Trains crossing water via the ice?

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Trains crossing water via the ice?
Posted by Boyd on Saturday, January 29, 2011 5:21 PM

I wandered onto wikipedia and found on the page for the Alaska RR they showed a picture of tracks and a steam engine crossing a frozen river prior to the completion of a bridge. Has this happened in other places?

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Posted by Sawtooth500 on Saturday, January 29, 2011 5:42 PM

Must have been thick ice... look at the show Ice Road Truckers, where they have truckers in northern canada going over ice roads. I can tell you the truckers are definitely speed restricted on the ice and the vibration from their diesel engines is also a problem on the ice. 

Back in the day I'm guessing you may have been able to get a light steam engine going slowly over the ice, but modern trains considering how much heavier they are and how diesels produce a lot more vibration than steam did probably not. 

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:06 PM

I have read that trains ran on tracks laid on the frozen Missouri between Omaha and Council Bluffs before any bridges were built.

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:13 PM

Can't totally believe everything you read in wikipedia, but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Pacific_Missouri_River_Bridge

then there is this one:

http://www.allworldwars.com/Ice-Railway-Bridge-Over-The-Dnieper-by-Ludwig-Schmeller.html

Looks like more work than just building a real bridge!

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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:15 PM

I have heard of that being done to get trains across a waterway ahead of the completion of the bridge.  There may be several historical instances of running on the ice.  What I vaguely recall was a crossing of the Missouri River, but I don't offhand recall the railroad. 

I have also heard stories of logging railroads running over the frozen ice.  I was told that Many Point Lake in northern Minnesota has a log train sitting on the bottom with the track underneath it.  The log train was reportedly was running on temporary track over the ice, and broke through. 

It seems like a unique need must exist in order to go to the work of laying track and running trains over the ice just while the ice persists. 

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Posted by dakotafred on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:16 PM

Semper Vaporo

I have read that trains ran on tracks laid on the frozen Missouri between Omaha and Council Bluffs before any bridges were built.

Yes, and between Bismarck and Mandan on the same river and, I'll bet, in lots of other places on less-considerable streams.

 

 

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Posted by cx500 on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:33 PM

It was done crossing the St.Lawrence River in Montreal prior to construction of the Victoria Bridge in 1860.  The crossing was at a slow moving part of the river where the ice would get thick enough, and I understand very long timbers were used as ties.  Equipment of that era was very much lighter than anything we are familiar with today.  Call it part of trial and error as a brand new technology (railroads) evolved.  Realistically it was not a very satisfactory solution that quickly ended.

I can't recall how the two steam locomotives were transported to a remote logging railroad in northern Maine.  They are still there, abandoned, and I think Trains Magazine did an article about them several decades ago.  It may have been easier to drag them across ice than build a boat on the lakes with the capacity to carry them.

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Posted by Ishmael on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:39 PM

I have a couple of books on the Trans-Siberian railway in my library. It seems that they  couldn't build the line around the southern edge of Lake Baikal right away-too rough- so they used ferrys. When the lake would freeze up, they would build tracks across the frozen lake. When they fough their war against Japan in 1905, they had to get troops and equipment across so again, they built across the water. Lake Bailkal, by the way, is about a mile deep.

Russian equipment was smaller and of a broader gauge,  so that may not have caused as much vibration as in Alaska.

 

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Posted by cacole on Saturday, January 29, 2011 6:43 PM

During the World War II German seige of Leningrad the Russians built a railway across Lake Ladoga when it froze.

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Posted by ndbprr on Saturday, January 29, 2011 7:02 PM

PRR@ Harrisburg crossing the Susquehanna before Rockvile bridge.

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Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, January 29, 2011 9:01 PM

Picture of  Northern Pacific train crossing the Missouri River on tracks over the ice near Bismarck, North Dakota, March 1879

http://content.lib.washington.edu/u?/transportation,223

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Posted by beaulieu on Saturday, January 29, 2011 9:12 PM

Predecessor of the MILW Road crossed the Mississippi River at LaCrosse, WI before the bridge was built.

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Posted by rixflix on Sunday, January 30, 2011 6:26 AM

PRR's  former Philadelphia Baltimore and Washington did this during the 18-whichies between Perryville and Havre de Grace MD beforre the bridge was built. The usual ferries couldn't handle the ice on the Susquehanna's outlet to Chesapeake Bay. Shoe-flys (or is it shoo flys?) were the order of the day back then and last until today when a railroad has a washout. The one at Perryville must have been kind of simple and I guess H de G's was pretty level too, before the high level bridges that serve the NEC today.

Think of the human effort that went into these temporary but  vital projects. Horses, sleds, rope and funky flannell coats that weighed  like a ton when wet. Reminds me of "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". 

Like we say at work, when a customer is pleased, "it's what we do!!!".

By the way, how do you pronounce Havre de Grace.?  My French (mom is a WW2 bride)  side would say "Hav(r) de grass" but I can't find a definitive pronunciation, even among natives. It's like detroit and DEtroit or Burt LANcaster and Lancastr PA..

Thinking I'm off on a tangent and going back to sleep, I remain, Rixflix

 

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, January 30, 2011 5:05 PM

cx500:

"It was done crossing the St.Lawrence River in Montreal prior to construction of the Victoria Bridge in 1860.  The crossing was at a slow moving part of the river where the ice would get thick enough, and I understand very long timbers were used as ties."

   There is a picture in "The American Railway" (one of my favorite books) that is copyrighted 1988 and is a reprint of one from about 100 years earlier, that may be the "ice bridge" you're talking about.   I was going to post a scan of it, but I was a bit concerned about copyright rules.    There was no mention of it in text, just an illustration with caption.   It looked like they laid long logs on the ice pependicular to the track, then long timbers on top, parallel to the tracks, then the ties and rails on top of that.    If I can get an opinion from moderator, I can post it, with credits.

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Posted by Zwingle on Monday, January 31, 2011 1:38 AM

According to the Davenport Democrat, the first locomotive in Iowa, the John A. Dix, was brought over to Davenport from Rock Island on the Mississippi ice.  I don't think this is what you meant because in this case they used skids, and presumably the locomotive wasn't fired up.

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Posted by carnej1 on Monday, January 31, 2011 11:09 AM

I guess this was do-able back in the early days of railroading when the locomotives and rolling stock were much lighter..imagine trying that with a 15,000 ton coal train!

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Monday, January 31, 2011 11:57 AM

As stated, I believe tracks across iced-over water bodies were used mainly when said ice prevented ferries or steamboats from operating.  That of course leaves us with the problem of what to do when the ice is too thick for boats but too thin for tracks ??   Wait a few weeks until it turns all the way into either water or ice, depending on the season, I suppose.  

I've always heard "Havre de Grace" prounounced something like "Have-err dee Grace" with the long 'a', like Grace Kelly or 'race car'.  I spent a fair amount of time on construction projects just south of there at Perryman (about 3.5 miles southwest of Aberdeen) and Aberdeen in the 1976 and 1982 - 1985 time frames.  Of course, that doesn't mean it's right or accepted locally - but no one ever laughed at me or told me I was wrong, either, and some of those people had absolutely no reservations about doing that for other things !

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Posted by LNER4472 on Monday, January 31, 2011 4:54 PM

rixflix
PRR's  former Philadelphia Baltimore and Washington did this during the 18-whichies between Perryville and Havre de Grace MD beforre the bridge was built. The usual ferries couldn't handle the ice on the Susquehanna's outlet to Chesapeake Bay. Shoe-flys (or is it shoo flys?) were the order of the day back then and last until today when a railroad has a washout. The one at Perryville must have been kind of simple and I guess H de G's was pretty level too, before the high level bridges that serve the NEC today.

Think of the human effort that went into these temporary but  vital projects. Horses, sleds, rope and funky flannell coats that weighed  like a ton when wet. Reminds me of "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". 

By the way, how do you pronounce Havre de Grace.?  My French (mom is a WW2 bride)  side would say "Hav(r) de grass" but I can't find a definitive pronunciation, even among natives. It's like detroit and DEtroit or Burt LANcaster and Lancastr PA..

I can confirm the legends of rails laid across the ice at Perryville/Havre de Grace, but not Harrisburg--two bridges north of Harrisburg were constructed by both the PRR and Northern Central when the rail lines were built 1849-50.  In Maryland, the cars were towed across the ice with horses on temporary track.

