January 1  2021  New Years Day

This set is a good way to kick off 2021. This is Jim Bradley's first, that I know of, contribution to my site although they were sent by a third party. Looks like he can give some of my other contributors a run for their money, photographically wise.

Delaware...........................JU  Elsmere Jct.     RDG

Reading RR's Elsmere Jct, Wilmington, Delaware, where the Readings Wilmington & Northern Branch crossed the B&O.  Telegraph call "JU."......... Abram Burnett

Pennsylvania.....................*GN  Lurgan  1    2    3    4     RDG

 "GN" Lurgan, PA, near Shippensburg, PA. This interation of "GN" was built in 1948, to hold a new GRS Style K interlocking and CTC machine, replacing a real tower (old, two story and wooden.)  This was the west end of the Reading.  When headed west, the RDG's double track turned into the Western Maryland's double track headed to Hagerstown, Md.  WM and RDG crews were pooled and ran through between Hagerstown and RDG's Rutherford Yard at Harrisburg.  Besides a very heavy eastbound coal traffic, this point handled the hot-shot freights of the Alphabet Route.  The Alphabet Route was a consortium of about seven railroads which cooperated to offer fast service between Boston/New York/Philadelphia and Chicago/St Louis. 
Abram Burnett

Up to now I only had a diagram of GN; so I'm counting it as a
new tower.

The operator in photo three is Jack R Fantus.

The operator's names in photo 4 are Calvin Comer and Mick Meyers.

                                        SF(Pennroad)  Shippensburg   PRR

                               1    2    3    4    5    6

The operator in the photos about is George Dunleavy.

"SF" Tower at Pennroad, Shippensburg, Pa, where a main-line crossover existed between the PRR's Cumberland Valley Branch and the Reading's PH&P (Philadelphia Harrisburg & Pittsburgh) Branch.  Without checking, I believe SF was erected in 1906 or thereabouts.  It lasted until 1981.  The Opr shown is George Dunleavy...Abram Burnett

SF was at MP 41.6 from Harrisburg on Pennsy's  Cumberland Valley Branch.  It was an interlocking, interlocking station and a block station and/or a train order office. It also controlled Spring
a block limit station at MP 29.1 and Wood MP 50.3 (different from Wood on the Ft. Wayne Line also in PA.) Wood was a block Station and TO office. The Waynesboro Secondary Track started at Wood too....Whew.........Dan Maners


It is time for my monthly allotment of Henry Wilhelm photos. As always they are from the West Conn Chapter of the NRHS and sent via John Garofalo.

Connecticut........................SS#95    Clinton     NH

Ohio...................................Swan Creek   Toledo   NYC

                                          *Broadway    Toledo      NYC

Broadway was located just west of the Station and also controlled the connection that ramped up to the original TSt.L&KC (NKP).......Shel Lustig NYCHS

Thanks to all of you in helping clear up the Swan Creek and Broadway mysteries.....and within 12 hours too. It ALMOST restores my faith in humanity.

 Illinois................................Laramie Ave.   Chicago    CRT

This is a transit/electric line tower and has been put into that part of the site.

New York..........................*Heathcote   Scarsdale     NYW&B

The New York, Winchester and Boston. From 1906, construction and operation was under the control of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (NH) until its bankruptcy in 1935.


Pictures from Steve Salamon are starting to roll my way again. Here are his latest batch.

Pennsylvania.................CA  Mill Creek Jct  Port Carbon  RDG

                                         1     2     3

Photo #1 is looking geographically east (timetable north) at CA Tower.  The branch to Saint Clair and Frackville, once double track, went to the left.  The track going straight is the Schuylkill Valley Branch to Tamaqua. 

Photo #2 is a closer shot of the tower looking east. 

Photo #3 is looking geographically west (timetable south) toward MJ Tower at Pottsville Junction.       

