Tag Archives: searchlights

Railroad Photography Tip: Signal Warning, Old Heads Fading Fast—ten original photos.

Searchlights at Ayer.
Searchlights at Ayer.

At one time the Boston & Maine was a poster child for the General Railway Signal Company.

These days some of the old GRS searchlight signals remain but they are rapidly disappearing.

Here’s a railroad photography tip: catch the old signals while you can, they are fading fast, and soon they will be gone.

I’ve issued this signal warning before, and I’ll do it again.

Over the last month, I exposed these photos along the old B&M in the vicinity of Ayer, Massachusetts. These railroad photos are intended as more of a record, than as active illustrations of the old signals.

Looking east at Ayer, Massachusetts.
Looking east at Ayer, Massachusetts.

In many places B&M searchlights are approach lit, in others they are continuously lit, such as here in Ayer.
In many places B&M searchlights are approach lit, in others they are continuously lit, such as here in Ayer.

Searchlights_in_Ayer_DSCF7481

B&M was among railroads that used staggered heads for intermediate signals. Notice the use of both the traditional 'G' plate and the more recent 'D' plate.
B&M was among railroads that used staggered heads for intermediate signals. Notice the use of both the traditional ‘G’ plate and the more recent ‘D’ plate.

Check out my book; Classic Railroad Signals published this year by Voyageur Press. Also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets.

The searchlight style of signal was developed more than 90 years ago. It has been out of favor for new installations for more than two decades.
The searchlight style of signal was developed more than 90 years ago. It has been out of favor for new installations for more than two decades.

High green! (There's a train coming).
High green! (There’s a train coming).

Fallen soldiers.
Fallen soldiers.

Old_searchlight_heads_P1340924

Tracking the Light posts original content.

Check out my book; Classic Railroad Signals published this year by Voyageur Press. Also available through AmazonBarnes & Noble and other outlets.

 

Searchlights on the Wane (But I warned you).

Back in my Pentrex Publishing days (in the mid 1990s) I wrote an editorial about the ultimate demise of the searchlight signal.

Even then, this style of hardware was out of favor for new installations, yet thousands of the old signals still remained.

Today they are fast disappearing, and at many installations they are already gone.

Old searchlights west of Ayer, Massachusetts. Once common, this style of signal has been out of favor for decades and are now rapidly being replaced.
Old searchlights west of Ayer, Massachusetts. Once common, this style of signal has been out of favor for decades and are now rapidly being replaced.

Two weeks ago, when traveling with Bob Arnold and Paul Goewey, we opted to photograph an outbound MBTA train passing these General Railway Signal searchlights on the old Boston & Maine west of Ayer, Massachusetts

MBTA train 453AM works west of Ayer. How long will this new diesel and these old signals co-exist? Bets anyone? The replacement signals are already in place at Shirley.
MBTA train 453AM works west of Ayer with HSP46 2027 in the lead.. How long will this new diesel and these old signals co-exist? Bets anyone? The replacement signals are already in place at Shirley, a mile or so to the west.

I wanted to feature one of the new HSP-46 diesels passing the vintage signals to show the contrast in technology. The window for making this type of photograph is rapidly narrowing, as these searchlight’s replacements are in place and will soon be cut in.

My book Classic Railroad Signals, published by Voyageur Press, details many varieties of older signal hardware and tells the story of American signaling with stunning photographs and detailed historical information. Get your copy today!

See: http://www.quartoknows.com/books/9780760346921/Classic-Railroad-Signals.html

Also see January 2016 TRAINS Magazine for my 10-page article on how to read signals.

Tracking the Light Posts Original Photographs.