Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beverly Hills (Tower A) Junction: Panhandle and Rock Island (91st Street)

(6/29/2017 This is a complete rewrite of the posting because the previous version had some serious errors.)
Also known by Pennsy as Tower A. (The tower north of here on the Panhandle was B.)
(no CRJ, SignalBoxSatellite, Major Taylor Trail was the Panhandle RoW)

[We can see Beverly Junction Tower in the left background.]
Dale Vincentovich Martin shared
Beverly Jct and 91st Street, two towers within sight of each other..PRR, CRI&P and BOCT.
Bob Poortinga On the PRR, these were called Beverly Jct "A" and "B".

I learned the name of this tower from the Pennsy trackplans (copied below) when I studied the Panhandle's Chicago & Great Eastern route into Chicago. Pennsy's name for the tower was "Beverly Hills" or "Tower A". I have learned that Rock Island called it "91st Street," which is the much more common name for this tower. Thus I added "91st Street" as a parenthetical expression to the title.

David Daruszka updated
Dennis DeBruler commented on a post
I added a red rectangle to his photo in the left background around the Beverly Junction (Tower B) Tower. I like photos like this one along the Panhandle that have both towers because they help me understand their relationship.

David commented on his update

David commented on his update

David commented on his update

Jon Roma commented on David's update

Dennis DeBruler commented on David's update
In this 1938 aerial, the red rectangle shows this tower and its shadow. The yellow rectangle is Beverly Junction. This tower controlled the southern vertex of the triangle. It took me a while (a few years) to understand that Beverly Junction controlled both the northeastern and northwestern vertexes of the triangle.

Dennis DeBruler commented on David's update
The B&O used trackage rights on the Rock Island through Gresham to the Rock Island Junction.

Bill Molony posted

Bill Molony posted
The PRR and CRI&P interlocking tower at 91st Street in the Beverly neighborhood is on the left, and the Rock Island's 91st Street Beverly Hills station is on the right, circa 1955. The photographer is looking south (railroad east) on the PRR's Panhandle tracks.
John Eagan That station is still standing. There are a lot of unique stations on the RI Suburban Line, but some are in danger of being replaced by Metra. East of this spot, where the B&O and RI lines ran side by side to Gresham, was one of those odd places in Chicago where 2 trains could to going in opposite directions (B&O w/b and RI e/b) and still be going to the same place, downtown Chicago!
David Daruszka commented on Mark Schwinn's posting
This is known as the Major Taylor Trail, named after a famous African American sports bicyclist. The Pennsy/Panhandle shared the right of way with the B&O between approximately 76th and 91st, where the B&O proceeded Eastward and used Rock Island's Beverly Sub tracks to Gresham Jct. Chicago Rail Link still uses the eastward portion of that route from Gresham to Pullman Jct. You can still find Pennsy concrete mile markers in the weeds if you look hard. 91st Street Tower controlled the crossing of the three railroads. Another tower slightly further west on the Pennsy tracks known as Beverly Jct. also controlled some of the train movements. 91st Street Tower is shown in this photo.
Paul T. Govern The time savers out of Robey use to use that rout going east over the Rock Island.

BRHS posted a different exposure
The interlocking tower at Beverly Junction, back in August of 1962.
Photograph by J. Scrimgeour.
David Daruszka commented on the above posting
The right hand side of this interlocking diagram shows the towers and routes at 91st St.

Beill Molony posted
A Rock Island 4-6-2 Pacific-type, arriving at the 91st Street station on the suburban line with an outbound four-car commuter train.
Bill Molony We do not have a date on our original photograph, but my guess is around 1950 or so.
David Daruszka The rear of the train is clearing the Pennsy Panhandle diamonds. The station is part of a unique Chicago landmark district comprised of the stations on the Beverly Sub. Photo by John F. Humiston.
Jon Habermaas RI Pacific 938 is being preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum...remember riding behind these locomotives and always wanting to sit in the first car so I could see the tender through the double door.
Jon Habermaas Stations were only a half mile apart so the engineer would high ball for two blocks and then coast the remaining two blocks into the next stop.
[We can see the roof of the 91st Street tower peaking over the top of the passenger cars. Note the two signalling pipelines running along the east side of the RoW.]
Marty's inbound commuter pulled by a "baby trainmaster," FM H-15-44. Taken 12/31/1964. We see the depot and the Panhandle diamonds. To the left of the train we can see the signal that was probably controlled by the pipelines in the above photo. But the tower must have been upgraded because I don't see the "armstrong" pipelines in the 1964 picture.

