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PRR NY Tower Portage PA

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PRR NY Tower Portage PA
Posted by arod1361 on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:14 PM

Does anyone have any information on the Pennsylvania Railroad interlocking tower NY in Portage PA. I am trying to find information so I can write and article about it in my museums newsletter.

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Posted by WMNB4THRTL on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:30 PM

I'm not sure but is this what you are looking for? (I'm so sorry I don't know how to create linksSad)

http://www.signalbox.org/overseas/usa/zoo.htm

Nance-CCABW/LEI 

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” --Will Rogers

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right! --unknown

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Posted by ndbprr on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:43 PM

I would join the Yahoo group PRR-Fax that has some people that eat, breathe and sleep PRR.  If they can't help you it doesn't exist

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Posted by K4sPRR on Thursday, January 13, 2011 8:52 AM

NY Tower, unlike others in the area had an unusal non-area designation which stood for New York Tower.  MO in nearby Cresson for example stood for MOuntain, SO for SOuth Fork, why the NY was determined.  Research I have done on the Portage area indicated that NY tower had three different locations the final built in 1891 at MP 259.1 just west of Portage.  This was located on the south side of the mainline near where the Bens Creek Branch connected to the mainline and several crossover tracks directly in front of the tower.

It was a two story wood structure, typical of PRR appearance, the upper level had five windows facing the tracks, two windows on the sides.  The lower level had three windows trackside.   The tower was built on a cement basement elevating it to track level.  This slight elevation was due to the fill used to reroute the mainline through Portage creating a more consistent grade and straighter line to Cassandra.  This massive project done c.1899.   The Bens Creek Branch (through Sonman) is the original 1854 mainline.  

NY's original area of control was from Wilmore  MP261 to an area near Cassandra MP256 and was expanded to MP 254 when LY Tower in Lilly was eliminated in 1931.  This area of control included the Wilmore track pans, four passenger stations, Cassandra slide detectors, storage tracks near the tower, and branch lines serving the coal mines in the area.  The signal bridge at MP 259.37 had water spouts attached for steam locomotives, near the the tower were four water supply tubs a water tower on the branch line (Bens Creek) and just east of the tower a water spout.

Its final mechanics were a P-5 type modified electr-mechanical switch machine.  It had seven levers for signals, nine for switches and two for traffic, eighteen on a twenty three lever frame.

The tower was manned for twenty four hours per day, seven days a week.  As the coal industry went ka-poot many sidings were eliminated.  The passenger stations would be gone by 1954.  In 1960 the tower would be manned only during the weekdays and on July 15th of that year the twenty four hour operation was reduced to 6:59am to 10:59pm only.  The tower closed in the mid 60's and did not survive into the PC era.  Remnants can be found just west of S. Railroad St's dead end. 

Hope this gets you started.  What museum?

Dan

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Posted by arod1361 on Thursday, January 13, 2011 1:37 PM

I belong to the Portage Museum but I could not find much information on the tower there and I want to do an article in the newsletter there and make a display about it. I heard from someone that the tower was destroyed by a coal train that derailed and crashed into it. Do you no if this is true? If not do you no its demise?

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Posted by K4sPRR on Thursday, January 13, 2011 4:43 PM

NY was taken down by the PRR because it was no longer needed.  A derailment is what cause a signal bridge near NY to be taken down, this occured long after the tower was removed.

Charles Edwards who helped build the train display at the museum is my married to my Mom's sister.  He may be able to help you with some info on NY. 

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Posted by K4sPRR on Thursday, January 13, 2011 5:01 PM

Also as a side note, the tower signs are still around.  One is in Texas and the other is owned by a gentleman in Cincinnati OH.

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Posted by arod1361 on Thursday, January 13, 2011 5:24 PM

I am the person that helps Charles at the museum. One time I asked him and he said he did not know much about NY but he knew alot about SO since he grew up in South Fork. I heard from a few people that next year or the year after that they will be tearing down MG, AR, and ALTO.

Austin 

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Posted by BT CPSO 266 on Thursday, February 03, 2011 10:15 PM

K4sPRR

NY Tower, unlike others in the area had an unusal non-area designation which stood for New York Tower.  MO in nearby Cresson for example stood for MOuntain, SO for SOuth Fork, why the NY was determined.  Research I have done on the Portage area indicated that NY tower had three different locations the final built in 1891 at MP 259.1 just west of Portage.  This was located on the south side of the mainline near where the Bens Creek Branch connected to the mainline and several crossover tracks directly in front of the tower.

Is it possible that NY comes from the last two letters of Allegheny? Here is a link to an unofficial NS timetable for the route. Scroll down to page 4.

 

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Posted by K4sPRR on Friday, February 04, 2011 8:17 AM

Hey BT,

  Thats a theory that I have heard before and it does have some merit.  I checked into documents on file in Altoona and with the PRRT&HS and could not verify such.  For some odd reason as far back as the 1800's it was refered to by the railroad as New York Tower.  Many of the PRR early documents were destroyed in that shed fire in Philly, so much info was lost.

  The location of the tower was near the base of the western rise to the summit.  The mainline climb eastward started in Portage coming through the flat Conemaugh valley area from Johnstown.  I feel this is the one possibility that makes sense, although I am still searching for confirmation.   Who knows, maybe someday I will strike gold and solve the mystery.

Thanks!!

