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Saturday, March 16, 2013

CALUMET Tower Closes and Other News

Well this one certainly came in under my radar, but CALUMET tower located on the Indiana Harbour Belt where it crosses the CSX (BO&CT) main line in East Calumet City, IN just closed in early March 2013.  CALUMET was a very old mechanical tower with all the looks and structural integrity of METRA's 16th St crossing only containing a 96-lever National Switch and Signal (later bought by US&S) mechanical lever frame which would help to hold the tower up better.  Calumet Jct consists of the triple crossing between the IHB, B&OCT and EJE lines with the IHB and EJE each crossing the B&OCT on a set of 6 diamonds and then the EJE crossing the IHB via shallow angle movable point diamonds.

 Like all other surviving interlocking towers CALUMET lost a lot of complexity over the years and like DOLTON junction it had its mechanical points swapped for the power operated variety and most of its classic signals swapped for Darth Vader masts, but its ease of access and location at the crossing of two major main lines made it a very popular railfan hotspot, although only for those willing to brave the bad neighborhood it was in.  While no scheduled passenger service passed by CALUMET I personally had the honor of getting a rare mileage trip past during an Amtrak detour over the Porter Branch after a large freight train derailment on the Chicago Line and I am glad I was able to get my own photos of the old girl while where was still someone up top bending the iron.

CALUMET, which one source lists as being built between 1895 and 1897, clearly saw a long and full life and now will probably face the fate that befalls most wooden towers of that type of either being torn down or being burnt down.  There is a slim bit of hope in that the near by GRASSELI tower, which closed in 2007 as the third to last tower with mechanically worked points in North America, was actually preserved and moved to a nearby railroad museum so who knows, perhaps the same motivated individuals are still around to get the IHB to hold back the backhoes and give this tower a new lease on life.  One thing is for sure that is CALUMET is preserved its lever frame will be vastly more interesting to play around with. Unfortunately the once tower rich IHB is down to only about two active plants on its serpentine main line after HICK closed a year or two ago up where it joined the Chicago Line.  The EJE isn't far behind although it two movable bridges with local control towers are unlikely to be put under CTC.

There is of course a Has-Been post on the closing of CALUMET, although that site doesn't seem to like direct inbound links so you might have to re-load the page or cut and paste the link and of course John Roma has been inside to take pictures.

In other news (remember I said I had some) CP-KING on the NS Morrisville Line was recently re-signaled.  If you are wondering is this is another occurrence of NS going off its nut and re-signaling an interlocking that went in during a 1990's 562 project, apparently there was a fire in the old relay hut and the plant had been out of service for two weeks.  Still, the new interlocking dispensed with the "old" Conrail color light signals in favor of Darth Vaders.  Really?  Is it that hard to splice signal wire into a new interlocking?  10 years ago that was what railroads did by default, but now they can't even be bothered if the old signals aren't even working?

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