Jack Shall

About Jack Shall

I've been a model railroader and railfan for well over 50 years now. My interests lie in the steam era and the early diesel era. My modeling has been in HO, but I do have a closet interest in Fn3 :-) It's been a number of years since I've done any layout construction, and the new Louisiana Central pike under construction is by far my most ambitious effort. Follow along with me on this new adventure of the Louisiana Central.

South Water Street at Night

Back in March of this year I posted a Jack Delano image of the the Illinois Central freight depot in Chicago, Illinois. Looming in the background of that photograph is the huge Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer neon sign, complete with a clock. Mr. Delano had also visited that location earlier during the night in April of 1943. And on that night he recorded the sign in all of it’s night time glory, resplendent in all of it’s vibrant colors.

Looking closely below the sign we can make out the image of a string of reefers (refrigerator cars) lurking in the dark shadows of the yard.

ICRR S. Water St. Yard at Night

ICRR Caboose Facility

Continuing our tour of the Illinois Central facilities at the South Water Street yard and freight depot in Chicago, we’re at the caboose servicing area. On the far track is a string of Illinois Central side door cabooses (one sans a cupola) waiting their next assignment. But standing out at center is a visiting Chesapeake and Ohio crummy under the watchful eye of a group of workers relaxing near by. The C&O was leasing terminal facilities from the I.C. at the time, hence the explanation for it’s appearance here.

Photo by Jack Delano, April of 1943

ICRR Caboose Service Area, Chicago

ICRR Locomotive Facility

Jack Delano visited the Illinois Central’s locomotive servicing facility near Chicago in November of 1942. He recorded this overview of the sprawling facility while there.

The I.C. was one of the early roads to adapt the new diesel-electric locomotives, and seen at right are one of their TR locomotive sets. These were basically a pair of EMD model NW2 switchers (one without a cab) semi-permanently coupled together, creating what was known as a cow-calf unit. The I.C. purchased three of this example in 1940. The “cow” is the unit with the cab, numbered as 9203A; it’s cabless “calf” (partially hidden behind the water penstock) is numbered as 9203B.

In the background we see a large stable of steamers sitting on the service and ready tracks. It’s interesting to note that while the Illinois Central was an early adapter of the diesel locomotive, it was also one of the last to retire all of it’s steam locomotives, with active steamers on the roster until the early sixties.

ICRR TR #9203A/B Cow and Calf Set

Working the Hump

We continue today with a photograph taken at another part of a hump yard operation: the pin puller.

Jack Delano spied this switchman working the crest of the hump in the Illinois Central yard at Chicago, Illinois. It’s a cold day in November of 1942, and the worker is prepared for the day. Don’t let his Fedora fool you into thinking this is management on the hump . . . a look below the overcoat reveals a working man’s dungarees and work shoes. He is preparing to pull the coupler pin on the car just as it crests the hump, allowing for it’s gravity-assisted journey down into the yard beyond.

Sharp eyed readers will notice the open journal boxes on the cars. In this cold weather, workers will open the boxes and squirt some very hot oil into the boxes to aid in the lubrication of the journals in these cold temps. After the car rolls for a short distance spreading the lube, it should easily make it down to it’s destination thanks to this warm-up.

Humping the Cars, ICRR, Chicago, Ill.

The Hump Yard Tower

We’re inside the hump yard tower in the Chicago and North Western’s Proviso Yard at Chicago, Illinois. The Towerman, Mr. R.W. Mayberry, is at the controls, and he will line the appropriate switches to direct each car coming down from the hump into it’s assigned track. He’ll also tweak the retarders which will control the car’s speed as required as it descends to it’s final destination. This is state-of-the-art railroading in May of 1943.

Photo by Jack Delano

R.W. Mayberry, Towerman, C&NW Railiway

The Faces of Railroading

As “railfans” and modelers, we often tend to focus on the equipment, and occasionally, the infrastructure of the railroads that we study. One of the things that draws me to the photography of Jack Delano is the way he often included the human element of the railroad. You’ve likely noticed that many (most?) of the images that I’ve posted over these past months contain a railroader doing his or her job.

Today I thought I’d focus entirely on those folks. Mr. Delano took the time to take many portraits of the people he saw while documenting the various railroads. Below are a half dozen images representing just a tiny facet of the thousands of railroad employees. I wish it were practical to feature someone from all the various disciplines required to make a railroad function, but that would literally take a volume to do.

