Nova Tower has Made it to 2012

I stopped by Nova on my way to Greenwich on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, to check out Nova tower. I found it still standing, but looking quite forlorn. The wind whistles through the upper level, and falling rain and snow continues through the roof. I took a few photos and left for Greenwich.

In days past, Nova’s operator controlled mainline crossover switches and entry switches to both an eastbound and westbound 100-car siding alongside the Baltimore & Ohio’s Chicago mainline. The tower operator controlled only the entry switches to the siding. The distant ones were either spring-loaded or opened by the train’s brakeman. The operator also issued train orders to trains crossing over and running on the opposite track (reverse) to the next tower.

The B&O was right-hand running. That operation continues today with CSX. The maneuver allowed hotshots such as the Chicago and Baltimore Jets trailer trains to pass a slower moving freight.

Operation at the tower gradually diminished during the 1970s and 1980s. It was closed on weekends and then manned by an on-call operator as needed. The train order station was closed in 1986. Operation at Nova is now controlled by the “IO” dispatcher in Indianapolis. The tower has sat basically unused for the last two and a half decades.

An agreement with the Lodi Railroad Museum has supposedly been approved by CSX. It involves transferring the tower to LRRM, but the museum has to get it off CSX property. The cost of that move and subsequent repair may be more than the LRRM can handle. Mother Nature may step in soon and resolve the issue. It could close the New Castle Sub for a while if the tower structure fell on the mainline.

Towers like Nova once dominated the railroad lines of this country. Now the operations are computer-controlled, if needed, from a desk far away. Railroad ghosts may well haunt those towers unused but which are still standing, just like Nova.

Article and Photograph by Richard Jacobs


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One Response to “Nova Tower has Made it to 2012”

  1. Dave Ross Says:

    I think a couple of SD’s running through the wreckage would just make a cloud of dust. Used to shot from the step but never again

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