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Tower under the gun!
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Author:  Les Beckman [ Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Tower under the gun!

One of the last working towers in the Chicago, Illinois/northwest Indiana area (and in the Nation) was taken off line late in 2007. The Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad's Grasselli Tower is located in East Chicago, Indiana and, at the end, controlled a crossing of an industrial branch line of the EJ&E and an IHB line that was originally New York Central. One of the "lesser known" towers it was long overshadowed by its bigger sister a mile north; Calumet Tower, which is, at this writing at least, still operational.

There is a glimmer of hope for Grasselli. The IHB is willing to donate the tower to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum who would move it to their museum site in North Judson, Indiana. Unfortunately, IHB has told HVRM that the tower must be moved off of their property by February 15th of 2008. That gives the museum a little over a month to arrange for the movement to the museum, and to raise the $40K plus, that is needed for the move. HVRM does not have that kind of money.

Why the short deadline to get the 2 story wooden 12' x 35' building and its 68 lever mechanical interlocking plant moved? Museum personnel believe much of the reason is that the railroads Hohman Tower, which was closed in April of 2001, and which the railroad boarded up to allow a "Hohman Avenue Tower Alliance" to work with the City of Hammond, Indiana to come up with a plan to move it, has basically seen nothing done. Now a newly established museum, the Hammond & Northwest Indiana Railroad Preservation Society is attempting to do something with Hohman. Meanwhile, not wanting to fall into the same situation as has befallen Hohman, IHB has given HVRM a "short leash" to get Grasselli moved off of the property.

IF HVRM can get Grasselli moved to North Judson, the museum intends to make it into a working tower. Some of its rods and bellcranks will be set up to throw switches and signals, as Grasselli had done so well through the years. How can you help? Well, if someone out there has $40K that they don't know what to do with, we would gladly accept it, and even rename the tower after that person (or company), if they so desire! Realistically, we know the chances of that happening are next to nil. What we WOULD like, is if people from around the county could donate whatever they can to see that Grasselli is saved. Whatever the amount is, it would be appreciated. We want to be able to give the IHB a list of the various locations of donors to show them that there is a NATIONWIDE interest in seeing that Grasselli is preserved. So the important thing is that these funds, whether a buck or a fin or a sawbuck or a C-note or whatever, come in NOW so that we can use it to show IHB that we are getting donations from everywhere, and hopefully get us some addition time from IHB to make the move. HVRM is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and any donations are tax deductible.

Send what you can to:

Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum
Grasselli Tower Fund
P. O. Box 75
North Judson, IN 46366

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Les Beckman
HVRM - Grasselli Tower Group

Author:  rbarcus [ Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Image
Image
Image

Author:  Les Beckman [ Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

I appreciate HVRM member Bob Barcus posting the above photos of Grasselli Tower. The very top photo was taken by HVRM member Mark Stanek on June 13, 1983. The other photos were taken by yours truly a couple of years ago when Grasselli was still active.

Les

Author:  Gary Gray [ Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Les, A question and a suggestion. Are you planning on refunding the donations if the project does not fly? This may make a difference to some potential donors. Also, if it looks like the tower itself can't be saved, try to save all the hardware that you can. You can still get wood, windows, and roofing down at the local "Home Depot", but interlocking levers and rods are pretty hard to come by.

Author:  Les Beckman [ Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Gary Gray wrote:
Les, A question and a suggestion. Are you planning on refunding the donations if the project does not fly? This may make a difference to some potential donors.


Gary -

Thanks. Yes, we would refund donations to donors if we cannot save the Tower. It is important that checks be noted "for Grasselli Fund" or some similar notation, rather than just being made out to the museum.

Les

Author:  softwerkslex [ Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Has anyone thought about reselling parts? I might be interested in one or two levers for display at home or use on a miniature railway.

Author:  Stationary Steam [ Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

How do you plan to move it? What about cutting it in two and moving the two sections that way? That is how we moved the B&O's UN tower in New Castle, PA. Run some beams under the ceiling of the first floor for lifting points, then cut the studs just below the ceiling level. With a spreader a crane could then lift the entire upper structure onto a trailer. The lower floor would need some serious bracing to keep the walls upright, but could also be lifted in a similar way. (that is of course if your tower is built similar to UN.)

Where did the 40K figure come from? Who would do the actual moving? Will a contractor be hired or will your people do the majority of the work but hire riggers to do the actual hauling? Even a full crew working every day would be hard pressed to get that tower moved in a month.

