Pennsylvania Railroad

by Mike Brotzman

Track Plan

Now is a good time to take some time out to talk about some towers that just aren't there any more. As expected I do not possess any photos of them and those that do exist are in private collections or copyrighted books, but these towers do have some historical significance and deserve some textual discussion. Despite not losing a single tower between Newark, Delaware and Rahway New Jersey, (not counting FORD as it went back in the fifties), after UNION we have a string of three towers that have been demolished in recent times.

First of these is ELMORA tower in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Named for the Elmora section of town, ELMORA tower was a square, wooden frame tower closely resembling SHORE, but only about two thirds the footprint. Originally SA tower, ELMORA was built in 1892 and all indications as well as the tower's design indicate that if it was not built as an electro-pneumatic plant, it was converted to such in short order.

The fact that ELMORA was electro-pneumatic and not electro-mechanical ensured its survival (along with the 1896 SHORE) into the postwar world when many other towers on this stretch of main line were upgraded. In addition to the tower a small compressor hut, emblazoned with a PRR Keystone on each end, was located next to it.

ELMORA was five miles from UNION and marked the end of the six-track section of main line and just before the famous S-curve at Elizabeth with its 55 mph speed restriction. Not only did the line shrink from six to four tracks, ELMORA also handled a full four-track crossover. To accomplish these duties ELMORA was outfitted with a 23-lever US&S Model 14 machine with 21 working levers.

By 1980 ELMORA had its original wood paneling replaced with plain white siding. ELMORA was demolished some time after it went out of service around 1990, probably due to structural deterioration. Today the compressor hut survives along with the tower's covered foundation (indicating a basement pit of some sort). Furthermore, the the crossovers between tracks 2 and 3 have been removed turning ELMORA into a partial, local-express type of crossover and the interlocking has been converted to all electric.

About the photographs

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