Pronunciation:  "HAH-ver-dee-grace" with emphasis on the first syllable and the other three in a quick monotone after that with an ever-so-slight emphasis on the last, with "grace" pronounced like Grace Kelly or "Amazing Grace".

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Posted by henry6 on Monday, January 31, 2011 6:37 PM

Maine.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Wednesday, February 02, 2011 9:10 PM

    Here is a link to the picture I mentioned about the St. Lawrence crossing on ice.    I'm new to flicker, so I hope the link works OK.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulofcov/5402670708/

   The picture is a bit rough becauseof interference patterns between the engraving and the scanner.  This is from the book, "The American Railway" copyright 1988 by Castle.

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Posted by LNER4472 on Thursday, February 03, 2011 10:48 PM

Update:

I now have an account before me that states that the alleged "freight cars over the Susquehanna ice" lasted but one month in 1852, with cables being used to pull the cars across the ice and a mere 1,300 or so cars being transferred over the ice.  There was indeed a car float ferry for a spell.

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, February 04, 2011 4:54 AM

1856 excerpt from Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Guide

The depth of the Susquehanna being quite considerable opposite Havre de Grace, reaching at some points to sixty feet; and the river being encumbered with flats or bars, extending nearly across it, at a short distance below the ferry, it is sometimes rendered impassable in severe winters, by the "jamming" of the ice when broken up by sudden thaws; that on the surface being prevented by the "bars" from floating into the bay, and becoming underlaid by floating ice forced down by the current, the entire depth of the river has been known to present an almost solid barrier, in consequence of the continued accumulation. This was the case in 1852, when the ice in the river offered so insurmountable an obstacle to its passage by any ordinary means, that it was determined to lay a track upon it. This was completed on the 15th day of January, and continued in use until February 24th, when it was taken up, and, in a few days, the river was free of ice. During this time, 1378 cars loaded with mails, baggage and freight were transported upon this natural bridge, the tonnage amounting to about 10,000 tons. The whole was accomplished without accident of any kind; and the materials were all removed prior to the breaking up of the river without the loss of a cross-tie or bar of iron.

1852 article, A Railroad Over Ice (From the Franklin Journal.)

The railroad lately laid upon a graduation of ice, provided by nature across the mouth of the Susquehanna river, at Havre de Grace, in the State of Maryland, seems to deserve a more permanent record than the fleeting notices of the daily press.

It adds another to the many striking evidences recently afforded of the promptitude with which the mind of the American engineer and mechanic grapples with unexpected difficulties, and triumphs over them.

The railroad uniting the cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia, touches both banks of the Susquehanna river at its mouth.

The river here is about four-fifths of a mile in width, and forming a break in the railroad of that length, over deep water; the communication is usually kept up by means of a large steam ferry-boat, upon which the passengers cross from one bank to the other, independent trains with their locomotives being in waiting upon both banks.

The passengers themselves debark, when they reach the river, and gain the boat through covered buildings, which screen them from the weather; their baggage, with the car containing it, is run upon the upper deck, and being carried over, is replaced upon the railroad on the further bank, and coupled to the train in waiting there.

Now the river Susquehanna, leading to the north, in bleak and mountainous regions, brings down in the winter seasons great quantities of floating ice, which seriously impede the railroad ferry.

At the mouth of the river there is shoal water, in which the ice grounds, and in severe weather it forms a point of support for successive floating masses, until it sometimes gorges up for many miles above the ferry of the railway line.

In forming these "gorges" of ice, the cakes edge up, and freezing together in that position, form a mass of great solidity and strength, but very rough upon the surface.

While this gorge is forming, the railroad ferry is necessarily discontinued, and when it has formed, the question arises - how is the business of the railway to be resumed?

These preliminary remarks bring us now to our main subject. In a severe winter like that of 1851-2, the engineer of the railway sees his ferry line at Havre de Grace cut off, and the river filled almost to the bottom with a vast accumulation of cakes of ice, a foot thick, edged up, and frozen in that position, so as to present a mass of great strength, but most forbidding superficial aspect.

Contemplating this with the true eye of science, and seeing its adaptation to his purpose, Mr. Trimble, the Engineer of the Railroad Company, determined to form over this rude glacier a railroad for his baggage and freight cars, and a sledge road alongside of it, upon which two-horse sleighs could carry his passengers, and by means of towing lines, propel the freight cars over the river. This was the great idea, and most promptly and successfully has it been carried out.

