Not Many of These Left

While growing up in east central Illinois I often noticed that many railroad lines had a semaphore signal not far from where they crossed another railroad.

They were most common on branches of the Illinois Central but I also remember seeing them on other railroads as well, including the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The semaphore blade always seemed to be in the same position and in my childhood mind I wondered if the blade moved after a train passed it.

Years later I would learn that these were known as distant signals meant to give a crew a warning that they were approaching an interlocked crossing with and to be prepared to stop.

The semaphore blade was fixed into an approach indication.

Although distant signals are still used there are few of them that are semaphores.

During a recent outing to railfan the New Castle District of Norfolk Southern in its namesake city in Indiana, I spotted a former Nickel Plate Road passenger station and a semaphore signal being used as a distant signal.

The rail line in question was once part of a former Lake Erie & Western route that ran from Fort Wayne to New Castle where it split into branches continuing south to Rushville and Connersville.

The line to Connersville is still in place and owned by the Connersville & New Castle Railroad. The line to Rushville, though, has been abandoned.

NS still owns the NKP depot and as can be seen above has kept it in good condition. Few trains pass by here today and the station is mostly used by the maintenance of way department.

There hasn’t been a scheduled passenger train here since August 1929.

A few blocks to the right of this location is the former Pennsylvania Railroad line that once was part of a Chicago-Cincinnati route.

The ex-PRR from New Castle to the Cincinnati region and the ex-NKP from New Castle to Fort Wayne now make up the NS New Castle District. The former Pennsy is abandoned northwest of New Castle.

Back in the day, the PRR and NKP ran combined through the northern part of New Castle.

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