Posts Tagged ‘semaphore signals’

Not Many of These Left

March 18, 2021

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.

Permanent Stop Indication at Milepost 272

October 3, 2020

The Monon Railroad was known for its semaphore signals, some of which lasted well into the 21st century.

CSX replaced the last working semaphores on the north end of the ex-Monon north of Crawfrodsville, Indiana, with modern signals in December 2010.

But semaphores remained in place on the south end of the ex-Monon on the CSX Hoosier Subdivision.

However, CSX stopped using the Hoosier Sub in 2009 aside from a short segment of track in New Albany, Indiana, just north of Louisville.

In December 2017 CSX filed with the Surface Transportation Board for authority to abandon most of the Hoosier Sub and that request was granted.

In the meantime, some of the semaphore blades on the Hoosier Sub had been stolen.

Online reports indicate that the last pair of blades still intact on their masts were located in Campbellsburg, Indiana.

On a recent Sunday during an expedition to see what is left of the Hoosier Sub I found those blades still set to a stop indication in both direction in Campbellsburg.

The tracks are still in place, although passing sidings had been removed.

Indiana Trail Funds has indicated its interest in converting the former Monon right of way into a trail.

At some point a salvage company will pull up these rails and take down these signals which over the years saw trains of the Monon, Louisville & Nashville, Amtrak, Seaboard System, Milwaukee Road, Soo Line and the Indiana Rail Road pass by.

Today they stand displaying in essence a permanent stop indication.

Ghost of the Monon Meets Ghost of the Pennsy

September 21, 2019

For a fleeting moment in Linden, Indiana, the ghost of the Monon met the ghost of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The occasion was the passage of the final trip of Amtrak’s Hoosier State from Indianapolis to Chicago.

Two former PRR passenger cars were chartered to operate on the final trip including the Frank Thomson, a blunt end observation car. Thomson was the sixth president of the Pennsy.

I didn’t plan to get a reflection of a retired Monon semaphore signal in the window of the Thomson as the Hoosier State passed this railroad museum located at the restored joint Monon-Nickel Plate road passenger station.

But sometimes you get lucky.

Semaphore Blades Stolen in Indiana

September 25, 2014

A report on a chat list devoted to discussing railroads in Indiana says that seven semaphore signal were stolen recently from the fallow CSX Hoosier Subdivision.

The thefts occurred near Orleans and Smedley on a portion of the line that has been out of service since July 2009. CSX ceased freight operations on most of the Hoosier Sub the same year except for a segment in the New Albany area near Louisville, Ky.

The thieves reportedly wore hard hats and were driving a white truck. Police interviewed neighbors in the area where the blades were taken and other residents living near the line were warned to watch out for suspicious activity.

The Hoosier Sub is the remains of the south end of the former Monon. CSX abandoned the ex-Monon between Bedford and Bloomington in 1993, which effectively severed the line as a Chicago-Louisville route.

CSX separated the ex-Monon into the Hoosier Sub between Bedford and New Albany and the Monon Subdivision between Munster and Cloverdale, Ind. The latter is primarily used north of Crawfordsville by CSX freights and Amtrak’s Cardinal and Hoosier State.