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Sunday, April 19, 2015

BO Tower Downgraded

I just learned that last September BO Tower in Kalamazoo, MI decommissioned it's 1915 vintage mechanical lever frame in conjunction with a re-signaling program associated with the previously discussed Wolverine corridor improvements financed by MI DoT. Similar to Ridgely Tower in Springfield, IL, the former New York (Michigan) Central Tower guarded a pair o 2x1 diamond crossings on a line that tended to see more passenger movements than freight.  Located at the end of the 100 or so mile long Amtrak owned segment, the tower salutorily neglected under both Conrail and NS.  When NS turned over the Michigan Line to a shortline railroad I had hoped that the cash-strapped operator would continue the previous policy of no improvements. Unfortunately a chunk of state and Federal funding chose to upset the cart.

This YouTube video will explain in further detail exactly what happened, but like CORK, the old interlocking machine was retired with the plant now worked from a bunch of modern panels.  The tower has remained in service due to the terms of an agreement with NS to provide dispatching services over the line until 2017, but after that date it is expected that the tower will be closed with duties turned over to Amtrak out of Chicago. Like the rest of the Michigan Line the new signals are of the full blown Darth Vader type with LED lamps.

Based on an analysis of the interlocking plant, the 1915 lever frame contained only active switch lever with lock for the wye connection, two crossing levers (colored brown) for each diamond crossing and on the order of 10 signal levers assuming each crossing line needs two.  The photos at the Michigan Railroad History site from around 1990's shows the third diamond crossing still in service.

Of course nobody should be surprised of this development, but once again it is a shame that the spiritual home of the Michigan Central has lost its MC vintage tower and small target searchlight signals.

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