CTC 'Call-On' switches

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Apr 21 08:17:51 EDT 2017

That’s a portion of Tower A-5 in the picture. I just wrapped up six years of riding through it every day on my daily commute.

Since where that is is probably not known to many on this list, A-5 (also known as Pacific Jct.) was the tower where the Milwaukee Road’s lines to Milwaukee/Twin Cities/Seattle and Elgin/Omaha split five miles west of Chicago Union Station. Many of their towers were designated by route (A = Milwaukee) and distance from Chicago (5 miles). The portion of the model board visible is the west end of the interlocking on the Omaha/Elgin line. As can be seen from the tape, it used to be four tracks. 

In the last couple of years, A-5 was closed as a local tower with it now controlled from the Metra Operations Center. At the same time, it was split into three interlockings - A-5 is the actual junction of the two lines, A-6 is the crossovers at the west end on the Milwaukee line, and B-6 (the section seen in the photo) is the crossovers at the west end on the Elgin line. In the days before push-pull equipment, A-5 was where all the Milwaukee Road trains had to come to be turned.

For tie-in to the N&W, three miles east of A-5 is A-2 where the Milwaukee Road crossed the Northwestern and then, prior to abandonment, joined the Panhandle. The tracks east of A-2 to Chicago Union Station were originally owned by the Panhandle and later Pennsylvania and still have a few position light signals (Pennsy style like N&W’s were originally although now with the horizontal lights colored red). And even though physically disconnected from any other current NS trackage, NS (from Pennsylvania, PC, and Conrail) still has the freight rights on what is became known as the North Joint tracks (as in JOINTly owned by the Pennsylvania and Milwaukee Road). Years ago before I learned by Chicago railroad history, the first time I saw the PL signals I had a “where the heck did those come from and why are they on a western railroad” moment.

Larry Stone
lstone19 at stonejongleux.com

> On Apr 20, 2017, at 4:42 PM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> wrote:
> Here is a non-N&W example of a board with a few "Call On" buttons from
> off the web:
> https://acm.jhu.edu/~sthurmovik/Railpics/Towers/TOWER_A5/TOWER_A-5-console-unit-levers.jpg 

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