Featured Railroadiana Items 5

This page shows railroadiana items of unusual interest. These images were sent in by collectors for others to enjoy; the items are not for sale. As images are replaced on the "front page" of the website, they will be archived here. See links to other pages of Featured Items at the bottom of the page. A special thanks to those who have sent in images.

China. Of the many china patterns used in railroad dining car service, the Union Pacific Railroad's "Historical" pattern was one of the most elegant and ornate. The pattern features Union Pacific's "Overland Shield" logo and various scenes depicting the early American West and the coming of the transcontinental railroad. It was first used in April, 1927 on the Overland Limited and shortly thereafter on the Los Angeles Limited. Images by permission; click on images for larger versions.
Band Uniform. At one time railroads sponsored bands, sports teams, and other organizational activities for employees. The item shown here is a reminder of that era -- a beautiful, dark green band jacket from the Lehigh Valley Railroad Sayre, PA shops band. There were 19 of these uniforms produced for the band to wear for the dedication of the shops in 1904. The band stayed in service until about 1928. The jacket has "LVRR" embroidered on each side of the collar in gold threading. Images courtesy of Greg Deibler; click on images for larger versions.
Clock. In the early days of railroad operations, safety and efficiency became possible only with the development of accurate timekeeping. While the railroad watch was the basic tool for keeping schedules, the depot clock was also an important means of keeping time, particularly for the traveling public. Depot clocks ranged from humble "school house" clocks in country stations to large, ornate wall clocks in metropolitan stations and offices of railroad officials. Some were marked for a railroad; others were not. The example shown at right is a Seth Thomas #2 marked for the Santa Fe Railway. Today, clocks like this are much in demand, but collectors should be aware that many standard wall clocks have been "doctored" with new labels to look like railroad clocks. Image courtesy of Bill and Sue Knous; click on image for larger version.
Lamp. Switch lamps fueled by kerosene or lamp oil were once a common sight in railroad yards across the country. By the late 1960's or so, most had been phased out in favor of reflectors which did not require maintenance or refueling. The colorful example shown at right is from a small railroad -- the Akron, Canton & Youngstown -- and has red and yellow "targets" for signal indication during the daytime. It was seen at the Columbus, Ohio 2004 Railroadiana Show. Photo by Rob Hoffer. Click on the image for a larger version.
Milk Can. Railroads once did a brisk business in transporting milk from rural producers to urban markets. Some of this business was handled with dedicated rolling stock, but some of it was handled with milk cans delivered by farmers to the nearby station to be picked up by the daily local. These milk cans can still be found with tags on them identifying the railroad and other pertinent ownership information. The can at right has a brass tag instructing "when empty, return to Mrs. V.B. Burdick, Hilliards, PA , B&LE" The latter initials refers to the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad. Photo by and collection of Gary Moser.
China. The platter shown at right is both very rare and unusually large, dating from about 1900 and measuring 16 by 11 inches. It is an example of the "Cape Charles" pattern used by the New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk Railroad. Given its size, this platter was almost certainly a table service piece rather than an individual place setting piece. The markings on the back identify it as ..."M China, Made By Wright Tyndale and Van Roden, Philadelphia for NYP&NRR". Click on either image for a larger version. Photos by and collection of Jack Morgan.
Lantern. Of the many lantern models that were developed for the railroads, one of the most unusual was the "Twisted Wire" model manufactured by the Defiance Lantern and Stamping Company. Its distinguishing feature was the use of twisted wire for the verticals of the frame, presumably for added strength. No other manufacturer did this. Since surviving examples are rather rare and are marked for only a few Northeastern and Midwestern railroads, it seems that this lantern design was not much of a hit. Shown at right is an example marked "B&LE RR" for the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad. Photo by permission. Click on image for larger version.
Fake Lock. With the growing popularity of railroadiana collecting, it seems that more and more fakes are hitting the market. An example is the fake lock shown at right. It has "TEXAS-MEXICO R.R." engraved on it and is similar in style to other counterfeit locks that have brass tags affixed to them. These are believed to be modern imports and do not actually resemble any genuine railroad lock. The remedy to the problem of fakes is self-education and getting the word out. Photo by permission. Click on image for larger version.
Postcard. Postcards showing street scenes from the early 20th century are rather common, but those marked for a railroad are a bit harder to find. Railroads issued such postcards to promote travel along their lines. The example at right shows Riverside Avenue in Spokane, Washington on the mainline of the Northern Pacific Railway. It features a horse-drawn carriage and the NP "monad" logo. Today, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad -- NP's eventual successor -- still runs a lot of trains through downtown Spokane, but it has been nearly a century since Riverside Avenue looked anything like this. Click on the image for a larger version.
Stove. Here is a stove marked "B&LE" for the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, accompanied by a rare Bessemer-marked pumpkin. The stove is marked in 7 places with "B&LE". The base was made for display by a sheet metal worker (not by the railroad) and has a laser-cut Bessemer logo with a copper background. OK, OK, for the record, the pumpkin was not officially marked by the railroad but it sure looks good! It weighs 45 pounds. Photo by and collection of Gary Moser. Click on the image for a larger version.
Pass. Instead of the usual railroad name, the 1908 pass shown at right indicates a route, the "Sunset Route". The back of the pass indicates the railroads involved, the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railway, which used "Sunset Route" as its word logo, and the Texas & New Orleans Railroad, which acquired the former line. Image shown by permission; click on it for a larger version.

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