More Memories from the Worthington Tower
Dave Bunge - Sounds, Lights and an Errant Hopper Car
The levers controlling the switches made a resounding clunk or clacking sound when they were thrown. Because they were a mechanical linkage to the switch or signal there was some resistance to their being moved. The operator would overcome this resistance by putting muscle into the effort resulting in this very loud sound as the lever reach the end of its travel and the locking pin dropped into its notch.
In the summer when the tower windows were open this could be heard as far away as route 161 and also across Bob Poste Lake in the homes that lined the lake. Once you heard that sound you knew a train would be coming along in about five minutes.
The Big Four track was straight as an arrow as far as you could see from the tower in either direction. At night the headlight on the southbound Big Four trains could be seen many miles away. The track had some dips that would obscure the light for a while until the locomotive came out of the dip. The experienced operator could pretty much tell where the train was as it traveled south toward the tower by watching that light. The PRR trains while on a parallel track to the Big Four had a slightly different look, more a glowing than the straight on light of the Big Four trains. The PRR light would disappear as the track moved away from the Big Four just south of Shrock Road reemerging when it approached route 161.
One day, after the steam locomotives were gone, a hopper car jumped the track at the diamond. It could have been a broken wheel or some other failure. The car lay between the PRR and Big Four track just south of the diamond for a time. The operator was fortunate the whole train didn't derail and take out the tower. That was always a danger at any tower because they sat so close to the track.
Harding Hospital sat on 40 acres just west of the railroad tracks. Harding's was a mental hospital that from time to time would have a patient try to run away. The tower operator had the hospital phone number and would call if they saw someone come from Harding's direction. It was as good as having a guard tower on the hospital property.