The Canada Southern Railway and the London & Port Stanley Railway crossed each other in the heart of St. Thomas since the the Canada Southern was built in 1872. BX Tower served as the interlocking tower between the two railways and their successors since the early 1900’s until the mid 1980’s. Today, the tower is owned by the City of St. Thomas, but preserved by the Elgin County Railway Museum.
BX Tower was constructed c.1910 as a control point to eliminate rail accidents at the London & Port Stanley Railway and Michigan Central Railroad junction. The Operator-Leverman controlled many large levers connected to track switches (which move, or “switch,” a set of tracks where two lines meet- see image below). The switches are located throughout the rail yard and the “diamond” area (the point where the tracks actually intersect form a diamond shape- see image below).
In the tower there is a mechanical computer known as an “interlocking grid.” It prevents the operator from pulling levers in an order that would cause a rail collision. The tower’s design allows an elevated 360° perspective for the operator inside the building. There are also wall-mounted track diagrams and colour-coded levers to provide accuracy for the Operator-Leverman. These preventative measures certainly paid off because,
during the tower’s operational years, no collisions have occurred.
BX Tower is owned and preserved by the City of St. Thomas, while the Elgin County Railway Museum maintains it. This Municipally Designated Heritage Building is a rare and well-preserved artifact.
BX Tower is open during Elgin County Railway Museum special events and by appointment. Call the museum to ask when the next event will be or to book a visit.
BX Tower is located at Moore Street and Centre Street in St. Thomas.