TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — After many years as a notable site at the Wabash Valley Railroad Museum, historic Haley Tower is in desperate need of repairs.
Originally built in 1904, and moved to its current location in the winter of 1999, the tower became a tourist attraction for train enthusiasts and many others throughout the years.
“This is the last railroad structure of the original railroads that were here,” explained Bill Foster, president of the Haley Tower Historical & Technical Society. “Haley is significant to railroad fans, some people come up here to visit from when they were kids.”
The tower was damaged in the early ’80s when the stairs were removed for repairs.
“This steel staircase on the outside, they replaced it in ’82-’83, and when they went to take it off the building, they pulled on the wall of the building and almost pulled the building down,” Foster said. “So they just patched it up because they were going to get rid of it anyway, but now there’s a huge bulge in the building. So this is something that was done long before we got it. And one of the things we had to do was tuck-point it on the outside to keep it from collapsing. And it’s sat here all these years with us using it and you’ve got an earthquake every 20 minutes, it’s starting to take its toll,” Foster explained, alluding to the near-constant flow of trains that pass the tower daily.
The cost to repair the tower is estimated at $25,000. The Haley Tower Historical & Technical Society and the Wabash Valley Railroad Museum are currently collecting donations to help with the cost. You can either donate on their Facebook page or send donations directly to the society at Haley Tower Historical & Technical Society PO Box 10291, Terre Haute, Ind. 47801.
Haley Tower is still functional, but it no longer operates as a part of the current CSX railroad system. Instead, it now acts as an educational and historical marker of Terre Haute’s train-centric history.
“When we started all this, this was the last railroad building in the city. It’s kind of an icon here now. A big tourist draw, especially in the summers,” Foster said.
The Wabash Valley Railroad Museum and Haley Tower hold significance in the community and serve as a reminder of Terre Haute’s long relationship with the railroads.
“Because Terre Haute’s got so much history tied to the railroads. The towers, in general, are kinda unique, there’s a lot of museums that have them now that didn’t. We were kinda the first, we broke the ice. In general, the railroad preservation community, we opened the door,” Foster said.