Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

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Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

Unread postby Todd Cline » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:20 am

Well, having a few cocktails this evening, remembering old "Nichols Tower" in Battle Creek. I knew an operator there , Walt Wilson. He passed away a few years ago, so I can tell some stories now. Nichols Tower had what was probably the last dirt outhouse in Battle Creek (Nichols never had a city water hook-up.). Up until about 1974. At that time, the city forced the then Penn Central, to eliminate the out house. P.C. responded with a propane-fired incinerating toilet in lieu of the out house. well, you can imagine the response from the operators... It did not go over well... To make things worse, when they installed the Gas-Toilet, they put the exhaust stack at Window Level at the tower. Let's just say that it was a BAD SITUATION!!!
About six months before CR closed the tower, An operator at Nichols, NOT WALT, disposed an old stale case of fusees in the gas toilet, and just about burmed the tower down. But at least he didn't have to clean it out! I saw the aftermath, that gas toilet was TOAST! There was a huge hole burned through the side of the thing.. everybody knew... we resorted to swinging it off the steps..... If you had to take a dump, you went to Jims flower shop at the Michigan avenue crossing.

God, I miss the good old days!!!!

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Re: Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

Unread postby NS3322 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:39 pm

Thanks for sharing Todd! Too bad the tower was not saved. But perhaps that is a good thing...
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Re: Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

Unread postby cr6903 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:09 pm

"Nasby" Tower on Toledo's West side had an incinerating toilet as well. During a visit up there, the operator told me "If you gotta take a dump, put newspaper on the bottom of the bowl. When you're done, throw it out into the weeds. Last time someone fired it up, it reeked for three days in here!". I don't know what made the bigger impression, if it was that or the interior painted faded Penn Central green with Conrail blue trim!
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Re: Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

Unread postby NYCMan » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:01 pm

Curious if it really was the City that forced the situation. The only thing a CIty has to enforce it its ordinances. Federal Preemption precludes any municipality from having any regulatory authority over a railroad. There were a number of towers around the Detroit area that had the "incinerator" toilets. NYC Bridge at Detroit was one.
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Re: Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

Unread postby Ben Higdon » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:13 am

Good story Todd. I heard about that toilet in the 90s at BO.
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Re: Nichols Tower-Battle Creek

Unread postby OwlCaboose2853 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:23 pm

From MichiganRailroads.Com - pictures and map
Nichols Interlocking Tower controlled the crossing of the Michigan Central's main line with the Grand Trunk Western main line on the east side of Battle Creek.
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