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Welcome to our Question & Answer Bulletin Board -- a bulletin board for collectors and anyone else to post questions about railroadiana and related history. Please note that we do not deal with contemporary railroading. This board is moderated (all volunteer) but is not staffed by "experts". Rather it relies on everyone to share what they know. Any question or reply about railroadiana is welcome except the following:

  • No questions about what something is worth -- see About Values. Also, no questions or replies selling or looking for items, parts or services. This includes offers. We've been advised that questions about current internet auctions may pose a liability issue, so we have to be careful here also. Finally we reserve the right to remove responses that are discourteous or inappropriate.

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q3646 Lake & River Lantern  I hate to sound ignorant, but what does 'Lake and River' mean when referring to a railroad lantern? In the 1907 Adlake catalog shown on this site (see link) there is a reference Ė but I canít find any explanation. Is it as simple as a lantern/globe made for use on lake and river vessels ? Thanks! Posted Friday, July 12, 2019 by JMS  Link 1     Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes. If you note in the Link, the globe is for the "No. 7 Steamboat Lantern" obviously for use on lakes and rivers and canals. Waterways were a big market for lanterns, both for use on the vessels and at the land facilities. For just one example, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal between Washington, DC and Cumberland, MD, about 150 miles, in its heyday had 500 (five hundred!) mule-powered canal boats operating on it and 18 or more locks and dams, each with a locktender and each needing more than one lantern. So definitely a significant market for the lantern manufacturers. Often lanterns targeted at the marine market were made of brass, because salt water rapidly corroded the usual tin plate. But 'Lakes and Rivers' probably implied freshwater, so more steel could be used than for Navy equipment.  Posted Sunday, July 14, 2019 by RJMc

A. RJMc - thank you for a terrific and informative answer! Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019 by JMS

 Q3645 Square Key Barrel  I found a brass square open barrel Bohannan key. I can't seem to find it online. Can you help? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by Mark K.   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I think I may have seen the same key. It looks to me as though someone made it into a clock key (?). If you are talking about it disappearing from eBay, railroad keys are prohibited on ebay. They have been since the Bush administration after 9/11 demanded eBay stop allowing auctions that could be used by terrorists against transportation infrastructure. Although it appeared last fall that they were being allowed again (after years of prohibition) all of a sudden several weeks ago, eBay began killing listings in droves. This after even adding a "Railroad Key" and "Railroad Lock" attribute you could add to a listing to help bidders home in on it. (See Link 1). RR Locks ("switch" is specifically mentioned in the list of prohibited items) were/are also prohibited, but those have gradually returned and they have let those listings slide. See Link 2 for the full prohibitions/restrictions policy, RR items are in the "Government Transit and shipping" subhead. There is no way to second guess what eBay will do.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by JMS

A. See prior Q 3631 and the other Q's listed there about hollow square gas valve keys. The rough outside surface on the square end of your key is how things look after somebody modified an existing key to have the square end by adding more metal and machining it down. Although like many suppliers, the key and lock manufacturers would deliver almost anything a customer would pay for. So there is still the possibility it left the factory that way. Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by RJMc

A. Thanks, RJMc, for the defining answer.  Posted Wednesday, July 10, 2019 by JMS

 Q3644 C&O Greenbrier Flatwares  Found as odd man out among a group of very early Hotel del Coronado ornate patterns. This is Raphael (1896-on) by Rogers & Hamilton which joined International Silver in 1898. The firm continues to 1920, well after the new Greenbrier opens. This matches the old style 'G'. Could it be from there?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3643 Adlake Lamp  I just bought this brass Adlake lamp on Ebay. Could you please help me determine its history? It stands just 8.5 inches high, 5 inches wide and has three-3 inches diameter glass lenses (2 red and 1 green). For purposes of scale, I have it resting next to a traditional black inspector lamp. Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, July 5, 2019 by Jerry H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Does it have any kind of (or any signs of having had) a side mounting bracket or socket for mounting on the base? Is there any evidence it was refinished (maybe such as originally painted black?) Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by RJMc

A. I am including a few more photos. It is original brass and has never been painted. Also, the only defect that I can see is there is no clasp to keep the door containing the green lens shut properly. Hope someone can help. Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by Jerry H.

A. THe 'socket' question refers (not to hacked electrical parts) but to the female rectangular socket used to mount many switch lamps. The red and green lenses would work either for a marker (which would need a side bracket) or for a switch light. Does it have a burner? I am wondering now if it might have been produced for decorative use only, the way the now-defunct Victoria Station chain restaurants were decorated.  Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by RJMc

A. The side mount and size really reminds me of a buggy or wagon lamp. These weren't usually made of brass but maybe this was a fancy example. Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by PEK

A. More guesses - a horse drawn fire pumper? a tug or some other navigation related railroad owned use ?  Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 by JMS

A. Adlake is still in business and has a website. Perhaps if you asked them, they could give you an idea of its intended use. Posted Sunday, July 7, 2019 by LC

A.  It is a side marker or tail lamp for an automobile, that is the mounting bracket that they used. The electric socket is factory original, note that the mounting bracket is shaped to go around the socket. The socket should have a rubber insert in it which has holes for two wire in it. Now for give me for asking, have you put a magnet on the lamp, is it solid brass or just brass plated? see the link for the Model T Ford Forum which shows an identical lamp which is nickel plated. The fact that the lamp came from the factory with an electric bulb in it and not a kerosene burner gives a clue to the age. Some trucks used kerosene lamps up into the 1920's.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, July 7, 2019 by KM

A.  This item is a great candidate for Nice, but not really railroad! Posted Sunday, July 7, 2019 by KM

A. I checked the lamp with a strong magnet. It is definitely brass. The only attraction to the magnet is the spring steel wire that holds the glass in place. Even though it says itís a Adlake non sweating lamp, I believe it never had any oil burner inside. It looks like it was electrically lighted. It is rather small, about half the size of a switch light. It is very attractive wherever it was used.  Posted Sunday, July 7, 2019 by JPH

A. Hereís a close up view of the missing door clasp. Anyone know what it once looked like? I would like to repair this. Link 1  Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by Jerry H.

 Q3642 China ID?  'Dinner On Train En Route To Bremerhaven Ger. June 47'. From a small set of photos showing these guys were in service in 1946-7. Probably heading for the embarkation port for a ship home. Can anyone identify the topmarked china? The first post-war German service (Mitropa, DSG), or US Army issues?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 23, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Looks like Mitropa continued operating both eastern & western services until 1949 when withdrawn to Reichsbahn only (Bundesbahn gets DSG to cover those services). Mitropa's prewar eagle logo and postwar headless version don't seem to quite match here...searching "Freunde der Mitropa" yields some good photos of china. During the era of this snapshot, Life magazine ran an article on military wives arriving through Bremerhaven and had a shot in one of the dining cars...not the same service?? Posted Friday, July 12, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The only photo of a train, third down in Link 1, is from 1958. But the text seems to imply that little change occured from 1945-on and BPOE was established formally in 1947. The cars might be olive drab Transportation Corps, running trains while Military Transport Service is still in charge of ships...note two port buildings in first photo. As to Bundesbahn, one source indicates it was basically cobbled together from three separate existing rail networks but does not give any odd comment given that the wartime DR (D-eagle-R logo) seemed to have absorbed all rail lines into a singular entity (?). Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 13, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. A short history of "Duty Trains" started in 1945 (Link 1). Dining car services seem to be left out, but the site in prior link has an entire section on duty trains from 1949-on and dining cars were in regular use (mentions of later discontinuance, DSG staff, etc.)...some tap links don't seem to function, but what do you expect from a military site? Link 1  Posted Saturday, July 13, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3641 Wagner P.C.Co. Sugar  Apparently list by Maffet (Silver Banquet II 1990 Page 223) as Wagner Palace Car. Example with lid having correct finial (no numbers inside) and name not ground out of backstamp. What is known of the possible usage? Did Wagner build broiler/sleepers, diners, etc.? Or might this be company service for dining facilities?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, June 21, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Looks like NY Public Library collection has an 1896 W.P.C.Co. Dining Car Service menu for the McKinley League. Found 172 plans (Link 1) kept by Pullman referencing Wagner Sleeping or Parlor cars...a scattered check shows the occassional presence of a Buffet on-board. No diners among those plans. Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The Wagner Palace Car Company was the largest competitor to Pullman until it was acquired by Pullman in 1900. Formed in 1886 from the New York Central Sleeping Car Company, Wagner operated 725 sleeping and restaurant cars on 30 railroads in the late 1890s. The sugar bowl by Reed & Barton dates from the 1886-1899 period and used on those cars.  Posted Saturday, June 22, 2019 by pemigewasset

A. Check out these two links for further information. Link 1 is about Wagner himself, Link 2 is a really terrific, introspective history of Wagner Palace Car and its interactions with Pullman.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2019 by JMS

