Roanoke Junction - NELSON'S CROSSOVER

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Oct 9 12:10:56 EDT 2013

To my turnip farmer friend;
While I don't think the Nelson Crossover is electrically locked, it appears to be "wired" so that if it is thrown, the EB signal on the  main line will display "Stop", kinda like an un-signaled siding entering the signaled main.. But, I think there is another (partial, at least) explanation. When a movement leaves (eastward) the Forwarding Yard, either on the FY ladder (straight track), or through the crossover, the first controlled signal it reaches is at Park Street. Therefore, the trackage west of the Park Street signals is not controlled. If I remember correctly, the dispatcher would give a movement permission to "make your move out of Forwarding Yard  Track 6 and be governed by the signal at Park Street". So, he is in un-signaled territory until he reaches Park Street. Therefore, the Nelson Crossover is not "within" the interlocking, but just west of it.
In the humble opinion of a former yard brakeman, 
Jeff Sanders 

On Wednesday, October 9, 2013 10:54 AM, NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at> wrote:

The Hon. Senator Sanders posted a memory-jogger. To quote...


If you will permit me to make a couple of observations;

1 -The derail near VMT isn't new. It has been there for many years. It appears that they have burrowed a hole for the signal line conduit starting to the right of the derail and going under the track and surfacing again in?your 2nd photo (the orange conduit to the right).

2 - Maybe of interest to some, the hand throw crossover in the center of the photo showing the derail, is called the "Nelson Crossover". You will notice a dwarf signal about halfway through the crossover. That is not a controlled signal, but when both ends of the crossover are lined for movement through the crossover, it displays a "restricting" aspect. I believe that the crossover was named for R. A. Nelson, one time Superintendent of Roanoke Terminals (1950s), who may well have been the man who had it installed. When I was working, occasionally, if business was light, a yardmaster would send a crew down to Park Street and tell them to run their engine through the crossover several times to knock the rust off the rails. It is not used very often, but can be a life-saver, if needed.

Now, I am a very simple person whose brakeman's intelligence falls far short of the level of brilliance. So, can someone please explain to me how you can have a hand-operated switch (or in this case, a crossover) in the middle of interlocked territory? Especially when said switch (or crossover) is not electrically locked?

"It ain't no interlocking," someone may say. Good point! There was always ambiguity (even a total mystification) as to just what was interlocked and what was not interlocked between Henry St and Park St. The system worked, but seemingly did not comport with the Rule Book definition of "Interlocking."  As usual, any Time Table Special Instructions explaining the set up were completely non-existent.

Please help. I am loosing a great deal of sleep over this matter and counting sheep is of no use.

-- abram burnett
retired amish turnip farmer in pennsyl-tucky

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