The railroad towers in Ravenna have made an ever-lasting impression on the industrial history of both the town that built the railroads, and the railroads that built the town.
RAVE tower, the former Pennsylvania Railroad block station that once was the west end 'crossing gaurd' for the transfer tracks that connected the Pennsylvania with the Baltimore and Ohio at the famed 'Ravenna Crossroads,' the point where the PRR crossed the B&O (located near Lake Avenue crossing).
Completed in January 1921, MV block station (as it was known under the Pennsylvania's codes for towers) was placed in immediate rail traffic control service and guarded over the four tracks that passed it. Clearance forms, or forms that allowed trains to pass through a certain location were telegraphed to the tower, written on a form, and then hung on a pole outside the tower for the engineer to pick it up on 'the fly.' This was a major priority for MV until the rail phone was placed in service in 1946 that allowed the tower operator to communicate with the engineer and give a verbal clearance form. This proved to be a more efficient way to clear a train through a certain territory.
MV tower saw the diesalazation of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1950's and 1960's, and in 1968 MV tower was then part of the Penn Central Railroad Company. The tower then stayed in service under Penn Central until 1976, when PC filed for bankruptcy and became part of the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).
The 1970's were the time for technology breaktroughs, and one was Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). Centralized Traffic Control is the term used when every junction and switch point is controlled by one location. Before CTC, railroads relied on towers with their Direct Traffic Control (DTC) which means one junction is controlled from a different point than another. Centralized Traffic Control was the downfall of railroad towers all around the United States. MV junction became a CTC point, or Control Point (CP) and named RAVE (CP-RAVE). The tower was renamed RAVE and painted a light blue color.
In 1981, Conrail began an East Coast cutback on lesser-used track. Ravenna was hit hard when Conrail took out the one line which ran through the downtown area (now where McDonald's is) and the two transfer tracks that connected the PRR with the B&O. Now RAVE had no purpose, it had no junction to guard anymore and Conrail cut it down form a full-time to a part-time tower.
Finally, in 1991, after 70 years of service, RAVE tower fell as a statistic of closed towers. Today, RAVE stands dormant, vandalized by the juvenile delinquents of the Ravenna are. But that can all change.
The Ravenna Railroad Historical Society has set a goal to have the towers donated and preserved for the next generation and the others to come. The RRRHS has worked vigorously with the Conrail, CSX, and Norfolk Southern Corporations in the donation of the two railroad towers for a future museum in the city of Ravenna.
For more information on the towers or the Ravenna Railroad Historical Society itself, please write to:
Send Mail to Rmoskal@apk.net or to RRRHS@fcmail.com.