Brooke Tower

Brooke Tower, "BE", was located the town of Birdsboro, PA.  The tower was built to control train movements on the Reading company Wilmington and Northern Branch and the Pennsylvania Railroad Schuylkill Branch which crossed at grade.   The tower was manned by the Reading Company and was maintained by both the Reading and PRR.   I am not sure of the date the tower was built, I assume is was somewhere in the early 1900's.  Brooke lasted up into Conrail and was closed August 23 1977 at 3:01 PM.

When built,  Brooke had a 70 Lever Mechanical Interlocking Machine built by the Federal Signal Company.  Later on a 20 lever table interlocking machine built by Union Switch & Signal Co, was installed at the east end of the tower and was used to control remote switches between Seyfert and Douglassville, PA.   I have included a portion of an article published in Railway Signaling Magazine, dated September 1933 titled "Consolidated Interlockings and Block Offices" which mentioned the installation of the 20 Lever Machine at Brooke.   The article may be viewed by clicking on the link provided.

"Consolidated Interlockings and Block Offices"

Over the years more changes were made as traffic levels decreased and passenger trains no longer ran and the 20 lever machine was reduced to 8 levers and controlled the interlockings at the East and West ends of Brooke and was re-located to the west end of the tower.  Additionally the 70 lever mechanical machine was reduced to 52 levers.

I have very fond memories of Brooke where I spent quite a lot of time visiting.  My father worked for Birdsboro Steel and he would take me with him and drop me off at Brooke while he was at work on Saturdays.   The towerman were very friendly and took the time to teach me about the tower operation.  I also spent quite a lot of time there 3rd shift.  The Penn Central train from Philadelphia to Reading would come through in the middle of the night.  You could also see all the trains on the Reading Belt line heading east toward the Schuylkill River bridge.  In the early morning Reading train WR-5 would pass the tower on it's way to Wilmington.  The towerman would hand on train orders as the train passed.  Sadly, in 1977 Conrail no longer saw the need for Brooke and it was closed and razed.  Fortunately I was able to save some of the equipment and it still is in my collection including the track model.  I used a PLC to simulate trains operating on it.

"BE Lever designations"


Brooke looking east
Daytime shot inside of tower looking west
Night shot inside looking west
PRR Table Interlocking Machine
West End of Brooke looking East
PRR Eastbound Home Signal at Brooke
View of Model Board
Time releases & Model Board
Locking bed and vertical rods
Locking bed
Closeup of locking bed
Vertical rods and rocker shafts
View under the levers
PRR relay case
PRR Tool House west of the tower
Westbound Passenger Train at East Brooke
View of the track modelboard in my basement.
General Order 104
Closing Brooke

Last Updated on March 17, 2009