Iron Horse Trestle: Built in 1930 and at a length of 4,450 feet, the Iron Horse Trestle allowed the Illinois Terminal Railroad access to the downtown area of Saint Louis. It was electrified, thus allowing electric locomotives to traverse over it. It was last used in 2004, and has sat dormant since; recent interest in the bridge has taken shape in the form of an elevated rail-trail, in the same manner as New York City's High Line trail.
Saint Louis, Missouri
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"It was last used in 1958, and has sat dormant since" NO, this information is incorrect. The Illinois Terminal continued to use this trackage to provide freight service for customers located in downtown St. Louis, the Globe Democrat being one of them. The Illinois Terminal was merged into the Norfolk Western Railway in the early 80s, which later merged with the Southern, forming today's Norfolk Southern system (NS). In 1989, NS sold the former IT trackage on the Missouri side to Greg Cundiff, owner of Ironhorse Resources, Inc., of O'Fallon, IL, of which I was employed as a locomotive engineer from March 2001 to the final run on June 21, 2004. The remaining customer by this point was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which received boxcars of newsprint spools at the basement of its St. Louis headquarters building, formerly occupied by the Globe Democrat, to print its daily paper. Greg Cundiff purchased an EMD SW-8 switching locomotive #2020 which was stationed under Tucker Blvd. in the subway, at the foot of the Post-Dispatch HQ. With the McKinley Bridge being shut down by NW by the 1980s, freight cars destined for Ironhorse's RSM operation were delivered by the NS to the small Branch St. Yard in North St. Louis. An RSM crew would then arrive at the Post Dispatch building and sign in in their small office located in the Sub Basement of the Post Dispatch building. After signing in, the crew would start the locomotive, attach it to any empty boxcars at the Post Dispatch's underground dock, and take them over the "Iron Horse Trestle" to the Branch St. Yard for interchange to the NS. This operation continued until June 21, 2004, when the last empty boxcar was pulled from the Post-Dispatch. The Post, like many newspapers across the country, is facing stiff competition with electronic media, so the decision was made to cease rail service at its downtown publishing facility in favor of railing all newsprint to its Maryland Heights press. Semi trucks would then deliver future newsprint spools to the City press. With the last remaining customer on the IT Missouri trackage gone, Mr. Cundiff, President of Ironhorse Resources, received permission from the US Surface Transportation Board to abandon the track and pull up the rails. The rail was removed and relocated to Cundiff's rapidly-expanding Rio Valley Switching Railroad in McAllen, TX. The locomotive, which sat dormant in the subway tunnel until President's Day 2006, was sold to a transload operation in Pinckneyville, IL, in 2006. Thus, President's Day 2006 marks the very final movement on this former Trestle / subway trackage in St. Louis. Yours truly was on board, and I have several pictures of this event as well as pre-June 2004. -Scott Nauert
I would like to see these pictures. Have you uploaded them anywhere?
Mr. Barnes - Please visit this site for some phenomenal images of our operations taken by a Mr. Tom Gatermann: http://gatermannt.homeip.net/gallery/RSSM . I am currently in the process of scanning some of mine and will be uploading them soon. Regards, -Scott
These aren't the only abandoned rails within St. Louis city limits. I believe there were also some tracks that ran across the St. Louis riverfront along what is today Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd (there are tracks that end at the North and South ends of the Blvd that seem to corroborate this). These tracks (I would assume) were used for trains transferring goods to and from steamboats. If I'm correct, these tracks were ripped up with a large chunk of the riverfront when construction began on the Jefferson Memorial in the late 1930s. They might have been around longer though, I'm not really sure.
However, information on this is totally scarce-my only "sources" were old pictures of the riverfront, so my info is shaky at best. Maybe someone else can go deeper into the subject than I can?
There is also the Union Station that is now a mall/tourist attraction that has a small museum inside it along with some railcars on display.
