Lehigh Valley Railroad

by John Hinson

Conway tower
Photograph from the collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

The Lehigh Valley Railroad (in Pennsylvania) had more of a British feel than most of the lines in the United States, both through having towers that looked like British signal boxes and the use of the electric train staff system to signal their trains. This latter was rare in the US, most single lines being worked by written instructions (Train Orders) issued to the Engineers (drivers).

In this undoubtedly posed view, the tower operator stands at the top of his staircase, train staff in hand. In fact, he appears to be about to throw it into the monstrous sack in the foreground! That sack was, in fact, provided for the catching of train staffs at speed from passing trains.

This photograph was used as a caption competition in the February 2002 Quiz.

Interior of Conway towwer
Photograph from the collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

Part of the eight-lever frame is visible in this interior view, but most prominent is the Union Switch & Signal Co. electric train staff instrument. It is remarkable that such a small and insignificant tower as this should be provided with hot running water and heating.

Note the operator's leather sleeve protectors.

Signal diagram at Conway
Photograph from the collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

The previous photograph is of sufficient quality to allow enlargement of the diagram, or board to show the detail of the layout at this small location.

The provision of a manipulation chart seems a little excessive, given the simplicity of the layout. However, photographs of interiors of other towers in the United States suggests that it was standard practice to provide pulling details.

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson