Sunday, April 28, 2013

Old Rails

Old Rail by William 74
Old Rail, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Fun fact-when the rails on train tracks are made at the foundry, the dates are cast or otherwise written directly into the metal. This helps the railroad to know when they were made and installed, and makes maintaining them a little easier. If you look at the rails at your local station (staying safely away from the tracks, of course), you can probably see the dates on the inside of the rails.

This one is on an abandoned stretch of the former Chicago Great Western mainline from Chicago to Oelwein, Iowa. It is by far the oldest rail I have seen in the wild, and connects to the mainline, which uses rails from the late sixties, probably just before or after the CGW's merger with the Chicago and North Western. Located in St. Charles, Illinois, it used to serve a foundry on the west side of town, not far from the crossing over the Fox River. When the Union Pacific took over the line from the Chicago and North Western (who had gotten it when CNW took over the CGW), there were still a couple of customers on this side of the river. However, the last customer closed a few years ago, and the UP petitioned to abandon the line entirely.

The tracks already ended about a mile west of here, at an old warehouse that has since been demolished. Construction on Illinois Route 64 severed the line at a grade crossing as well. I imagine that there will eventually come a time when these rails are completely gone, leaving nothing but the railbed.

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