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Springfield Depot: 1900

Springfield Depot: 1900

Circa 1900. "Chicago & Alton R.R. station at Springfield, Illinois." Waiting for the 20th Century to roll in. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.


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Seeing is believing

While DepotHack's explanation of a possible Gandy Dancers' use of the cross tracks is interesting, those rails are not standard gauge and can be seen to extended to the right down the city street.

Lincoln's return to Springfield

Lincoln departed Springfield in 1861 from the Great Western station which still stands. His body returned to Springfield in 1865 and arrived at the Chicago & Alton depot. That depot was a forerunner of this one, but I assume it was at the same location.

Tender fill up

Is that device, at the intersection of the tracks every one is worried about, used for filling the water tender? If so I wonder how often the street cars were held up while the tender was re-filled.

Cross Tracks

Those tracks that seem to cross mainline tracks are not "narrow gage" nor are they trolley tracks. I would bet that to the left and out of the picture were Sectionmen's (Gandy Dancers) tool sheds where they kept track tools, track materials, and their handcars and related rolling equipment. Nowadays, we'd call those cross tracks a "motorcar setout" (usually called motorcars by RR men or "speeders" by the public) The cross tracks would be used to push their handcars back into the tool house or out to the roadway to transfer equipment and/or materials between wagons and rail equipment. Even Sectionmen's handcars never rolled across the mainline rails,....they had plenty of manpower to manually lift them and set them on and off of the tracks.

Streetcar crossing

The steam railroads generally hated the street railroads, and would fight any attempt to cross or "cut" their rails. Usually these matters ended up in court. Sometimes the street railways would win, but still would have to assume the entire cost of installing the crossing. Other times ended up like the situation in this photo.


I agree on the lack of frogs in this photo would make for a rough ride requiring the trolleys use their flanges to get over the main rails.

Today, there is still a type of this being used on main lines and light/heavy rail crossings. The use of 'flange bearing frogs' and 'diamonds' are the practice where the flange takes the weight of the wheel rather than the traditional wheel running surface.

The reasoning is that the flange, and subsequent ramps for them, reduce the impact and deformation on the running rail crossing surfaces or nose of the frog. By doing this, the rails on the main line can maintain higher speeds while the crossing rails are generally for slower/lighter rail traffic. High speed mains with turnouts that use flange bearing frogs have a diverging speed restriction of around 10 MPH on them, diamonds at 90 degrees are a bit higher.

On the railroad I volunteer for, we have two flange bearing diamonds that allow for the local transit light rail vehicles to cross our main. What's unusual about this setup is that both our heavy rail trains and the light rail trains have the ramp that transfers the wheelsets from the running surface to the flange.

Bumpy crossing

The lack of frogs at the trolley car crossing is not common, but it has been done. Today, passengers in South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's Rte. 11 streetcars can bang across the Chessie Seaboard X Transportation's railroad track in this same manner at 6th & Main Sts. in Darby, Pennsylvania. The freight trains get a smooth ride.

Lincoln's Farewell

I wonder if this was the station where Abraham Lincoln delivered his renown farewell speech to the citizens of Springfield, as he left for Washington in February 1861, never to return.

[This station was built in 1895. Lincoln's address was made at the Great Western Depot. -tterrace]


They had grade crossing gates in 1900? Who knew?

Discontinuous trolley tracks?

If my eyes aren't playing tricks, the trolley rails that cross the main tracks are discontinuous, with no kind of shoes or frogs; the cars would have had to just jump the main rails to proceed! Was this a common way to treat railroad and trolley level crossings?

A long wait

They'll have a long wait - the 20th Century Limited did not run on this route.

[We weren't talking about the train. - Dave]

Still standing but somewhat modified

Cross tracks

Interesting set of narrow gage tracks that cross the main rails. If used would be really jarring at each intersection.

Elderly fellow at the end of the platform

having a chat -- 1865 was only 35 years ago at this point; makes you wonder if he'd ever met (or knew) Abraham Lincoln.

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