THE SIGNAL BOX
Lastly (in this group of three towers), HUNTER tower was located in the Hunter section of Newark (Newerk) and controlled the approach to Newark Penn Station as well as a connection to the Lehigh Valley RR. Built in 1932 as part of the Newark Improvements, HUNTER represented the early part of the golden age of PRR all brick tower design. HUNTER was essentially a tall, slightly rectangular brick box with a modest bay window on the front. Aside from the bay window, the only windows were two on each of second story sides.
HUNTER contained a 43-lever US&S Model 14 electro-pneumatic machine with 25 working levers. HUNTER was a full crossover with a single connecting track to the LVRR main that passed overhead on a truss bridge. There was also a connection to Waverly yard, via WA5, that allowed freight trains to cross over the main and into the Newark express freight terminal. HUNTER was closed in May of 1997 with its duties transferred to nearby DOCK tower.
Photograph by Mike Brotzman, 2002
Perhaps HUNTER's most interesting function was the connection to the Lehigh Valley RR. In the image above we can see the "ramp" up to the LVRR connection at NK (NewarK) tower with a freight train running over the LVRR line to Greenville yards. The LVRR was one of several railroads (Lehigh Valley, New York Central, Eire, Delaware, Lackawana & Western) that ran from the New York area to Buffalo, NY. Buffalo was once the second largest rail hub in the United States and left each of the participating railroads fighting for a chunk of the action. The LVRR had a slight advantage as its premier passenger trains, including the Black Diamond, would have its power swapped for PRR GG-1 electrics at NK and then pulled via HUNTER into Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan. This arrangement lasted until 1962 when all LVRR long distance passenger service was dropped. Ironically the last train was refused by the PRR for entry into Penn Station because it was eight hours late.
Also in 1962, the Aldene Plan for mid-Jersey commuter rail was put into
effect to allow the Central Railroad of NJ to abandon its Jersey City terminal
and Newark Bay lift bridge and run its trains into Newark Penn Station. As time
went on the former LVRR line was used by Conrail from Newark to Allentown PA to
help bypass the former PRR lines as the principle east-west through freight
route, but the commuter traffic still crossed onto the Lehigh Line at CP-ALDENE
from the former CNJ line and then ran to the connection at HUNTER. The only
problem was that the HUNTER ramp was rated for 15 mph and as soon as the tower
was closed, a reconstruction project began to increase speeds to 45 mph. Alas
this necessitated the demolition of HUNTER tower, although its US&S Model
14 machine was saved by preservationists. The LVRR NK tower, then taken over by
Conrail, lasted in service, controlling all the interlockings between CP-ALDENE
and itself, until late 2001 when it to was taken out of service and quickly
demolished. Fortunately, NK's all relay NX style machine was preserved as well.
The stretch of track between NK and CP-ALDENE hosted some interesting route
signaling on what is a speed based signaling system. Various signals along the
line had a special lunar white indication that lit when the route was lined for
passenger trains to avoid accidental mis-routings by the operator at NK.
Comments about this article should be addressed to Mike Brotzman