Northumberland PA
New York City - Penn Station
Washington DC - Pennsy Approach to Union Station
Washington DC - Union Station
Chicago Union Station
Baltimore MD - Westport
Elliston VA
Baltimore MD - Bush St
Beaumont TX
Columbus OH
Toronto ON
Herrington KS


In General

This page covers signals that are different from those in the other sections.  This includes one of a kind types, unusual, or just different signals that you do not see anywhere else, and you may have to travel cross the country to see.  As of early 2017, I have started to include signals that are no longer in existence.  Contributions are always welcome if you know of one that qualifies.

Northumberland PA

Location:  Northumberland PA
GPS Coordinates: 40.885597, -76.794230
Originating Railroad: Pennsylvania RR

I think these are my favorite unusual signal type.  These are the only two in existence.  My assumption is that they were designed to fill a need for a Pennsy style signal that could be seen by the engineer as he approached Northumberland from the Sunbury side of the Susquehanna because of the clearances imposed by the bridge construction.


New York City NY

Location:  Penn Station approach and in the station in New York City
GPS Coordinates: 40.752369, -73.997710 (open section in the middle of NYC)
Originating Railroad: Pennsylvania RR

These signals can only be found in Penn Station, and on the approach to.  The newer signals are of modular style, the older ones, as pictured, are a one piece cast iron unit.  One of the few places that you can see these signals, without going underground, is in one of the very few open spaces in Manhattan, where you can look down into the tracks approaching Penn Station.

      The two pictures on the right of a fully restored signal are from the collection of  SLTOWER2000.

Washington DC

Location:  Adjacent to Ivy Yard, Washington DC
GPS Coordinates: 38.904911, -77.003554
Originating Railroad: Pennsylvania RR

With the adoption of B&O style CPL signals for the approach to Union Station, the PRR made their own CPL's using standard Pennsy PL parts, and substituting colored lenses instead of the standard all yellow (at the time).  These are the only two I know of, and they sit behind a hotel on New York Ave.  More on this area can be found here: here


Washington DC

Location:  On the northern approach to Washington's Union Station
GPS Coordinates: 38.904911, -77.003554
Originating Railroad:  Washington Terminal

When they changed over from semaphores to a newer style of signal, they decided on using the B&O style CPL (color position light) signal.  On the three signal bridges they used a standard CPL dwarf, with the marker lamps extended further out from the signal than the standard signal for better visibility.  Large backgrounds were installed on both the dwarf signal and the marker lamps, also for enhanced visibility.  Many more pictures are here


Chicago IL

Location:  On the approach to Union Station in Chicago IL
Former GPS Coordinates: 41.877975, -87.639198 (Jackson St overpass)
Originating Railroad:  Pennsylvania RR?

This is one of the few oddball signal styles that had a name, and was featured in a catalog, it was known as a Domino signal.  It too, like the signals in Northumberland, were designed to suit a particular installation where tall semaphore masts would have made the semaphore signals impossible to see - they needed a compact signal style that could be seen while travelling under the many overpasses on the approach to Union Station.  The domino signals have been replaced by searchlight signals on their own signal bridges as shown in the Birds Eye view at the bottom.  More pictures and info here


A great detail picture from the early 1970's, courtesy Tim Vermande.

Taken from the Polk St overpass, looking south

Taken from the Roosevelt Rd overpass, again, looking south, shows the searchlight signals better

Baltimore MD

Location:  Westport area of the city, just south of downtown
GPS Coordinates: +39.261799, -76.631794
Originating Railroad:  Baltimore & Ohio RR

Although this signal is of standard CPL design, it is rare to find one with only a single aspect on it, especially restricting.  With the upgrade to standard "darth vader" style colorlight signals at Carroll Interlocking in 2012, this is the only CPL signal to remain.  The Google Streetview below shows where the signal is, and the building that is in the two detail pictures below, was torn down maybe around 2000?  Additional pictures are here.  Thanks to Mike C for an update on this signal and the current picture, as I had it as MIA and ripped out!  :-)


Elliston VA

Location:  Elliston VA (south of Salem VA)
GPS Coordinates: 37.228948, -80.204375
Originating Railroad:  Norfolk & Western Rwy

About 4 or 5 miles south of Salem VA on US11 is this private grade crossing signal.  The signals are comprised of single lamp heads from a Pennsy style PL signal.  They are activated by the track circuit for each track - when a train is in the block, it shunts (shorts) the track circuit out, and the appropriate lamp goes out.


