CSX / Norfolk Southern Tower

The OES visited the CSX / Norfolk Southern Tower on April 16, 2005. Also known as Scioto Tower or LM Cabin, this tower was located just behind Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Columbus at the intersection of the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroad lines. The tower was once used by watchmen who controlled the complicated intersection manually to make sure trains did not collide. A shiny new metal shed nearby automates this process now. We are not sure when the tower was built, but a nearby building that served as a railroad station was built in 1896, and some of the railroad as it exists today was overhauled in the 1930s, so the tower could have been built sometime between those dates.

The first floor of the tower housed the electrical relay controls and perhaps a telegraph switchboard. The basement was used for storage and as a workshop where minor repairs could be made to equipment. It also appeared that it had become a temporary home for the homeless, as there was an old mattress on the floor with some food wrappers when we visited. We could not enter the second floor of the tower because the stairs had been removed when the tower ceased operation. The second floor served as a lookout post so the watchmen could clearly see approaching trains from all directions and housed the control equipment. We speculate there was a restroom there as well, since plumbing was going to that floor.

The tower was abandoned in 2002 when control was shifted to the CSX train dispatcher in Jacksonville, Florida. Its inaccessible location had preserved much of its contents. We found old brochures, catalogs, and plenty of spare railroad parts, fuses, flares, and tools. The tracks are still very active. A train passed through moments after we had left the tower. The tower was demolished in November 2005. It had become a hazardous magnet for the homeless and vandals. The tower is yet another piece of Columbus history that has succumbed to the bulldozer. (Thanks to Tom Swisher for the update and additional information).

Location Information: Demolished

The watchmen tower was located behind Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Columbus; Franklin County.