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Where would yard signal tower building be located?

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Where would yard signal tower building be located?
Posted by Onewolf on Thursday, January 31, 2019 6:29 AM

For a prototypical classification yard, where would signal tower building(s) be located?  Close to yard ladders?  More than one at either end?  One in the 'middle' of the yard?

Thanks,  Ignorant Yard Guy.   :)

Edit: Adding photo of the classification yard I'm trying to figure out where to place signal tower building(s).

 

From the other end of classification yard:

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:13 AM

Since you mention your era is 1957 there were still quite a few yard towers still in operation. This was right about the time when "progressive" railroads were harping about the advantages of the "pushbutton" yard. Usually a computerized hump yard.

NYC had Collinwood yard here in Cleveland. There was two main line towers "QD" at the west end and "BR" at the east, along with an eastbound and a westbound yard tower and a third master yard tower called "The Brick". In addition there were yard offices and crew shanties, car inspector shanties and dozens of other small sheds and crew shelters at both ends (the yard was about four miles long) and in the middle.

This photo shows the old crew YMCA on the right, the "modern" tower in the distance and the lower, brick building was the switchman's shanty.

 2016_slides_0045 (2016_08_17 08_08_12 UTC) by Edmund, on Flickr

Some big yards were divided up with inbound freight and outbound freight handled separately and "fast freight" for expedited trains were handled by yet another crew.

PRR's Conway yard also had East, West and middle towers which were later consolidated into one. In the Altoona area alone the Pennsy had eight main-line towers and at least seven yard towers all within about an eight-mile stretch of railroad.

Hope that helps, Ed

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:35 AM

Onewolf
For a prototypical classification yard, where would signal tower building(s) be located? Close to yard ladders? More than one at either end? One in the 'middle' of the yard?

Yards don't have "signal" towers, since they typically don't have any "signals" to control.

There might be a yardmaster's tower, its typically near the lead end so the yardmaster can see what the yard crews are doing and give lists to the crews.

If the tower was built post 1970s (I am assuming that would be after your era based on the cars in the yard), it could be anywhere because the lists were generated and transmitted to printers, rather than hand written.

Equally possible is the "tower" is an office on the first floor of a building.

I'm wondering if it matters because from the pictures it doesn't look like you have left any room anyplace for there to be a tower/yard office.  There isn't doesn't look to be anyplace along the lead to put a building without fouling the lead, blocking the vision of the switchmen or fouling the diesel service tracks.  Probably the point is moot.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, January 31, 2019 8:22 AM

On the PRR in Columbus the High Street tower controlled trains  entering the West recieving yard or from the Westbound departure yard and U S tower controled trains entering the East recieving and departure yard.

The U S tower was located in the yard near the East recieving and departure yard while High Street was located near CUS.

Switchtenders would line the switches for the recieving and departure yard.

As a fun fact these switchtenders recieved orders by loud speakers located on poles. 

Larry

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, January 31, 2019 6:45 PM

BRAKIE
As a fun fact these switchtenders recieved orders by loud speakers located on poles. 

I remember seeing these two-way speakers dotted around Collinwood yard:

 IMG_0259_fix by Edmund, on Flickr

The one in my photo is a little shorter than what I remember. There were some taller pole mounted speakers, too, but they weren't two-way.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:53 PM

Ed,The speakers I was talkng about was one way speakers mounted on telephone poles and had a terrible echo.

Larry

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 01, 2019 10:35 AM

I think the D&RGW north yard tower in Denver was located at the south end of the yeard but can't find any photo's atm to verify.  

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, February 01, 2019 1:12 PM

The UP yard in Salt Lake City had a yardmaster's tower on both ends, both are gone now (although the one on the south end is still visible on street view from N 5th West ner the yard office).  The UP yard in Ogden had a tower near the wye (also appears to be gone now) and the UP yard at Provo didn't have a tower.

The UP yard at Houston (large flat switching yard) had a tower at the south end until the yard was rebuilt, then they moved it to the middle on the east side.  Lloyd Yard (Spring, Tx) a large flat switching yard, never had a tower.

SP Alfalfa Yard (El Paso, TX) was a large flat switching yard that had a tower on the East end (also gone).

Humps yards I worked at had towers.  Most other flat switching yards had yard offices with no tower.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, February 01, 2019 2:08 PM

I forgot to mention there was another tower that controlled traffic out and into of the AC&A and PenNor yard.

These was bonified interlocking towers but,used switchtenders to line the routes.

In order to enter any of the yards I mention you had to contact the tower in charge to get lined into the track. 

