The Manufacturers of American Railroad Signal Equipment

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CHAP 1 - Introduction
CHAP 2 - Some Basic Specs
CHAP 3 - Glossary of Signal Terminology
CHAP 4 - Reading And Interpreting Railroad Signals 1
CHAP 5 - Reading And Interpreting Railroad Signals 2
CHAP 6 - The Manufacturers of American Railroad Signals

There used to be a large number of suppliers for railroad signals "in the old days".  Today, the main players are Alstom (GRS) and Ansaldo (US&S).

Here are links to the manufacturers websites:
1)   Federal
2)   GE - Harmon http://www.getransportation.com/na/en/signalingcommunications.html
3)   General Signal http://www.generalsignals.com/
4)   GRS - General Railway Signal / now
Alstom http://www.alstomsignalingsolutions.com/OurProducts/WaysideProducts/Signals/
5)   Griswold

6)   Hall Signal
7)   National Railway Signal Co
8)   Safetran (Invensys Rail Group) http://www.safetran.com/
9)   Saxby Farmer
10) Seermi Products http://www.serrmi.com/
11) US&S - Union Switch & Signal http://www.ansaldo-sts.com/AnsaldoSTS/EN/index.sdo
12) WABCO - Westinghouse Airbrake Co
13) Western Cullen Hayes http://www.wch.com/
14) Western Railroad Supply

More pictures of vintage equipment can be found here and here

Federal Signal Company




General Signal


GRS - General Railway Signal


GRS Model 2A Semaphore motor.

A pedestrian crossing gate that uses a GRS semaphore motor in Cumberland.  These are still fairly common, as I have recently seen them in Darby PA, Cumberland MD, near Berea OH, Harrisburg PA, Lancaster NY, and Allentown PA.


Griswold made crossing gates, and a unique style at that.  They were based out of Minneapolis MN, and as such, the majority of their equipment was seen in that area.

(L) An unused grade crossing in Burnsville MN, at 155th St W and Kenwood Trail.... 1/2mi north of 162nd St W, which is exit 86 off of interstate 35.  The bottom part of the housing, in which the motor sits, was made by Raco.  It is missing the rotating stop sign.

(R) A Griswold still in service on the Minnesota Commercial, a little south of Fridley and BNSF's North yard.  This one no longer has a stop sign either.

the Hall Signal Company

The Hall Signal Company was in existence from 1871 to 1925.  Hall is mainly remembered for its marvelous Disc Signals.  (Yes, Virginia... even the N&W had a couple of Hall Disc Signals!) 

In 1920, Hall introduced the first Searchlight Signal and was thereafter very quickly bought up by Union Switch & Signal. 

Hall also made the early B&O CPL signals.

Below is a postcard, postmarked 1919, showing the Hall Signal Co's works in Garwood, NJ.  Below that is a cigar cutter from 1902, given away by the company.  These two pictures are courtesy ADB.

Pictures found from various places around the internet and from sources such as Google's digital book saving collection.

    Hall Tyke K Semaphore.

    Cross sections of Hall motors.

Magnetic Signal


A lower quadrant Magnetic Signal wig-wag in Ashland Oregon, photo by Robert Ashworth.

You can find this Magnetic Flagman at the Chattanooga Choo Choo in Tennessee.

National Railway Signal Co

I don't know much about them.  They were located in Easton PA, and if that name sounds familiar, look on the bottom of a box of Crayola Crayons :-) 

I'm looking for pictures of their signals if anyone has some they would like to share.  All I can offer right now are pictures of a relay that appeared on EBay.

Two rumors afloat: one is that the company was started by someone that used to work for the Lehigh Valley RR, and two, Ziegler may have been the name of a "bigshot" within National. 

According to one source, National made two models of Ziegler relays, one with 8 points (poles), and one with 4 points, nicknamed the "big Zig" and the "Little Zig".  For additional photos of this relays, check out my relay page here.



This is a Safetran Unilens signal.  This particular installation is on the south end of a CP Rail siding in New Milford PA, between Binghamton NY and Scranton PA.... off I-81 at exit 223.  They are similar in appearance to a searchlight from afar, but use a separate bulb for each aspect, using fiber-optics to funnel the light to the lens.

Saxby Farmer

Saxby Farmer made interlocking machines you would find in towers.  The tower operator would move the levers to actuate signals and move switch points.


Seermi Products


US&S - Union Switch & Signal


US&S Searchlight signal with a doll post in Lineville AL on an ex-SCL line.  Photo courtesy John Higginson.

US&S Semaphores operated by electro-pneumatics (L), and electric (R).

US&S base-of-mast motor assembly, the actuating rod at the top of the picture would go up thru the pole to move the semaphore spectacle.

WABCO - Westinghouse Airbrake Co



Western Cullen Hayes


WRRS - Western Railroad Supply

A wig-wag type crossing gate signal by WRRS, in my back yard... came off the CNW in western Wisconson.

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