A. When Boston & Albany used this pattern, it carried the number 1315 rather than 315...over at rrcommissary silverplate listings. Guess the Central just didn't want to dump a good design. Posted Sunday, June 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3640 Tag ID?  I have a RR tag, I think it is brass/bronze. Where I found it and the patina, makes me think it is quite old, maybe CW era. I would appreciate any info you may have on the age/era it may be. And if it is a tool or luggage type tag. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, June 21, 2019 by Alan P   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Q2987...just the numbers in the box. Posted Saturday, June 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Lets try jumping out on that best guess tree and wonder if a passenger was to board that had a large trunk that was to be held in the baggage car , and the term PASS was to separate general small freight parcels from passenger parcels upon arrival ?? Posted Saturday, June 22, 2019 by HVC

A. Might also look at Q2524 for another round tag with round hole. Over at Tag Town (Link 1) checklist item 4 references round holes in regard to identifying "baggage" tags, which usually have slots for straps. If the proposed out-on-limb theory is that this is a temporary claim check to be held by a passenger (presumably the hole is for hanging in the baggage car when not in use), then what would be the corresponding identifier used in the car to ensure the correct article was matched? Link 1  Posted Sunday, June 23, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The wear pattern, around the small hole, doesn't look as if the tag was hung up very often. Another in a (now) continuing series of guesses: Illinois Central RR always served downtown Chicago and had headquarters there. They have always had extensive commuter train service in the Chicago metro area (still continues under Chicago METRA). Maybe these tags served as employee passes to ride commuter trains, so the RR didn't have to keep issuing paper ones to each of many employees, and the train crews didn't have to keep examining paper ones -- in cars packed with people -- when a quick glance at a tag would suffice. That kind of use would more likely justify the fancy 'coined' stamping of the tag in earlier Q 2524.  Posted Sunday, June 23, 2019 by RJMc

A. For example, a digital copy of an 1870 Official Guide shows 6 trains per day one way, and 7 the other, between Chicago, Hyde Park, and Oakwood on ICRR. And several other IC routes converged on Chicago which also would have carried employees in to work each day.  Posted Sunday, June 23, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3639 Switch Stand Restoration  I have a couple switch stands that I would like to clean up and paint or sandblast to bring them back to their original color. Can you please advise if old switch stands were painted and, if so, where I could find more information about paint colors? Thanks,  Posted Friday, June 7, 2019 by Paul   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Traditionally I do not recall seeing the body of switch stands in any color but black, and probably renewed very occasionally with black paint. That said, when it comes to painting almost anything, every RR was/is a law unto itself and so almost anything was/is possible. (Part of the traditional concept of 'being qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory you are operating on' is to know beforehand where every switch stand is located; you are not supposed to have to spot them visually on each trip, so presumably bright colors weren't needed.) It is only more recently when 'ergonomics' (meaning injury reduction) has become more of an objective that switch stand handles have become much larger, triangle shaped, and usually painted yellow.  Posted Saturday, June 8, 2019 by RJMc

A. Like the model T Ford, switch stands came in all colors as long as it was Black. Link 1 Link 1  Posted Sunday, June 9, 2019 by LC

 Q3638 Baggage Tags/Checks  Iím writing a book on the history of Union Station in Washington and want to convey all the work that went on behind the scenes to make the terminal succeed, especially in the first half of the 20th century. Right now Iím working on baggage handling, in particularly what happened in the stationís basement sorting room. I realize that my question isnít exactly what your list normally covers, but I was hoping one of the group would either know about the topic or be able to direct me to someone who does. Iíve been trying to understand the process after a transfer company delivered luggage to the stationís basement freight entrance. From what I know now, the hustlers inspected, sorted and weighed luggage after it arrived, then a foreman filled out what Iíve seen referred to as a 'train check,' which was sent via pneumatic tube up to the ground floor baggage counter. My understanding is that at Union Station, these were paper. A counterman matched the train check to the passengerís claim check from the transfer company, gave the passenger half the train check (on which the counterman had written train number and destination), and sent the other half back to the basement to be attached to the bag. However, that process doesnít seem quite right to me ó it seems, for example, that something must have been left on the bag as it sat in the basement. I was hoping that the people on your list could help me explain the details of this routine ó in part because they collect train check ó or suggest somewhere I can learn more. Thanks for any help you can provide.  Posted Friday, June 7, 2019 by Bill W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes, interesting questions. We all need to work to locate some actual employees from these operations and document how things really worked. But for the baggage process to work, for the transfer company to have the bag at all, it was already checked in somewhere else (say a hotel) and would therefore already have some ID attached with the patron holding a matching document/tag in some form. One part of what you describe seems unlikely: it would apparently require the passenger to check in both at a ticket counter AND a separate visit to a baggage counter -- thereby losing any benefit from the earlier checkin process. Not clear how the passenger's ticket got linked to the baggage tracking. The baggage counter did NOT have a computer file to look in for the destination info....  Posted Saturday, June 8, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3637 Heater ID?  This heater was found in Northern Ont. Canada in an abandoned rail town. I believe it burned coal, and I canít seem to find it anywhere on the internet. Maybe someone on this site has seen one?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, June 6, 2019 by PC   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Heaters similar to this were used in the ends of insulated cars which got iced in summer and heated in winter, in the days before each car got equipped with a diesel generator. Many of those heaters were fueled with alcohol, which allowed some control for how much heat was generated and when according to conditions. But coal could also have been used. The handle is also a clue: the heavy handle with the 'V' notch allowed the heater to be lifted out of the compartment with a hook to be serviced, so the person did not have to climb in and out of the compartment.  Posted Thursday, June 6, 2019 by RJMc

A. The insulated cars were used to ship perishable foods such as meats and produce. Burning coal in the heaters would have caused problems with soot and smells; if solid fuel was used it was probably charcoal which could be set to burn very slowly, lasting a long time between servicings, without the problems from coal. The objective was to keep the car interior just barely above freezing, so large amounts of heat or hot air were not required if the car was well insulated.  Posted Thursday, June 6, 2019 by RJMc

A. See Prior Q 564 for a very similar heater that was owned/used by a brewery (its not good to freeze beer, either.) It was clearly labelled "Charcoal Car Heater." Posted Thursday, June 6, 2019 by RJMc

A. Sorry, the correct prior Q is # 569. Posted Thursday, June 6, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3636 Button ID Needed  Please, can anyone identify the uniform button pictured? I found a few of these buttons within a railroad collection and have been trying to identify what company/railroad they belong to. The person whose collection it came from was a retired conductor/engineer and an avid railroad collector, so I'm reasonably certain they are railroad, but he has passed away and I'm trying to assist his wife. I've done a Google image search, but no luck. Thank you for any assistance you can provide.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by Jody   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Are there manufacturer ID marks on the back of the buttons? Some possibilities: Joseph Gross' Trolley and Interurban Directory lists rwo 'Union Depot' rr's in Missouri; one in St. Louis and one whose full name was Union Depot Bridge and Terminal Co. im Kansas City, MO. There were 'Union Depot' Co's in many other cities as well. The term Union DEPOT was popular in the early 20th Century. Thereafter Union STATION (as in Chicago and Washington DC US.) or Union TERMINAL (as in Cleveland, Cinci, Los Angeles UT's) became more common. Passenger train crews operating into those places likely wore the uniforms of the RR Co's that employed them. But the Union Depot Co. would still have uniformed employees, possibly selling tickets and as ushers and porters, who would have needed uniform buttons.  Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by RJMc

A. Further checking at the Waterbury Button Co. site (see Link and search on UD) states they made (and may still make) identical buttons for the Union Depot Co., in a very wide range of sizes and finishes. Unfortunately, there are no other details about WHICH UD Co.(s) they made them for....But a visit to the Waterbury site is always fascinating because of the sheer numbers and varieties they have made and still make for the military, shipping lines, airlines, and many others.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by RJMc

A. The back of the button is imprinted only with Superior Quality, with stars in-between words. I have three different styles of button all with this on the front & Superior Quality on the back. This gold tone, a silver tone just like it and then a different style. It's brass and has a domed front surface, but still has the same raised lettering on front & back. If it would help I can email photos of the rest, doesn't look like I can post it here. The different depot options help. Although it sounds like pinpointing exactly what depot they are from will likely be impossible. I'll check out Waterbury's site. I actually found information on a couple other buttons through their site, but it never came up in Google searches for this one. Weird. Guess I'll make sure to go to the site for the rest of the buttons in the collection. Thank you for your help, gives me a direction to go in anyway. Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by Jody

A. According to Van Court's RR button book, this is listed as Union Depot Co COLUMBUS OHIO w. a date code in the 40's. Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by DA

A. Thank you DA for finding that! Thanks to you both for the help.  Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by Jody

