Switchtower - Brills Junction

by Jack Keegan


Having gotten to know many of the men who worked for the Central Rail Road of New Jersey, who handled the freight around the siding at my Father's foundry, I also was introduced to the men who operated the rail road switch tower call Brills Junction. It was a great delight to meet new acquaintances and be shown how the tower worked.

A long console extended along the wall that faced the tracks. Above that was a board that contained many lights and gauges to indicate the position that the switches were in. A schedule indicating when trains were due, what their destination was, was posted near the control board. Near the console was a Morse telegraph key and Sounder, with which the switchman received notices of changes, by Morse code.

At some point in time I was able to use the handles to change the position of the switches and notice the lights changing to denote their location. All moving of the actual steel rails themselves was accomplished by means of compressed air. Near the switch tower was a large compressor that supplied the compressed air through pipes to the various switch points.

I was certainly thrilled as trains roared past the tower on their way to scheduled locations, spewing Black smoke and steam. Hearing the sound of their whistles, Two Long and Two Short, as they approached the grade crossing at Hawkins Street. Knowing that I had something to do with it all happening. A real ego builder for a twelve year old, having control of the where with all of real live trains. Not just your Lionel stuff.


Email this memory to a friend.
Enter recipient's e-mail: