Do You Know About the ‘Watch Tower’ in Utica?
Standing near the tracks on Schuyler Street in Utica, is the railroad "watch tower" for what was once the "Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad."
Have you driven past the tower before? Maybe you've wondered why it was there... Maybe you already know. For some, it's a part of Utica's past that isn't well-known. After scouring countless historic sites, Facebook Pages, and other websites - We were only able to find a pinch of information.
Once upon a time, there were "levermen." Their job was to manually switch which railroad tracks a train was using. They would work these levers from above the tracks in the "watch tower," which would also let them keep an eye on the traffic (when tracks would cross the road).
That's what this tower was used for. According to the Utica & Mohawk Valley Chapter, NRHS Facebook Page,
The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western crossing shanty on Schuyler Street has been protecting trains and traffic for a century. It is our symbol, and we hope to preserve the history of railroading with as much diligence and tenacity as the guards who once kept watch in the tower.
"...Once kept watch in the tower" - Unfortunately, in the 1930s levermen started to be replaced - Technology allowed the companies to switch tracks by remote control (from a traffic center that could 'remotely control' multiple towers). By the 1980s almost every watch tower in America was obsolete.
The really sad thing about this part of America's history, is that most of the watch towers have been torn down after sitting empty for decades. Most of them have disappeared, along with the history that has surrounded them.
The Utica Tower however, remains standing (although empty), and the tracks are still used today. You can watch a train make its way to the Saranac Brewery in the video here.
Do you know more about this watch tower's history? Do you know when the last time it was used? Or do you have any stories about the tower? We would love to hear them! Feel free to leave us a note in the "comments section" at the bottom of this page.