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Bringing history to 'light': Union Terminal train dispatch board updated

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- The timing had nothing to do with the Museum Center tax vote but a bit of Union Terminal history came back to life.  Or rather, back to light, thanks to two years of labor of love volunteer work.
Just about every little kid loves toy trains as well as some big children who never lose that feeling.  Tom Pancero, a volunteer with the Cincinnati Railroad Club, has spent two years and 800 man hours fixing up the old train dispatch board in Union Terminal Tower A. 

Colored lights helped track trains along the tracks, "There's 833 indicator lights including the military tracks which are down here.  And we have changed 512 to LED's," said Pancero.

The board and the original lights date to 1932 and were used until 1972.  Tom computerized the board but left most of history intact.

He told Local 12, "Anything up here that's black wire and brass is original.  Lights and the stuff we have added is gray with LED's."

Back in the day the train directors would sit at the board and watch the board with the lights indicating the trains coming through.  The train directors would then order the lever men which levers to throw so the trains would get to the proper platform. 

The train directors were told, "Do not look out the window behind you, it would be confusing.  Just look at the board."

It was a high stress situation because it was a zero fail mission.  Red lights showed where the trains were.  Yellow lights indicated train direction and green lights locked the route so another train could not cross in the way.  Now home of the Cincinnati Railroad Club, Tower A once supervised 216 passenger trains a day. 

Future railfans play with the toys but now, when it comes to the railroad hobby, they can also see the light.  Tower A in Union Terminal is open to visitors Wednesday through Sunday.  There is no cost.   

Passenger trains still do operate into the terminal.  Amtrak stops there in the overnight hours on the run between Chicago and New York. 

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