Wednesday, August 9, 2017

GM&O Corwith Tower: CN/GM&O/Alton vs. BNSF/Sante Fe

(CRJ, Jon Roma's Flickr AlbumSatellite)
NorthAmericanInterlockings:   2004   interior   train list   model board   1982
Chicago and Northern Indiana Railroad Interlocking Towers (click the marker for more information)

Walter L Simms posted
Okay my favorite Tower Story. I was working as Assistant Superintendent at Corwith where you couldn't get in or out unless going through the IC Interlocking.
So, one afternoon the Yardmaster called me and told me the IC interlocker wouldn't be manned for the next 4 hours. I then called the IC Chief confirming that this was in fact the situation. The Chief confirmed it was true so I told him I could run the tower as I had worked a pistol grip tower in Amarillo for years, and we had trains--hotshots to run out of Corwith in the next 4 hours. He told me he would approve it if I was sure I could run it which I did.
I worked the tower during the 4 hours running many trains on the IC and our Santa Fe trains. When a new rested operator showed up, I called the Chief and told him an op was there. He than asked me if I wanted a job.

Steven J. Brown posted
Santa Fe's, an inbound meets an outbound, at Corwith Tower in Chicago, Illinois - Winter 1983.
Steven J. Brown shared

Roger Holmes posted
In August of 1971 I was working on the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio's extra board as a leverman, operator and relief agent and found myself at Corwith tower in Chicago. Passing is a transfer run powered by a pair of ex-Illinois Terminal ALCO RS-1's en route to Glen Yard. My only regret is that I didn't shoot this in color. The second unit is still in IT colors and the contrast with the green and yellow and the freshly painted GM&O, well, it looked like a circus! In fact this transfer job earned the nickname, "Circus Train"! More that once would I receive a phone call or hear on the radio inquiring where the circus train was. Someone on the C&O spoiled it when he got ahold of some bright blue Chessie paint and painted "Circus" on the side of the green and yellow loco. It was soon repainted into the solid red. © Roger A. Holmes.
Steven J. Brown posted
A crew member walks ahead of an inbound Santa Fe intermodal across the ICG diamonds at Corwith in Chicago - March 1983.
Steven J. Brown posted
GM&O GP38AC 733 leading an ICG coal train over the Santa Fe at Corwith. Chicago IL, March 1980. — at BNSF Corwith.
Dennis DeBruler Thanks. This teaches me that the tower was in the northwest quadrant of the diamond for the now abandoned track that used to go across the bridge,
Photo from Steve Rosen
A small view from the window atCorwith tower, of a northbound Amtrak train. You'll notice an order hoop....when I first worked there, all trains southbound had to pick up orders from the hoop, and couldn't go much further south if they didn't have them. The operator (that would be me) would get orders from the dispatcher, reading them back word for word, copy them by hand, and put them in the upper and lower hoop for the engineer and the conductor to pick up, on the fly. It was exciting railroading, the way it was everywhere at one time. The orders gave specific instructions about where the train had permission to be, and when, and how fast they could go. These peices of crinkly tissue-like paper were the thing that keep trains from running into each other.

Mike Mowen posted three photos with the comment: "From when I worked at the Former GMO/ IC / CN Corwith Tower near Chicago."




Cuck Roth posted
Inside Corwith tower June of 2005
Mike Croy: Vince Blake all the hardware is at the Illinois Railway Museum - I’ve seen it.
Jon Roma: Yep, the building is long gone. The tower was closed November 9, 2008.

Dave Arganbright posted
You certainly get a unique perspective from the cab. Here we are at Corwith on the Alton in 1987. The Santa Fe crosses in the foreground and the old Illinois Northern crosses in the background. My photo.
Edward Kwiatkowski I lived a few blocks away from the old Illinois Northern branch, in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. The Santa Fe I.N local, operated Monday through Friday during the 1970's and 80's. The I.N branch tracks have since been removed.
Dennis DeBruler This places the tower in the northwest quadrant of the IN and GM&O tracks.,-87.../data=!3m1!1e3

Bill Molony posted
Corwith Interlocking Tower, as it looked on May 1, 1971.
Mike Croy Been in the tower many times. The US&S interlocking machine and other equipment from inside the tower is located at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Jon Roma This was a GRS Model 2 unit lever machine, not a US&S.
Bob Lalich I take it that when the tower was built, the senior road, the Alton at the time, chose to operate it for some reason. Normally, the junior road would operate the tower.
Jon Roma Bob Lalich, not necessarily. The decision who operated the tower was settled by contract, and there was not always a formula who did what. Often, the junior road would pay for the cost of the interlocking, after which the senior road would man it. The operating costs were typically apportioned by how many appliances each railroad had in the plant.

When Corwith was opened, it was definitely manned by the C&A, and that control eventually passed to CN over the years with all the mergers involved.

Not long before the tower's closing CN and BNSF inked an agreement where the control of Corwith passed into BNSF's hands; being adjacent to the BNSF's important Corwith Yard, the railroad was eager to be in control there.

Bob Lalich For those interested in historic details, the first railroad to cross the Alton here was the Chicago & Southeastern RR, which was acquired by the Chicago Danville & Vincennes, a predecessor of the C&EI. It is unclear if they ever operated the line. The C&S was sold to the Chicago & Grand Trunk Ry after the CD&V made arrangements to use the Panhandle from Dolton in 1872.

Dave Arganbright posted
Approaching Corwith on the way back from Plaines again in 1987.  The Santa Fe is immediately in front and the IN tracks were on the other side of the tower.  My photo.

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