Harris Tower was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1929 and opened on April 26, 1930. Its 113 interlocking levers originally controlled the complex maze of switches and signals along 3,250 feet of track between Herr Street and the middle of the Harrisburg passenger station platforms. The tower was later operated by Penn Central (1968-1971) and Amtrak (1971-1992) as the ownership of the terminal and passenger operations changed over the years. As the amount of track in Harrisburg was reduced and regional control operations were computerized and centralized, Harris Tower’s importance was diminished. The tower was ultimately closed on November 15, 1991.
On July 24, 1992, Harris Tower was purchased by the Harrisburg Chapter, NRHS to be preserved as a publicly accessible museum. Through the Chapter’s efforts, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 30, 1994.
Today, a complex computer program, designed specifically for use at Harris Tower, teaches visitors about the operations of the tower in its heyday. The program is connected to the original 113 interlocking levers, allowing visitors to control virtual trains through a simulation of the 1940s track pattern based on period-correct Pennsylvania Railroad timetables and train schedules.