“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bradford in Miami County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum

What was B.F. Tower?

Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Rev. Ronald Irick, September 13, 2022
1. Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum Marker
Inscription.  BF Tower was under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Railroad dispatcher in Columbus, OH. When a train left its terminal, the crew received written orders from the dispatcher. The orders might include such things as stopping to pick up of drop off cars, waiting on a siding for another train to pass, or switching from one line to another.

The tower operator working from the second floor of the tower, were skilled in railroad Morse code to relay messages between towers, dispatchers, trains and stations. The two-letter telegraphic code “BF” (Bradford) served to identify the tower. From trackside the operator would hand up train orders using an order hoop to the engineer and conductor on approaching trains indicating problems ahead, such as weather conditions, opposing trains and track gangs. The operator was the eyes and ears for the dispatcher and was responsible for the movement of the trains through his territory. He was the source of information of what was happening at the moment. Replaced by centralized traffic control, the tower is a monument to the early days of low tech railroading.

The interlocking tower had the
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special job of controlling the switches and signals that directed the trains on their proper route. The tower controlled the junction traffic between Columbus, Chicago and Indianapolis and tracks leading to the classification yards. The main line split at Bradford going south to Indianapolis via Greenville and north to Logansport via Union City. The switches were controlled mechanically by rods running along the track, some of them hundreds of feet long, which were moved by large hand-thrown levers in the tower. Other signals and switches, some of them miles away, were controlled electrically.

“Interlocking” was derived from the safety feature of the equipment. The interlocking mechanism runs from the second to the first floor connecting the levers to the rods that leave the building to connect to the track switches and signals. Switches governed the position of rails thus controlling the direction of the train. Position light signals containing three amber lights indicating how the train was to proceed. When placed in the vertical position it meant “proceed”, diagonal “caution” and horizontal “stop.”

The Position light system replaced the mechanical blade semaphore signal that stands next to the tower. The signal maintainer tested the signals and switches under his control using the relays and batteries located on the first floor.
Topics. This historical marker
Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Rev. Ronald Irick, September 13, 2022
2. Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum Marker
marker is west of the base of the tower, near the semiphore pole
is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars.
Location. 40° 7.853′ N, 84° 25.563′ W. Marker is in Bradford, Ohio, in Miami County. Marker is on E. Main Street (County Route 88), on the left when traveling west. Marker is in Bradford “Y” Yard Park, west of the base of the tower. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 501 E Main St, Bradford OH 45308, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. All Clear at BF Tower (a few steps from this marker); Signs of the Times (within shouting distance of this marker); Reading the Signs (within shouting distance of this marker); Pennsylvania Railroad "BF" Tower (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bradford Fire of 1920 (approx. ¼ mile away); Bradford (approx. ¼ mile away); Michael Ingle (approx. 3.8 miles away); World War I Roll of Honor (approx. 3.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bradford.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 24, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 17, 2022, by Rev. Ronald Irick of West Liberty, Ohio. This page has been viewed 94 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 17, 2022, by Rev. Ronald Irick of West Liberty, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 5, 2024