This location was shown as Mill Creek Junction in the employee timetables.  Call letters were "CA".  This tower was on the Schuylkill Valley Branch between Pottsville and Tamaqua, at the junction of the branch to Saint Clair and Frackville.  In the glory days of the anthracite coal industry, this was a busy spot.  Reading had a huge yard at Saint Clair where coal loads from the many anthracite mines were assembled into coal trains for Philadelphia and New Jersey.  CA Tower was 1.5 miles north from MJ Tower at Pottsville Junction, where the Schuylkill Valley Branch met the main line from Pottsville to Reading.  The anthracite business faded rapidly after World War II, as homes and businesses in the northeast converted from coal furnaces to gas or electric heat.  Reading ceased using the huge Saint Clair yard sometime in the late 1960's and it became a storage yard for old freight cars awaiting disposition.  Although I don't know when the tower closed, it was definitely closed by 1968, and the switches on the remaining tracks were converted to hand throws..........Steve Salamon  

CA Mill Creek Jct in the glory days.

CA closed December 15 1952........Rob Mandeville


This set of three are from Phil Albano. He is an ex operator off the Erie Lackawanna an into Conrail. More of his stuff to come.

Indiana............................Newton  PRR x Erie  1   2   3    Erie

Newton is where Erie's Main crossed Pennsy's Logansport Branch.(Van in Logansport to Vandale in Columbia City) At Vandale it tied into PRR's Ft. Wayne Line. It was at MP 33.9 (from Logansport) The PRR line was called the "Eel River Line"
According to my 1967 PRR ETT, even at this early date Newton was open by train order only. It had a USS IS&F machine with 14 being used from a 40 lever frame. Newton's call letter were "WN". This is the second version of the tower. In 1917 an Erie train was stopped just on the other side of the diamond when it was rear ended by a following train, destroying the tower. This cinder block tower built in 1918 was typical of Erie towers during that period. Falconer in NY and Delong in IN. are other examples of this architecture...........Wally Mattes/Dan Maners

At this date(1974) the tower was only open as needed for the Penn Central local to wobble down the Logansport branch at 10mph to switch the grain elevators at exotic Denver and Mexico, Indiana. The agent at Rochester, Indiana was usually called out to open it up as he lived the closest. Sometimes a PC operator was called if available as 1st trick in theory belonged to the PRR..........Phil Albano


Don't worry Wally; I haven't forgotten about you.

Illinois................................Webster  1    2    3    4     MILW

This where the Milwaukee crossed the TP&W. The Milwaukee has a series nice two story towers up and down this line. As a cost cutting measure most if not all were taken down and replaced with these "shantys". Webster in the glory days.

He'd ne'er leave the girl with the strawberry curl, And the band played on.

JANUARY      6

A new contributor is on tap for today; Fran Giacoma.

I have loved trains since I was 4 and spent my teen and college years (mid 1960’s to late 1970’s) railfanning the railroads in Delaware (where I grew up), PA, MD, WV & VA. I was and still am particularly interested in towers, dispatching, interlocking, and signals. I retired in July 2012 from 35 years with Conrail (6/77 to 6/99) and CSX (6/99-7/12) in the Engineering Dept. Spent my time moving around (9 times) in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic ares, plus work in Ohio and WV. It was a great career......Fran Giacoma

Delaware...........*WJ  Wilsmere Yard  Elsmere  1    2    3   B&O

WJ Tower, located at the west end of B&O’s Wilsmere yard in Elsmere, DE. When the photos were taken, it was not an interlocking; the nearby Landenberg Jct (about 500’ west) was the closest interlocking which was controlled by the B&O dispatcher in Camden station in Baltimore. WJ issued train orders to train passing by and handled communication between train crews and the dispatcher for the Philadelphia SD between Feltonville, PA and Aberdeen, MD. The day trick operator with his back to the camera is Dave Waterson; I do not know the name of the operator handing up the train orders.......Fran Giacoma


Three singles from Phil Albano. All three have had write ups within the past few months so I'll include just the bare bones facts.

Indiana..............................ND      Highland      NYC

C&O x Erie x NYC's Danville Line. It was at MP 7.2 from Indiana Harbor. It addition to being called ND and Highland it had HI as its call letters too. I'm assuming, as in some cases, that different railroads had their own call letters for the same tower.
ND had a USS I&F machine 54 levers, 24? used.
Wally Mattes/Dan Maners   So much for bare bones.

                                        State  Line   C&WI

      C&WI x Erie x Monon x B&CT x NKP x IHB x EJ&E

C&WI stands for Chicago and Western Indiana. With its National Style A machine having 224 levers, 128 being used; State Line  when built was the largest "armstrong" plant in Indiana, maybe the entire country.....Wally Mattes

Interesting view of the tower, it actually shows some of the track layout for a change.

Ohio....................................HN(Sands)   Erie x NYC    Erie

SANDS was located in Kenton, Ohio where the ERIE mainline and the NYC’s Sandusky Branch * crossed.  This line went to CSX and was the route of the “Crazy 8’s” runaway several years ago and was where the train was finally caught and stopped.....Shel Lustig

*This is what PC's 1969 ETT called this line.

The town of Kenton was unusual in that a second NYC line (Big Four’s MR&LE) (Sandusky / Springfield) also ran through town and bridged the T&OC. This line was abandoned in PC days, but the station has been restored and is occupied......SL

JANUARY      8

Four photos today; two from Phil Albano and two from Wally Mattes.

Indiana.................................DA  Decatur   1    2       Erie

DA is where the Erie crossed NKP's "Clover Leaf" and Pennsy's
Richmond IN to Adams Tower(Ft.Wayne)line, known as the Ft. Wayne Branch. This portion of PRR track has and still is erroneously called the GR&I. But that argument is for another time. By PRR reckoning it was at MP 70.4 (from Richmond) My Pennsy 1967 ETT calls this place "Erie Crossing". DA used a USS IS&F mechanical machine with 40 levers; 32 used.
Wally Mattes

Michigan..............................Mershon  Saginaw  1   2   3   C&O

Mershon was in Saginaw Michigan. The players here were MC(NYC), GTW and the PM(C&O) After Conrail start day,April 1 1976, only GTW and C&O were here. The C&O owned and staffed the tower. It was built in the late 1890's and closed in 1988. Mershon's call letters were "XY". The tower has been moved and preserved at the Saginaw Railway Museum.
Pat Seward

JANUARY      8

Three tower photos, one of them new, from the NYO&W  the New York, Ontario and Western for those NOT in the know. The comments were provided by Jeff Otto. He is the lead archivist for the NYO&W Historical Society.

New York...............................CH   Campbell Hall

Campbell Hall (NY) tower controlled the crossing of the O&W mainline by the Erie's Montgomery Branch.  Along with using the branch to reach its namesake, Montgomery, the bulk of the Erie traffic through there was to access a New Haven track to their nearby Maybrook yard for interchange with the New Haven of traffic to Boston and other parts of New England.  The Lehigh and New England had trackage rights over part of the Montgomery Branch, contributing to the New England traffic.  Note that the O&W also supplied traffic to the New Haven, but did not use the Erie's access to Maybrook, but had a slightly different way to get to the New Haven track that led to Maybrook......Jeff Otto lead archivist NYO&W Historical Society

                                             CN    Cornwall

Besides routing O&W trains to and from their West Shore trackage rights between Cornwall, NY and Weehawken, NJ, CN tower also controlled switching movements of O&W coal to O&W's anthracite coal shipping trestle on the opposite side of the West Shore tracks.....JO

                                          *Crawford Jct  Middletown

Crawford Junction (NY)  tower routed Erie Crawford Branch trains to and from their O&W trackage rights between there and Middletown.  There was a corresponding tower in Middletown.  Both towers were removed in 1932 when the Erie discontinued passenger service on its Crawford Branch......JO


West Virginia......................Weirton  Jct.  1    2      pure  PRR !

Weirton Jct was at MP 41.0(from Pittsburgh) on their Pittsburgh to Columbus Line.(Panhandle) Weirton controlled the Panhandle from Collier WV(MP 35.6) to Steubenville OH(MP 43.2) All movements on the New Cumberland and Wheeling Secondary Tracks were under Weirton's control. The following remote CP's
came under "his" control as well :
                                 CO   MP 35.8
                                  NC  MP 39.7
                                  SB   MP 41.7
Oh.....Weirton controlled access to Weirton Yard too. Diagram showing the layout and what type of machine and levers etc.
Dave Oroszi/PC ETT


New tower from Wally Mattes.

Illinois........................*Tamms  1    2    CE&I x GM&O   CE&I

Tamms installed a Style A Machine in 1900. It was enlarged in 1907. It had 24 levers, with 22 being used. This was GM&O's line from St. Louis to ultimately Mobile AL. The CE&I line was their line from Chicago to Thebes IL NOT Thebes Egypt !! and points south.Tamms call letters were "MQ".......CE&I HS

Naturally the interlocker was in the depot. I'm glad not every "tower" was in a depot but they do have a quaint, small town America feel to them.


Some this and that from Geoff Hubbs.

Illinois....................................*LeClaire   Illinois Terminal(IT)

Kansas....................................*BB  Leavenworth   MP x CB&Q

Kentucky.................................Clagg  Louisville  photo  diagram

New Jersey.............................*Pompton Jct (PJ)    Erie

New York...............................*CH  Manchester   1   2     LV

West Virginia............................FN   Paterson Creek   B&O

Really don't mind if you sit this one out
My words but a whisper, your deafness a shout

JANUARY     13

Ohio..................................Maitland    1    2    3    map     Erie

Three from retired EL/CR operator Phil Albano. I did a two, three paragraph write up of Maitland back during the summer, but I feel a few sentences are in order. As with High Street this great map by Tom DeWinter answers many questions. This is where the DT&I's line from Detroit to Springfield crossed Erie's Dayton Branch(Marion to Dayton). The ST&P(Springfield, Troy and Piqua) traction line crossed here too. Maitland's call letters were "NY".

The traffic signal at the top of the post served as the DT&I train order signal while the more traditional signal at the bottom was the EL train order signal. Bill Haines was working here this day I stopped by...........Phil Albano

JANUARY     14

Ohio.............................*Gibsonburg   1    2    3   diagram  PRR

A rare, at least for me, out of the way "tower". Located in the depot, Gibsonburg was on Pennsy's Toledo Branch. By 1972 it was called the Carrothers Branch. It was at MP 64.3. ETT says "miles from Mansfield".....Are they talking about the Mansfield on the Ft Wayne Line????......Need clarification PLEASE. The Toledo Branch was double tacked from Toledo to Gibsonburg where it went down to single. This continued to Burgoon MP 54.5 where the NKP crossed and double track resumed. As a side note my PRR 1967 ETT shows Burgoon as an automatic interlocker. According to Dave Oroszi's  PRR Lines West Vol 3, Burgoon was controlled by Tiffin. Back to Gibsonburg. It was a true interlocking and obviously still open when the Oroszi shots were taken (1981). Leave it to Dave to get shots of a not-too-photographed tower and get an even rarer shot of the inside. Note the Conrail sticker on the clock and the PC sticker on the blocking panel. Those blocking panels, called Ouija boards by the operators, were strictly a PRR deal. These were used in lieu of blocking devices and also allowed them to change the current of traffic without having to write a dictionaries worth of train orders......Oh the forward thinking Pennsylvania !!!!!!!!!  Also noteworthy, observe there is no model board. Sitting atop the "levers" were what was known as "track annunciators". Wally told me, in GREAT detail, about this type of set up but as usual I can't remember what was said and was not in a lucid enough state of mind to understand.....Which for me is 99% of the time. HN(Sands) tower in Ohio, was another place where "annunciators" were used. I hope the above makes sense.
Dan Maners/Dave Oroszi/ PRR/PC ETT's  

Although not about Gibsonburg per se the following comments about the Toledo Branch(Gibsonburg was on that line) are very informative.

The mileage was counted northward from Mansfield on the PFtW&C even though the line did not diverge until Toledo Jct.,of which you have a data on the site.

This was the PRR route to Detroit, and the “Red Arrow” was the first PRR long-distance premier train to be dieselized.

Sometime in the 1950’s the segment from Toledo Jct. to Carrothers was abandoned and traffic rerouted westward via Bucyrus and then northward on the CS&H.