Baltimore MD

Location:  Baltimore MD, Carroll Interlocking
GPS Coordinates: 39.273061, -76.633692
Originating Railroad:  Baltimore & Ohio RR

This signal is no longer with us, being victim of a CSX signal upgrade to Carroll Interlocking in south Baltimore a number of years ago.  Even though CPL signals are by no means unusual, as mentioned above, someone wrote me and suggested that I included a FULL CPL signal, because they are indeed a very, very rare bird.  The only other full CPL signal I am aware of was in Deshler OH, and it too, was replaced by colorlight signals maybe 10 years ago as part of a signal upgrade to the E/W mainline there.  More pictures of the interlocking at Carroll's can be found here.  The signal on the left of the cantilever installation is the full signal.  For almost all of the signal's life, it WAS NOT a full CPL, but maybe around 2009-2010, CSX upgraded the interlocking, and added the extra marker to make it so.  Even though I usually tried to stop by Bush St on a regular basis, I had not noticed the signal until seeing it on Wikipedia in a page describing signals..... then I had to go down for myself and check-it out.  At the time CSX changed from CPL to colorlight signals, this full CPL was actually more rare than the signals at Northumberland at the top of the page, since there was only one of them in existence (I know, we're splitting hairs :-).  Although not a full CPL, just south of there for NB trains, was an almost full CPL, which I'm guessing were a lot more common, maybe - it's missing the restrict aspect.

Beaumont TX

Location:  Beaumont TX
GPS Coordinates: 30.084493, -94.144842
Originating Railroad:  Missouri Pacific RR

The signal protected a power switch at the west end of a long siding west of MP's Beaumont Yard.  Remote controlled over a GRS control box in WY Tower, (Tower 74 in Texas) that controlled a crossing of the SP (T&NO).

This signal is unusual in that it is an absolute signal with a number plate.  The "A" plate makes it Stop rather than Stop And Proceed.

The track is no longer here.  The MP line was tied into the SP leaving Beaumont, then a few miles farther west, it swings back to the old MP line.  With this unused old routing removed, it was made into streets.

The Google map below the picture shows where the signal used to be.  Given the information that Steve provided, the double track to single track junction can be clearly seen on the partial USGS map, and that you can see the edge of the double track in the picture, I placed the (Google) locator icon where it is on the USGS map.  Steve grew up where the yellow "X" is, so it was a short walk or bike ride to watch trains.  That was even closer to the MoPac than I was when I lived in Tyler TX! :-)

Photo and info contributed by Steve Bartlett.

Columbus OH to NJ Cabin KY

Location:  Ohio
GPS Coordinates: none
Originating Railroad:  Chesapeake & Ohio Rwy

These signals are no longer with us (an assumption on my part), but are presented here to show some of our signaling heritage.

This information comes from Railway Signaling and Communications, Volume 43, dated July 1950.

The source of this information comes from the Google Book Scanning Project, which is an effort to digitize books old enough to be free of copyright, usually older than (I believe) 75 years old.

The book can be found here .  Thanks to the guys on the Yahoo Railway Signaling group for pointing out this book as part of another thread.

If anyone has a better picture of these signals, it would be most appreciated, contact info below.



Toronto ON

GPS Coordinates: 43.642977, -79.387853
Originating Railroad:  Unsure who had these built.....

Here is an unique adaptation of putting three searchlight mechanisms into one housing.  Not only does it save weight and complexity, it makes the stack shorter and a more compact installation (not to mention using only one lock vs. three).  These signals can be found on both sides of Toronto's Union Terminal.


  A standard dual searchlight signal installation for comparison purposes

Herington KS

GPS Coordinates: none
Originating Railroad:  Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific

This signal is no longer with us (again, an assumption on my part), but is presented here to show some of our signaling heritage.  This is a unique installation because it utilizes telephone technology to pulse a pair of stepper relays using the rotary telephone dial, just as you would when dialing from home since it is impractical to run a separate wire for each lamp a mile and a half away.

This information comes from Railway Signaling, Volume 24, dated 1931, covering the period January 1931-December 1931.

The source of this information comes from the Google Book Scanning Project, which is an effort to digitize books old enough to be free of copyright, usually older than (I believe) 75 years old.

The book can be found here.  Thanks to the guys on the Yahoo Railway Signaling group for pointing out this book as part of another thread.

If anyone has a better picture of this signal, it would be most appreciated, contact info below.

  Herington today


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.

BTW, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.


NEW 03/18/2015
Last Modified 08-May-2018