A.S. Gerdee, Switchman, C&NW RR
Mr. A.S. Gerdee, Switchman at the Proviso yard of the C&NW Railroad, April 1943
Frank Williams, Car Man, ICRR
Mr. Frank Williams, a Carman with the Illinois Central RR, Chicago, Ill, November 1942
Mike Evans, Welder, C&NW RR
Mr. Mike Evans, a Welder with the C&NW Railroad, Chicago, Ill., April 1943
Shop Worker - C&NW RR - 1942
Unfortunately this gentleman wasn’t identified other than that he was a Shop Worker with the C&NW Railroad, December 1942
James Lynch, Roundhouse Worker, C&NW RR
Mr. James Lynch, a Roundhouse Worker at the C&NW Railroad Proviso Yard in Chicago, December 1942
Joseph Pina, Boilermaker, AT&SF RR
Mr. Joseph Pina, a Boilermaker with the AT&SF Railroad in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 1943

This post is dedicated to the thousands of workers who contributed to keeping those trains rolling.


Wiping Down the #3034

Chicago and North Western steam locomotive #3034 is about to get a good cleaning by a couple of women engine wipers. Jack Delano recorded this locomotive servicing ritual which included a bath and a wipe-down back in April of 1943. Ascending the stairs is Mrs. Marcella Hart, followed by Mrs. Viola Sievers. I noticed that I had posted a photo last year of Mrs. Sievers washing down the running gear of the locomotive . . . she was a busy lady, indeed!

The steamer is a C&NW “H” class 4-8-4 built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1929. She boasted 27″x32″ cylinders, had 76″ drivers, and ran 250 psi of steam pressure in her boiler.

Women Engine Wipers, C&NW Railroad

Central Vermont Steamer, #453

Here’s an interesting Jack Delano photograph that I spied over on Marty McGuirk’s blog. The subject is a Central Vermont 2-8-0 steamer, #453, and the location is Main Street in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. Jack recorded this image in September of 1941. I really like the composition of this photo, and the myriad of detail surrounding the train.

The locomotive itself is equipped with an externally mounted Coffin feedwater heater, which gives the front of the firebox the unusual look of an awning over the pilot deck. It appears that the crew has just spotted a couple boxcars at the feed mill/elevator at right (or perhaps has come to pick them up). The engine sports white flags, indicating that she’s in charge of an extra train. Presumably the rest of the train is a short distance back down the track.

At left we see a Shell service station, while across the street is the Enosburg Dairy store, featuring it’s dairy and ice cream products. And note the tiny popcorn stand with the American flag and a Shell sign on it’s flanks. Just visible beyond the flagpole is the dairy store milk bottle shaped sign, with (likely) a list of their offerings. The train obviously has the attention of a couple of young lads, while the older men pay no attention at all . . . likely they’ve seen it doing it’s work many times.

The automobiles in view span several decades, and it appears that the town hasn’t been completely covered in concrete or asphalt yet. Though it is September, the trees still hold their leaves, and one boy is seen wearing a short sleeved shirt and shorts . . . must be a warm day.

CV Steamer #453, Enosburg Falls, Vermont

In his blog posting, Marty featured this photograph, along with others, plus a map of the area. He is evaluating this scene for information and details for potential use on his new model railroad. You can catch his blog here: http://centralvermontrailway.blogspot.com/ if you’d like to read what he’s up to. Scroll down to his post of Friday, June 21, 2019.


The Roundhouse

This is one of my favorite Jack Delano photographs. I posted it over two years ago during a discussion about wooden floors sometimes seen in roundhouses, and thought I’d re-post the scene in this series of Mr. Delano’s images.

We’re at the Chicago and North Western’s yard in Chicago, and it’s December of 1942. The roundhouse could be a rather chilly environment, and these workers helped combat the situation by burning coal in open steel “drums” to provide a bit of warmth. I suspect that these heaters were fabricated right there in-house, and I’m sure that they are contributing to the haze inside. Also note the tool carts and acetylene bottle. One can barely discern the silhouette of a worker in the distance just above the pilot of the steamer at center (click on the photo to see a much larger view).

If you look carefully you’ll notice the wooden block floor in this roundhouse. Such floors were fairly common in industrial facilities many years ago. They provided a surface that was resilient and “kind” to the heavy, metal components that would be placed (or dropped) on them. Click on the link above if you’d like to read the post on the topic.

