Train order forks

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sun Jan 30 04:31:54 EST 2005

Frank, The one I have is the "Y" design. Open at the top of the "Y" with
just the string going from end to end.
I consider myself lucky first just to have one. Second to have gotten it
from the user with it's unique history.
Ron Wilkinson
----- Original Message -----
From: <nw-mailing-list at>
To: "N&amp,W Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: Train order forks

> To: "N&W Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
> Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 23:26:54 -0500
> From: nw-mailing-list at
> Subject: Re: Train order forks
> Train Order Hoops - I was fortunate several years ago
> to acquire one from a retired Tower Operator on the
> Wabash.  He provided a detailed history on the hoop.
> Down to the nail used to secure one of the forks to
> the handle. It was used at the Reddick Tower in
> Ill. He mentions working two lines N&W & Penn Central.
> Some interesting things about it as mentioned in
> previous emails are : The waxed string & slip knot.
> The ends are chipped from hitting the sides of
> cabooses.  I was fortunate to acquire just very
> recently some copied photos of it in
> use. Most people that come to my home to see my
> collection have never even heard of  "Such a Thing".
> Thanks for starting the thread on this subject.
> Ron Wilkinson
> January 25, 2005
> Hello, Ron:
> Train order hoops --which were a continuous piece of
> wood that was bent so the end looped back to the
> straight portion, and looked like a "P"-- had a low
> survival rate.  After a catch, the train crew dropped
> them back to the ground which would eventually
> frequently fracture them and render them unusable.
> Train order forks --shaped like a "Y"-- were an
> improvement from three respects.  First, it was safer
> to snag a piece of string instead of wood, not just
> from the impact perspective but also if the operator
> didn't let go quick enough --as in Harry Bundy's
> "nanonsecond."  Second, the string was disposable and
> inexpensive.  Finally, the prongs could be unscrewed
> from their sockets and replaced if damaged.  I think
> forks generally replaced hoops after the 1940s, but
> don't have a solid basis for that statement other than
> photos I've seen.
> GN&GM,
> Frank
> =====
> Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator
> Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.
> f_scheer at
> (202) 268-2121 - weekday office
> (540) 837-9090 - weekend afternoons
> in the former N&W station on VA rte 723
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