A. That would certainly fit. The Wikipedia article (see Link) says the several different RR's serving Columbus, OH, formed the Union Depot Co. in 1868 to work on jointly solving massive downtown traffic problems for both the trains and everybody else, and to build new facilities. As happened in many cities, the RR companies banded together to take joint action at depots at terminals, altho they competed hotly everywhere else. So although the building and associated facilities were later called the "Union Station" the Union Depot Company continued to be the operating corporate entity, probably until the passenger service ended in the 1970's. And on reflection there were many uniformed employees in any facility such as this; station masters, baggage masters and clerks, policemen, and maybe even lunchroom employees, as well as the ticket takers, ushers, and porters. They would have gone thru a LOT of buttons....  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3635 To Clean or Not to Clean?  I am taking pictures of railroad, civil war and petroleum memorabilia so I can sell. The question is: should I clean the items? For example, auction sites show some padlocks, luggage tags & other items that are cleaned/polished while others aren't. Does it add value or does it sell faster if it's been cleaned/polished? Thank you in advance for your expertise and consideration.  Posted Saturday, June 1, 2019 by JH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It really depends on the item. Things used by John Q Public,like china, silverware,etc should be cleaned. Lantern, tools, locks, etc are better left alone. It is called patina. I myself would rather buy a grungy, well used lantern than a shiny new one. Most of these items have been through a lot. Let them tell their own story.  Posted Sunday, June 2, 2019 by JN

A. For me it also depends on the item as to whether to clean. I think brass locks, keys, luggage tags, etc. should be left alone and not cleaned. I have a fancy back brass lock that has a beautiful dark brown patina that looks very nice, and I would never polish the lock. I also have a large steel/ iron car lock with an oily rusty look that is nice. However, when it comes to lanterns I like to clean them. Soot, kerosene, oily dirt, crud and rust on a lantern are not "patina" to me. For those lanterns that have a brass top, I polish that up and apply a clear lacquer finish so the brass stays shiny and doesn't oxidize. The vast majority of lanterns I have seen at railroad shows have been cleaned in some fashion, and I see nothing wrong with the practice.  Posted Sunday, June 2, 2019 by JEM

A. To add my two cents worth, some mild soap and warm water will hurt few items and can remove dust and dirt. What I don't like to see are folks that over clean items with very coarse utensils like a wire brush on a brass item or even a tin lantern. Please don't do damage to the item in the name of cleaning it. Leave it alone and let the next caretaker of the item decide. He may also want to leave it in as found condition.  Posted Sunday, June 2, 2019 by COD

A. Also, reproduction and fantasy railroad items have descriptions like "New looking"...."shiny"...."polished", etc. You don't want a 150 year old lantern or padlock to be described the same way. Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by DA

A. All of the above posts are right on! you do not want an antique or older collectible looking like a new fake. I think you will have better luck presenting most items "as found." Collectors who DO want them polished will be able to do it themselves; Collectors who DO NOT will appreciate your leaving them alone. Personally, I WILL remove rust/dirt/crud but JUDICIOUSLY. (NEVER use Goo-Gone type cleaners on brass - it will turn it ORANGE.) A cleaning exception might be silver tableware - give it a GENTLE polish because tarnish can hide problems and deter possible buyers. Wash china and glassware by hand with dish detergent. It's OK to use grease remover/GooGone on china and glass, but DO NOT bleach it or try to remove stains. Bleaching china can cause long term damage. New fakes often are artificially/chemically aged and have a harsh, too uniform finish. "Patina" is a "surface appearance" that ONLY develops over years, and new items simply do not have it. It's a richness of the finish - old metal that gradually darkened, with a rich, "soft" look rather than harsh and shiny. Bumps and dings acquired over many years add to character. Good luck to you - you're on the right track, coming to this forum first.  Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by JMS

 Q3634 Numbered Nails  Can I get some information on these numbered nails please? Not pictured: 33, 35, 41. Thank you,  Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by Jennifer H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. 'Date Nails' were used by RR's to indicate the last two digits of the year when a wooden tie or bridge timber was inserted in the track. Factors such as moisture, service conditions, type of wood, and type of anti-rot presrvative, anti-termite treatment could make a tie's working lifetime between 20 and 50 years. Acquiring and installing wood ties was/is a major part of track maintenance expense and therefore justified the added expense of marking them individually with the nails to be able to track later factors such as longevity and compare performance. Computer database techniques have made all that tracking much simpler and comprehensive so that using date nails is no longer needed. New ties are often 'branded' during the almost-universal treatment processes so they may still be marked, but no nail is required. See prior Q's 0014 and 2608 for more discussion and a pic of some date nails. Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by RJMc

A. Unfortunately, they were also used in telephone poles of the past making it hard to claim a specific origin unless you actually pulled them out yourself. The kind seen in Q. 0014 were commonly seen on old poles in Southern California into the 1970's. I can't vouch for other parts of the country. Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. My husbandsí grandmother pulled these out of railroad ties she used for fencing in Deming NM in the 70ís. I read an online post in another forum that the # 28ís are from the Santa Fe Railroad that ran through western NM so that makes a little bit of sense. Are they worth anything? Posted Sunday, June 2, 2019 by JH

A. They have mostly sentimental value. There are about 3,000 wood ties in a typical mile of main line track. Except when building a new track, wood ties usually wear out and get replaced a (relative) few at a time. A lot of modern research has shown that one good tie out of three in a row is enough to keep track safely strong, and RR's usually don't replace stuff that really doesn't need it.....Even a major main track rehab now consists of replacing maybe 10% of the ties, on a 6 to 7 year basis. So there is a wide variety of original years in any track which has been in service a while. That means no way to say for sure that a '28'nail came from a particular place, unless you found it there yourself.  Posted Monday, June 3, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3633 Plate ID?  I found an ALCO, American Locomotive Company, builders plate today. The builder number is 40655, August 1906. Can anyone help me to find what the locomotive would have been that this plate went to?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 27, 2019 by Railfanner   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Alabama Consolidated Coal & Iron Co 0-6-0 # 12  Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2019 by COD

 Q3632 Mounting a Circa-1895 A&W Wall Sconce  I have an Adams & Westlake wall sconce that I want to mount and be as period correct as possible in what it would have looked like in the 1890's. I'm hoping you can help me. (1) Indicate if it's for a passenger train or an office, and(2) indicate how it would have been mounted (chimney holder, reflector vs canopy, etc). Thank you very much for any assistance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 27, 2019 by David M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Maybe begin search with "bunk car lamp" (no quotes) and see where that leads? Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. See prior Q 2024 for a mostly-assembled similar lamp. Lamps like this were used in so many places (and RR cars) and over so many decades that there is no 'right' answer to your questions. The good news in that: any respectable way you asswmble it and mount it will probably have been used in 'revenue service' somewhere at some time. Also enter 'caboose lamp' (without the quotes) in the word or phrase search box to see many prior Q's about these and similar lamps. One note: the one I have of these mounted as an emergency light in my house appears to have been painted at one time (green) and subsequently stripped to the bare metal. So that would be another option if you chose to do that. Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3631 Question about a Key  I have a collection of train and railroad keys and locks and need help identifying this specific key. Seems to be iron with a very detailed handle. Can anyone provide some information? Cheers,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 27, 2019 by Eric   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The hollow square tip on this type of key usually fit over the stem of a gas valve. Many passenger cars were lit with gas lights, supplied from an onboard pressurized tank, until electric lighting became universal. (Note that the transition occurred over several decades...). The removable key was used to hopefully prevent unauthorized meddling with the valve settings. The same idea was applied in many other places -- for example on gas lights in buildings and on some building steam radiator control valves. So the key type is fairly common, and almost impossible to specify how this exact key might have been used. Enter 'gas light' (no quotes) in the word or phrase search box to see prior discussions on the topic.  Posted Monday, May 27, 2019 by RJMc

A. Gas floor furnaces (a metal grid sat over) and older gas fire place burners also used this kind of key. Ornate designs were simplified to the basic Mickey Mouse ear look. Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3630 UPRR Caster in Cruet Stand   International Silver frame 05050B made 1951. With no lift handle, casters would sit higher than finial of stand. So far, I believe these can be spotted on tables of upstairs seating in dome diners. (You must look real hard among other items.) Has anyone seen them deployed elsewhere? The tarnish pattern indicates the other caster has been missing for a long time, but does the surviving one appear original to known specimens? Any thoughts on dates/styles? TIA   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 27, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Considering the date oddity, if these were ordered strictly for dome diner use (as a stabilizing measure for the salt & pepper), and given the introduction period of 1955 for the new fleet this earlier stand could have been meant for the Train of Tommorrow which UP purchased from GM in 1950 to use on the Portland-Seattle services. Re-equipping would have been a normal practice along with repainting or refurbishing. Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. For the frame, the tab handles and smooth acorn finial match a 1954 issued covered sugar (Link 1) which oddly still carried the Overland Route shield logo topmark (side of bowl). This is the 05050 1/2 item. Another sample simply had the UPRR script letters on the base like this cruet stand. These do not include "Winged Streamliner" logos found on other items, so far. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Your caster set was made in 1951 by International Silver indicated by the digits 51 in the little square box.They used this code system beginning around 1913. DJB Posted Saturday, June 1, 2019 by DJB