The first step was to locate the railroad; for upon this rough surface of ice, a straight line between the ferry landings, would have required too much graduation, - too much excavation and embankment, so to speak, of ice and snow.

The line was accordingly staked out with several curves, so as to reduce the labour required in grading the frozen surface; the projections, points, and ridges were cut away, and broken fragments of ice were used to fill up the hollows. Then upon condemned ties about four feet apart, with some new timber interspersed, a track was laid with U rails, of about 40 lbs. to the yard, confined merely by hook-headed spikes, and without chairs.

The surface of the ice being some 10 or 15 feet below the permanent rails upon the two banks, was gained by temporary inclines, running off from the shores upon a rough blocking of cob work, so arranged as to be adjustable, and taking advantage of a low pier on the left bank, to reduce the grade. These inclines, and the track across the ice, were connected with the main line on both banks, by suitable switches, and formed, in fact, a species of sideling nearly a mile long. Upon the inclines the baggage and freight cars were worked one way by gravity, and the other by roping, from the locomotive train. Forty freight cars per day, laden with valuable merchandise, have been worked over this novel tract by the means above referred to, and were propelled across the ice portion by two-horse sleds running upon the sledge road, and drawing the cars by a lateral towing line, of the size of a man's finger.

At the present writing, this novel and effectual means of maintaining the communication at Havre de Grace is still in successful operation, and will so continue until the ice in the river is about to break up. Then, by means of the sledges, the rails (the only valuable part of the track), can be rapidly moved off by horse power, not probably requiring more than a few hours' time, so that the communication may be maintained successfully until the last moment. If properly timed, as it doubtless will be, the railroad may be removed, the ice may run out, and the ferry be resumed, it may be, in less than forty-eight hours.

We cannot conclude this brief notice by an eye-witness, without expressing our admiration of the ingenious practical arrangement, adopted for overcoming an extraordinary difficulty at this point, by Isaac R. Trimble, Esq., the Engineer of the Railroad Company.

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Posted by Susquehanna River Rat on Tuesday, April 08, 2014 4:56 AM

Hi,
 I have been recently doing research on the first Rail Ferry in America between Havre de Grace and Perryville  and happened across this thread. Well, since I am also a big rail fan, I decided to join the site.
Anyway, back to the story. Let's see...first off. I am from the town of Havre de Grace and and if you really want to know how it is pronounced, there is even a Youtube link to that fact. The first few times gets it. It doesn't change throughout the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWqCHQoJEMM

As to the rails crossing the Ice at Havre de Grace, here is a Lithograph I found that was made during the crossing mentioned above.
http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/fullbrowser/collection/p16003coll4/id/1527/rv/singleitem/rec/1
Thought you might like to see it.
The first rail lines between Havre de Grace and Perryville is in itself an interesting subject.

Bill

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, April 08, 2014 9:22 AM

Susquehanna River Rat

Hi,
 I have been recently doing research on the first Rail Ferry in America between Havre de Grace and Perryville  and happened across this thread. Well, since I am also a big rail fan, I decided to join the site.
Anyway, back to the story. Let's see...first off. I am from the town of Havre de Grace and and if you really want to know how it is pronounced, there is even a Youtube link to that fact. The first few times gets it. It doesn't change throughout the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWqCHQoJEMM

As to the rails crossing the Ice at Havre de Grace, here is a Lithograph I found that was made during the crossing mentioned above.
http://hdl.huntington.org/cdm/fullbrowser/collection/p16003coll4/id/1527/rv/singleitem/rec/1
Thought you might like to see it.
The first rail lines between Havre de Grace and Perryville is in itself an interesting subject.

Bill

Activated the links for you! Thumbs Up

Welcome !  Bill!  Welcome  

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Uncle Jake on Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:05 PM
My German Mennonite ancestors lived along the Volga River in Ukraine for a while in the mid 1800s, and every winter, they would build an ice bridge by pouring buckets of water on top of the river ice. This bridge would remain solid after the river ice started melting, and by the time the bridge was too weak, they were able to cross in boats.
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Posted by lenzfamily on Tuesday, April 08, 2014 11:31 PM

Hi All

Ice bridges are common in Northern Canada on winter roads.

