Saving Tower 17

The Preparation

The last manned interlocking tower in Texas was closed on February 10, 2004.  Although plans for the preservation of Tower 17 had been formulated several years earlier, the project entered it's most active phase in the fall of 2003.  Rosenberg Railroad Museum has been working tirelessly with the railroads and the community to ensure the preservation of this historic structure.

There's a great history of Tower 17 (among others) on the Texas Interlocking website, so we won't revisit that here.  "Saving Tower 17" really began in earnest weeks before the tower closed.  RRM personnel interviewed Union Pacific employees on each shift to document the jobs that were being eliminated.  Extensive photographs were taken of the inside before any items were removed.  (Click on each image for a larger version with text inserts.)

Negotiations with moving companies and a review of the bids received resulted in Cherry House Moving being awarded the contract.  After a survey of the possible routes to move Tower 17 to RRM property, and discussions with the various utility companies, it was concluded that the building could not be relocated intact.  Cherry proposed to move the 2nd floor, with the interlocking machine in place, intact from floor to ceiling and then re-assemble the first floor underneath it.

There was much to do before hand.  After the tower closed, Union Pacific had to disconnect the utilities, and remove office supplies and some furniture that they wished to keep. RRM had to move everything else except the interlocker from both the first and second floors of the tower prior to the move.  Every artifact was labeled and it's position in the building when the tower closed was noted.  This took the rest of February and all of March to accomplish.

In the meantime, a concrete foundation was poured at the RRM site for Tower 17 to sit on.  Cherry had a busy schedule the first few weeks of April, so it fell to the last week to begin the actual moving process.  Click HERE to continue on to the next page.