Posts Tagged ‘railroad interlocking towers’

Tower Night Set by Marion Railfan Society

October 13, 2021

The Marion Railfan Society will hold its annual tower night meeting on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Marion Union Station.

Presenters will include Dan Maners and Wally Mattes, who will be making their annual visit to share selections from their vast collection of interlocking tower photos.

Rich Behrendt will be showing tower photographs made by Gary Salzgaber.

If there is time, audience members will be invited to show digital tower images from their own collection.

The tower might is typically the society’s best attended show of the year.

Face masks are strongly encouraged to protect your fellow attendees while in the station. All railfans are welcome at MRS meetings.

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

Moving Day in Union City

July 28, 2021

Years of planning and fundraising paid off in Union City, Indiana, on Tuesday when a moving company moved the town’s railroad interlocking tower about a block west to a park.

The brick tower, which closed in 1968, once controlled the crossing of the New York Central”s (Big Four) Cleveland-Indianapolis line with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s (Panhandle) Columbus-Logansport, Indiana, line.

Local interests raised more than $56,000 which was matched by a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency.

Union City, located on the Indiana-Ohio border, had faced a late March deadline to commit to moving the tower or else it would be razed by CSX.

The former Pennsy line through Union City is gone, but the former NYC line is today the Indianapolis Line of CSX.

Three city streets were closed so the tower could be move on dollies by Wolfe House & Building Movers.

The tower is slated to be restored with the lower level being used as a visitor center with restrooms, and the upper level returned to its appearance when the tower was still open.

It is located in the southwest corner of Artisan Crossing park and faces the CSX tracks in the same manner that it did before it was moved. The park is adjacent to the CSX Indianapolis Line and across the street from the restored former PRR passenger station.

In the top image, the tower is being wheeled west on Pearl Street. The bottom image shows the tower in its final resting place.

Union City Tower to Move July 27

June 10, 2021

The former railroad interlocking tower in Union City, Indiana, is scheduled to be moved to a new location on July 27.

The tower was saved after a lengthy fundraising drive. It will be moved one block west to a city park.

The city plans to have a festival on the moving day that will include food trucks and other activities.

Now located adjacent to the CSX Indianapolis Line, the tower once guarded the crossing of the former New York Central (Big Four) and Pennsylvania (Panhandle) railroads.

The former Pennsy route from Columbus to Logansport, Indiana, is abandoned through Union City.

Union City, located on the Indiana-Ohio border, still has its PRR passenger station, which has been restored and is now used as an arts center.

Indiana Town Raises Enough Money to Save Tower

March 14, 2021

An Indiana city has reached its funding goal to save a former railroad interlocking tower.

Union City reported on its website that with eight days left in its fundraising campaign it has raised $53,630, which exceeds its goal of $50.

The project involves moving the tower, which currently stands next to the CSX Indianapolis Line.

The tower once controlled a crossing of a the former New York Central (Big Four) line between Cleveland and Indianapolis with a former Pennsylvania Railroad line (Panhandle) between Columbus and Logansport, Indiana.

Having met its initial goal, Union City has now expanded its goal to $60,000.

The money will be used to move the tower 525 feet to a new location a short distance from the tracks in an existing park.

Money raised by the Union City fundraising drive will be matched by the Indiana Housing Community Development Agency.

More information about the fundraising drive and plans to move the tower is available at https://www.patronicity.com/project/save_the_rail_tower

Delray Tower in Detroit is Closing

November 18, 2020

CSX is closing Delray Tower in Detroit and transferring its duties to a dispatcher located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Delray is one of the few remaining manned interlocking towers still operating in the United States, and one of just two remaining in Michigan.

It is thought to be the last tower to use strong-arm levers.

The busiest interlocking in Michigan is located on the south side of Detroit.

Work had been underway for some time to switch its interlocking plant to remote operation and involved CSX, Norfolk Southern and Conrail Shared Assets.

Trains of Canadian Pacific and Canadian National also operate through the interlocking on trackage rights.

The Michigan Department of Transportation had awarded a $10.5 million grant as part of its Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal project to rebuild the Delray interlocking.

The work included removing two diamonds and adding a third track along Conrail’s Detroit Line between CP Delray and CP Waterman.

Delray Tower was build in 1945 by the Pere Marquette Railroad.

The tower at one time saw more than 200 moves a day, but that has since fallen to an average of 32 to 38 a day.

An operator is remains on duty for a few days in case of malfunctions during remote operation.

The tower is expected to eventually be razed.