In Yukon, there is an ice bridge at Dawson which is put in annually with a weight capacity IIRC of 60.000 kg for a crossing of the Yukon River. When I first went North many years ago now, that icebridge carried the output of the Cassiar Asbestos Corp, Clinton Creek mine and mill. Those trucks were well loaded.

On the Mackenzie and Peel River crossings on the Dempster Highway (NWT section) there are likewise icebridges of similar weight capacity. These carry large loads of freight Dawson to Inuvik.

The Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk winter highway travels mainly on the Mackenzie River. It is a major winter ice road and has been for many years. Only now is it being replaced, Inuvik to Tuk, by an all weather highway at some incredible cost, using technologies which allow it to be built on permafrost.

The respective Highways Departments' websites used to contain interesting information and historical data about the icebridges.  

Both of the above are put in and maintained by the respective Territorial Highways Departments

Until the new  Fort Providence (Deh Cho) Toll Bridge went in last year (or was it 2012) there was an icebridge there as well which crossed the MacKenzie, again on a major northern highway. 

Freezeup and breakup were always problems for about 6 weeks each in the Icebridge-Ferry transition periods. People and businesses adjusted accordingly. It was part of living in the North.

Charlie

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Wednesday, April 09, 2014 7:41 AM

Lately my issue is ice removing my equipment from the track...

 

 The Eagle lake locomotives in Maine were sledded over the ice to the mill location, as far as I know they didn't lay any tracks.

 

 All around the snowbelt there were spurs laid out into lakes for the purpose of harvesting the ice for the coming summers.

 

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Posted by Bruce Kelly on Wednesday, April 09, 2014 8:54 AM

A piece of artwork and its caption in the book "Engines of War," which my daughter bought for her history studies in college, show that the rail crossing over frozen Lake Baikal used horses, not locomotives, to pull the cars.

EofW is a fascinating read on early railway development throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East and southern Europe.

 

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, April 11, 2014 9:22 PM

Consider how much volume of ice - which is only slightly less dense than water, so that won't help much - and water displacement is needed to support a railcar of any significant weight.

Even 'back in the day', a 40,000 lb. gross weight railcar might be 30 to 40 ft. long, or about 1,000 to 1,300 lbs. per foot of length.

Water is about 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot, so to support 1,000 lbs. per foot, about 16.0 cu. ft. would have to be displaced.  For example, that means a section of ice about 16 ft. wide (8 ft. on either side of the center of the track, or about 4 ft. beyond the ends of the ties on each side, which intuitively seems about right) would have to sink into the water about 1.0 feet to provide the needed buoyancy uplift to counteract the imposed weight of the car ( or an equivalent, such as 8 ft. wide x 2 feet deep, or 24 ft. wide x 0.67 ft. deep, etc.). 

That 1,000 lbs. per ft. is equivalent to a Cooper's E-10 loading, which is extremely light by later (E-40 to E-60) and modern standards (E-72 to E-80).  However, it's probably not far off from what the "Ice Road Truckers' mentioned by Charlie above weight - 60,000 kg would be about 132,000 lbs., probably spread out over a little longer wheelbase than a standard US tractor-trailer, too. - maybe as much as 2,000 lbs. per foot.  But a 5,000 lb. per ft. load (E-50) - which is roughly what a 175-ton (350,000 lb.) locomotive 70 ft. long, or a 286,000 lb. hopper 57 ft. long, etc. weighs - would have to displace about 5 times as much water, or 80 cu. ft. per longitudinal ft.  For a width of 20 ft., that would be about 4.0 ft. down, or for a 30-ft. width, about 2.7 ft. down, either of which is an awful lot.  Which is why we don't see ice bridges for modern railcar loads.

- Paul North.    

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Posted by erikem on Saturday, April 12, 2014 10:50 AM

Somewhere about 10+ years ago, my co-workers and I were looking over some DoD research topic, with one being a means of gauging the quality of ice for supporting trucks. We were musing over using NMR where we knew the basic physics would work, but making a practical system was another matter. I would suspect that some sort of ultrasound would be a cheaper and lighter solution.

The criteria for ice was sufficient depth and hardness, with the hardness being more significant.

- Erik

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