A. Correct...noted at the top. That's why it would seem out of place for dome diner useage (if that was the intent) except for the re-fitting of the GM train, which did in fact occur after the 1950 purchase by UPRR. Just as a note, the plans for that first dome diner show a silverwares rack within the dome space..eliminating the need to send that up in the dumbwaiter for each order. Posted Tuesday, June 4, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3629 Unknown Key Marking  I came across a couple of keys yesterday in Kansas and I recognize the one on the left as Chicago and Alton railway, but the WNW on the right has stumped me. On the back it has an S upside down on the bottom right of the loop and then also has a stamp ? & W Co Chicago. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The only WNW I found was in England - I think West Norwood. I did find an old link about a WNW train in Kansas but I canít find anything else. Thanks so much.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 27, 2019 by Mike   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Wichita Northwestern RR 1919 - 1940.  Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2019 by DA

A. The A&W Chicago mark is that of the Adams & Westlake Company, and the oval shape was used around 1900 - 1920. "S" stands for switch. The larger than usual ADLAKE with a curve was produced around 1920-1940. (Adlake is Adams+Westlake names combined).  Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by JMS

 Q3628 Fake Badge?  I am conducting an estate sale of a former antique dealer and I am suspicious of the authenticity of a railroad badge I found at the house. It measures 2 1/2 in. across and 3 in. tall. It is a 6 point star with the words stamped on the front, 'SPECIAL, C.B.& Q., POLICE'. The back is a safety pin soldered to the center with no other marks. It is rusty and scratched but I think it could be part of the process somebody used to make it look old. Thank you very much for any help or information you can give me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 18, 2019 by Amy S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. For my part, there are problems with this badge. The letters are uneven, as though they had been stamped one at a time, and the ampersand appears to be slightly tilted. So the lettering does not appear to be factory stamped with a die. That being said, the railroad may have had badge blanks and stamped them out as needed. I have some SPECIAL OFFICER and SPECIAL POLICE Duluth Missabe star badges of this type with the pin and some rust in back,no makers mark, and the lettering is curved to fit within the badge. Each has a badge number, missing from this one, so another red flag.  Posted Thursday, May 23, 2019 by JEM

A. Stamped letters on flat sheet metal, scuzzy soldering job with a safety pin. I'd give the Burlington Route more credit than using a badge like that.  Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2019 by DA

A. Also, the safey pin is oriented across two points of the star. The badge would hang with the lettering at a weird angle if pinned on a jacket in the usual manner. Outside possibilities: a prop for a play or making a movie(?) Or an in-the-cereal-box promotion (?).  Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3627 Boston Elevated Ry Lantern  I am a relatively new collector of oil lamps. I have always loved the rail (great grandfather worked on the Boston/Albany Line) and have recently started collecting railroad memorabilia. I came across this lamp that I was trying to identify the maker. It has a Dietz FITZALL globe, but I think it's a replacement. I was hoping that someone could help me identify this lamp and it's former life! It reads: No. 0. TUBULAR on the tank. It is missing the filler cap. I would like to identify the proper globe it would have originally had. Thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 15, 2019 by Lucy   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Without a manufacturer's name on it, your lantern might be hard to identify. According to "Lanterns That Lit Our World", Dietz made a No. 0 Tubular lantern from 1870 to 1884, but it doesn't look like yours. Dietz also made a Monarch lantern model which was a large font version of the No. 0 Tubular lantern. This web site has information about tubular lanterns that are marked for traction companies, inter-urbans, and even railroads. See Link 1, which has information about lanterns associated with Boston Elevated Railways. From the information on the Link 1 page, a red globe was most likely original to your lantern.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 16, 2019 by JEM

A. Here is a Link 1 to detailed descriptions of Dietz lantern models - scroll around to find drawings and examples and descriptions. Link 2 is to Wikipedia information about the Boston Elevated. Good luck !  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, May 16, 2019 by JMS

A. You might check out listings on eBay for tubular lanterns (try the links) - you will have to look to find any No.0 in the list - look for an identical lantern frame. Also try searching on Etsy. Without the maker mark the placement on yours of No.0 TUBULAR is important ... I hope you should be able to find a replacement cap at a hardware store, if I'm not mistaken these are pretty standard. Or try a flea market or antique shop - this is a wonderful lantern, it is so difficult to find them in this condition AND with railroad markings.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, May 18, 2019 by JMS

 Q3626 Lantern?Lamp Info?  I was given this lantern and would like more information on what it was used for. I was told (not sure) it was a train bridge lantern. When the bridge was up the train engineer would see red and the boats would see white. There is NO markings anywhere on the lantern. Any help would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 15, 2019 by Brian   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3625 Railroad Pick  Help! Have an old railroad pick with handle stamped with initials 'S U'. Any info available for this??  Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by enrietta   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Can you post a picture of the stamping ? It does not sound like a railroad tool as if so it should have RR or RY in the mark. More likely, the owner's initials.  Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by JMS

 Q3624 Grandfather's Lanterns  I'm hoping I could get some assistance identifying these oil lanterns. I do not know what type of lamps these are, or if they were actually railroad or other vintage. Thank You.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, May 12, 2019 by Ronnie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These lanterns are not railroad related in any way. They appear to be decorative type lamps.  Posted Sunday, May 12, 2019 by JEM

 Q3623 Key Initials?  I have this key and was told it was for Buffalo & St Lawrence Railroad but the initials B.S.S.L are coming up on the Internet as Barber Steam Ship Lines, which is a ship company and not a train? Was hoping you might be able to help. Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, May 11, 2019 by Patrick   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It seems the information you were given has to be incorrect - to be Buffalo and St. Lawrence, the stamping correctly should be B&StL - of course I can't say "never," but there should be an ampersand, and "St Anywhere" almost always includes the small t. Also, the location of the stamping at the bottom of the bow where it meets the barrel is "different," railroad keys I've seen are almost always stamped around the top of the bow. This key appears a bit larger than the usual railroad key and indeed may be from a steamship (sorry I have no knowledge whatsoever about those).  Posted Saturday, May 11, 2019 by JMS

A. See prior Q 3544, which is about a key with a blank very similar to yours. In addition to JMS's comments above, I note that the letter stamping on your key is a very modern font, very commonly available in steel stamp sets even today. Also, this type of key and key blank, particularly with the straight bit, was widely used by many industries for many different functions in addition to padlocks -- for example police and fire callboxes and for electrical switch controls. At least for state room doors, most ship keys are much longer and of the 'skeleton' type, rather than the shorted barrel keys such as this one. All that said, this doesn't rule out that maybe some railroad(er) used it somewhere, but I would not think that likely.  Posted Monday, May 13, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3622 Found RR Light  This light was found in a junkyard. Can you help me identify it?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2019 by Ron   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The raised PRR in a keystone is the Pennsylvania Railroad mark. Posted Saturday, May 11, 2019 by JMS

 Q3621 CPR Morton-Parker Silver  A prior record of one of these Morton-Parker Marlboro Plate #624 Creamers for Canadian Pacific has quickly been deleted from access now. The item carried the additional marks 'CANADA' (top), '68' or '89' (bottom), and a very large 'B.S.H.' (center, overstamped). These would seem to suggest possible production for Banff Springs Hotel, and maybe as late as 1968 or 1989. None of the other listed pieces in this line/pattern seem to have the B.S.H., but might these all be specific to the giant hostlery instead of dining car useage? Anyone know?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, May 6, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3620 Topmarked 'F.H.' Flatware  All pieces in the photo are International Silver XII. Some include the 'Triple' stamp. A single piece also has an oddball large 'C' stamped on the back, which may or may not suggest the word commissary. There are two versions of the 'F.H.', but all were in the one group. Can anyone confirm a Fred Harvey connection to these pieces?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would be very suspicious that these pieces are actually Fred Harvey - International sold to a bazillion customers, and FH could mean "anyone" and "C" could mean anything. The railroad dining car flatware book "Silver At Your Service" (Dominy and Morgenfruh)shows this pattern, which is named "Zephyr." Nine different railroads (ACL, FEC, Frisco, PENN STA REST, SCL, UPRR, The Union News Co, Lackawanna and Monon)are listed as having used this pattern, with two more (IC and RI)and Grand Central Terminal included as "Markings Not Reported." No mention is made of Fred Harvey as using "Zephyr." The book includes 15 patterns used by Fred Harvey - all but one of which used the full name spelled out. The one pattern for which initials may have been used is "Plaza," where "FH" is listed under "Markings Not Reported." With that many actual Fred Harvey patterns reported, and so many railroad companies reported for using "Zephyr," it would seem as though Zephyr with FH would have been included. On a related note, I have also seen Fred Harvey flatware marked with only the last name HARVEY. Rudy Morgenfruh would be the expert on this, or a strong collector.  Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by JMS

