GATE TOWER


A Mrs. Ellis and her grand daughter were hit and killed by a Big Four train at the West Main Street crossing in 1903, and shortly after, the railroad built a new Gate Tower between the North Main Street and West Main Street crossings in New London and put up crossing gates at both crossings. The pneumatic air system was operated by a hand pump by a man in the tower. When train was coming close, he put the gates down at both crossings by the hand pump in the tower.

An odd thing about this operation was that in the beginning there was no one on duty in the tower from midnight to 8:00 am. The railroad got by with this as in those early days there was very little traffic during the night and no trouble occurred. After World War One the automobile was beginning to be more prolific and by 1920 the gate tower was being operated 24 hours a day.

There was a small fire in the gate tower in 1904 caused by a little coal stove used to heat the tower which did quite a bit of damage to the little wooden tower by the time the fire department got it out. It was said that the fire department tried to pump water from a cesspool whch they thought was a well which made a mess but the fire was put out. The operation of the gates continued while the little building was being repaired, as no damage occured to the gate system.

Thomas Garrett was said to have been the first man to operate the gates from the new gate tower. Others were W.A. Fowden, W.A. Cooke and Clarence Hakes. There were others but time has erased their memories.

Modern flashers were being installed all over America and the New York Central (Big Four) Railroad installed new flashers at West Main St., North Main St., and Walnut St. on March 6th, 1942. The little gate tower was no longer needed. The tower, compressed air lines and gates were all gone by 19 March 1942.

V.K. Neel, from New London Record articles




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