BayView Tower, September 1949

Up until 3 years ago, my favorite place to watch and record trains was at a spot known as Bay View, located near Lackawanna, New York. Bay View was the home of New York Central's BayView Tower and was by far John Prophet's most prolific recording locations next to tower 49-A. The tower was situated between the four tracks of the east/west-bound New York Central, and the two tracks of the east/west-bound Nickel Plate and Pennsylvania Railroads. The primary destination of the Nickel Plate and New York Central trains was Chicago. For the Pennsylvania, it was Pittsburgh.

Since the tower was located directly in the middle of this extremely busy area, Prophet was surrounded by oncoming trains at all times. He only had to walk to opposite ends of the tower and hang his microphone out the window facing the tracks where the activity was. The results were always magnificent. The photograph below shows Prophet's sister inside the BV Tower. The camera is facing west to Chicago. The window to the left looks out on the Nickel Plate and Pennsylvania tracks. To the right, just out of the view of the camera, are the four tracks of the New York Central.

I said before that up until 3 years ago this was my favorite spot. Since the days of excessive use have long been over, the tower served as nothing more than a monument. After the days of having a tower operator control the signals and train movements had passed, Conrail continued to house the electronics for the signals and the grade crossings inside the tower even though they were remotely controlled. Conrail recently installed newer circuitry underground thus eliminating any need for the tower. Far be it from Conrail to have any thoughts of preservation on their minds since BayView was the second to last New York Central tower in existence in the Buffalo area. (This is just my way of editorializing. I was very upset when I discovered the demolition in progress.)

This recording was made on September 24, 1949 and begins with a Pennsylvania freight train heading west to Pittsburgh. Pulled by engine #4375, an I1-SA type engine, the train makes a long approach and blows its whistle for Bay View Road.

Immediately behind the freight train is engine #604, an L-1s, running light, meaning just the engine and the tender. Interesting of note is the typical freight whistle on many PRR locomotives -- a high pitched whistle that sounds like the screaming of a banshee! Not a very pleasant sound but certainly memorable.

The photograph below shows a PRR I-1 scooping water.

To see a map of this area, click here.


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