A. Thanks JMS. We definitely know (from china) of "FH" logos outside of Harvey. The FEC connection also had me thinking a possible "Flagler Hotel" or some gap between "Flagler System" and "Florida East Coast Hotel Company"..nothing so far. The Zephyr pattern, created for the streamlined or moderne era, seems rarely found with added user markings beyond transportation companies, and in such cases, bottom marks more often than top. Hotels and hospitals are possible, but there's usually more to the marks than this, and low-end users don't often order higher-end wares for their table. Two distinct versions would suggest not likely to be for an individual in household use. Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3619 Empire Pattern Stainless Flatware  Seen in the top half of the group photo are samples of International Silver Company's Empire flatware known to have been used by Illinois Central, Rock Island, and Southern Pacific. Even though a large selection of items were made, including cocktail forks, I had doubts about the possibility of dining car usage as there seemed to be no demi spoons. However, a replacements site indicates a Five O'Clock teaspoon was available. Most railroad-marked pieces seem to be standard knives, spoons, and forks. The second meat-serving fork down is marked Southern Pacific in script/cursive. Unlike other pieces marked Silco or Insico, this one has the word SERVET...a name that I have tracked back to a single Utah advertisement for stainless hollowares prior to WWII. It was located many years ago in a thrift store in Grants Pass Oregon where, as far as I know, there has never been any commissary services close by and no rail passenger operations (Siskyou Line) since the early 1950's. Is there any other evidence to place where the railroads used these wares...diners, grill cars, commissaries, work trains, etc.?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, April 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What a fabulous group! Congratulations!! My "Silver at Your Service" book shows this pattern as "Empire(C)" [Empire(B) is shown as another International pattern dated 1921 and apparently also made by Rogers, and the design is very different; Empire(A) is shown as Gorham (1880) and again a very different design). About Empire(C), the book confirms International as the maker and says "This is a stainless steel pattern and one of the final flatware orders for several railroads. Some of their pieces may have added silver plating." Unfortunately, there is no mention of how or where this flatware was used. I couldn't find a replacement site you cited - was the 5-o'clock spoon actually RR marked? Certainly International sold this pattern to non-RR customers (Link 1), so pieces without railroad marks are no help determining how the SP actually used their flatware. I hope a good collector will see this and offer some thoughts.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by JMS

A. Way down the listings in your link...5 1/2" left section for not in stock but made for this pattern, before you get to made to order customs. If any RR marked ones do turn up, it would be pretty amazing. Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3618 Caboose Lamp  Great web site and very informative. I bought a caboose lamp marked PRR Urbana. I'm pretty sure it's not a repo but it did not come with a mantle or globe. I was wondering if there is a certain style globe that I need and how tall is the globe? I don't have any pictures to provide but can if needed. Any info would be appreciated. Keep up the great job.  Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by splumber   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 2560 for a pic of an assembled caboose lamp, including the clear (when new, anyway) glass chimney, the clip that kept the chimney in place, and the soot-catcher guard cap above the top opening of the chimney. The chimney on my similar lamp is about 10" tall and about 4" at the widest part. Urbana Industries stamped out (literally) many thousands of these. This type of lamp used a burner and wick, but no mantle. Many were used assembled just as you see the one in Q 2560, screwed to the wall of the caboose or other car, but some fancier installations had lamp shades also. Enter 'caboose lamp' in the word or phrase search box (without the quotes) to see a lot more discussion of this topic.  Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by RJMc

A. The maker was Johnson, located in Urbana Ohio. While the structure is still there, the company closed a few years back. HVC Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by HVC

 Q3617 CB&Q China  Iím wondering if you can help me. I have some pieces of China collected by a friend's (now in her late 70's) grandmother with a daisy and violet pattern. The pieces fall into 2 categories: Syracuse China from the 1950's and earlier pieces(late 1800's to early 1900's). All the china has the same pattern. I've found that the Syracuse pieces were from the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad in the 1950's, I believe used on trains named the Chicago Zephyr and prior to that, the Twin Zephyr. According to research I did on the Internet the Syracuse pieces are 'similar to 'Violet Spray', a pattern that had been used by the CB&Q since the turn of the century.' My question, then, is about the other pieces. They were made in Austria for export to the US. Their mark is the Vienna Austria mark with the double shield and crown associated with the PH Leonard Co, circa 1890-1908, an importer from NYC. So, would I be correct in assuming that they are earlier pieces from the CB&Q RR? The attached photos are of one of the pieces that I have questions about. I just need some confirmation this may be an 1890 - 1908 piece of Railroad China. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by Susan W   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Sorry, no on your older pieces. But yes, the Syracuse china is indeed "Violets & Daisies" used by the CB&Q. Some Syracuse China pieces carried the railroad mark, but many did not, but because Syracuse made this pattern ONLY for the CB&Q, any unmarked Syracuse pieces definitely are authentic railroad-ordered. HOWEVER, almost certainly the Vienna Austria pieces are not. As you found, "Violet Spray" (only violets, no daisies) was the "original" CB&Q-used pattern, ordered by the RR president. It was French Limoges made by Haviland & Co. and dates to the 1800s. After "Violet Spray," the CB&Q ordered the "true" violets and daisies china from Haviland (Haviland's Schleiger No.453, which they called "Violet & Gray Daisy" and was made in about 5 different decoration variations - of which the railroad used two). I believe most of this early Haviland china was railroad marked ("Burlington Route" is what I've seen). After discontinuing Haviland orders, the CB&Q ordered from Syracuse China and Buffalo China and possibly some other American companies but records are sparse. All that said, Haviland ALSO sold a tremendous lot of Violet & Gray Daisy china to any kind of customer; the public loved it and it became a hugely prolific "stock pattern." Because there was such a demand, many companies began to copy the pattern, and it became one of the most copied patterns in the world. Because it was so widely sold to anyone and everyone, European chinaware without RR markings must be considered non-railroad pieces.  Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by JMS

A. Here is a Syracuse China date code chart if you want to date your Syracuse pieces. See Link 1. Example: For 1950 there is a letter code EE, combined with numbers 1-12 representing the months. January 1950 would be EE-1.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by JMS

A. To clarify Q3617 (and other places), the 'Violet Spray' pattern is distinctly different than 'Violets & Daisies' china. Using the word 'similar' can be misleading, because while they do resemble each other, they are not alike. The pattern names are clear : 'Violet Spray' contains NO DAISIES (and it was this pattern, made by Haviland, that was discovered by the CB&Q President, who used it in his home before it became a railroad pattern). 'Violets & Daises' contains BOTH flowers! The photos are of two 'Violet Spray' butter pats. Both were made by Haviland (Limoges, France) and both are marked BURLINGTON ROUTE. The round plate is decorated with transfers, and back markings date it to between 1894 and 1931. The square pat is hand painted, and dates from between 1888 and 1896. BOTH railroad china 'bibles'(McIntyre and Luckin) show an example of each pattern and describe the differences. McIntyre says Bauscher also made Violets & Daisies for the CB&Q. Luckin includes Shenango as a manufacturer of Violets & Daisies. Thank you for this opportunity to clarify. Link 1  Posted Sunday, April 21, 2019 by JMS

A. Wasn't searching for it, but came across some useful sample photos on a site (Link 1). Link 1  Posted Monday, April 22, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Shasta Route, I found the same website and noticed it used the same word "similar" to describe Violet Spray and Violets & Daisies, which I personally feel is confusing, because the two designs are dramatically different (daisies in one, and not in the other). The pictures are excellent - (the gravy boat is either Buffalo or Syracuse and is going to have a daisy on the side that doesn't show) but I wish I could contact "Lolli" (does anyone know how?) because the "Drain" they show is from a 3-piece butter dish. There is an underplate the "INSERT" (the correct term) sits in and then a cover top. See Link 1 for an example. I do not know of any of these butter dishes made for railroad use - they have always been strictly Haviland backmarked with no RR markings, so not "railroad china" (but this doesn't mean there never were - I just may not have seen any RR marked, and they would be incredibly rare).  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by JMS

A. Here is an actual "Violets & Daisies" 3-piece butter dish set (at least I hope THIS link works): an underplate; an insert and a cover. Technically, since it is Haviland, it is their Schleiger No. 453 design for which the Haviland name was "Violet & Gray Daisy."  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, April 23, 2019 by JMS

 Q3616 Odd Tubular Lantern  I recently bought an oddball tubular lantern. Although it may not be railroad, perhaps someone might have some knowledge about it. It takes a standard tubular 'barn' size globe, and has unusual tapered vent fins that fit into the tubes. Also unusual is the way the lid hinges on one of the tubes. The smoke dome is marked 'A W PAULL / PATENTED', and I think the brass lid latch is marked 'J.P.S. SON & Co' with the 'J' being questionable. Online I found a reference to Joseph Paull Senior, brother of A.W.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2019 by MP92   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Try Link 1 for a google search that hopefully offers a whole bunch of leads. It appears Kirkman may sell workable parts for Paull lanterns too. Good luck !  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by JMS

 Q3615 L M S railway lamp made by ADLAKE  I wondered if you could tell me anything about this vintage railway lamp?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2019 by Peter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is an indicator lamp, made for the London, Midland & Scottish Railway. A glass slide fitted over the square aperture, usually showing a letter C or T, indicating the commencement or termination of a temporary speed limit, or sometimes other indications. These lamps were made and marketed by the Lamp Manufacturing and Railway Supply Co. of London under licence from Adlake. Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2019 by JAJ

 Q3614 Loco Class for Bell?  I'm about to come into the possession of the bell in the attached pic. It belongs to a friend in Wisconsin and it was obtained by her father. Her father, grandfather, and brother all worked for the Great Northern Railroad and it is believed that this bell came off a steam locomotive circa 1956 that was being scrapped at the yard of the 28th Street Roundhouse in Superior, WI. I am told that the entire assembly is 33 in. tall and the bell is 17 in. in diameter, though I'll admit that my scaling of the picture does not make the dimensions come out this way. I've not seen the bell personally and I have only this amount of info to go on. I am going up to take possession of the bell later in Apr 2019 and transporting it to my home. I'll be certain to look for any identifying markings and provide any other info that might be of use. The red color is very uncharacteristic from other bells I've seen online, but I know red is a GNR color, so perhaps it's original. Please let me know your thoughts... I am trying to establish what locomotive class this may have come from. Thank you so much!!!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, April 12, 2019 by CK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3613 Error in RR Names Database?  In your railroad names database, you list the LOWELL & NASHUA Railroad. I can find no reference to this railroad whatsoever, but I can find information about the NASHUA & LOWELL railroad which was in the state of Mass. and was a railroad that eventually was absorbed by the Boston and Maine. There is a book that used the Lowell & Nashua name, but I do believe this was a simple error on the writer's part. Please, let me know if I am wrong.  Posted Tuesday, April 2, 2019 by SP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Indeed, there was a Nashua & Lowell Railroad. Please see Links for irrefrutable early references. Link 1 apparently was written in 1918. Link 2 is an 1847 report from the Board of Directors of the L&N. Many of these antique old lines, especially, it seems, the shortest in length and/or life, were named almost to the point of incestuously. Even Wikipedia does not have much about this road. I had to dig further into a Google Books search. Also often helpful in this kind of search is local township or county history available from the municipality.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Thursday, April 4, 2019 by jms

A. OOOPS sorry, too much back and forth for me I guess -- please ignore the incorrect Link above to the N&L. I meant instead to include the 1908 Moody's reference to the L&N on page 94 (Link 1 below). The Google Books scan is hard to read, but it confirms the existence of the LOWELL & NASHUA. It says (the best I can make out): ďNASHUA & LOWELL RR CORPN. (Leased to B&L., RR) ĖInc. in 1838 in N.H. as consolidation of the Nashua & Lowell and Lowell & Nashua railroads. Leased to Boston & Lowell RR Co. for 99 years from Oct. 1, 1880 at rental of .... Lease assumed by the B&MRR Co. on April 1, 1887. Line of road Nashua, N.H. to Lowell, Mass., 14.5 miles; second track....Ē  Link 1  Posted Thursday, April 4, 2019 by JMS

A. I found an even clearer confirmation. In "History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States" (Henry Varnum Poor, 1860), on page 135 under "Nashua and Lowell Railroad, Financial Year ending 30th November, 1859" is stated: "The Nashua and Lowell Railroad Company is a consolidation of the Nashua and Lowell Company of New Hampshire, and the Lowell and Nashua Company of Massachusetts." The book reference is Link 1 .  Link 1  Posted Friday, April 5, 2019 by JMS

A. Bill Edson's RR Names book did not pick up the Lowell and Nashua, but then most of Bill's input data was from the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC)records, and ICC didn't exist in the 1850's or earlier. It does pick up the Nashua and Lowell as starting in 1838.  Posted Friday, April 5, 2019 by RJMc

A. Everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Please remember that pre-Civil War and even later that railroads received "State" charters. This was both financial and perhaps operational. Names like Lowell & Nashua and Nashua & Lowell were state charters between Massachusetts & New Hampshire. It's obvious if you live here but foreigners may have issues with the names. Remember that EARLY roads had just State charters. Krikes - there are plenty of early New England names that never ran a train - it's just a "paper" charter.The N&L had a couple of operational lives too. - Scott Czaja Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2019 by Scott Czaja

 Q3612 Adlake Conductor Lamp, No 31-C  I bought an Adlake railroad lamp, 31-C while junking through some antique malls yesterday. Itís pretty rusty, and there is no battery. But I was able to disassemble it and discovered the battery compartment. I need help with getting the lamp in shape to use the battery, which I assume is a standard 6-V lantern battery. I bought one today. There is a single round contact at the bottom of the battery compartment. Inside the switch compartment, directly below the battery, there are two contact poles. I assume the switch makes contact with either of these contacts to make one of the bulbs burn, and in the mid-position, the switch is off since it does not make contact with either pole. The contact points are rusty, so I am prepared to use a very fine sandpaper to expose fresh metal so they will make contact to light the bulbs. Surprised to discover the filaments in the two bulbs, and the two spares in the top of the battery compartment are intact. My question is should there be some wiring involved to get the lamp to work? Or is the battery just placed upside down in the battery compartment, in which case the negative pole would be touching the round contact at the bottom of the compartment, and the positive pole would be making contact with the metal base of the compartment. There is no evidence of there ever being any wires inside the compartment, so I am assuming this would work just as a regular flashlight does. Thanks for your help.  Posted Monday, April 1, 2019 by Glenn H   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your assumption is correct; the body of the lantern is the other contact and the second spring terminal of the battery is supposed to seat against the bare metal top of the battery compartment. This means the battery can be inserted in any position; the centered battery terminal always contacts the insulated center lantern terminal and the other battery terminal can touch the lantern body at any point to make contact. Also enter 'lantern battery' (no quotes) in the Word or Phrase search box to see lots of prior discussion of this kind of lamp. Unfortunately, the electrolyte that leaked out of worn-out 6V lantern batteries was/is extremely corrosive to the metals in the lantern (as with many, many flashlights, tape recorders,cameras, etc etc!!). It often ate away protective plating inside the battery compartment and corroded the copper-strip switch parts. While it IS possible to work hard and get a lantern like that to light, the internal corrosion often makes them unreliable ever after.  Posted Monday, April 1, 2019 by RJMc

A. Thanks for the information. Fortunately, the battery compartment does not have any corrosion from a leaking battery. Just rusty contact points. To be clear, the battery compartment top (or removable lid) in this lantern has two spare bulbs in a clamp in the top of it. I believe that I will have to put the battery upside down in the compartment to make contact with the round contact in the center, and the other to make contact with the metal compartment bottom. Posted Monday, April 1, 2019 by Glenn

A. Sorry about the confusion. You are correct. When the lantern is in use (hanging from the handle) the battery spring terminals ARE pointed down. The battery compartment cap with the two spare bulbs is then the top of the lantern body. Its just that you have to turn the thing upside down to work on it. By the way, there are many different screw-base light bulbs which will fit that lantern, as well as many types of batteries in the same size. Some very bright and/or very expensive, with differing power requirements and corresponding different battery lives. Shop around before spending a lot of money on bulbs or batteries. There are even lead-acid and NiCad rechargeable batteries in that same 6-Volt package.  Posted Monday, April 1, 2019 by RJMc

A. See particularly prior Q 2195 for more info about bulbs and batteries for these lanterns. Somewhat sad to note, Radio Shack is no longer a source for any of this; they are completely out of business (at least as retail stores) since that answer was written. Posted Tuesday, April 2, 2019 by RJM

 Q3611 Unknown Buttons  I have 6 uniform coat size buttons made by Scoville MFG Co. Waterbury. On the front is G.RY's. I think it is a railroad or railways system but have not confirmed that. Can you help?  Posted Friday, March 29, 2019 by Keith   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Gary Railways {Indiana} was the name adopted in 1925 after merger with several street railways. Scovil Manufacturing Co. 1926. All the trolleys were gone by 1943. Posted Saturday, March 30, 2019 by DC

A. RR Names are listed in this site...searching "G" has many names but only a few might fit a single letter (Link 1). A photo would help to match up any design to known logos or monograms (sometimes in the Official Guides issued each year). Color of buttons, gold or silver? Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Gary Railways, [See link]. Thanks. Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 30, 2019 by keith1940

A. Please post a picture. There are dozens possibilities for "G". There are two large collector guides, one for Railroad buttons and the other for Transit (trolley/streetcar) buttons, that almost certainly could be used for positive identification. The "RY" (railway) suggests more likely a Transit operation but that's not set in stone.  Posted Thursday, April 4, 2019 by JMS

