N&W Three-Arm Position Light Signals

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Dec 4 15:52:09 EST 2011

For a short period of time the N&W used Position Light Signals equipped with three arm ("heads," of one wants to use the "foamer" term.) Aspects for these three-arm PL signals appear in the 1945 Rule Book, but photographs of any of them in service seem to be almost non-existent. Three-arm PL aspects were not shown in the 1951 Rule Book.

A dozen years ago, Mr. Ben Blevins determined, by examining holes and fixtures on the signal masts, that the >> distant << signals to Abingdon, Meadow View, Chillhowie, Seven Mile Ford, McMullin, Marion, Atkins, Rural Retreat, Wytheville, Clark and Wurno had been equipped with three arms PLUS a bottom marker light. Mind you, this information concerns only the DISTANT signals to the interlocking signals, and NOT the home signals. The home signals at these interlockings had only two arms, according to his examinations. I believe there is also a photograph taken near Villamont that shows a streamlined passenger engine with a three-arm PL signal in the background.

I am attaching a photograph of a three-arm PL signal with a bottom marker light, taken at Home Creek. This photograph came from the Union Switch & Signal Co. archives. Perhaps His Excellency, the List Editor, can find some way to include a link to it, so that all interested readers may see the photograph.

So, I think what needs to be done at this point is to catalog the places where these things were used on the N&W. And therefore I ask, does anyone have information on the location of other three-arm PL signals on the N&W... and hopefully photographs ? And of those of you who stomp around in the N&WHS Archives at West Roanoke, I ask if you have seen any reference to these interesting creatures in the Standard Plans or correspondence files?

-- abram burnett
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