HVRM Grasselli Tower

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Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum

About Grasselli Tower

One of the last working interlocking towers in the Chicagoland area was decommissioned in the late part of 2007. Grasselli Tower is located in East Chicago, Indiana and once controlled the interlocking for the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (EJ&E), the Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB), and the B&O Chicago Terminal (B&OCT). One of the "lesser known" towers, it was long overshadowed by its bigger sister a mile north - Calumet Tower (which at this writing is still operational).

UP 6531 at Grasselli Tower

EJ&E 306 prepares to roll through the crossover at Grasselli Tower with a single tank car on June 13, 1983. Much of this scene along Kennedy Avenue has changed over the years.

Photo by Mark Stanek

UP 6531 at Grasselli Tower

A NIPSCO coal train led by Union Pacific AC4400CW #6531 rolls north past Grasselli Tower in the early part of 2008.

Photo by Joe Usselman

Grasselli Tower is a two story wooden structure that measures approximately 12' x 35' and consists of a 68 lever mechanical interlocking plant. Most of the levers remain, but a few were removed in recent years to make room for a new heating system. It is currently sitting along a very busy portion of the IHB's mainline and the railroad wants it moved as quickly as possible.

Armstrong Levers

Some of the levers inside of Grasselli Tower. The red rings shown on some of the levers reminds the leverman that those levers are out of service.

Photo by Robert Barcus

Research has uncovered a few details about Grasselli Tower. Grasselli may have been built as early as 1906, but is confirmed to have been in place at least in 1916. A track diagram from 1916 for the interlocking plant shows that it was originally called RA Tower. The name "Grasselli" came from a long-gone chemical plant located near the tower that was served by the IHB.

Grasselli Tower

This is the view of Grasselli Tower back in 1983. Grasselli has served the Indiana Harbor Belt for nearly a century.

Photo by Mark Stanek

Most manually controlled railroad towers in the United States have been closed and demolished. There is a glimmer of hope for Grasselli - the IHB has donated the tower to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana. The museum intends to move the interlocking tower to the museum grounds. Unfortunately, IHB has given HVRM a very short timeframe to get the tower moved. The museum must act quickly in order to save Grasselli and we need your help!

Interlocking Bed

The complexity of the interlocking mechanism can be see in this photo. The missing levers towards the top of the picture can be attributed to a new heating system that was recently installed by the IHB.

Photo by Robert Barcus

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