Explore the history, quirks, and stories behind signals with gorgeous period and contemporary photography.
Railroad signals are the link between the steam era and modern railroading. Designed for reliability and durability, signals can survive for decades. In fact, old semaphores installed during the early years of the twentieth century were still in service during the 1990s, protecting trains that were running with the latest modern diesels. Even searchlight-style signals that were the epitome of 1940s railroading continue to work today.
Though standards were introduced in the early twentieth century, interpretation varied greatly among railroads, so even major railroads have individualized signals. Some, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad, were noted for their distinctive signaling hardware. Others lines became known for their peculiarities in practice.
Classic Railroad Signals examines how different railroads developed specific hardware to serve their unique needs, in the process tracing the lineage of various types of hardware and highlighting how and where they were used. From nineteenth-century mechanical signals to disc signals, upper- and lower-quadrant semaphores, three-light electric signals, searchlight-style targets, positional lights, and color-position light hardware, author Brian Solomon covers nearly every conceivable piece of North American signaling hardware, even the virtually extinct wig wag that was once standard in California and Wisconsin.
Gorgeous period and contemporary photography shows signals and trains from around North America. Classic Railroad Signals should be next to Railroad Signaling on every railroad fan's bookshelf.
Brian Solomon is one of today's most accomplished railway historians. He has authored more than 30 books about railroads and motive power, and his writing and photography have been featured in Trains, Railway Age, Passenger Train Journal, and RailNews. Solomon divides his time between Monson, Massachusetts, and Dublin, Ireland.