Mitch - Correct, I ran the last official "train" (consisting of RSM SW8 #2020 pulling an empty CSX high cube boxcar) from the Post Dispatch subway station, over the elevated trestle and interchanged to the NS RR @ Branch St. Yard on June 21, 2004. We returned the 2020 to its regular parking spot under Tucker St. @ the Post-Dispatch until President's Day 2006, where we ran it one final time over the trestle and delivered it to the NS. NS transferred it to the Union Pacific, which transported it to Pinckneyville, IL, where its new owner uses it to switch railcars. Regarding the trackage that runs from Lindenwood on north to St. Charles Rock Rd., this is/was the Terminal RR Association of St. Louis' Central Belt. The Belt job, which typically consisted of anywhere from 15 to upwards of 80 or so cars and 3, sometimes 4 or 5 red TRRA swtich engines ran daily from the TRRA's Yard in Madison, IL, west across the Merchants bridge to Carrie Ave., then west again to Rock Island Jct., which is located immediately east of the intersection of Page & I-170. This was in the early morning. They got onto the Central Belt trackage and then ran south down to Lindenwood Yard along 170 through Ladue, Clayton, and Richmond Heights to the interchange with the Frisco (later, Burlington Northern) at Lindenwood. Then, they would pick up whatever traffic BN had for them, and return using the same route. Typically, the crew would pull into Lindenwood to deliver the inbounds, then cut off and attach to their new train to take back to Madison. MUCH of this traffic consisted of autoracks filled with new Chrysler vehicles from the former Chrysler plant in Fenton. By the time they pulled their outbound train out of Lindenwood, it was around lunch time, and almost every day they would stop the engines just short of the railroad crossing on Big Bend Rd. in Maplewood (which Metrolink now crosses on a bridge) tie a hand brake, and head over to McDonald's for lunch. My Grandpa always used to take me down to see the crew, and the engineer on that job took a liking to me and asked that I sit in his seat to "watch my engine for me" while they went to eat. Great memories. Usually about 40 minutes later, they would return from the restaurant, and my Grandpa and I would watch as the trio of switchers belched out a ton of smoke as they hauled out of there with the throttle all notched out. Sounded awesome. The TRRA continued to use this line very heavily until it all came to an end - abruptly - around May 1987 if I recall right. In fact, they were running trains up until the last week this route was intact. All of a sudden, as we were headed to the old Venture store on Big Bend in Maplewood, I told my Grandfather I saw the rails piled up next to the crossing signals at Big Bend. He said "that's impossible," but when we headed home, we slowed to a stop and sure enough, they were scrapping the line (we just saw a train run through here just a few weeks before!). The decision to abandon this trackage remains a mystery - they had several customers still active on it - including Hampton Envelope, a cement plant near I-64 in Richmond Heights, another customer near Tropicana Lanes in Clayton, etc., but I believe it needed significant tie work / maintenance which cost more than what it was producing revenue-wise, as well as deteriorating track conditions near Carrie Ave. Since the abandonment, and to this day, the Belt job runs across the Merchants and then turns south to run under the Arch over the "high line," then west through downtown STL through Grand Ave. and on to Lindenwood. The Central Belt is deeply missed and I was heartbroken when they began ripping it up. Great memories, though. -Scott Nauert
Mitch - The Wabash UD Line, later Norfolk & Western, and later still Norfolk Southern, was abandoned in the early 1990s. The NS had ceased interchanging trains with the UP (ex-Missouri Pacific) @ Sarpy Ave. by the early 1980s, and after that, only routed the occasional detour train and the occasional grain train that was destined for the large concrete Ray Carrol elevator at Sarah Ave. near I-64 & Vandeventer. For years into the mid-to-late 1980s, many of the sidings and auxiliary tracks that consisted of the Wabash's old Clayton Ave. Yard just southeast of Barnes Hospital were filled with excess auto parts high cube boxcars that were being staged for the now-shuttered Ford Hazelwood assembly plant. A local freight handled the leftover on-line traffic and ran both ways nightly from the NS Berkely Yard to Grand Ave. until the end of service in the early 90s. In the early 90s, the route was conveyed to Bi-State Development Agency, which contracted with Railroad Switching Service of Missouri to provide freight service to the remaining customers between Grand Ave. and Taylor Ave. near Barnes Jewish Hospital. This freight operation continued over an old Wabash auxiliary track alongside Metrolink's new light rail line until 2011. In 2011, freight service ceased and the future of freight service is in jeopardy over this short segment of the Wabash, as freight traffic revenue became too light to justify continued operations.