After passing the protecting  pot (PRR talk for dwarf signal) that allowed a train to proceed into the aforemention areas,once past the pot movement was grovern by switchtenders flag.

Larry

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, February 01, 2019 6:34 PM

Larry, I always enjoy your real world experience.

Switchtenders are actual people running back and forth?

Henry

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, February 01, 2019 7:08 PM

BigDaddy
Switchtenders are actual people running back and forth?

Yes,switchtenders would line the switches when a train entered the recieving yard or left the departure yard and would handle six to seven switches including any double crossovers..

Durning the day they used either a yellow or green flag and at night a Starbrite lanern.The night signals would be up and down for proceed at reduce speed.

Any switchtender worth his pay would keep a hot pot of coffee on the table..It was not uncommon for a yard crew to stop and have a cup.

The yard crew would chip in on the coffee and there was always several cans of coffee on hand.

Larry

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by OT Dean on Saturday, February 02, 2019 1:26 AM

BRAKIE

 

 
BigDaddy
Switchtenders are actual people running back and forth?

 

Yes,switchtenders would line the switches when a train entered the recieving yard or left the departure yard and would handle six to seven switches including any double crossovers..

Durning the day they used either a yellow or green flag and at night a Starbrite lanern.The night signals would be up and down for proceed at reduce speed.

Any switchtender worth his pay would keep a hot pot of coffee on the table..It was not uncommon for a yard crew to stop and have a cup.

The yard crew would chip in on the coffee and there was always several cans of coffee on hand.

 

In the mid-'50s, my brother worked at the Muskego Yard in Milwaukee (stationed in the beginning at the same shanty, "Five Rings (so called because that was how his phone rang to contact him)" as Jim Scribbens, author of "Milwaukee Road in its Hometown."  Although the yard included a hump yard, there was a lot of switching done around the yard that sprawled along the Muskego River.  If your yard is pre-automation, with switch tenders, you should have a switchman's shanty at each cluster of turnouts.

Most of the older guys might agree with me: on real railroads, there were usually a lot of buildings, large, small, and medium, all over the place.  And I personally recommend that if your yard is manually switched, it will be a lot more realistic if each turnout is equipped with a switch stand, positioned as much on the same side of the track as possible, to make them easier to tend.  They don't have to work, unless you want that prototypical action, but it really adds to the realism!  Just MHO.  Good luck--and have fun!

Deano

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, February 02, 2019 2:50 AM

BigDaddy
Switchtenders are actual people running back and forth?

Some of the bigger yards had hump riders, too. These guys would ride the cuts of cars into the classification tracks and wind down the brakes before they had automatic retarders. Some hump yards were actually flat humps, they'd basically "kick" the cars while the switch tenders had their lists to throw the switches.

Rather than all these hump riders walking back to the hump there was sometimes a car or old coach that would bring them back, like a shuttle bus, so they could do it all over again.

 PRR_Hump-Buggy by Edmund, on Flickr

These usually ran on a dedicated track so as not to interfere with switching operations. I see the guy, second from left, with his brake club. Used for getting leverage on the brake wheel. These things are still issued today.

I'll have to make a scan of one of the diagrams I have of Conway Yard. There were shanties of all sorts scattered about the yard.

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, February 02, 2019 7:56 AM

BigDaddy
Larry, I always enjoy your real world experience.

I do too, along with all of the "real" railroaders on here.  I won't try to name them all, as I'm possitive I will not get everybody on here who is a RRR, but it's a treat,  along with members like Ed, gmpullman, who has a wealth of knowledge and endless illustrations.

Mike.

 

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, February 02, 2019 9:10 AM

gmpullman
Some of the bigger yards had hump riders, too. These guys would ride the cuts of cars into the classification tracks and wind down the brakes before they had automatic retarders.

The hump riders were used in hump yards (the OP doesn't have a hump yard).  I have labor agreements from the 40's and 50's that list the pay scales for hump riders and those rider cars were pretty common.

Some hump yards were actually flat humps, they'd basically "kick" the cars while the switch tenders had their lists to throw the switches.

If the yard is flat its not a "hump" yard.  By definition a "hump" yard is a "gravity yard" that used gravity to roll the cars into the class track.  If they kick the cars into the tracks, its a regular flat yard.  A 1950's railroad might have 2 or 3 hump yards and hundreds of flat yards.

