Tower A-2, April 8th, 2016
At Western Avenue on the Near West Side of Chicago, the main lines of the Milwaukee Road and Chicago & North Western crossed at grade, and the Pennsylvania Railroad's Panhandle Route joined the Milwaukee here, with those two railroads sharing a four-track right-of-way to Union Station. The C. & N.W. also had four tracks, and the interlocking here once had more diamonds and double-slip switches than probably any other non-union-station location in North America. For an excellent description of the plant and its history, click here.
In the spring of 2016, on our way to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art conference north of Chicago, my friend George Hiotis and I stopped by Tower A-2 to see what we could see. After exploring the south side of the tracks, we drove around to the station side (on the former Milwaukee, just around the curve and behind the tower in the first photo below); I figured if we knocked on the tower door, perhaps we could get look inside. In fact, I did not make it to the door before a woman came out onto the porch and asked after our business -- and also said she had already called the railroad police on us. When I explained that we had come in peace, as interested fans, she not only invited us in, she called the cops back and told them not to bother. (As it happens, they had already taken so long it didn't really make sense for them to come out anyway: Anyone doing harm to the facilities would long since have run away.) George and I did not stay long -- the towerman and leverman (the latter the woman who had let us in) did not really seem to want visitors, and the leverman did not want her picture taken (okay, I did sneak one) -- but we certainly made the most of the fifteen minutes we got!
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