Genuine Railroad Collectable Crossing Lights
Old Railroad Sign Specifications:
- Type: Railroad Crossing Signal
- Era: 1920s-1930s
- Size: Overall 11’T x 9′ 6″ W, base 26″ square, gatearm 7′
- Condition: Original, fully restored, historically correct, working lights with all glass lens
Classic Americana Collectables, Classic Restorations and Vintage Memorabilia information:
Railroad Crossing Signs and Vintage Collectables
Due to our earned reputation, we have the good fortune to be in high demand by collectors. We always have a waiting list for most items. We suggest if you are looking for a specific collectable, restored to this level, please ask to be placed on our first-come, first-served list. (Refundable deposit required.) Call us at 1-800-292-0008.
Railroad Crossing Signals History
A railroad crossing is an intersection where a railway line crosses a road or path at the same level, as opposed to the railway line crossing over or under using a bridge or tunnel. Other names include railway crossing, grade crossing, road through railroad, railroad crossing and train crossing.
A crossbuck is a sign composed of two slats of wood or metal of equal length, fastened together on a pole in a saltire formation (resembling the letter X). Crossbucks usually are a traffic sign to indicate level railway crossings, sometimes supplemented by electrical warnings of flashing lights, a bell, or a gate that descends to block the road and prevent traffic from crossing the tracks.
Early level crossings had a flagman in a nearby booth who would, on the approach of a train, wave a red flag or lantern to stop all traffic and clear the tracks. Manual or electrical closable gates that barricaded the roadway were later introduced. The gates were intended to be a complete barrier against intrusion of any road traffic onto the railway. In the early days of the railways much road traffic was horsedrawn or included livestock. It was thus necessary to provide a real barrier. Thus, crossing gates, when closed to road traffic, crossed the entire width of the road. When opened to allow road users to cross the line, the gates were swung across the width of the railway, preventing any pedestrians or animals getting onto the line. The first U.S. patent for such crossing gates was awarded on 27 August 1867, to J. Nason and J. F. Wilson, both of Boston. With the appearance of motor vehicles, this barrier became less effective and the need for a barrier to livestock diminished dramatically. Many countries therefore replaced the gated crossings with weaker but more highly visible barriers and relied upon road users following the associated warning signals to stop.
Grade crossing signals were first developed in concept by the Stanford Research Institute in the late 1950s at the request of the Southern Pacific Company (the Southern Pacific Railroad, now merged into the Union Pacific Railroad), and patented in 1966, the design goal of the grade crossing predictor was to provide a consistent warning time for trains approaching a grade crossing. Grade Crossing Signals are the warning devices for road vehicles at railroad grade crossings. A grade crossing predictor is an electronic device which is connected to the rails of a railroad track, and activates the crossing’s warning devices (lights, bells, gates, etc.) at a consistent interval prior to the arrival of a train at a grade crossing. The basic signal consists of two sets of flashing red lights, one on the front and one on the back, a sign that says “Railroad Crossing,” and a bell. At crossings where trains travel at 30 miles per hour or more, there will be a gate added to the signal. At most crossings, the signals will activate about 30 seconds before the train arrives. The gates will be fully lowered 15 to 20 seconds before the train arrives. The gates will rise or the signals will shut off once the end of the train clears the island circuit. The time interval may be controlled by a Grade crossing predictor.
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods, by way of wheeled vehicles running on rails. It is also commonly referred to as train transport. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks on which they run.
The oldest, man-hauled railways date back to the 6th century B.C, with Periander, one of the Seven Sages of Greece, credited with its invention. Rail transport blossomed after the British development of the steam locomotive as a viable source of the power in the 18th and 19th centuries. With steam engines, it was possible to construct mainline railways, which were a key component of the industrial revolution. Also, railways reduced the costs of shipping, and allowed for fewer lost goods, compared with shipping, which faced occasional sinking of ships. The change from canals to railways allowed for “national markets” in which prices varied very little from city to city. Studies have shown that the invention and development of the railway in Europe was one of the most important technological inventions of the late 19th century for the United States.
Early Railroads in the US
Railroads were built on a far larger scale than those in Continental Europe, both in terms of the distances covered and also in the loading gauge adopted, which allowed for heavier locomotives and double-deck trains. The railroad era in the United States began in 1830 when Peter Cooper’s locomotive, Tom Thumb, first steamed along 13 miles of Baltimore and Ohio railroad track. In 1833, the nation’s second railroad ran 136 miles from Charleston to Hamburg in South Carolina. Not until the 1850s, though, did railroads offer long distance service at reasonable rates. A journey from Philadelphia to Charleston involved eight different gauges, which meant that passengers and freight had to change trains seven times. Only at places like Bowling Green, Kentucky, were the railroads connected to one another.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that opened in 1830 was the first to evolve from a single line to a network in the United States. By 1831, a steam railway connected Albany and Schenectady, New York, a distance of 16 miles, which was covered in 40 minutes.
The years between 1850 and 1890 saw phenomenal growth in the US railroad system, which at its peak constituted one third of the world’s total mileage. Although the American Civil War placed a temporary halt to major new developments, the conflict did demonstrate the enormous strategic importance of railways at times of war. After the war, major developments include the first elevated railway built in New York in 1867 as well as the symbolically important first transcontinental railroad completed in 1869.
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the “Pacific Railroad” and later as the “Overland Route”) was a 1,907-mile contiguous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869 across the western United States to connect the Pacific coast at San Francisco Bay with the existing Eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the Missouri River. The rail line was built by three private companies: the original Western Pacific Railroad Company between Oakland and Sacramento, California (132 miles), the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California eastward from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory (690 miles), and the Union Pacific Railroad Company westward to Promontory Summit from the road’s statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs on the eastern shore of the Missouri River opposite Omaha, Nebraska (1,085 miles). Opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the “Last Spike” with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit, the road established a mechanized transcontinental transportation network that revolutionized the settlement and economy of the American West by bringing these western states and territories firmly and profitably into the “Union” and making goods and transportation much quicker, cheaper and much more flexible from coast to coast.