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Monday, January 26, 2015

Exactly What It Says on the Tin

Here is one resignaled interlocking I really can't complain about.  Truth in advertising.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

PHOTOS: Port Road Trips - MIDWAY to PILOT

 Well it's been a while since my last installment of Port Road Trips, but I was holding off in order to grab one last set of updated photos for the MIDWAY to PILOT section of the board road. We last left off at the end of the long signaled siding between CP-McCALLS and CP-MIDWAY and this time we will cover both CP-MIDWAY itself and the two intermediate signals between there and the west end of the Pilot siding. For a bit of reference check out the applicable 1997 Conrail interlocking chart.

Now the 2009/2010 NS re-signaling project had marched down to cover both the harbor and Holtwood sidings, but while both CP-McCALLS and CP-HOLTWOOD had been re-signaled, for some reason CP-MIDWAY at the extreme south end of the signaled siding was given a minor refurbishment with the PRR PL signals being left intact.

The interlocking is located in an extremely remote area with no road access.  It can only be reached via a hike from Susquehanna State park or by boat.  Here we see the eastbound signal gantry at CP-MIDWAY built out of a two track catenary support.  Both signals were controlled from Lever 234 in COLA tower.

The signals have both been repainted, although one can tell the underlying surface was not properly treated and the new paint is already starting to flake.  One interesting feature is the Stop and Proceed marker on the main track 234L signal, which NS had removed at a number of similar interlockings during the refurbishment drive.  The 234LA siding signal features an economy style lower head lacking a Restricting \, instead relying on the Stop and Proceed lamp in the center.

 The old power supply is located between the eastbound signal gantry and the relay hut.  As I have mentioned before the 6.6kv 100Hz signal power supply was replaced in favor of low voltage taps to the nearest utility pole.  Below the power supply platform (still holding its original transformer) are the decommissioned CTC/telecom pole line and the bundle of signal cables running to the eastbound gantry.

 The CP-MIDWAY relay hut has also gotten a nice new coat of cooling silver paint in addition to a satellite dish to replace the dying pole line.

The 504B code line that was replaced during the latest refurbishment was of the PVC wrapped telecom variety that has been in use since the 1960's.  The 2011 catenary pole removal process saw much of this cable get scrapped as well, but a segment survives between HOLDWOOD and MIDWAY, for slide fence and block state transmission.  In addition to CTC codes the line also carries telecom circuits for the signal post telephones that were common before the use of radio relay networks.  Here we can also see the still used cloth wrapped interlocking cable bundle originating from the relay hut for its run to the eastbound gantry.

The relay hut is directly adjacent to the lever 233 switch.

The M23 electric point machine and the switch itself was also refurbished.  Turnout speed is Medium (30mph).

Opposite side of the MIDWAY relay hut showing the service door, battery box and auxiliary relay cabinets.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bonus PHOTOS: Amtrak HARRISON ST Tower

So a few weeks ago I talked about Amtrak LAKE ST tower at Chicago Union Station and how it served as the control center for almost the entire CUS complex (excluding 21ST ST).  Well before the large US&S NX panel was moved in, control of the South Side was handled at HARRISON ST tower.  The tower was located on a pedestal above the terminal fan adjacent to the mail and express terminal just before the Post Office overbuild began. While located near the station end of the interlocking, the big Model 14 machine controlled everything from Roosevelt Ave to the bumper blocks.  In the mid-1990's the old Lumber Street hand operated switching plant near the CBQ wye was interlocked with control being placed at HARRISON ST.

Hemmed in by buildings, the best view of HARRISON ST could be obtained from the Polk Street bridge as seen below.

In the mid-1990's the old post office building was replaced by the new Cardiss Collins Processing & Distribution Center located one block to the south.  Here we can see the new USPS center seen from Roosevelt Ave.  It's the thing that looks like a parking deck.  The old post office can be seen behind it.

If you look at the first image you night notice the lower the tower is located adjacent to the terminal ladder tracks, but here that part of the interlocking has been covered over by the new post office.

Oh well, towers get demolished all the time when something needs to be built over.  After all, that is the same fate that befell LAKE ST after it had closed.  But wait, the new post office was opened around 1995 and the tower was closed in 1999.  Those dates don't seem to add up.

Actually, what happened was that the  Cardiss Collins Processing & Distribution Center was built arround HARRISON ST interlocking tower.  In fact even though it is trying hard not to be seen, HARRISON ST was right where it always has been and I have some photos taken inside of it!

First up we see the original model board, as seen above in the black and white photo.  It is painted in the same style as the model board in LAKE ST.  As you can see both the terminal fan and the quad ladders north of Roosevelt are controlled from the interlocking machine. Tracks are numbered zero through...whatever, from west to east.

Which is a sister to the machine in LAKE ST tower.  Evidence from the 1999 interlocking cutover can still be seen as the colored levers were spray painted white as they were taken out of service.  The final active levers appear to have been spared this treatment.  The whole setup is reminiscent of what happened with Tower A in New York Penn Station after it was closed in 1994.  Note how all the lever status lamps have been cannibalized for their bulbs.

In this final pic we see the interlocking machine and model board together. At this end of the machine some care was taken not to paint over the lever numbers and we can see that the machine contained at least 114.  I have never found an interlocking diagram of either this or LAKE ST in their "tower" days so you'll have to go by what can be gathered from the model board. Note one of the 1927 vintage lamp diffusers laying on the interlocking machine.

It is interesting to think that just outside those white painted windows on all four sides are the exterrior walls of the new Post Office building.  Because of its location tucked all away above busy CUS tracks and below the Post Office I expect the zombie remains of HARRISON ST to linger on for years to come.  It's a shame the same think couldn't have been done with LAKE ST.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I made some minor updates to two articles.  First I added a pair of new photos to the page on Conrail's Virtual Headed Dwarfs, one of which featuring a 5-lamp virtual headed high mast signal on the MILW main line in Wisconsin and the second a unique 2.5-lamp dwarf in Canada. 

Second I added a cab photo of a new Denver Silverliner V car showing its ACSES capable cab signal display to the Know Your Cab Signal Displays page.