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Calumet Tower
East Chicago, Indiana



Taken in 2009


Calumet tower was built between 1905 and 1923, no one has been able to confirm a date. The tower was built by the New York Central Railroad and had a 96 lever Federal Signal Company Style A interlocking machine. This Style A machine had the locking bed below the floor and Hall Switch and Signal Company Electric Locks installed behind the levers. The model board was a standard NYC style board. The tower had 73 Working Levers with 15 Spare Spaces and 8 Spare levers.

Red Levers= Signals
Green Levers= Route Levers or Crossing Levers
Blue Levers= Locks
Black Levers= Switches or Derails
White Levers= Out Of Service/Not Used/Spare
Yellow Levers= Unknown (Lever 93)

Indiana Harbor Belt Railway closed Calumet Tower in early March of 2013, the last operator shift being 2300 on March 7th 2013. Some of the operators went to Dolton Tower which is on the CREATE Project list to be closed. After Calumet closed the Model Board was removed and the glass timers also removed. The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum had saved and moved Grasselli Tower in 2007 when IHB closed it, and worked with IHB to gain Right of Entry into Calumet to get parts to fix the Grasselli lever machine. The Right of Entry was granted and they were only allowed 3 days to get whatever they could out of the building starting at 0700 on March 19th and ending on 1500 on March 21st. On March 21st 2013, crews came in and disconnected the Natural Gas lines and disconnected the water lines, the demolition contractor checked the tower and said that they hoped to have the tower gone by the end of following week..


Site Survey - March 20th 2013
Several of the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum Members worked on March 19th 2013 to remove all of the circuit controllers and all of the GRS Shelf Relays. They also removed the mechanical timers on the back of the interlocking machine.




Lever Removal - March 20th 2013
I was not able to make the March 19th workday but was there on March 20th to help remove the interlocking machine. We started removing all of the Quadrants [51884] then remove the End Caps [40146] that holds the levers to the Bottom Rail [17174]. Once the quadrants and end caps where removed the lever could be pulled up and out of the machine. There was 81 levers left in the machine, the museum needed 21 levers for Grasselli. The main goal was to remove the 21 levers plus any others we could. That day we removed 66 levers and all the parts that went with those levers. We also removed the Electric Switch Locks that where attached to the back of the machine, these being made by Hall Switch and Signal Company.



Time Lapse Video from March 20th Workday
Upstairs in tower removing levers.
Time Lapse Video from March 20th Workday
Lower Story, removing end caps and levers.



Frame Removal - March 21st 2013
Being the last day we were allowed into the tower we decided to remove the last 15 levers then start removing the frame for spare parts. We also worked on removing sections of the locking bed located below the floor. The interlocking bed runs the length of the machine and is all interconnected. We decided to remove them in section of 8 levers to save time, since you would have to take it all apart to remove a few parts. Since the interlocking machine is comprised of sections of 8 levers it was fairly easy to cut them. The issue was that these sections weighed so much that there was no good way to lower them by hand. Two people can hardly move a section of 8. I drilled holes in the floor near the basement door and installed a linemanís pulley, then installed a pulley on the interlocking machine frame above the section in which we were working. We then tied a rope and attached it to the electric winch on the trailer, this allowed us to raise and lower the section with a push of a button, and though once on the floor we had to carry it to the trailer. We removed 3 sections to keep and had to leave the rest for the scrap company. We also removed the first 24 lever frames, which included the Legs [17752], the bottom rails [17174], the Front rails [17727] and the back girder [17730].



Time Lapse Video from March 21st Workday
Lower Story, removing sections of locking bed.
[#####] - Are the Part Numbers from the Union Switch and Signal Company Catalog