Article by Chip Deyerle
Author’s Note: This is yet another item drawn from the N&W Rules and regulations for the Operating Department published in 1917.
Perhaps the greatest problem among railroaders in the early 1900s was how to communicate safely and effectively in an age when there were no electronic signals available during the days of steam. This report looks at what the N&W Rule Book had to say. By 1917, it was quite apparent that railroads must move toward some sort of standardized signal system in order for trains to run on the majority of tracks in the US.
Use of Signals:
27. A signal imperfectly displayed, or the absence of a signal at a place where a signal is usually shown must be regarded as a stop signal, and the fact reported to the superintendent.
28. A green and white signal will be used to stop a train only at the flag station indicted on its schedule. When it is necessary to stop a train at a point that is not a flag station on its schedule, a red signal must be used.
28 (a). In the absence of a green and white signal so displayed either in a fixed position or otherwise, stop signals given by hand, flag or lamp will have the same indication.
29. When a signal, except a fixed signal, is given to stop a train, it must, unless otherwise provided, be acknowledged as prescribed by Rule 14 (g) or (h).
30. The engine bell must be rung when an engine is about to move and while approaching and passing public crossings at grade.
30. (a). The engine bell must be rung when running through tunnels and through or across the streets of towns or cities, and when passing trains on double track, and when shifting or passing through yards.
31. The whistle must be sounded at all places where required by rule or by law.
31. (a). The whistle must be sounded at all whistle posts, but must not be sounded while passing or being passed by a passenger train, except to prevent accident.
32. The unnecessary use of either the whistle or the bell is prohibited.
33. Watchmen stationed at highway crossings must use stop signals when necessary to stop trains. They will use white signals to stop highway traffic.
34. The engineer and fireman must when practicable communicate with each other by its name the indication of the signals affecting the movement of their train.
35. The following signals will be used by flagmen:
Day signals – A red flag
Night Signals – A red light
A white light
35. (a) Torpedoes must not be placed near stations or road crossings where persons are liable to be injured by them.