NS to Raze MG Tower Near Altoona

June 28, 2020

MG Tower as seen on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2013 during an excursion pulled by Nickel Plate Road 765 trip heading back toward Horseshoe Curve then Altoona for a lunch stop. (Photograph by Edward Ribinskas)

A historic former Pennsylvania Railroad interlocking tower near Altoona, Pennsylvania is set to be razed.

Norfolk Southern is seeking bids to demolish MG Tower two miles west of Horseshoe Curve.

“We have put the demolition out to bid and are awaiting responses,” NS spokesman Jeff DeGraff told the Altoona Mirror.

He said the demolition is for safety reasons because the structure is deteriorating. How soon the tower will be razed will depend on cost estimates the railroad receives.

The tower was built during World War II when the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia mainline boasted four racks.

Joe DeFrancesco, executive director of the Railroaders Memorial Museum of Altoona, said MG was not a viable candidate for preservation because it is far from a public road.

Moving the structure would be difficult and expensive, he said.

“You preserve what you can preserve,” DeFrancesco said. “Some things are beyond reach.”

Getting it While I Can

October 30, 2019

Interlocking towers once dotted the railroad landscape in large numbers.

But the vast majority of them have been closed and their functions of lining switches and signals transferred to a dispatcher’s desk hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

Railroads generally don’t like to let vacant building stand unused next to their rights of ways so scores of former interlocking towers have fallen victim to the wrecking ball or a front end loader.

Somehow the tower in Union City, Indiana, has survived. But it may be living on borrowed time.

At one time, Union City Tower guarded the crossing of the Pennsylvania Railroad (Pan Handle) route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, of the New York Central (Big Four) route between Cleveland and St. Louis.

The two railroads crossed at a sharp angle by Columbia Street. In fact the crossing was movable switch points rather than a set of diamonds for the double track mainlines of both railroads.

The tower closed in 1968 and changing traffic patterns led to the abandonment by Conrail of the former PRR line through Union City.

But the tower remained standing. CSX would like to knock it down, but is willing to allow Union City interests to have it provided that they move it at least 50 feet back from the tracks.

The cost to do that is $60,000 and the city doesn’t have that kind of money. There is a fund raising campaign underway but small towns struggle to raise that level of money.

The latest report is that the city hopes to talk CSX into allowing the tower to remain in its current location but be surrounded by a fence.

The railroads is willing for now to give the city more time to raise money to pay to move the tower and its uncertain how it will respond to the fence idea.

Union City has been told that the tower is off the demolition list, at least for now.

But just this past July IU Tower in downtown Indianapolis and railroads, like any other company, can be notorious for doing what they want with their property.

Nostalgia and history don’t contribute to revenues, increase stock prices or help pay dividends to stockholders.

During a recent outing to Union City I made sure to capture a train passing the tower.

The auto rack train is headed westbound on the Indianapolis Line. I hope that it is not the last image I made of this tower, but you never know.

CSX Razing Historical Abandoned Facilities

June 20, 2018

CSX has been active of late swinging the wrecking ball and razing vacant stations and former interlocking towers along its right of way.

In a statement, CSX said it is considering safety and historical preservation in deciding which structures to take down.

However, in some instances the railroad has generated controversy by razing structures that local communities were seeking to preserve.

Such was the case last spring in Abbeville, South Carolina, where a station was razed even though preservationists contended that they had reached an agreement with CSX to save the station.

News reports in May said a state preservation society had negotiated with the railroad for the depot to be preserved and moved if $50,000 could be raised for the depot’s preservation.

However, CSX contended that the preservation group indicated it could not meet those financial requirements and the 128-year depot was razed.

Closer to home, the former New York Central station in Ashtabula was demolished on May 31, although preservation efforts in that case did not get to the stage of offering money for the building.

CSX has also removed Chesapeake & Ohio-built interlocking towers at A Cabin in Alleghany, Virginia, and CW Cabin in Hinton, West Virginia.

Also catching the wrecking ball was the C&O Balcony Falls, Va., station.

In a statement CSX said it has been identifying structures that are vacant, have structural issues and overgrown vegetation. It also contended that it decides what to tear down on a case-by-case basis.

Railroading as It Once Was: Just Another Day at RU Tower in Sterling on the Erie Lackawanna

January 25, 2017

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It’s just another normal hot August 1975 afternoon in Sterling. The Erie Lackawanna was doing its normal thing, too, as this eastbound train blasts past RU tower making a run for Wadsworth hill. In a few short miles it would be down to a crawl as gravity worked its magic.

Photograph by Roger Durfee