Switch tenders were generally not on the leads of flat yards, the switch tenders were at entrances or exits to the yards or at interlockings.  They were used before radios when communication was by pnuematic tube, speakers or telephone.  The yard master would tell the switch tenders where to line the trains and the switch tenders would line the switches so the trains didn't to stop or minimzed stopping and minimized lining behind.  Switch tenders are kinda the lowest level of a "manual interlocking".

CTC and radios pretty much eliminated switch tenders.  By about 1980, when I started, I can't think of a single place on the MP that had switch tenders (except temporary ones in CTC or interlocking outages).

 

 

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, February 02, 2019 9:26 AM

Bringing us back on topic, I would like the OP to tell us what type of tower he has in mind or where he planned to put one, since I can't tell from his pictures where he would put one.

Looking at the lead end of the yard, there doesn't appear to look like there is enough room along the lead.  If you look at the space that isn't painted brown, its maybe 3/4-1" wide,  any yard office for a yard this size would be a larger building than that.

There may be room "behind" the diesel shop, but that would put it 10-15 car lengths or so from the lead and it would have to be taller than the diesel shop to see over it not very handy.

It really can't be in the middle of the yard, unless its painted on the backdrop, a flat along the aisle, or there is a bump out into the aisle.

There might be room on the stub end of the yard, but that really doesn't make much sense operationally.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, February 02, 2019 9:36 AM

dehusman
The yard master would tell the switch tenders where to line the trains and the switch tenders would line the switches so the trains didn't to stop or minimzed stopping and minimized lining behind.

Perhaps that was the case on the MP but,if you wanted clearence to enter any of the yards I mention you best contact U S tower or High Street tower. The yardmaster had no say in the matter and in the case of the Cleveland Ave yard which yardmaster since you had several smaller yard intertwine within the Cleveland Ave yard complex and each of these smaller yards had a yardmaster..

Again these was working interlocking towers not a yard office tower like you thinking about.

For general information.

U S  tower stood for Union Station tower since it also controlled passenger trains from the East into the Union Station.High Street controlled passenger trains into Union Station from the West.

Larry

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, February 02, 2019 10:47 AM

BRAKIE
Perhaps that was the case on the MP but,if you wanted clearence to enter any of the yards I mention you best contact U S tower or High Street tower. The yardmaster had no say in the matter and in the case of the Cleveland Ave yard which yardmaster since you had several smaller yard intertwine within the Cleveland Ave yard complex and each of these smaller yards had a yardmaster..

If the switch tenders didn't report to the yardmaster then its not what the subject of the thread is about.  If the switch tenders reported to a tower operator who reported to a dispatcher or station master, then that's a different animal, something more akin to and interlocking than what we are talking about, which is yard towers.

No disagreeing with anything you are saying, but its just not what the OP was asking about.

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, February 02, 2019 2:14 PM

dehusman
By definition a "hump" yard is a "gravity yard" that used gravity to roll the cars into the class track.

There were a few "gravity" yards around here, bowls actually. Still, the crews refered the activity of cutting the cars off on the fly as they rolled into the sorting tracks as humping. Hence the "Do Not Hump" plackard—  which best be heeded.

I'll step back and let the OP seek his information.

Regards, Ed

 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, February 02, 2019 4:52 PM

dehusman
No disagreeing with anything you are saying, but its just not what the OP was asking about.

I think the OP has recieved some good answers on how trains can be controlled into/out of the recieving and departure yard.

This I will mention and this would be a oddity to model.

The CA&C double track diamond cross the yard tracks between Grogan and Pennor yards-a busy place since Sandusky  bound coal drags from the N&W departed and the empty N&W hopper trains departed or  arrived at Pennor every thirty to forty mintues..

The Cleveland Ave yard complex was my "playground" when I was a kid.There was several areas where one could watch the action.

Larry

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Posted by OldEngineman on Saturday, February 02, 2019 10:46 PM

The location for a yard office and an elevated "tower" for the yardmaster to keep an eye on things would generally be located near the beginning of the yard ladders.

Similarly, if there were interlocked switches from the main leading into the yard, that would be protected by a tower operator.

Shacks for brakemen/car inspectors would be located at various points within the yard.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, February 02, 2019 11:23 PM

Here's a link to a map of Union Pacific's Council Bluffs IA yard.  You'll notice the position of the yard tower is marked.  The tower was removed a few years ago, the yardmaster being moved to an office in the old superintendent/crew locker room facility.  The complex, including now the exCNW yard on the north side of town, are covered with cameras.  Removing the need for the YM to be elevated to see what's going on in the yard.

https://www.minn-rail.org/images/UP12_Council%20Bluffs%20yard%20-%20actual.JPG

Jeff 
 

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