Near Union in McHenry County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
A locomotive's motion depends on the friction between its wheels and the steel rail. When rails are wet or slick, friction can decrease to the point that the wheels slip or spin, like an auto on an icy road.
To increase friction, each locomotive carries a quantity of sand. On steam locomotives, sand is carried in a dome on top of the boiler, where the boiler's heat helps keep it dry; for diesels, one or more sand boxes are located inside the body of the locomotive. The engineer's sanding valve uses air pressure to drop dry sand onto the rails just ahead of the wheels.
Dry sand is loaded into the locomotive from a sanding tower, such as this diesel-era example from a Grand Trunk Western yard on Chicago's South Side. At one time, most large terminals had a drying house where sand was prepared for use; today, dry sand is transported to terminals in covered hopper cars, then blown to the top of the sanding tower with compressed air.
Erected by Illinois Railway Museum.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7000 Olson Road, Union IL 60180, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Chicago's Passenger Stations (within shouting distance of this marker); The Burlington Zephyrs / Articulated Trains (within shouting distance of this marker); Soo Terminal Warehouse Limestone Entablature ca. 1912 (within shouting distance of this marker); Railroad Cats (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union Pacific 18 (about 500 feet away); Soo/Milwaukee Road X-5001 (about 500 feet away); Chicago and North Western 9933 (about 500 feet away); Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific 37A (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Union.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2022. It was originally submitted on December 19, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 1,320 times since then and 147 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 19, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.