Mitch - Please visit the following Web site to view photographs of my former employer's operations of the former Wabash UD Line along Metrolink near Barnes Hospital / I-64 in the 1990s:
Scott, thank you for your input. I've always wondered what the purpose of the Central Belt was, and what you've told me is not only very fascinating but is also more than I could learn just from Google (and believe me, I've searched at least a thousand times trying to get info!). I also had always wondered what that industrial spur by the Wabash's old yard was for (and those pictures in the link you supplied definitely explained a lot). I kind of feel that it was a bizarre decision by whoever was in charge to build a relatively long viaduct for such a short industrial spur, but it is interesting nonetheless.
Now, if I may add something, I've recently discovered www.historicaerials.com, and with the help of this amazing website I have discovered that the TRRA trackage of the Central Belt used to continue far beyond the Rock Island junction. While there is obviously an industrial spur the goes northward, ending around St. Charles Rock Road, it appears that this spur used to go even further, all the way to the Wabash main line and then to Bellefontaine Neighbors. My best guess is that this was the St. Louis Belt & Terminal Railway, and looking at topographic maps it appears that portion of the line was abandoned early (some time before 1933), but I'm struggling to find information on it. I'll keep searching, but if anyone knows anything about it, please share-I'm incredibly curious. Thanks.
To Mr. Scott Nauert, do you remember why N&W ceased it's operations on the old UD line?
Because it looks like it would have been more convenient to just use that line to get to downtown, rather than loop around the Luther Branch and go through BNSF/TRRA.
Did NS just find the Luther Branch more convenient was it mainly the track's age that caused the cease?
Also Mr. Nauert, what industries were customers on NS on the UD line before the sale to Bi-State?
Mitch, I looked at some old satellite images, and it appears that the 3rd line you mentioned (BNSF/Metro), did at one time go all the way to Wentzville and into the Ford Plant. There was a bridge over Olive Blvd. (MO-340) at one time for that line. It did branch off from the Lindenwood Yard, and in fact, the original line crossed the UP tracks @ a DIAMOND, not on an overpass like the Metro tracks do now. It is somewhat hard to trace for a 1-2 mile period. I will keep you updated and post more soon. ALSO, Mr. Nauert, any info you have on this would be greatly appreciated.
Here's something I think you all will enjoy. Kent Kloos, a local railfan, rode along with us one day and got some oustanding video of the operation before it was abandoned: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S6t6L87KwfE
Jack - See my posting above dated 6/18/13 regarding information about the TRRA Central Belt which branched off at the west end of BNSF's Lindenwood Yard. James - Regarding remaining customers on the Wabash/NW/NS "UD Line" just before Metrolink, there was only one additional active shipper that I am aware of west of Forest Park (the rest of them had either folded or had ceased shipping by rail).. This would be a chemical plant in the Wellston area. I believe they were receiving tank cars of some kind of chemical up until Metro's construction, which this shipper protested, as he was cut off from "heavy rail" service.. Based on what the public was told before it was constructed, and based on Metro's "Master Plan" which I researched heavily as a Public Policy undergrad student at SLU (these documents are available in SLU's Pius Library - or at least they were in 2000), the plan was to run light rail until approximately 11 PM, then allow a contract freight carrier to provide freight switching service as-needed across the entire system - the signature of a true interurban railway. Metro officials, for whatever reason, made a somewhat last-minute decision to make the entire light rail system incompatible with heavy rail trains due to the platform height and depth required for the Siemens Duewag trains they had purchased. I think going with the Siemens Duewag trolleys was a bad decision, not only because of their poor ride quality with the yaw-damper issue, but also because there is/was abundant opportunity to foster industrial growth and serve current customers along the line via regular freight service. This is exactly what they do at San Diego Trolley. San Diego has a very active freight service over their trolley line, provided by a short line operator which runs at night. There are various YouTube videos of this, if you so desire. Anyways, the UD Line was deemed rather redundant by NS when they decided to cease interchanging with the UP at Sarpy / Grand Ave. I believe interchange traffic between the two roads now goes primarily via TRRA and A&S. This agreement I believe was mutual, as by the late-80s, UP was in the process of de-emphasizing the importance of its St. Louis City / Missouri-side yards in its operation plan and consolidating most activity to its facilities in Dupo and the Alton & Southern following its merger with the Missouri Pacific.
