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WHITEWATER VALLEY RAILROAD
455 Market Street
Connersville, Indiana 47331
DEARBORN TOWER MOVES TO CONNERSVILLE
July 28, 2003, Connersville, Indiana
The first tangible development of the Whitewater Valley Railroad's planned railroad museum display area arrived last week on three semi-trucks. The building was disassembled and moved last week from Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Through the generosity of CSX Transportation and Fayette County Foundation, this important architectural and technical example has been preserved. The Dearborn Tower project serves as a cornerstone of the railroad artifact interpretation and display area.
Signal towers were once icons of the railroad age and numerous examples existed all over southeastern Indiana. This original (circa 1896) artifact is eligible for the National Register for Historic Places. It represents the traditional form and function of these once common structures. It is believed to be one of only eight existing structures in Indiana and is the only one preserved in eastern Indiana. The building retains its manually operated interlocking machine and lever controls. The machine itself is a mechanical computer of sorts. It protected trains by requiring the levers be thrown in a certain order to allow for various movements through the crossing and switches.
Dearborn tower located in Lawrenceburg, appears to have been last manned in 1986 by CSX Transportation. As such it was one of the last manual interlocking towers in service in the state of Indiana. It is believed that the building was constructed by the New York Central Railroad in 1896, though additional research is needed to confirm this. The building protected the line of the existing Baltimore & Ohio railroad tracks and those of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis Railroad (known locally as the Big Four) a component of the New York Central System. With the construction of the Argosy Casino and its hotel complex, the former NYC Aurora Branch was removed along with the crossing that provided the last purpose for the tower.
The Whitewater Valley Railroad plans to restore the building as closely as possible to its original appearance both inside and out. It appears that most of the original Victorian shingles and angled siding is still intact under the present aluminum siding. This will be restored to match the original appearance. A tower restoration fund has been established for donations to the project. The railroad is also very interested in older photos taken of the tower, especially those that might show the building before the installation of the aluminum siding. The WVRR would also like to talk with anyone who once worked in Dearborn tower.
The Whitewater Valley Railroad is an operating railroad museum dedicated to the preservation of a historic branch line railroad, to the restoration of railroad equipment, and to the conduct of educational railroad programs. Weekend trains leave for Metamora at 12:01pm.
See the railroad's website for details: www.whitewatervalleyrr.org