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Mixed Signals: 1939

Mixed Signals: 1939

January 1939. "Railroad tracks, St. Louis, Missouri." 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Lantern manufacturers

To: BeeGuy,

I have it on good authority from two avid collectors of railroad lanterns (switchstand and train crew) that they are more than likely made by Adlake or Dressel. They were the largest manufacturers of the time of signal oil fed switch stand lanterns.

This info however doesn't supply any answer to your question on which railroad the photo was taken at.

Mud Spots

Now that's one big mud spot there; this yard must be located in a flood zone, judging by the lack of anything resembling ballast. It's most likely a yard though, and as BeeGuy said, all trains will travel at restricted speed, and judging by the quality of the tracks, at even less than 15mph.

Inside Yard Limits

Inside the territory the RR defined as Yard Limits, we train crews had to be prepared to stop for any and all other trains, yard engines, and switches not lined for the proper route. Often the maximum rate of travel was "restricting speed" one that was slow enough to stop within half the range of vision, but not exceeding 15 MPH. I'd say we are in Yard Limits.
Some person with a top rating in interest in RR history could likely tell us what carrier owns these tracks just from the switch lanterns and the manufacturer of the switch stand.

Also missing...

I addition to the perpendicular plank missing from the sign, the center switch stand appears to be missing a few of the shrouds around the indicator lights.


Lest you all think railroad crossing signs all looked like this in the bygone days, it is missing the perpendicular plank.

Even the gandy dancers wouldn't live here

Look up "wrong side of the tracks" in your Encyclopedia Britannia (if you can find it) and this will be the illustration. Lordy, but that is one depressing neck of the woods.

Lockless Lamps

Looks like the locks are missing from the switch stands. Now the switches are not protected from unauthorized switching by unscrupulous switchers.

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