Author:  SZuiderveen [ Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Les,

If you are not able to raise the 40 k there are other alternatives.

This tower is basically saved architectural details placed on a generic base.

http://www.bullsheet.com/news/200305photos-a.html

If the alternative is losing it forever, tear it down into parts small enough to put on regular over the road trucks and at least get it home. With motivated volunteer labor, could probably be done for 1/4 or less of the quoted cost.

Steve

Author:  Les Beckman [ Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Stationary Steam wrote:
How do you plan to move it? What about cutting it in two and moving the two sections that way? That is how we moved the B&O's UN tower in New Castle, PA. Run some beams under the ceiling of the first floor for lifting points, then cut the studs just below the ceiling level. With a spreader a crane could then lift the entire upper structure onto a trailer. The lower floor would need some serious bracing to keep the walls upright, but could also be lifted in a similar way. (that is of course if your tower is built similar to UN.)

Where did the 40K figure come from? Who would do the actual moving? Will a contractor be hired or will your people do the majority of the work but hire riggers to do the actual hauling? Even a full crew working every day would be hard pressed to get that tower moved in a month.


SS -

Thanks for the note. The $40K figure came from the same company that moved Dearborn Tower for the Whitewater Valley Railroad. They moved Dearborn in sections, and I assume that the proposed move of Grasselli would be somewhat similar. There is a difference in the size of the two towers however. The "footprint" of Dearborn is about 13' x 13'. As stated previously, the "footprint" of Grasselli is about 12' x 35'.

I admit that moving Grasselli in the time alloted by the IHB is probably unrealistic. But that is what we have at the present. If we show the railroad that we are making firm progress toward getting the Tower moved, we are hopeful that they will give us additional time. But as of right now, the original date is all we have to work with.

Les

Author:  GaryDrag [ Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Les,

As an addendum to Steve's comments, you may want to contact a company that disassembles historical buildings for moving or future reconstruction. These companies usually started out by saving barns that were threatened with destruction. You may be able to arrange a joint venture - their experience and your volunteer labor. At the very least, you could get ideas regarding the process.

Have a joyous day!
Gary Drag

Author:  Les Beckman [ Wed Jan 09, 2008 9:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Steve and Gary -

Thanks very much for your comments. Obviously, we have given some thought to the possibility of disassembling Grasselli and moving it in pieces to North Judson for reassembly later. We prefer NOT to do it that way, but who knows what is going to happen. Also, we're not sure that IHB would even allow such a scenario on their property. The BEST way, is to get it moved by professionals. That is what we are trying to do at the present time.

Les

Author:  Les Beckman [ Tue Jan 15, 2008 7:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

I know that there is a website listing ACTIVE North American Railroad Interlocking Towers, but is there one (or a list) of such towers that are formally preserved? Either at their original site, or moved? I am familiar with some but certainly not all.

Thanks.

Les

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Preserved Towers List/Website

As far as I know, the following is as close as you're going to get: a spur off the still-alive website of the now-defunct highly-unofficial-and-informal CSX tower newsletter, The Bull Sheet, by my friend Allen Brougham:

http://www.bullsheet.com/news/preservedtowers.html

This appears to be up to date; if not, how about corrections?

Author:  Les Beckman [ Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Preserved Towers List/Website

Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
As far as I know, the following is as close as you're going to get: a spur off the still-alive website of the now-defunct highly-unofficial-and-informal CSX tower newsletter, The Bull Sheet, by my friend Allen Brougham:

http://www.bullsheet.com/news/preservedtowers.html

This appears to be up to date; if not, how about corrections?


Interesting and informative site. Thanks!

Les

Author:  hytwr1 [ Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tower under the gun!

Haley and Spring Hill were prepped and moved in under a week.



Stationary Steam wrote:
How do you plan to move it? What about cutting it in two and moving the two sections that way? That is how we moved the B&O's UN tower in New Castle, PA. Run some beams under the ceiling of the first floor for lifting points, then cut the studs just below the ceiling level. With a spreader a crane could then lift the entire upper structure onto a trailer. The lower floor would need some serious bracing to keep the walls upright, but could also be lifted in a similar way. (that is of course if your tower is built similar to UN.)

Where did the 40K figure come from? Who would do the actual moving? Will a contractor be hired or will your people do the majority of the work but hire riggers to do the actual hauling? Even a full crew working every day would be hard pressed to get that tower moved in a month.

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