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One of three remaining historical wooden Long Island Rail Road signal towers was demolished Aug.22 in Patchogue, N.Y., after village officials determined that restoration would be too expensive.

The "PD" Tower, built in 1912, was seriously deteriorated and was no longer needed.

Preservationists were upset about the demolition, but conceded that there was probably no practical alternative. "They used to refer to it as 'The Leaning Tower of Patchogue,'" rail historian David Morrison of Plainview said. "It would've taken a lot of money to restore it."

LIRR spokeswoman Susan McGowan said "a new, automated signal system was installed ... May 8th and the tower was no longer needed."

Patchogue officials had contacted the railroad about taking over and maintaining the tower, but were deterred by the cost. According to Morrison, "Patchogue was the last location on Long Island where train orders were 'hooped up,' when they put a train order on the end of a hoop and the tower operator holds it up and the engineer grabs the order. So it's a quite significant chapter in railroad history that has closed."

Morrison said the remaining two towers were in Locust Valley and in Fresh Pond, Queens. The first was restored to serve as a police booth, and the second serves as a railroad office.

[United Transportation Union, 8-23-06, from Newsday report by Bill Bleyer]