The tower in Union City once was a control center for busy railroad traffic. Now owner CSX has no use for the tower, and the company is tearing down other unused properties. The Preservation Society is mounting one more effort to save this important part of Union City’s history. The group will seek a matching grant, but it needs to raise thousands of dollars before it can apply for a match. The Save-the-Tower group is also seeking interior photos of the tower and stories from people once associated with the railroad.

Photo contributed

UC landmark faces demolition


Save the Tower

Preservation Society

101 N. Columbia St.

Union City, Ind.-Ohio

    Union City’s railroad tower is slated by CSX for demolition. Under the auspices of the Preservation Society, another movement is underway to try to save the historic landmark.

    Ted Leahey, Preservation Society member, said CSX  agreed in 2013 to give the tower to the Preservation Society on the condition that the group would move it off of CSX’s property,. At that time, the estimate for removing the tower was in excess of $50,000.

    “We just didn’t have that kind of money,” Leahey declares.

    With CSX’s campaign to demolish its unused buildings now picking up steam, local people and railroad aficionados are mounting a campaign to save Union City’s tower.

    Chad Spence, Union City, Ind. councilman and candidate for mayor this fall, is spearheading the effort to raise enough money to save the tower. Because the tower is a liability for CSX, it has to be removed from the railroad’s property. Moving the tower is much more expensive than just restoring it.

    The cost of moving the tower is now at least $63,000. The immediate goal is to raise enough money for the project to qualify for a 50/50 matching grant. Also, the Save-the-Tower group hopes to raise enough money quickly enough to show CSX that it is determined to keep the tower and thus forestall any looming demolition effort.

    Leahey says, ‘We haven’t been given any timeline by CSX, but we know a wrecking crew could show up in town any day. It could happen at any time.”

    The plan is to move the tower to the corner of Artisan Park on Pearl Street, where It would be a monument to Union City’s railroad history. It could also serve as a visitor center, since it would be next to the Rails-to-Trails path, encouraging bikers to stay in town for a meal or shopping.

    Spence says, “We would like to show how instrumental Union City was in American railroad history. We can make the railroad tower very functional.”

    Moving the tower to Artisan Park would make it closer to the depot, which now serves as the home of the Art Association of Randolph County. Not many towns still have both a railroad depot and a tower. Each September two Rail Fan clubs, one from the Dayton area and one from the Indianapolis area, hold their joint meeting in Union City, bringing dozens of visitors to town for an entire day. One of the reasons they choose Union City is because it has both a tower and a depot.

    Spence says, “We need to raise money quickly. I know it’s a cliche, but every little bit helps so we can convince CSX that we really want this to happen. Making a donation means you can be part of our history and part of the new history for the next generations.”

    The Preservation Society of Union City, Ind.-Ohio, is the umbrella organization for the Save-the-Tower project. Checks may be mailed to 101 N. Columbia St., Union City, Ind.-Ohio  All donations are tax deductible.

    See upcoming News-Gazette articles about the history of the Union City railroad tower and the campaign to save it.