Typical Plans & Sketches

Typical Examples





11.0 SIGNALS Last Revised: September 22, 2004


Railroad signals are a combination of simple steel posts with a lighted top structure that sends information to passing trains. Most signals are connected to a group of overhead wires, though many times they have, and still do, use buried lines as in # 17.0. Signals of a variety of type are used including the older semaphore style, position light style, fixed light type (in a variety of configurations), as well as a searchlight style. Some signals are short ground mounted style and may be of any configuration. Signal types are most often railroad specific and certain designs are often tied directly with a given railroad. The railroad has accumulated a number of different types including an original that was used with Dearborn Tower with others pending donation. Key concept would be to highlight how railroads use signals as communication devices especially prior to mobile radio and mobile telephone communication systems. To some degree the system could be functional to demonstrate how the signals work, though it is not intended that the system be used to “rule” operations in the display area. A number of cabinets and relay boxes will also be required, though they can be in locations at some distance from the actual signal as necessary. A cabinet display might also be appropriate.

Interpretation Methods:

Primarily through the display of the various types. A written ground or post mounted sign should be located on or near each signal type should be included to explain the railroad and function of each as they relate to their new display location (i.e. interlocking signal, home signal, etc.). When a signal came from a specific known location or place name, this should be indicated as well.

General Structure Design:

Total footprint for each signal is relatively small, in the range of 2’ x 3’ in most cases. Each signal requires a concrete base with mounting studs imbedded in the concrete. Wire conduit must be provided within these bases for eventual electrical connections. Some signals have ladders and similar details that may make each base somewhat different in design.

Item Usage:

Beyond general interpretive use, this system might use the telegraph lines for operation to further connect the relationship of these items. Signals should be designed to once again carry power to the lights. They would not be intended to control movements however on the site and would not have wired in track circuits and similar complicated arrangements.

Priority Level in Museum Site / General Structure Complexity:

Med / Low

Special Location Considerations:

Ideally these should be located along the “main” tracks that cross at the diamond, though others might be located on the main railroad track or in the yard area. Others might be used on the turntable leads “allowing” for indications that equipment may enter the main track. Exact locations for each signal needs to take into account the exact type of signal to insure the final location is appropriate and technically correct in as much as is possible. The type and number available will have the greatest impact on location. If possible, a B&O type should be closest to the depot view range and the original one from Lawrenceburg be placed within the view range of Dearborn Tower. A Pennsylvania Railroad signal, if available, might be placed along the side of the Rushville depot that was once along the PRR. When a given signal is not available, an appropriate signal might be built up from components of several to have the desired effect. This should be done only with ones for which no exact history is known or for which the history is not specific.

Supporting Artifacts Available:

Standard plans and a number of original signals are on hand in the railroad’s collection.

Supporting Artifacts that would need to be acquired:

Additional signals and various small parts.

The Whitewater Valley Railroad is a 501 ( C ) 3 not for profit operating railroad museum dedicated to the preservation of a historic branch line railroad, to the restoration of railroad equipment, and to the conduct of educational railroad programs.