Bill Molony posted
In the foreground on the left is the Pennsylvania Railroad's Beverly Junction interlocking tower.
In the background is the Rock Island Railroad's 91st Street interlocking tower.
John LaRochelle Lucky to have gotten inside both these towers in 1965 and they were somewhat modernized sometime after this photo was taken. Everything that was pipe connected (derails and locks) at the 91st St. RI Tower had been removed. Same for Beverly Jct., except for the switches. The pipeline that is seen to the left in the picture went northwest to the PRR-BOCT/C&0-PM crossing, then changed direction to the southeast and east along the B&OCT-C&O-PM curve to the switches at Paulina Ave. that controlled movement to and from the RI suburban line. The crossbuck between the shed and the tower was 91st Place. My Grandparents lived on that street, 2nd bungalow from Paulina Ave., south side of the street. My Grandpa worked for the 'ROCK' 55 years,1909-1964. Started as a 'mud hopper' yard clerk at the RI-NYC interchange at 39th street. In his latter years he worked and retired as a freight claims agent in the General Office La Salle Street Station and rode the ROCK from 91st St.. to downtown Monday thru Friday.
Rocky Libby Sr. Worked that tower in the late 60 s, rock island manned then, also we controlled the xing gates .
John LaRochelle The PRR/RI diamonds were almost in 91st street, which precluded them from being track relay operated, so they were operated with a toggle switch by the RI towerman. I think, and may be mistaken, the signals for Hermitage Ave., on the PRR were track relay operated.
Rocky Libby Sr. Ur probably right on that, been a long time. It was a fun & quiet tower. Those PRR would move thru the plant, both 91st & 103rd st wash heights.
John LaRochelle Rocky Libby Sr. : Never got down to Washington Heights, But did get up in the tower north of Beverly Junction, which was Forrest Hill at 75th and Bell Ave, where a B&OCT towerman controlled the PRR and B&OCT-C&O-PM crossing the Wabash-N&W and Belt Railroad of Chicago.
Robert Daly posted
Mark Hinsdale posted
Beverly Crossing (91st Street)
In Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, a westbound Rock Island Suburban Line commuter train curves across 91st Street and Conrail's ex Pennsylvania Railroad "Panhandle" main line leading from 59th Street Yard to the former PRR hub of Logansport, Indiana. Metra is still very active on this stretch of the old Rock, but the tower, and the Conrail line it guarded are long gone, with houses built on the former right of way just to the southeast of here. July, 1977 photo by Mark Hinsdale
Richard Haave This isn't Beverly Jct, that's located 0.3 miles from here at Paulina St. There is a Marty Bernard photo of RI 492 on a eastward commuter train at Beverly Jct at:RRPictureArchives.Net/showPicture.aspx?id=659735
[Mark didn't call it Beverly Junction.]
William Shapotkin posted five photos with the comment:
If all works well, here are five pix of Chicago's 91st St Tower, which protected the PC (PRR)/ROCK xing. All were taken by the late Don Davis -- a former Metra (and prior to that) ROCK employee. The tower (gray) and the W/B "Dummy" are dated April 5, 1970. The tower (red) is dated Aug 7, 1974. The model board and levers were photographed July 3, 1969.
John LaRochelle The dark levers (RI operater) controlled derails on the R/I and PRR that were straight railed in the mid 1950's, and which still needed to be manipulated as there was no change to the mechanical interlocking machines locking bed.

Chicago' 91st St Tower. Don Davis photo on Aug 7, 1974. (Note nearby Beverly Tower in distance.) View looks N/W.

Chicago's 91st St Tower. Don Davis photo taken April 5, 1970.

Model Board -- Chicago's 91st St Tower. Don Davis photo on July 3, 1969.

Levers -- Chicago's 91st St Tower. Don Davis photo on July 3, 1969.

A W/B ROCK "Dummy" approaches Chicago's 91st St Tower on April 7, 1970. Don Davis photo.
David Daruszka shared William's posting
Leonard Holt This was a great train-watching place-within walking distance of our home in Southwest Chicago. PRR and B&O/C&O passenger mains crossed, and occasional C&O freight movements and a daily NKP transfer run often seen. Many rides from Beverly station to downtown Chicago as well. Oh to have had the limitless exposures available now on digital cameras back then!
Bob Lalich Leonard Holt - on which tracks were the NKP transfers seen? And what was the destination?
Leonard Holt This ran on the B&O passenger main and usually came through northbound in the late afternoon. Not sure of either origin or destination, but most likely from Calumet Yard (NKP) to some point on the B&OCT north of this junction. It seems unlikely that it was headed for some point off the B&OCT as that would have run on some other route to, say, Clearing Yard. Usual power that I recall was an Alco RS11 High Hood and this train used one of the NKP cabooses made from box cars.
Bob Lalich Leonard Holt - interesting! The NKP transfer must have been destined for the Soo Line or CGW. What time frame was this?
Leonard Holt 1960's
David DaruszkaDavid and 1 other manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for Chicago Railroad Historians. The photographer, the late Don Davis, was a member of the Chicago Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. That chapter disbanded due to lack of interest from the membership to take over from retiring officers. The organization is sorely missed.

Pennsy also called this junction the Rock Island Crossing:
Bob Lalich commented on a post
Here is a page from a 1945 ETT.

BRHS posted
A four-car Rock Island suburban train arriving at the Beverly Hills 91st Street station. Circa early 1950's.
[Given the tower roof peaking over the top of the rear of the train I determined that this station is still standing.]

8 photos including some interior shots


  1. Been in both these towers. 91st Street was controlled by a RI employee, and Beverly Jct. was controlled by a PRR employee. The PRR home signals could display, two outside red horizontal (STOP), 3 yellow vertical (PROCEED), three yellow diagonal to the right (CAUTION, and three yellow diagonal to the left (RESTRICTING)at both towers.

  2. As a kid I went in to the interlocking tower on 91 street the interlocking tower was grey and falling apart I took some of their logs and put them in my parents basement I wonder if they still had them that was about thirty some odd years ago Conrail used to run the tracks then now their is only metra I miss the trains coming through the neighborhood the guys in the caboose used to throw us chalk and signal flares I miss it

  3. Interesting and very informative. The Semaphore stand just before the Rock Island and B&O split had three distinct signals:

    Top: was for Rock Island route
    Middle: was for B&O route
    Bottom: was probably for the diversion path off the B&O and onto the Northbound PRR track. I lived in the area (actual 1 block away) and was always fascinated by that semaphore tree. The Top and Middle signals functioned as I observed for 13 years. I never understood what the bottom signal was for until I saw picture 6 entitled "MANIPULATION". It shows an implied path from the B&O (northbound to Chicago) to the North bound Pennsylvania route. That link was long removed by 1960.

    I love how a mystery comes together!