CNW Roundhouse

Union Station, Chicago

In January of 1943 Jack Delano captured this stunning scene of sunlight pouring into the Union Station at Chicago, Illinois. For many years architects designed such structures with these towering ceilings, and with large expanses of glass allowing plenty of natural light to flood an area. And scenes such as this became commonplace within those facilities.

Chicago, Illinois. In the waiting room of the Union Station

LCRR Status Update

A little news concerning the Louisiana Central Railroad: most of you know that my small city suffered a horrific flood back in August of 2016. My home and train building took on about 15″ or so of flood water. My house reconstruction has been long completed, but not so the train building. The carpet, millwork, sheetrock, insulation and cabinets have been removed, and the building has been dried out and sprayed for mildew. But other than roughing in for another 10 or so electrical outlets (might as well take advantage of the opportunity), no restoration work has been done. Truth is, I have really dreaded doing all of the work that will be required, and I’m just “burned out” with construction.

But the urge to resume construction of the Louisiana Central itself is still there, and is perhaps even stronger. As a result, I have taken the first step toward that end.

I had determined long ago that the first order of business was to completely clear the building of everything with the exception of the layout itself. I learned what an enemy drywall installation (and the incredible dust it produces) can be during the house construction. Therefore, everything that isn’t screwed down must be packed away and moved into storage. The building had become a huge warehouse during my home reconstruction. And it took quite awhile to empty it of all the boxes of “stuff” that was stored within. Indeed, there are a handful of household items still out there. And I have been working at removing these things for the past year!

But now it was time to box up all of the railroad stuff. And to that end, I finally got a start several weeks ago. My goal is to get out there several times a week and fill a few boxes, moving them to my garage for storage. I’m making progress, and have packed and stored quite a bit. To be sure there is much left to do, but I can see the progress, and that is encouraging me to persist.

Of course the layout itself can’t be removed. My plan is to try encapsulating it (as well as I can) with the plastic sheets that painters use for that purpose. Fortunately there are no structures or scenery yet (just track and bare benchwork), so I don’t have to worry too much about damage. My biggest concerns are the Tortoise switch machines and the wiring junctions at the various terminal blocks. I’m going to try wrapping the switch motors with plastic wrap, and perhaps also tape this over those wiring junctions. There are also three electrical backboards filled with circuit boards and wiring. I think I can completely encase them in plastic as well.

Once all of this is done, I’ll start the process of re-insulating the lower walls, and then hanging the sheetrock. The latter will be tricky, as I have to work behind the layout legs and bracing. I may be able to temporarily remove the bracing though since all screws are accessible from the outside.

And that’s where things stand at the Louisiana Central.


The Susquehanna

And now for something completely different: For today’s offering I thought I’d take a little break from the weekly posts featuring Jack Delano images.

In 1980 Carstens Publications produced the book titled Susquehanna – New York, Susquehanna & Western RR. Shown here is the cover for that book, a beautiful photograph by the late Hal Carstens. I always loved this cover shot, and thought I’d investigate it a bit more. The book explains the scene inside the cover, and also has another shot taken on a different day, along with a bit more of the story.

It’s May of 1956 and the NYS&W (known locally as the Suzie Q) was running this short passenger train headed up by an Alco RS1 locomotive. The train has paused at the Crystal Lake depot in New Jersey, having come from Butler. The road’s fleet had formerly been painted in an elegant gray and maroon, but eventually adapted this austere silver scheme with black lettering and handrails. The combine is an ex-Erie Stillwell type painted to match their new Budd cars.

NYS&W Passenger Train - Crystal Lake, NJ

Crystal Lake was a resort area, and the building seen to the right of the station was the Crystal Lake Inn. It accommodated picnickers and bathers who would ride the Susquehanna from Patterson. Crystal Lake was man made, and it disappeared during the mid 1950s when the dam containing it finally collapsed. The station itself survived until the mid 1960s.

There are several interesting details in the scene, including the coal bin next to the depot, and the wig-wag grade crossing signals. Of note is Carsten’s automobile, a Studebaker Commander wearing the old Susquehanna colors, which the book says he wished he still owned.

White River Productions acquired the assets of Carstens Publications several years ago. I’ve noted that they are still offering this book for sale.