The Basics: The Cripple Creek Crossing tower is a fully assembled and decorated interlocking tower. The two-story building has a brick lower structure and a wood second story control room. The second level offers good visibility for the tower’s staff to observe train operations and control signals and switches for safe operations on the railway.
The tower has a modest 9.5- inch by 5-inch footprint and is 8 inches high. The structure has exterior illumination, a weathered appearance, four worker figures, and Jack the German Shepherd.
The building is prelit with LED lights under the second story and a flashing light on the rooftop. Lighting requires a 4.5-volt power supply sold separately (Menards SKU nos. 279-4061/4361, 4062/4362, or 4050). Power may be applied through either a rear table-top plug in, or from below the building with a pigtail connector.
Why you need this: Cripple Creek is an old school railroad town. It is a major junction with lots of cargo arriving and even more shipping out. Passenger trains from around the country roll by day or night. To make sure each train gets routed to the correct track, a switch tower (or interlocking tower) was built at the crossing.
In an era when many switches are remotely controlled from a vast distance, the tower at the Junction does it the way granddad did: A crew in the tower watches the traffic, checks the timetable, and manually selects the right route.
The Cripple Creek Crossing tower is a two-story building that has a tale to tell. The base is concrete with a compact red brick first story. This level has doorways on each end - one marked restroom and a nearby "Beware of the Trains" warning. The doorway on the opposite side offers access to switching machinery. Two arched windows can be found on each of the long walls.
You’ll find an employee entering the equipment room. Off to the side is a trashcan and three stacked oil cans - probably for the building’s elderly oil furnace! A nice surprise is finding our old friend Jack nearby. This time, however, we discover that he has his own doghouse! This is spotted just beneath the stairs to the office for maximum visibility for employees coming or leaving. Our favorite pooch is poking out of his comfy home, probably checking to see if anyone has any snacks for him.
Access to the office is quite a climb. Employees need to hike fifteen steps on a long stairway to reach the platform! Up top, the railing has a sign identifying it as the Cripple Creek Crossing tower. A worker seems to be calling out to the guy down below. Behind him are two windows, their blinds at different heights.
To better view passing trains, there are four windows on each side, each window with its own blinds. The opposite end has a second doorway. This leads to a small platform with two standing figures. The workers seem fixated with something in the distance, probably their next repair project!
The roof is tiled and features a chimney. A flashing red LED warns low-flying pilots away! There are also rain gutters and even a drain spout snaking to the ground. You’ll spot an electric power meter and conduit on the opposite side.
But what is the tale the building tells? It is a sad one.
While the railroad sees the need to have the switch tower - the brass hats at Headquarters don’t want to spend an extra penny on building maintenance! The building has a grimy, lived-in look. The first floor doorways and arched windows are boarded up. They have so much soot built up they must have been shuttered in the steam era! There are even green plants creeping up the walls!
The siding on the top floor has a similar amount of grime, but the worst is saved for last. There are no less than ten windowpanes with cracks or holes in them. There is no doubt this is from rocks tossed by the local rascals! The heartless accountants at headquarters won’t even spring for a few new windows!
The Cripple Creek Crossing tower salutes a structure that was one common at railway junctions and areas with unusually complex track networks. The styling is authentic and weathering of this makes it appear vintage and suggests your trains have been running past for a long, long time!
- Prelit, prebuilt, and ready to go!
- Brightly lit exterior
- Blinking red warning light on the roof
- Realistically weathered, including broken and boarded up windows
- Includes four figures, garbage can, oil drums, doghouse, and Jack the German Shepherd
- Limited edition
- Requires 4.5-volt power source (sold separately, Menards® SKU #279-4062, 4050
- Approximate Power Draw: 180 mA
- 9-1/2"W x 5"D x 8"H