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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

HN Tower - A Look Back

For those of you who have been here since the beginning, tower closing announcements have become a bit rarer.  This is less because fewer towers are being closed and more because there are simply fewer towers to close.  Anyway, call me unobservant, but it appears that I overlooked a rather significant tower closing that took place all the way back in August, 2014!  If you didn't read the title of this post I have the sad duty to announce the closure of HN Tower in East-ish St Louis, IL.  This was one of three towers that remained in the St. Louis area, WILLOWS and LENOX being the other two, and it had been on notice for some time as I had seen a few photos of new signals going up.  However because HN is in a relatively isolated area, photos providing evidence of its impending closure did not appear in my usual sources. It was only on a visit to for some unrelated research that I noticed that it's status had changed.  Most of the following information comes from that site's page on HN tower so by all means go there if you prefer to skip my supplementary analysis.

HN tower was built by the B&O in 1917 with a 48-lever S&F mechanical frame.  HN was located the the triple crossing between the B&O, PRR St Louis Line and the Alton line to Chicago via LENOX (or WR).  HN also controlled a connecting track from the PRR/Conrail line to the Alton giving it a total of 7 diamonds.  Now I had always figured this was a Conrail tower since it also had control of the nearby EXERMONT interlocking on the St Louis Line, and while I am sure that costs were shared rrsignalpix says it was a B&O/CSX tower.  The mechanical frame had long since been replaced by a pair of US&S unit lever panels.  Here are some photos of the interlocking machines in their final days of service.

CSX had planned to close the tower all the way back in 2006 and some new signals went up in 2007, but other priorities intervened and it was only in 2012 that EXERMONT was turned over to the dispatcher heaving HN to stand alone.  With a target closure date of July 1, 2014, new new signals went up and, after a bit of delay, the tower closed on Aug 12th, 2014. 

 The B&O style is similar in style to GLENMONT and the preserved UN in New Castle, PA.  There are some rumors of re-use, but wooden towers such as these are almost always torn town (or burn down).  It's a sad end after 93 years of service, but we should be thankful for the extra half-decade of service.  This is also a big loss for surviving position lights in the St Louis area with both PRR and B&O style masts falling victim.

One additional note is that it appears that Seaboard style signals were installed at the new CP-HN whereas Conrail style signals have been the norm at for re-signaling projects on the St Louis Line so take that as you will.

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