A. As long as we're mentioning traction company possibilities, General Electric Company Railway Department Bulletin No. 4255 (July, 1904) covering Four-Motor Equipments has an extensive list of proper company names and locations from pages 8 through 11. (I have not had a chance to check all of these against names listed in this site's database.) Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3610 Circa 1920's-30's Steam Loco #1811  General details suggest a standard-gauge Western road (high desert & mountains?). Possibly a bit like an SP M-9 2-6-0 before any WWII re-building? Is there anything better that can be picked-up from the visible details??   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From comments in Q2694 regarding SP practices, I take it the Engine Classification lamps are equivalent of A&W 187 1/2 with side mounting riveted brackets. Using Monte Vista's Photo Album Series Volume 2 on Espee 2-6-0 (Duane Karam, Jr. 1998) and finding a good frontal view of an M-6 in 1939 on the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society site (PERYHS), everything including the large boiler-tube pilot looks about right for pre-war SP Moguls. M-9 #1811 is known to have lasted into the '50's and shows up as being in San Luis Obispo at one time. I'm guessing the number boards are simply too low (or far back) to spot here. I expect these are green flags for TT & TO running, but why are they in the hole? Could this be Questa Grade? Posted Thursday, March 28, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. Of course that should have read "Cuesta". Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3609 Round Top Adlake Lamp ID?  Bought this Adlake lamp last year. Was thinking it's an earlier version of a 270 marker lamp. The bottom looks like itís been cut off exposing the bottom of the fount. There's a hole that's been enlarged on the side. Was thinking the bracket with the pin that can attach or release the lamp from the bracket was mounted on it. Not sure what bottom could have been riveted to this unit. The sight glass bezel which is brass screws onto the side of the lamp. A woman I got this from on ebay said her grandfather owned it and he worked for some railroad in the San Francisco Bay Area. Any ideas on what model this might have been? Was also thinking this was a #52 Gate lamp.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 25, 2019 by JL   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3608 NYC Hangers  I work for a charity that takes clothing donations. Recently someone brought in some old suits on wooden hangers. When we took the hangers out so we could sort the clothes, you can imagine my reaction when this popped out!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 25, 2019 by JN   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Wood hangers such as this were a traditional accessory in sleeping car closets. Prior to 1944, Pullman Co. owned and operated most of the sleeping cars and the wooden hangers all said "Pullman." (See Link) U.S. Gov't anti-trust lawsuits caused the sleepers to be gradually transferred to the operating RR's, with ownership of the actual cars and responsibility for operations sometimes transitioning at different times on different routes and RR's. Your hanger comes from the time when NYC RR was operating the sleepers on its lines. Amtrak today has red plastic hangers -- no wood -- in their sleepers.  Link 1  Posted Monday, March 25, 2019 by RJMc

A. For Pullman, I have found two heavier reading "Property of the Pullman Company" and a lighter version marked "Travel in Pullman Safety and Comfort". Though none were easy to find, Canadian Pacific examples were more plentiful. The "old ladies" who once ruled over thrift stores would practically sell anything that wasn't nailed to the walls as they were happy to take in any legitimate funds for their cause. Some known lodgings used to also have marked hangers (rather than the applied sticker types). For instance The Beverly Hills Hotel has surfaced...railroad related through the fact that a Pacific Electric local line once ran practically to the front entrance, making it a destination stop for high iron travellers. But the marked hangers are becoming fewer as time progresses and closets have been emptied. Posted Thursday, May 30, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3607 Adlake Switch Lantern Targets  I was given several Adlake square top switch lanterns and boxes of parts. After reading through the Q & A section of this site which had a wealth of information that was very helpful I still have a question. The day targets of these lanterns come in red, green, yellow and white. What was the white targets meaning? Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 23, 2019 by Harry   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Prior to about 1920 white (meaning no additional color to what was usually kerosene flame illumination) was the 'safe' color rather than green, and the white day targets and also metal vane switch indicators matched the 'white' illumination color. When green lights became the 'safe' indication, most RR's discovered that a green day target blended with backgrounds and vegetation to the extent there was no point in having the green day target -- it couldn't be seen anyway. So they left them white instead, when a green lens was in use for the illuminated color. Also put 'day targets' in the search by word or phrase box (no quotes) to see lots of prior discussion on this topic here on the Q&A Site.  Posted Sunday, March 24, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3606 Lamp Inof?  Looking to find some info on this Adlake Non Sweating Lamp. Was told it was used on the Erie canal.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Friday, March 22, 2019 by Paul B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A Google search I did found a similar lamp that is "engraved" NEW YORK STATE CANALS on the side. See Link 1. Most definitely a shipboard or barge type of lamp with the water shield around the vent and the tie down rings on the base.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, March 23, 2019 by JEM

 Q3605 RR Candle Lantern?  I have this candle railroad lantern. I do not know any of the history of this lantern. My family has been associated with the railroad for a long time, several generations. We have a number of other old railroad lanterns. I thought this lantern might have a railroad connection for the following reason: On both sides of the lantern are hinged panels. Behind one is a red colored somewhat transparent panel and behind the other one is a green panel. My thought is that it may have used the red panel to indicate a warning and the green one to indicate clear. I would appreciate receiving any insight you may have, including the time period this used. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 21, 2019 by WJ   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This may be a darkroom lantern, the role now filled with 'safelights'. Enter "darkroom" in the word or phrase search box (without the quotes) to see many prior Q's with pix about that kind of lantern, which was used on both glass plates and early film types. Different black and white films and printing papers, not to mention processes like Daguerrotyping, all had differing sensitivities to red light and probably green light as well. With the proper filter(s) in place, the lantern could stay lit in the darkroom even as the processing proceeded.  Posted Thursday, March 21, 2019 by RJMc

A. This, at least to me, does not appear to be a railroad lantern. Even with such a strongly railroad family, it is definitely interesting and may have appealed to someone just because of that. It may also have been a gift, kept and treasured. I don't know how the panels work, but marine lanterns also used red and green . Red means left (port) and Green is for right (starboard). If the candle light shows through both sides at once, it could have been placed in the prow of a small boat, red side to the left, green to the right. Lights like this help increase visibility for boats approaching from the front or side.  Posted Friday, March 22, 2019 by JMS

A. Here are a couple more photos. Link 1  Posted Friday, March 22, 2019 by WJ

A. A couple more comments on this: As to time periods, in general, square tin lamp bodies went out of use about 1900, at least on North American railroads, and by then oil burners were almost exclusively used for signal-type lamps. The clear, unshaded front pane on this lamp makes the darkroom application unlikely. And I agree that nautical uses are also a good possibility. I was already wondering about possible canal boat uses of this lamp when the following question came in, mentioning the NY State Canal system. The various lamp manufacturers made lamps for all kinds of uses, often using the same basic designs and tooling, making definite determinations on things like this very difficult. The U-shaped cover over the chimney outlet looks more foreign, although the Piper Co's of Canada made a lot of lamps, including for RR's, that had that style of cover. One of the earlier answers on the site here mentions that wooden handles were also more typical of foreign practice.  Posted Saturday, March 23, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3604 Railway Lamps  I have 2 railway lamps, and I am really struggling to identify them (been looking for weeks. They are 4 glasses 2 red and 2 white. I think they were paraffin but converted to electric at some point. I am in Hawick, Scotland. Any advice or pointing me in the right direction would be great. cheers!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by Roddy M   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Possibly a form of fixed rail crossing guard lamp [(informative) white for trains, (absolute) red for autos]? Hawick was cut off in 1969, but there seems to be a rail preservation group nearby along the old route. Looked at a number of British rail books and saw nothing to help. Posted Friday, April 12, 2019 by ShastaRoute

 Q3603 Lens Purpose?  My husband and I recently purchased a glass lot that included this large lens(?). We are looking for any information available on it. Is it, indeed, a lens? Railroad? signal? train? nautical? Manufacturer? Any and all assistance will be greatly appreciated,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by Debbie   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I don't recognize it as anything RR-related. All RR lenses, and all other transportation-related lenses used for safety functions, have some kind of ID info, usually cast into the glass. Does this item have any lettering at all? The changes in color across the item suggest to me it may be art glass rather than a lens. I am not sure the ridges in this item have the correct contours to work as a Fresnel lens. You might try projecting light thru it to see if it provides any focusing or beam-forming action. I would suggest a car headlight as a readily available wide-beam light source for the tests.  Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3602 Paper-Soo Line 1/2 Fare Permit  It was sequentially numbered and torn out. It was pre-dated only with a '1' so as to be filled in around the turn of the century as 1890's or 1900's. H. E. Huntington was the city agent in Minneapolis and then St. Paul (Hotel Ryan) before he left the Soo about 1899, moving up the ranks across a few roads to become a General Passenger Traffic manager (lost my source, maybe the B. R. & P. circa 1907). What was the purpose for these permits to be handed out to select parties? They were never meant to survive for long as they had to be turned in when used.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019 by ShastaRoute   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3601 Railroad Seal/Token?  This was listed as a railroad seal and I actually think it might be a token. Charlie Harris, noted author and American Digger Magazine contributor, highly recommended your website and I'm certainly enjoying everything I've seen... Any information on this? If you can't ID it, it's no big deal...But I have found y'all's cool website...Much Obliged,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019 by GB   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. More digging necessary to figure out what it is (sorry pun intended) - but it looks like CNO&TPRY - see the Link. Questions - how big is it? and what do you think it is made of? Link 1  Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019 by JMS

