The author, age 14, in the New York Central Strong Arm Tower #1 in 1948
The author, age 14, in the New York Central Strong Arm Tower #1 in 1948

In 1948, when I was 12 years old and was a very avid railroad fan, I would spend Friday evenings at the New York Central Strong Arm Tower #1 in Mott Haven Passenger yards in the Bronx NY. The tower man, Mr. Bill White, taught me how to operate the machine and how to control the switches and signals that controlled the 5 double track diamonds that crossed the north & south wyes and the 5 leads to one of the largest passenger car yards in the U.S. I used all the railroading that I accumulated in my teens to eventually hire out on the New Haven RR as a tower man in 1956.

Mr. Bill White, 2nd Trick Operator in 1948
Mr. Bill White, 2nd Trick Operator in 1948
Tower #1, looking east
Tower #1, looking east

The “RUT Milk ” freight train ran from the NYC RR West Side freight yards to DV Tower at Spyten Duyvil where it came south on the Hudson Division to Mott Haven yards and there crossed the yard leads and entered the Harlem Division tracks for Brewster, Pleasantville and Chatham NY. There it was turned over to the Rutland Railroad for its final leg to Eagle Bridge NY and then to Rutland VT.

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The “RUT Milk” on the east wye at Tower 1, Mott Haven

Victor Zolinsky – Photographs and text Copyright 2016

One thought on “Strong Arm Tower

  1. Fascinating post. I find it amazing that all these switches were operated by humans as late as the 1950s and not from a central control room with remote electric controls.

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