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, February 04, 2011 10:09 AM

There's a little bit about NY on a couple pages (only !) in the late Charles S. Roberts' history of that line, PRR - Triumph I: Altoona - Pitcairn, 1846 - 1996 - see:

http://www.barnardroberts.com/bookdescriptions.html#book1  

A lot of the names and other features of that area were tied into or based on the Portage Railroad and the inclined planes, etc., which of course preceded the PRR there.  Perhaps something in that led to the NY ?  Otherwise, I'd bet a lot more on the AllegheNY theory than the New York basis - heck, at that time the PRR didn't even have a line across the Hudson River into Manhattan, NYC.  So there was just no 'nexus' with that - may as well have named it MN for MooN !

- Paul North. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by K4sPRR on Friday, February 04, 2011 7:04 PM

Hi Paul,

  The old Portage Railroad was another idea I had when researching the area for any clues, nothing.    Other than Portage being the "main yard" for the APRR not much relating to road was discovered.  My family is from Portage and I have spent many years trying to dig up so much lost information about the railroad in the area.  As I stated earlier the Allegheny theory is a good one, but when recording history best evidence is a must.  And why the New York reference for so many years?

  As to Mr. Roberts book Triumph 1, very poorly researched and way too many assumptions with little factual backing.   Enjoy the book for its pictures, as to text , beware.  Book reviews in the PRRT&HS Keystone were not very supportive of it either.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Friday, February 04, 2011 8:00 PM

K4sPRR - Gotcha, on all counts - good insights, too.  I know the feeling . . .

 I hadn't heard or read that about Roberts, but I'm not surprised.  Comparing what he wrote and obsessed about with some aspects that I know . . . well, more information is always better - and it is more interesting than 'dull as ditchwater' prose - but I'll take the primary sources at face value, and what he wrote with a 'grain of salt'.    

For what it's worth, I looked in that volume earlier this evening and there is a poor-quality photo labeled as being NY Tower in a circa 1918 valuation photo at the bottom left of page 197, together with about 8 lines of sketchy caption.  NY also shows up in a few other scattered places - mostly just shown on track charts or other maps, not in the text - such as on pages 167, 168,  189 (in the caption under the map of LY), 190 (bottom), and 191 (top).

- Paul North.   

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by arod1361 on Friday, February 04, 2011 10:08 PM

I found the picture attached of NY tower. (which is not the best of quality). It must be of either the first or second location (If I had to guess it would be the second.)

I was talking to a historian on local railroad history, and he was telling me that no one really knows the exact story of how it got its name and back then for some areas they just assigned two letters.

http://portagepa.us/gallery/nytower.gif

Austin

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Posted by K4sPRR on Saturday, February 05, 2011 7:52 AM

Hi Austin,

  You are correct that photo is the second location for the tower, originally it was further west toward Wilmore.  A photo of the original location is in the book "On The Mainline".   As to the picture you posted that tower was later rebuilt and it remained until it was dismantled in the 1960's. 

  Every tower on the mountain had a designation associated with the area, this NY thing has been a challenge.

Dan

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, February 06, 2011 5:05 PM

Is it possible the interlocking at Portage was older than the two east of it, and NY tower controlled the tracks to a junction with the Cresson & Clearfield County and New York Short Route Railroad?

http://cigarboxlabels.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=9683&g2_serialNumber=3  

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FB0D1EF6345F10728DDDA90B94D9405B8684F0D3   

Mike

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Posted by BT CPSO 266 on Sunday, February 06, 2011 10:31 PM

wanswheel

Is it possible the interlocking at Portage was older than the two east of it, and NY tower controlled the tracks to a junction with the Cresson & Clearfield County and New York Short Route Railroad?

http://cigarboxlabels.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=9683&g2_serialNumber=3  

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FB0D1EF6345F10728DDDA90B94D9405B8684F0D3   

Mike

I think that 30 mile line is now the Irvona branch for RJ Corman. If that is the case, then the NYSRR did not come close to Portage.

Of course a friend of mine did mention that most of the original interlocking and tower names that had letter designations are a mystery to most and have not clue where they come from. For all we know the people responsible for "naming" the interlocking just heard about the NYSRR and said "lets just call it NY, it will do."

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Posted by K4sPRR on Monday, February 07, 2011 9:40 AM

[quote user="wanswheel"]

Is it possible the interlocking at Portage was older than the two east of it, and NY tower controlled the tracks to a junction with the Cresson & Clearfield County and New York Short Route Railroad?

Hi Mike,

  The two towers east, LY (Lilly) and MO (Cresson) were around when NY originated, LY at about the same time and MO was much earlier, it dates back to the 1850's when the line was originally built.  NY never had a range of control that went that far east, even when LY closed in 1931.  The original NY was a combination depot/tower that was located in an area along S Railroad St. in Portage.  Its only concern were nearby sidings, two of which on the north and south side of the then two track mainline that served coal mines to the west near Wilmore.  These sidings gave a portion of the original mainline a four track appearance, saved some time for the four track rebuild in the 1890's.

  I liked your posting of the NY Times article, just shows the importance of railroads way back then, who today would imagine a part of Clearfield Cluster having an article in a New York paper.  Interesting post, thanks.

Dan

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Posted by K4sPRR on Monday, February 14, 2011 3:23 PM

Hi Austin,

  Correct, the tower in the book is the second one,  it was later relocated and moved to the location in your photo.  The tower in your photo was the third. 

Dan

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