A. Thanks JMS...Very insightful and gives us another direction to work in... Our limited view was from the perspective of the maker...Jas. Murdock, Jr. From Cincinnati... The "&" sign was throwing us, but your description would explain it.. We thought/think the "T" was actually an "I"....and we were working on Inclined Plane Railway Company...And there was 5 Inclined Planes in Cincinnati.... But. Without doubt, your reasoning makes much more sense.. BTW, it's made of Lead and curious if you're thinking token as opposed to a lead seal...EHBJ Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019 by E.Brown

A. Lead box car seal. There was a long piece of wire attached to the seal, it is run through the latch, and back through a hole in the seal, and them crimped with the iron sealer, which makes the embossed letters. Unusual to see one that makes a "makers mark" on one of the sides. When they are dug up by guys with metal detectors, the steel wires are long gone, leaving the lead "token". Posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by DA

A. There appear to be remnants of the wire protruding from the edge of seal in two places Posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by DC

A. Yes, a lead seal. They were used on boxcar and express car doors (often passing thru the shackle and body of a padlock), and also on express strongboxes and cash boxes. They were also widely used on water, electric, and gas company meters. One of the more exotic applications was on bottles (usually small) of liquor or other spirits being supplied by a RR to dining cars -- obviously a very high value commodity in great even irresistable demand by some. The dining car steward on departure had to sign for the kinds and quantities of supplies he was issued. After a trip an unbroken seal on a bottle allowed him to turn it back in and not be charged for it. Any opened bottles had to be accounted for in the cash flow. You can still buy the seals and crimping pliers from outfits like Grainger, but most users have supplanted these with one-time use plastic seals.  Posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by RJMc

A.  Thanks to all who have chimed in on this little Lead Seal....You all have provided a wealth of information.... Someone inquired dimensions: it's about the size of a modern penny(I was attempting a picture, but have failed, miserably) A couple of questions have risen since the knowledgeable information has been so graciously provided here, if it's a lead seal, why is there a number "3" on it? (That's what made me think token)....And secondly, Why the Maker's name on the opposite side???(And he was known for making die sinks & tokens).... Thanks again for all you have submitted... Posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by EHBJ

A. The numeral 3 could have represented the place of origin, I have seen the place of origin spelled out and stamped in the seal. Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by DC

A. The device to crimp the seal closed looks like a pair of pliers. There are two sides to the crimping dies - one on each side of the jaws. When you order the 'pliers' you can get the dies custom cut to emboss your message into each seal as it is crimped. In this case the mfr. of the 'pliers' chose to put his ID on the one side -- probably the default on every pair he sold, and the custom RR ID on the other side(probably the RR got the 'pliers' for less money because of this, and RR's ALWAYS like(d) getting things for less money!!) In any big RR station or express company terminal there were many agents working. For high value shipments, it was often important to know who had sealed the shipment, particularly when there were problems later. Each agent, or possibly each shift, was issued their own crimper and the '3' on this one was traceable back to who did the original sealing. So this seal tells anyone looking at it the RR name, the location, and (probably) who did the sealing. If the seal itself was bigger, they probably would have also put the date on it, but that would take much more complicated and changeable dies, which ARE/WERE used on ticket dating stampers, but not for these much smaller one-time seals.  Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by RJMc

A. Put 'lead seal' (but no quotes) in the 'By word or phrase' seach box to see several prior Q's about lead seals. Also the Link goes to a separate page here on the Q&A site all about lead seals and sealers. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3600 Unusual Marker Lamp  I recently came across a picture of a business car with a type of marker lamp I had never seen before. The picture was in the PRR Ft. Wayne Division album on the Barriger Library flickr website. The marker was on a Long Island business car, and has two rows of lenses. Iím guessing the lens colors were arranged so that the indication could be changed by illuminating one row or the other, instead of having to rotate the usual type of marker lamp mounted in a ring. I have attended railroadiana shows for 40 years, and have viewed thousands of railroad photos online, and have never seen a lamp like this before. This has got to be really rare. Were they standard on the LIRR?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 14, 2019 by Joe   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See Link for a pic of a B&O obs also with 'stacked markers' similar to this -- but made of more ocnventional marker bodies. Herb Harwood's book Royal Blue Line, on pg. 138 has a going-away pic of the obs of the "Columbian" in 1936 with those "stacked" markers. Most of the book is about how the B&O fought to get into the New York metropolitan area passenger market. The B&O's own line ended at Philadelphia. Above Philly they had to run every day on the Reading, the CNJ, and during USRA even on the LV and the PRR into Penn Station. At a time when schedules were intensely competitive, the 'stacked' markers probably allowed them to meet differing marker color requirements for the different RR's, and/or mulitple track color marker color indications, without delaying the train to change anything other than inside switches. An LIRR office car, particularly, might have been set up the same way since it would likely 'wander' aound the New York railroad landscape much more than LIRR commuter cars would, and often as the rear car of a train.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 15, 2019 by RJMc

A. David Dreimiller's book Signal Lights on pg. 53 has an Armspear ad from 1950 for a "Duplex Marker Lamp" much like the one on the B&O car above. The ad text says "Designed for special trains and private cars" and the text and cutaway drawing confirm all the above discussion about two switchable lamps to display different color combinations. Posted Friday, March 15, 2019 by RJMc

A. Didn't happen to run these by Grover's Mills in 1938 did they? Might explain those UFO sightings! Posted Saturday, March 16, 2019 by ShastaRoute

A. The Encyclopedia of RR Lights, Vol. 2, in the Handlan section shows a 'Watts Caboose Marker' with this same idea only lit by a small kerosene burner, movable from top to bottom section, from inside the cupola of a caboose. The one they illustrate was marked "PRR" and the displayed color was either 'red for danger' or 'yellow for caution.' No date(s) was given for the Watts Marker. PRR and LIRR were always closely related, so maybe this is a PRR thing.  Posted Sunday, March 17, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3599 Identify Print?  Looking for information on this print that my father's barber gave him many years ago. Someone speculated it may be Giants Pass? The print is about 5 feet long and 2 1/2 feet tall. Any ideas?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by PS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The hairpin loop at the right edge of the pic looks like it may wrap around a lake, although frozen over in this winter scene. That causes me to think of the east side of Rollins Pass, Colorado, (over 11,000 ft. elevation) above where Moffat Tunnel is now, where the right-of-way wrapped around Yankee Doodle Lake. The Link takes you to a very interesting US Geological Survey site where they have scanned in all of their historical topo maps and they will even overlay them for you. If you enter 'Rollins Pass' as the location you want, and pinpoint a spot on the first map they bring up, you can then select from all of the various topo maps they have available for that area. THere are two very good 1910 - 1912 maps of the RR going over Rollins Pass. I can't be positive, given that the artist might have taken some license, but its a possible. One detail in the pic which I can't reconcile is the 'industrial-appearing' building with smokestacks in the lower right corner. I don't know that there was anything like that on Rollins Pass. But you can make good use of the USGS site to check out any other candidate locations, at least in the U.S.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by RJMc

A. The "Giant's Ladder" was one section of the route over Rollins Pass; we're talking about basically the same places.  Posted Wednesday, March 13, 2019 by RJMc

 Q3598 RR Lock?  Just wondering if this is a railroad lock and which railroad? Thank you!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, March 11, 2019 by Anne   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Norwich Lock Manufacturing Co. Not a RR lock, commonly referred to as a Smokehouse Lock. Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019 by DC

 Q3597 Switch Key ID Needed  I am trying to identify a brass switch key. It is stamped DE.M C. RY.CO on one side of the bow. On the other side is stamped a very low serial number 18 and an oval Adams & Westlake mark which dates to around 1900 Ė 1920. Can anyone help identify the rail line? Thanks in advance.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2019 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Des Moines City Ry Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2019 by BobF

A. THANK YOU !  Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2019 by JMS

A. Joseph Gross's Trolley and Interurban Directory says Des Moines City Ry. started under that name in 1893 with 79 mis. of track. In 1929 it appears there may have been a corporate change and expansion to 103 mis. of track -- but keeping a very similar name. Gross gives no ending disposition for the co. Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2019 by RJMc

A. Thank you RJMc! I was stymied by the DE and no "s" before the M. I did try looking in our Gross book but got nowhere. I greatly appreciate your help!  Posted Sunday, March 10, 2019 by JMS