<< the 3rd line you mentioned (BNSF/Metro), did at one time go all the way to Wentzville and into the Ford Plant. >>
Metro runs on the former Wabash (nee, NW, then NS) "UD Line" from Grand Ave. to a location near the UMSL campus. From where the UD Line leaves the Metro main at UMSL to the junction with NS' ex-Wabash St. Louis - Moberly, MO, main line, is largely a bike trail, minus a short section from where it leaves Metro (the roadbed was still visible last time I rode Metro several years ago).
<< the original line crossed the UP tracks @ a DIAMOND, not on an overpass like the Metro tracks do now. >>
The TRRA Central Belt (which Metro occupies as far north as Forest Park Ave. in Clayton) crosses the Rock Island (later, Southern Pacific; later still, Union Pacific; and now, Central Midland) immediately under I-170 just south of Page Ave. A short stub of the Belt's south leg - including the diamond - has been retained here to comprise a "wye" track for TRRA and CMR trains to utilize to run-around and/or turn cars and engines. This location is known as "Rock Island Jct." From this point all the way east to into North St.Louis proper at Carrie Ave., the Belt trackage is very much in active use to serve industrial customers and to provide interchange service to the Central Midland, which operates UP's former Rock Island Line from Rock Island Jct. west to Union, MO. It passes over the ex-Wabash UD Line , now Metro, north of Wellston on an overpass.
Mr. Nauert, the UP diamond I was referring to was north of the BNSF Lindenwood Yard (The UP line that runs through Kirkwood). Where is the junction with ex- Wabash STL- Moberly Line? Are you referring to the bridge over Vandeventer and Market? http://bridgehunter.com/mo/st-louis-city/bh57268/ (Bridge used to be black, when NS formed, was painted green)I know that this is the auxillary track, but where is the junction?
I have found some photos that appear to be the only existing images of the U.D. Line from before MetroLink.
There are some photos available on Western Rail Images that show the line viewed from Page, Rock Road, Forest Park, and a few views near Delmar Station. There is also a couple of photos on Skip's Railroad Depot, and a Flickr photo showing Ferguson Junction in 1990 with a train running toward Luther.
Other than that, I can't seem to find any photos of operations on the U.D. line.
Concerning operations west of Forest Park, the man who's photo of Ferguson Junction is on Flickr, stated that he remembers seeing NS GP38-2s out of Luther Yard run locals from Ferguson down to a lumber yard near Rock Road.
And are there also Post-Dispatch articles or other newspapers that covered the construction of MetroLink while it was going on, with photos as well?
James - Good catch. The Terminal RR serves/served it following the UD's demise. NS usually ran a local over it at night towards the end; daylight locals tended to be extras if I recall correctly.
