Posts Tagged ‘Nova Tower’

Remember the Leaning Tower of Nova?

December 2, 2022

Nova Tower has been gone for several years now, but in its final days it was a sought-after photo prop because it had a distinctive lean.

The tower was located on the CSX New Castle Subdivision in Nova, Ohio. It had been closed for years when the above photograph of a westbound CSX coal train was made on Oct. 17, 2010.

At one time Nova tower controlled signals and a crossover. Going back even further the Lorain, Ashland & Southern crossed the Baltimore & Ohio in Nova at grade. In B&O days it was known as VN Tower.

The tower has received minimal, if any maintenance, after its closing and it was somewhat surprising that it lasted as long as it did.

Nova Tower was razed on Nov. 22, 2013 and some of its components were moved by truck to a Utah railroad museum which said it would use them to create an interlocking tower.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Nova Tower Two for Tuesday

December 21, 2021

Nova Tower was razed in late 2013, but for many years it was a “must visit” site on any photo expedition on the western end of the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Shown above are a pair of trains that I caught passing the “leaning tower of Nova” on Aug. 7, 2009. I must have spent some time there because both trains are eastbound on Track 2.

It was not my first visit to Nova. I was there a year earlier and perhaps even that had not been my first sighting of Nova Tower. I have a hazy recollection that my first visit to Nova Tower occurred on an outing with Marty Surdyk in which we drove past the tower but no train was coming so we continued on.

At one time Nova tower controlled signals and a crossover here when the rails were the Baltimore & Ohio. Going back even further the Lorain, Ashland & Southern crossed the B&O in Nova at grade.

Nova can still be a good place to photograph trains, but without a former interlocking tower as a photo prop.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Nova Tower 2 for Tuesday

August 3, 2021

Many if not most Northeast Ohio railroad photographers have in their collection somewhere an image of Nova Tower.

Located in its namesake town on the CSX New Castle Subdivision, Nova Tower continued to stand for many years after it was closed. It became a landmark for photographers for its decrepit condition, which included a noticeable lean.

How that tower managed to survive for so long is a mystery except to some supervisor at CSX who finally gave the approval to raze the structure in December 2013.

My hazy memory is that the railroad was amenable for a railroad museum saving if if the museum moved it off the site. That never happened although a tourist railroad operation in the West salvaged some components of Nova Tower to use in recreating an interlocking tower on its property.

Shown above are two views of the tower in its latter years. In the top image, an eastbound auto rack train passes by on June 21, 2010. At that time, Baltimore & Ohio color position light signals were still in use as were block signs. Both have since been removed.

The bottom image was made May 26, 2013, and also features an eastbound. The tower already was looking rough in 2010 and looked rougher three years later.

Note the railfan standing on the tower steps to get a photograph. Given the condition of the tower at that time, that is not something I would have done for fear the steps might collapse.

Top Photo by Robert Farkas

One Day in Nova

February 24, 2021

Nova Tower was still standing when I made a visit there on June 21, 2008, and caught this eastbound CSX train. This might have been the first time I ever photographed the tower and a train here but it wouldn’t be the last. Today Nova Tower is no more and the color position signals that stood here as well but are not shown in this view are also gone.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Leaning Tower of Nova

January 20, 2021

Until it was razed several years ago the former interlocking tower in Nova on the CSX New Castle Subdivision was a popular photo prop for photographers. There weren’t many tower left and it is unclear how Nova Tower lasted as long as it did after it was closed.

As you can see from this June 21, 2008, photograph, the tower received minimal, if any, maintenance. Maybe the railroad thought it might fall down on its own, which seemed possible given how it had a slight lean.

Shown is an eastbound passing through Nova without any hint of slowing down.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Steamy Memories for a Sunday

March 1, 2020

During the two years that the Chessie Steam Special ran hundreds of people came out to watch, photograph or ride the trains.

Here are two photos of the westbound Chessie Steam Special pulled by Chessie 2101 (ex-Reading 2101) in Nova on Aug. 19, 1978.

Notice how the interlocking tower didn’t seem to be leaning as much then as it did in later years before it was dismantled.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

VN Tower in Nova Reduced to Rubble

November 25, 2013

An eastbound intermodal train passes the site of VN tower in Nova, Ohio. on Sunday. Two days earlier the tower had been taken down.

An eastbound intermodal train passes the site of VN tower in Nova, Ohio. on Sunday. Two days earlier the tower had been taken down.

We all knew that some day it would be gone. Maybe we figured that a good stiff wind would blow it over, that an arsonist would torch it, or that a CSX derailment would administer the coup de grâce as happened at HN tower in Newton Falls, Ohio, in March 2011.

There was talk of a nearby museum saving the tower and moving it, but a lot of people were skeptical that that would happen given the fragile state of the structure.

Truth be told, we all knew that VN tower in Nova, Ohio, should have been razed years ago.

But it still stood and photographers made it a point to visit the tower when railfanning the west end of the New Castle Subdivision, the former  Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

It has stood for so long in such decrepit condition that few of us can remember when it didn’t look like, well, you know. And its longevity seemed to suggest that it would last forever even if we knew that couldn’t and wouldn’t happen.

We all have stories to tell about photographing trains at Nova tower. I don’t remember the first time I photographed there or what train it was.

I only remember that it was back when I was still shooting slide film and that it was in the CSX era, probably almost 10 years ago.

For the record, VN tower was taken down on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. Two days later, it was a pile of rubble, although much of it had been loaded onto a flat bed truck.

Reportedly, the levers and related equipment are being sent to Utah where they will be used to construct a replica interlocking tower in a museum.

On Sunday fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee and I visited the remains of VN tower. We did not know that it had been razed as we arrived.

As we turned onto the Ohio Route 511 and drove past the grain elevator, Roger spotted a pile of splintered wood and immediately feared the worse. The tower was gone.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders





The last photograph of a train and VN tower that I made. The date is May 26, 2013.

The last photograph of a train and VN tower that I made. The date is May 26, 2013.

Nova Tower Standing in There

May 27, 2013


Periodically, we report on the status of Nova tower, that decrepit structure on the south side of the tracks of the CSX New Castle Subdivision in Nova, Ohio. Built by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad decades ago, the tower once controlled crossovers and a siding here. But those are gone and for some reason the tower itself continues to stand.

I was out on a Memorial Day outing on Sunday when I heard a train heading eastward on the ex-B&O. I had time to get ahead of it and so I drove to Nova. With Nova tower, you never know when your next photograh of it will be your last.

A couple of railfans from the Chicago area were already there and one of them was brave enough to climb the stairs to get a photograph through the tower’s windows — or what is left of them.

His photograph did not work out the way he had hoped. The levers are still in the tower and he was able to get those all right. But the high contrast lighting resulted in the oncoming train being washed out.

Perhaps he might be able to salvage a half-way decent image in Photoshop.

As for myself, I stayed firmly on the ground. Perhaps the stairs are still safe, but every time I see Nova tower it looks a little worse for wear. One of these days . . .

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders




Somehow, Nova Tower Still Stands

April 13, 2013

I pass by Nova Tower several times a year on my travels from Columbus to Elyria. I grew up in Akron and my uncle was an engineer for the Baltimore & Ohio.

I always enjoy the photos and stories on the Akron Railroad Club website. This photo was taken on April 9, 2013.

Photograph by Mary Ellen Armentrout

Nova Tower has Made it to 2012

January 12, 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