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From: "J DOT Henry Priebe Jr DOT " root AT bluemoon DOT net
Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 10:16:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: (rshsdepot) End of an era: no more mechanically-operated switches in the USA
"FW_Scotty_Winter1982_Matt_Wronski+Map.jpg" - image/jpeg, 673x900 (24bit)

On Wed, 5 May 2010 jdent1@optonline.net wrote:

> >From another list...
> Subject: [Railway-Signaling] End of an era: no more mechanically-operated
> switches in the USA
> On Sunday, May 2, Union Pacific maintenance personnel removed from service
> the single remaining mechanically-operated switch and its accompanying
> facing point lock at Ridgely Tower in Springfield, Illinois. With this
> retirement, there are no longer any interlocking plants in the USA which
> operate switches connected via iron pipe to the tower's strong-arm levers referred to as "Armstrong" by some.

Another sad day for RR historians.

In the mid-1970s as a teenager I had the occasional pleasure of operating an
armstrong tower. It was called FW in Buffalo, NY and controlled the crossing
of the ex-Erie, ex-PRR and Buffalo Creek as well as frequent moves from the
ex-NKP from their Abbott Rd yard to EL's Bison Yard. FW was usually manned by
Scotty Whitehead on the day trick. He taught me how to run the plant,
effectively training me as a tower operator. He would sit at the desk, smoking
fragrant French Vanilla tobacco from a shop called Bernstone's in his pipe,
and tell me the beginning and end points of a route and then watch me line it
and finally set the semaphore. My reward was always a big smile on Scotty's
face. FW was the best railfanning spot in Buffalo, I wish I could have seen it
70 or 80 years ago.

Attached is one of my prized possessions, a photo of Scotty at the FW levers
shot by my friend Matt Wronski in the winter of 1982 and a small map of FW
interlocking. Conrail reconfigured the plant and razed the tower a short time

Oh well, I have my memories...


J. Henry Priebe Jr. Blue Moon Internet Corp Network Administrator
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