Buzzards Bay can be considered the "gateway to Cape Cod," especially in terms of railroading. Buzzards Bay is on the "mainland" side of the Cape Cod Canal, and is home to (among other things) three notable railroad structures.
The 544 foot span weighs 2,050 tons and provides 136 feet of vertical clearance when in the raised position at mean high water. The span is balanced at each end by a 1,000 ton counterweight. The span is raised and lowered by four 150 horsepower electric motors which take about 2 and a half minutes to fully lower and seat the span. An emergency generator is located on the North side of the bridge, in case of a power outage.
When a train needs to cross the bridge, they radio bridge control, who in turn contacts the marine traffic controller. The traffic controller must verify that there are no large vessels in, or approaching the canal before he can give bridge control permission to lower the span. He also must dispatch a patrol boat approximatly one half mile up current from the bridge to warn smaller boats that the bridge will be lowered (and if necessary the patrol boat can stop smaller boats, for when the bridge is lowered, there is only about 7 feet of clearance from the water). Once the traffic controller has done this, he can give bridge control permission to lower the span. Bridge control then sounds two blasts of the bridge's horn, and then proceeds to lower the span. Once the bridge is fully lowered, and seated properly, he notifys the Buzzards Bay tower operator. The operator is in charge of the interlocking. The operator then throws a system of levers, which do a number of things, including: Lock the bridge in the lowered position and prohibit bridge control from attempting to raise the span; Position the turnout (Canal Junction) for either the Cape Main (to Hyannis and Yarmouth) or the Falmouth Branch; close the derail(s) necessary for train movement, and finally give the train an Approach signal.
Once the train is clear of the interlocking, this procedure is reversed. The operator turns all signals to Stop, puts all derails in the derailing position, and restores power to bridge control. Bridge control then proceeds to raise the span. Once locked in the fully raised position, bridge control sounds one blast of the bridge's horn, to signal marine traffic that the bridge is fully raised.
Another railroad structure located in Buzzards Bay is the interlocking operator's tower. This structure was built by the New Haven Railroad in the early part of the twentieth century. It is still an integral part of railroad operations today, as it controls the interlocking at Buzzards Bay. The tower is designated as number U 416.
The third railroad structure located in Buzzards Bay is the railroad station. This station replaced one originally constructed in 1872. This station is architecturally similar to one at West Barnstable (futher down the Cape Main) and was also built by the New Haven.
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