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Routing the Rails: 1943

Routing the Rails: 1943

April 1943. "Switchman throwing a switch at the Chicago & North Western RR's Proviso Yard, Chicago, Ill." 4x5 inch Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Yellow rails

The yellow paint indicated rails unsafe due to excessive separation under load:

"Areas marked with only white paint are less serious and are intended to flag the defect for further inspection within 30 days.

Places marked with yellow paint or both white and yellow paint indicate serious gauging problems that need immediate corrective action. As stated earlier, the standard American track gauge is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. The white paint marks indicate that the gauge of the track under load is up to 4 feet, 10 inches, while the yellow paint designates loaded track gauge that exceeds 4 feet, 11 inches, or 2.5 inches wider than normal. Track
this wide presents a high risk of derailment. ..."


(copyright respected - above quoted as fair use)

Pants cuffs

Notice that the Switchman has his pants cuffs bound up in 'leggings' or taped at the top of his boots to keep him from tripping or catching his cuffs on protruding metal parts on the cars or other equipment he comes into contact with.

Past blasting

Oldtimers here will fondly recall one of the earliest Shorpy conundrums: The Mystery of the Yellow Rails.

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