Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

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Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

Unread postby MQT1223 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 5:49 pm

One of my more recent fascinations is with the Bridge Street Signal Tower at the corner of Bridge St. and Seward Ave in front of El Sombrero - Grand Rapids.

Some questions that can hopefully get some answers:

1. Any photo's out there of it throughout it's history? Photo's of the tower seem very few and far in between.

2. What was the tower's ACTUAL USE? I've heard anything from an interlocking tower (which makes no sense to me) to a tower for controlling early electronic crossing systems (before relays).

3. When was the tower decommissioned and what railroad last owned it? PC? Conrail? MIGN?

4. When did the tower last receive any upkeep? It's condition is starting to deteriorate, pieces of the cupola are laying on the ground under the tower.

5. How has this tower, 125 years young (built in 1890) survived being torn down where as other Grand Rapids Landmarks such as Union Station have succumbed to the wrecking ball and scrappers torch?

6. Who owns it now and when was it sold?

7. Any interest in restoring the tower or have any attempts been made?
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower

Unread postby C&O6084 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:54 pm

Since most of your questions are of a City bent more than railroad, I took the liberty of reposting elsewhere; I'll post replies here once stupid answers from civilians get filtered out.
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower

Unread postby MQT1223 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:45 pm

C&O6084 wrote:Since most of your questions are of a City bent more than railroad, I took the liberty of reposting elsewhere; I'll post replies here once stupid answers from civilians get filtered out.


Where else did you post this just out of curiousity.
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:44 pm

MQT1223 wrote:
C&O6084 wrote:Since most of your questions are of a City bent more than railroad, I took the liberty of reposting elsewhere; I'll post replies here once stupid answers from civilians get filtered out.


Where else did you post this just out of curiousity.


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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

Unread postby Tom Train » Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:50 am

There was a lengthy article with photos about the towers in that neighborhood in the Grand Rapids Press several years ago, maybe when the Bridge St tower was still operating. Try researching it. If no luck, let me know and I will photo copy it for you and mail it to you when I get home in a couple of weeks.
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:22 pm

I will answer the questions when I get time to sit at the computer for more than 5 minutes at a time:(
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

Unread postby MQT1223 » Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:12 am

Tom Train wrote:There was a lengthy article with photos about the towers in that neighborhood in the Grand Rapids Press several years ago, maybe when the Bridge St tower was still operating. Try researching it. If no luck, let me know and I will photo copy it for you and mail it to you when I get home in a couple of weeks.


I would have no idea what to search for.
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:37 pm

1. Any photo's out there of it throughout it's history? Photo's of the tower seem very few and far in between.

I'm not aware of many if any photos. The one's of the enclosed wooden one for the other RR are on the GRPL site.

2. What was the tower's ACTUAL USE? I've heard anything from an interlocking tower (which makes no sense to me) to a tower for controlling early electronic crossing systems (before relays).

Manually operate the crossing lights

3. When was the tower decommissioned and what railroad last owned it? PC? Conrail? MIGN?

Not sure when it was decommissioned, but it would have been when the lights were automated. I remember the 9th St tower still in operation in the late 50's early 60's but not any others. The last owner would have been Conrail since it is still standing.

4. When did the tower last receive any upkeep? It's condition is starting to deteriorate, pieces of the cupola are laying on the ground under the tower.

The last work on it would have been when the RR was still using it. A long time ago.

5. How has this tower, 125 years young (built in 1890) survived being torn down where as other Grand Rapids Landmarks such as Union Station have succumbed to the wrecking ball and scrappers torch?

It cost's money to tear it down and no one wants to spend the money to do it. It's not in the way of anything and the scrap money won't cover the cost off tearing it down.

6. Who owns it now and when was it sold?

El Sombrero owns it. It went when the property when Conrail sold the old ROW to El Sombrero. Sale was after the west side rail consolidation in 1983.

7. Any interest in restoring the tower or have any attempts been made?

I believe the El Sombrero was not interested in anything than giving it a coat of paint a number of years ago.

There were a number of crossing towers on the west side. The operators were disabled railroaders before disability was available. The 9th St tower lasted until the "current" operator could no longer work. He was missing a leg from a work related accident. He would climb up in the AM and back down after 8 hours. Second and 3rd shift, the lights were put back on automatic. My dad worked at American Seating and since he walked back and forth between the plants, would occasionally give the guy packs of cigarettes because he felt sorry for the guy. This was the late 50's.
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Re: Bridge Street Signal Tower - Grand Rapids

Unread postby J T » Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:05 am

Tom, what's with all the apostrophes? :)
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