The Hagerstown Conundrum, Again: HJ "Hager" Tower

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed May 11 21:02:12 EDT 2016

> C.D. Potts, of the N&W Signal Department, in an article titled "When
> Signals Were New," published in N&W Magazine in February 1932, states, "The
> oldest [interlocking] plant on record is that at Hagerstown Junction, which
> is mechanically operated. It was installed in 1883, was enlarged to
> accommodate additional tracks in 1903, and was overhauled in 1930 by the
> Pennsylvania."
> Okay, so we had an N&W interlocking at Hagerstown Jct in 1883. But >>
> WHERE << was it located ? Was this the interlocking we remember as the
> "Hager" of our time ?

A Google search turned up a collection of Sanborn maps that cover
Hagerstown from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, in the Library of
Congress with no restrictions. It wasn't until after the turn of the
century that the junction area of the city showed up on the maps, but the
two attached from 1910 and 1926 might help. They show a signal tower in the
southeast quadrant of the crossing of the N&W and Cumberland Valley, with a
connection track running behind the tower.

I don't know if this is the 1883 tower or a later version. Digging out
these details is what makes all of this fun.

Bruce in Blacksburg

Sanborn Insurance Maps
1885-1963, Library of Congress,
MSA SC 2907

1885 -1963 SANBORN MAP COMPANY (Fire Insurance Maps of Maryland Towns and
Cities). Hagerstown, WA - Kitzmillerville, GA. (includes Funkstown,
Halethorpe, Hampstead, Hancock, Havre de Grace, Hurlock, Hyattsville,

This is the direct link to the microfilmed images of the maps, which can be
downloaded (individually) as PDF files:

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