By Sid Johnson
Morgan Run Tower was located 4 miles east of Coshocton, Ohio on the Panhandle Division of the PRR at MP 118 between Newcomerstown Tower and Tyndall Tower. The photo (below) depicts the model-board that was in Morgan Run Tower in the 1960's. My good friend Dick Hoover, now deceased, owned the model-board. The "Armstrong" levers in the foreground were NOT from Morgan Run but rather from another tower. Morgan Run had an US&S electro-mechanical interlocking of the 1916 vintage. The tower was a 24/7 operation with Bob Smith on 1st shift, Vic Crouso on 2nd, Bob Crouso on 3rd with Tony Saggio holding down the relief position. The odd 3rd shift every week was protected by the 5-tower job. In addition to Morgan Run he worked a 3rd shift every week at Bremen and New Lexington on the Zanesville Branch and Bricker and Newcomerstown on the Mainline.
Many readers will recall the article in The Keystone regarding the horrible wreck of September 11, 1950 when the Spirit of St. Louis rear-ended a Troop Train east of Morgan Run. It occurred at Signal 1149 located on #2 track east of Morgan Run.
As can be seen, one of the functions of Morgan Run was to protect the rigid crossings of the PRR with the W&LE/NKP/NW branch line. The NKP branch line was a single track, train order operation with 2 trains in each direction. The branch was not dieselized until late 1957 when the NKP received their SD-9 and RSD-12 class locomotives. During the steam era H class Mikado�s worked the locals while class S-4 Berkshire's handled the Fast Freights. If coal traffic was running heavy, a H-6 would be dispatched light from Brewster to meet #197 at Coshocton, turn on the wye and double-head #197 over Baltic Hill back to Brewster.
NKP traffic at Morgan Run was controlled by signals 18L and 18R. Traffic lever 19 was not shown on the model-board but had to be placed in the Reverse position in order to operate the NKP signals. Local #162 had interchange traffic almost daily for the PRR. These cars had to be "dropped by" into the interchange track. A good operator would wait until the PRR was clear and set up signal 18L for the NKP in case the engine got by the signal after dropping the interchange cars. Also the brakemen checked the handbrakes before the cars were dropped by so he wouldn't get over the powered split derail #5. A little known fact about Morgan Run was that if an incomplete move was made by either railroad over the diamonds, the time release on #19 traffic lever had to be run off or the entire interlocking was frozen!
The PRR operation at Morgan Run was fairly heavy. Typically, 10 passenger trains and 20-25 thru freights passed Morgan Run in 24-hour period. In addition the Coshocton yard job worked 2 shifts per day. For years BS6a 9030 was assigned to the Coshocton yard with 9029 substituting when 9030 was sent to Dennison for maintenance. Local service was provided by PH-3 and PH-4 between Columbus and Dennison and typically powered by 3 F-7s. Another local that fed Coshocton was turnaround local DN-1 and DN-2 from Dennison. A single LS-25 provided the power.
The westbound siding held 292 cars and was used by the dispatchers to allow passenger trains to over take freights. In the 1950's there was also a 292 car eastbound siding as can be seen erased on the model-board. In the mid '50's signals 4R and 4L governed movement over #6 switch that was the entrance to the EB siding at Wally. The "Clow" control point was added later. As you can see on the model-board Wally was the new name for the interlocking. The old name was WV. WV stood for the Toledo, Walhonding Valley & Ohio PRR branch line that turned off the Panhandle at Coshocton and went to Loudonville, Ohio on the Eastern Division. That branch line was abandoned in the 1930's. Switch #11 at Morgan Run was the exit for the EB siding. For years the PRR had boxcars stored on the EB siding awaiting shop room for programmed maintenance at Hollidaysburg. Many times as a youth I "walked" to Morgan Run from Coshocton on the roofs of those boxcars!
Rules D-151 and D-251 governed main track operation around Morgan Run. That is, right hand running with current of traffic. The thru train operation at Morgan Run was fairly simple. You "pushed" the WB trains into Coshocton on track #2 with levers 24L and 12L. You "pulled" the EB trains out of town on track #1 with signals 4R and 2R.
When it was necessary, crossovers #7 and #9 would be used to "single track" around MofW equipment or other problems to an adjacent interlocking. The dispatcher would issue Form J and Form D-R train orders to the operators and the trains affected. Rule 317 applied for following movements against the current of traffic. The train order signal was simply a yellow metal flag hung out the window and with a yellow lantern added by night.
After local train DN-1 from Dennison passed Morgan Run and Wally he would pull by the hand thrown switch at Locust St. and back around the wye into Coshocton yard. When he was ready to return, DN-2 would get signal 14R at Wally and come thru the WB siding to Morgan Run where he would crossover to #1 track and proceed back to Dennison.
Each day the Coshocton yard job would gather his cars in the yard and then shove his cut into the WB siding at Wally before proceeding westward thru #15 crossover to switch industries on both sides of the main tracks and the freight house in Coshocton. He would return EB on #1 track to Wally and back into yard via the hand thrown crossovers. The yard job also switched the NKP interchange track at Morgan Run thru switch and derail #5.
All powered switches and crossovers at Morgan Run were #10 turnouts allowing for "Slow Speed" movements. #15 crossover at Wally was a #15 crossover and thus permitting "Medium Speed". Communications at Morgan Run were by line wire on the pole line and the old trainphone system. The 5 line wire circuits were as follows:
69E Tower east
69W Tower west
79W Local west
Morgan Run Tower is long gone. Vandals burnt it to the ground in the 1980's. I have many fond memories of that place. It was there that those operators and friends taught me the PRR rulebook and that was the solid foundation for my 35-year railroad career. In the spring and summer I used to shoot groundhogs in the cornfields from Morgan Run's windows. Those former cornfields now house the modern locomotive shops of the Ohio Central Railroad. Steam power is once again passing Morgan Run Tower but not with the Spirit of St. Louis.