<< Other than that, I can't seem to find any photos of operations on the U.D. line. >>
James - I think a big reason is the fact that the folks that do have photos when it was still quite active into the 1970s just haven't taken the time, or have the equipment, to upload them onto the net. Anything anyone saw running on it in the 80s (my lifetime) was strictly coincidental because NS usually ran their yard job out there at night for the most part. I'm 34, and the few trains I saw on it were not photographed, although my late Grandpa took a fantastic black and white of the City of St. Louis running through Forest Park in the 50's.
<< Concerning operations west of Forest Park, the man who's photo of Ferguson Junction is on Flickr, stated that he remembers seeing NS GP38-2s out of Luther Yard run locals from Ferguson down to a lumber yard near Rock Road. >>
As I mentioned, the TRRA served it as they too had a lead coming into it. I want to guess this belonged to the now-extinct Hill-Behan Lumber company, but I may be wrong.
<< And are there also Post-Dispatch articles or other newspapers that covered the construction of MetroLink while it was going on, with photos as well? >>
If you have access to SLU's Pius Library, I do know they have a copy of the "master plan" which is a fascinating read and for which I used a lot in my coursework. As I've stated, in my opinion, Metro's choice for Siemens Duewag LRV's was a bad one, as they are incompatible with conventional "heavy rail" freight operations given the close & high platform requirements.
James - A clarification to my post above ^ , Terminal RR served the lumberyard at the Rock Road AFTER the UD Line's demise. It is true it was a remaining NW / NS customer on the UD Line.
At the end you get a tour through the tunnel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6t6L87KwfE
thought this was cool
First, Scott, thanks for the pics of the last runs on the highline. I was always fascinated by that line as a kid and didn't realize it was actually still in use until 2004. I remember being on the Admiral and looking up and seeing a RR crossing signal where the line fed onto the west end of the McKinley Bridge and thinking it was so strange to see a RR crossing in the middle of a bridge! And, very cool I might add!
Secondly, in answer to Mitch's question about L.K. Sullivan Blvd (then Wharf St) tracks, I can answer that from memory. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures, but I distinctly remember the tracks running the length of the riverfront, right past the Arch and having to wait for what seemed like an eternity to cross from the Arch grounds to the levee. The trains ran about 5 mph thru there due to traffic and pedestrian congestion, so it would take an average train about 10-15 minutes to travel thru. You could see it coming well in advance, so everyone would scurry across the tracks while they could. Those tracks were removed in the early 70s, if I recall correctly.
There are the remains of a railroad crossing at Howard Street along the line. There is the remains of a mast signal with a stripped out relay case there. There are the remains of another crossing signal over at Cass Avenue. There's also an overhead gantry on Hadley Street.
Joe - Yes, that was the Wharf Street lead which allowed Missouri Pacific traffic entering and leaving Lesperance St. Yard (just north and east of the brewery). It was also used by the Terminal RR which ran transfers to Lesperance. This trackage was activd until the mid-80s when a new, elevated connection at Carroll Street that linked Lesperance to the Terminal "High Line" that runs under the arch. Ironically, it was long after this that UP significantly downgraded Lesperance St. and moved main line train classification and yard operations across the River to the Alton & Southern's Gateway Yard. Lesperance became, and still is, an auxillary yard and functions primarily for classification of local traffic for the Desoto Sub and Jeff City Sub as well as car storage.
I have memories AND pics when I took AMTRAK from CHI to STL in the 70's 80s. I remember, there were several routes to the ST Louis Union Station back then. Under the Arch. The old Wabash route etc. I went to STL to take pics of trains in the 70's...But I would go on the Goldenrod ShowBoat @ 1-3 O'clock in the morning. did I see freights (TRAA) along the river.
The book "Streets and streetcars OF sT louis" hss s good map
of streetcar routes and also shows railroad lines out to
about Lindberg. Map is dated 1930. Author is Andrew Young
I was curious if anyone would know if there as an abandoned rail tunnel in the south county area where the mattese creek now runs. It is in the area of ringer road. We played down there as kids. It is a large tunnel that looks to be supported by long rods and plates. Rumors were that the train used to run through it...been wondering since childhood.