Block Operator on duty Jim Harlow (standing) and then-trainee Craig Harris at Milwaukee Junction Tower in March 1981. The appliances that are on the desks are (left to right) the Belt Line control board, communications console, and the CP-CONANT control board.
Belt Line Junction was a double-track connection to the MC Belt Line that slowly met it's demise under Conrail as business on the Belt Line disappeared (much it due to the closing and relocation of the Dodge Main Plant as well as the closing other industries along both the Belt Line and what was known as the Detroit Transit RR along the waterfront east of where the old Uniroyal Tire Plant was located). Belt Line Junction once had its very own tower which stood on the north side of the interlocking and North Yard Branch main tracks, just SW of Joseph Campau Ave. It was a brick tower with an early electro-mechanical relay GRS interlocking machine, that had huge palm-sized paddle-type levers that made a 180 deg. arc from one position to another. We don't know the date of cutover of the control of this interlocking to Milwaukee Jct., but it must have been in the late 1950s or early 1960's.
CP-CONANT was a newly installed remote controlled interlocking that was put into service during the mid 1970's. Before then, its hand-thrown switches were operated by trainmen entering and leaving North Yard. Certainly this busy entrance to the south end of North Yard was under the control of a switchtender before the days of trainmen throwing the switches. This is true of other important junctions around Detroit that weren't interlocked, such as Vinewood Ave. (prior to its remote control by West Detroit tower), Military Ave. on the Michigan Line (just west of West Detroit), Waterman Ave. (about 1 mi. south of West Detroit previous to its control by West Detroit), and other important points elsewhere.
Photograph © 1981-2001 Gary S. Daniels
Text by Jim H. Harlow
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