For One Historic Kalamazoo Railroad Site, The Walls Came Tumblin’ Down
It's been a week or two of change to the Kalamazoo landscape; one more significant than the other. This final week of 2021 saw the BO Interlocking Railroad Control Tower 1 razed. According to MichiganRailroads.com, this tower controlled railroad traffic for over 100 years, from October 1914 to October 2016. In its heyday, there were people working there 24 hours a day.
This location, Porter Street at Willard, currently across the street from Bell's Eccentric Cafe, downtown, was the site where two important rail lines intersected. The east-west route that, ultimately, connected Chicago and Detroit and beyond, and the north-south line connected from Grand Rapids to White Pigeon.
Back before automotive travel became commonplace, the Grand Rapids to White Pigeon line was the connection between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Also remember, telecommunication was nowhere near what it is today. Many private citizens were on party lines, sharing their phone connections with more than a few others. Business telephones weren't much more sophisticated, and obviously, fax and the internet were some eighty to ninety years away.
Going the other direction, Chicago and Detroit were major metropolitan cities. Detroit was the automotive capital of the world; Chicago was the crossroads of much commerce and industry, and among other things, fed the country with the Stockyards on the southside being a major meat processing center.
Reading some comments on the Vanished Kalamazoo Facebook page, the most recent owner of the structure, the Michigan Department of Transportation, offered it to anyone who would move it but found no takers, with cost and possible asbestos issues being blamed.