This lasted into CR days but ended when there was a rear-end collision on the line between Bucyrus and Carrothers caused by stray voltage which screwed up the N&W signal system. CR had been running at least 2 round-trips daily (PITO A&B, TOPI A&B) that way. The line was then abandoned between Carrothers and Tiffin.  North of Tiffin was eventually split. A shortline (Northern Ohio & Western runs out of Tiffin, and CSX has the northern portion to Walbridge.........Shel Lustig NYCHS

JANUARY    14    11:30 PM

Delaware.............................Montchanin   1    2        RDG

While not a tower, Montchanin was a train order office on the Reading's Wilmington and Northern Branch that ran from Wilmington, DE to Birdsboro, PA near Reading. This was one of three train order offices on the 65 mile line (per the 1/1/1973 Reading employees timetable, months after the pictures were taken). The Rockland Branch came off here and went two miles down a steep grade to serve the Doeskin paper plant (shipped box cars of toilet paper, napkins, etc) along the Brandywine River. It was about 10 minutes from where I grew up in northern DE so I used to railfan it during my high school years when I could get the family car. I remember one September evening in 1972 listening to 2 RS-3’s in 8th notch struggling up the Rockland Branch with 4 loaded paper cars; it was fantastic. Today, the paper mill is condos, the bridge over the river to the plant is still there, the Rockland Branch has the tracks removed and is an overgrown trail, the W&N is operated by The East Penn Railroad, and the Montchanin station is a private office/residence in great shape.........Fran Giacoma

JANUARY     15

New Jersey..............Glassboro   model  diagram   PR&SL(PRR)

Pennsylvania...........MU(Milton)  1    2    3    4    5    6    PRR

MU was at MP 275.9 (from Erie) on Pennsy's Harrisburg to Buffalo line. It crossed Reading's (RDG) Catawissa Branch.

I started my Conrail career as an Engineering Dept. Management Trainee in Williamsport, PA in June 1977. When not at work, I would railfan the area. One day in September, I covered the Reading Line between Williamsport and Milton, taking pictures of the old stations and Milton Tower. The stations were somewhat derelict, but I did find some neat “paper” treasures in them. I operator at Milton (don’t have his name) was decent and explained the workings of the Reading in the area.
Fran Giacoma


Here is an updated update. Most have already been posted but there are 4 new shots.

Ohio....................................High Street   Columbus     PRR

These nine shots are from Dave Oroszi.

                       1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9

These three are retired operator Phil Albano's 'take" on High St. Photos two and three show the late Paul Geiger "hard" at work.

                                           1    2    3

High Street in Columbus was a key location on the Pennsy. This is where the "Panhandle" split into two routes. It was at the junction of the Pittsburgh to St. Louis and the Columbus to Chicago Lines. The St. Louis side was called the "Alton" or "South Side"; the Chicago main was called the "Bradford" or North Side". This excellent map by Tom DeWinter explains fully what was what here. It also shows what kind of machine High St had. It stood at MP 0.1 from Columbus and remotely controlled the following interlockings :
                                                East Alton   MP 7.6
                                                Alton           MP 8.2
                                                West Alton  MP 9.5
High Street's call letters were "HS"

Parts of the above were plagiarized WITH PERMISSION from Dave Oroszi, the rest came from PC ETT #3 1969.

All your choices make you change your mind Now your calendar's complete

JANUARY     15

I just received these from Phil Albano. The operator in both photos is Pete White.

Ohio...................................Gibsonburg     1    2  

For being in my words, an obscure location, everybody and their brother seems to have photographs of the damn place.

JANUARY     16

Illinois.................................Shattuc   1    2            B&O

Two great shots by Wally Mattes. And wow, the train in the second shot being led by at least four SD-9s....What a shot Wally

Shattuc is where CB&Q's Beardstown line crossed B&O's once vibrant Cincinnati to St. Louis line. The B&O(now CSX) line has been truncated in many places and if I'm correct the signalling system has been deactivated. The CB&Q(BNSF) is just as busy as it ever was....I think. It stood at MP 282.2 miles from Cincinnati(by B&O reckoning) As a who-really-cares note, Chessie System ETT 1980 lists this place as Shattue, obliviously a typo. Image the railroad making a mistake !!! Shattuc was a train order office too at least on the B&O side. Someone will have to enlighten me if he handled orders for the "Q" as well.
Emilie Christine Schroeder

After what Jimmie Chitwood said, it would take the Indiana National Guard to run me out of here now.   

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