks located on 4th Ave. It is true, if 5th is blocked usually Taft St. is clear, by as much as 100 yards in most cases (I'm no distance wiz so don't quote me on that).

I got a video on my YouTube page I just uploaded. I was accessing the Penn/Wabash bridge last year when I ran across this weird person. He was sitting on the very top of the Penn/Wabash bridge with a handful of gravel, throwing the gravel at this very train we're speaking of. Turned out to be this weird kid, who wasn't all there if you know what I mean. By the time I began to walk up the tracks he had gotten off the bridge and followed me. I recorded the initial encounter, which is hilarious! Unfortunately the part where the actual train crew comes up and interacts with us was lost due to a hard drive failure. They were very cool, but I left the weird kid with them :lol: so I could finish trespassing. I really wish I could have had that lost footage! They took the kid with them to the back of the train, and probably got rid of him somehow, but I didn't stick around to find out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Isp2P2NRALw
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Re: Cavanaugh Junction

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun May 22, 2016 9:19 pm

GaryIndianaRailFan wrote:New signaling installed further up the Pennsy line, located right next to the Gary Sanitary District.


A new signal (4435 Eastbound) with the track buried in grass. It looks like the signalling department worked faster than the track laying department.

Tolleston remains an odd arrangement. There is a LH switch that will lead eastbound on the Porter Branch some day but for now the "straight" portion of that switch lines up with the curve track instead of the to be reinstalled diamond.

At the north end progress is being made at the CSX/CN connection west of Clark Junction. The CN connector has been extended far enough to connect to the CSX plus a little further west. (This is the new "CSX Jct" between Cavenaugh and Clark on the CN line.)
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