Paying Tribute to the CPLs at Deshler

A southbound manifest freight passes beneath the signal bridge south of Deshler where the mainline becomes one track.

A southbound manifest freight passes beneath the signal bridge south of Deshler where the mainline becomes one track.

For the past few years, railroad photographers have been on a mission. The Class I railroads are replacing block signals on their mainline routes that have stood for decades.

In many instances, these signals represented an identity with a particular railroad. Think of the Baltimore & Ohio, for example and what comes to mind? Color position light signals.

Most of the former B&O mainlines still in service today are owned and operated by CSX. That company has made major strides in replacing the CPLs, but there remain pockets and routes where these iconic signals still guide trains to safe passage.

One such route is the Toledo Subdivision between its namesake city in Ohio and Cincinnati.

In Deshler, CPLs still stand guard on the mainline and the connecting tracks.

During a visit to Deshler in June, I made it a point to photograph CSX operations with the surviving CPLs.

I did not see any evidence that the replacement signals are poised to go up here, but that process could begin at any time and by the time I get to Deshler again the CPLs might be gone.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Union Pacific, the company, is one of the few things still around that is older than this CPL. Chances are, though, that this particular locomotive is far younger than the signal that it is about to pass.

Union Pacific, the company, is one of the few things still around that is older than this CPL. Chances are, though, that this particular locomotive is far younger than the signal that it is about to pass.

An auto rack train is about to enter the Toledo Sub using of the three connecting tracks in Deshler.

An auto rack train is about to enter the Toledo Sub using of the three connecting tracks in Deshler.

Coming around the connection from the Willard Sub and onto the Toledo Sub.

Coming around the connection from the Willard Sub and onto the Toledo Sub.

I didn't get out here to get the head end of this southbound auto rack train coming past the signals south of Deshler. But I still liked the image I was able to capture.

I didn’t get out here to get the head end of this southbound auto rack train coming past the signals south of Deshler. But I still liked the image I was able to capture.

A local could not say how long this signal bridge has been in place. He could only say it has been there many, many years.

A local could not say how long this signal bridge has been in place. He could only say it has been there many, many years.

CPLs still guard the crossing of the Toledo Sub with the east-west route of the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline. A northbound is about to pass the Deshler passenger station.

CPLs still guard the crossing of the Toledo Sub with the east-west route of the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline. A northbound is about to pass the Deshler passenger station.

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One Response to “Paying Tribute to the CPLs at Deshler”

  1. Paul Woodring Says:

    The neat thing about the Northward Absolute Signal (NAS) at the beginning of the Deshler siding on the Toledo sub is that it can display two aspects that are not as common on B&O CPL signals as others (like the Approach Medium light – upper left side pilot light – on the Southward Absolute Signal (SAS) by the diamond and the Deshler station). The NAS Deshler siding signal can display Approach Slow (upper right pilot light), and Medium Approach Slow (lower right pilot light), both of which are yellow lights, not white, like the other pilot lights.

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