A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby sery2831 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:40 am

There is another obstacle getting anything tall in that area. The North Washington Street(El) swing bridge. It is no longer operational.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby crash575 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:55 am

I read recently that around the turn of the century coal was delivered to the Broad Canal via tall masted schooners. The coal was used to fire the various power and steam plants that have been located there. The Mass Ave Bridge did have a draw but once the Longfellow was built no high ships could sail further up the river.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby tober » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:09 am

Even with the ECV draw inoperable and the Longfellow in place, while the Charlestown Bridge and the draw across the entrance to the Broad Canal (and the Charles River Dam Road Bridge of course) were operable, it was, I believe, still possible to get coal to the power plant (the mouth of the canal is just east of the Longfellow) - and that situation persisted well the 20th century, I'm not sure when the Charlestown Bridge became unable to open. The power plant on the Broad Canal still operates - I believe it makes steam mostly but also electricity - and I'm pretty sure it now burns natural gas.

I would guess that the ECV draw is going to need rehabilitation one of these days simply to remain structurally sound, as the load/vibration that it sees is significant - I don't think it has substantively ever had any. Maybe there was a little work done during the Green Line bustitution while North Station was relocated/rebuilt, but I think that was limited to signal replacement and track/tie/ballast work. Assuming that the Green Line extension to Medford ever gets going in earnest, I think there will be another bustitution of significant duration (while Lechmere is relocated) and maybe some work will be done on the ECV draw (and, for that matter, the ECV in general) to assure that the ECV will be structurally sound for another 100 (or 50 anyhow) years. The condition of some of the steel (particularly the columns) on the ECV west of the draw gives me pause, there hasn't even been a proper stripping and painting in many years.

EDIT: Oh, also, thanks for the pictures, 3rdrail! Those are great.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:20 pm

Wooden box on the top floor with double hand-cranks. The cranks have what appears to be electrical contacts positioned on both sides of the crank's axles inside the box along with what appears to be hooks on the same axles inside the adjacent partition. What do you suppose this was used for ?

Image

Image
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby diburning » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:14 pm

foosball :D

Are those spikes? They look long and thin.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:40 pm

Random two guesses

To light something up like a warning
or
Maybe it was not electrical , but more for sound like a warning?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:57 pm

Foosball ! hahaha!!! They're nails. I was thinking that the hooks allowed something to be put attached to them which could then be manually straightened out or held in place by turning the crank handles in opposing directions. But what would require that up there or the reason for the electrical connections, I have no idea. Maybe they're not electrical, but instead the spool on the left was a ratchet, Rob ? Coal storage for a stove ?

Ground floor stove;

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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Stmtrolleyguy » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:55 pm

3rdrail wrote:Wooden box on the top floor with double hand-cranks. The cranks have what appears to be electrical contacts positioned on both sides of the crank's axles inside the box along with what appears to be hooks on the same axles inside the adjacent partition. What do you suppose this was used for ?

Image

Image



Two handles to control it all?
(One for up, the other for down?)
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Ron Newman » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:19 pm

diburning wrote: (There really isn't anything in the area between Craigie and Longfellow where a tall ship would visit)


There isn't now, but there might have been when the East Cambridge Viaduct was built. The Cambridge side of this part of the Charles River was industrial, with canals serving various factories in East Cambridge. The Broad Canal, which still exists, served the power plant. The Lechmere Canal also still exists and used to be longer, with a sharp bend turning southwards where the Galleria Mall now sits.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:25 pm

Those electrical contacts look similar to the ones in a K-controller from a streetcar, so I would guess it's for controlling a motor (one handle for each direction, perhaps?). It appears to have been a low-power system compared to a streetcar.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:33 pm

I am thinking it had to do with electricity. The wood box would make a good insulator, no?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:17 pm

I wonder if we could be looking at the remains of the original controls for both leaves of the draw ?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:02 am

Most likely drop-dead gorgeous in it's green, red, and white paint, BERy Type 4 stops at one of the ECV bumpers just before the draw. These are gone now as their need is no longer with unbroken rail and wire over the drawbridge. The East Cambridge Viaduct had just opened when this 1912 photograph was taken.Thanks to the Dean of electric railway history, O.R.Cummings, for this photo out of his "Street Cars of Boston", Volume 4.

Image

Here's a fan trip with a BERy Type 4 and Trailer. Hope a schooner wasn't coming through when the gang was taking their pictures !
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby tom18287 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:50 am

perhaps those bumpers are what those cranks were for? one inbound, one outbound?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Jersey_Mike » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:45 am

Look at my user icon -->

3rdrail wrote:Wooden box on the top floor with double hand-cranks. The cranks have what appears to be electrical contacts positioned on both sides of the crank's axles inside the box along with what appears to be hooks on the same axles inside the adjacent partition. What do you suppose this was used for ?

Image

Image


That is the interlocking machine for operation of the drawbridge. It's made from early US&S pattern parts and was probably used to unlock the actual bridge controls as both levers present are of the two position "switch" type. They may have unlocked the rails or set the derails on the tracks or both, but they probably allowed for the bridge controller to control the movable bits. The bridge controller would resemble elevator or other period motor control gear to allow the operator a fine degree of speed control.
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