Farewell to a Chicagoland railroad landmark


Now T:ANE I can get into
After nearly 100 years, the interlocking tower at Rondout, IL, overlooking the Canadian Pacific (ex-Milwaukee Road) and Canadian National (ex-EJ&E), will be closing this Saturday, March 7, 2015. The tower was opened sometime during World War I (sources claim 1916 or 1917) to replace an earlier structure. In 1924, Rondout became the site of one of the largest train robberies in American history. It was also the site where the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad's passenger fleet was burned and cut up for scrap in 1964.

After the second shift Saturday night, the interlocking will be remotely operated by Canadian Pacific Railway Dispatch. It is one of two remaining Milwaukee Road towers around the Chicagoland area. Metra will retain ownership of the structure, and there is currently no word on what they plan on doing with it.

Needless to say, I am deeply concerned about its future. While I have only been in the tower once, I have spent many hours over many years trainspotting at the location.

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It's call progress I suppose, but perhaps the structure can be preserved and moved or turned into a rail fan train watching structure. The interlocking controls could be left in place in the tower, but disabled and there could be some trackside cameras placed on the structure.

I know it's a pipedream...

I've actually considered trying to get some sort of preservation movement started, but I'm not exactly sure who to get in contact with. It is somewhat of a well-known railfan spot (Just look up "Rondout" on any rail photography site).

The other problem is, I'm unsure as to how stable the structure is.
The first floor is brick, the upper floor is wood, and it was built almost 100 years ago.

Hopefully Metra decides to use it for storage or something.
Try contacting the National Railroad Historical Society.


They maybe able to assist you in some way, perhaps put you in contact with a local chapter, or some other group interested in doing the same. You might even want to look into this specifically. They will help with financing a preservation project including structures as well as rolling stock.


The age shouldn't matter with a structure unless it has been outright neglected. If it has been used or is still in use now, it has to be safe for habitation, so it's not going to fall down if that's what you are thinking.

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Sad to hear that its in danger. hopefully it can be save but until then we can only hope, donate and pray until the final act is drawn. :(
I was very saddened when they tore down Rockville tower north of Harrisburg Pa, and MO tower in Cresson collapsed in the middle of jacking it up for a relocation, and it was bulldozed ... I fear that ALTO tower in Altoona will soon be demolished as it is barely standing and is structurally unsound.
Alto tower was closed 2 years ago due to the upgrading of the signals and track in the area, up until then it was a manned tower. Don't know about it being structurally unsound, if it was it would have been closed long ago.

Hopefully the tower at Rondout can be saved in some shape or form. Wishful thinking that it at least turns into storage space as others have mentioned., just like the tower at Deshler, OH. Used by the CSX signal maintainers as storage.
Honestly, what caught my eye more was the pretty building just across the tracks that was demolished to make way for a parking lot. What was it, station, freight house? Very interesting to see how the same spot changes over a couple of decades.
While on my present build for NI Railways and Irish Rail I found a delightful small signal box heading towards the Border. Seems when closed the village liked it so much they managed to have it kept intact. As JCitron said progress is the word and I am sure I read something that here in Scotland we will eventually only have six signle control centres for the whole country.
Honestly, what caught my eye more was the pretty building just across the tracks that was demolished to make way for a parking lot. What was it, station, freight house? Very interesting to see how the same spot changes over a couple of decades.

This looks to be the station. There's even a name on the building if you look carefully.

I agree it's interesting to see the changes over the years of the same location. There looks like there used to be an engine facility behind the station on the other side of the wye junction there. You can see the big water tower, similar to the big steel gray one we now have built-in in Trainz.

Yeah, it's progress... Sadly, we've lost a lot of old infrastructure up our way as well. When South Station was redone, and the catenary run all the way to Boston, the old famous New Haven semaphore gantries came down. These were still in operation until 2000 or so. And to add insult to injury, the old 1910-era classic and famous New Haven catenary is coming down as well and has been mostly replaced with that generic steel post stuff we see worldwide.

New Haven Catenary: http://www.richegreen.com/20060225/full/aDSCN1559.jpg

New Haven Semaphores http://railpixs.com/mbta/BM_RDC_Boston_SouthStation_Sept77.jpg

That was a passenger depot, which was demolished circa 1965. Passenger trains continued to stop there for another 20 years, though, and the ground floor of the tower actually served as a waiting room for several years.