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|Above: Scranton Railway Company uniform button. Below: Scranton Railway Company token.|
|Above. Adams & Westlake "Reliable" lantern marked "S. Ry. Co." with a trolley bracket. Click on the image for a larger view. Below. Close-up of letters.|
Show a lantern marking that reads "S. Ry." to most railroad lantern collectors, and they will immediately say it stands for "Southern Railway". But does it necessarily? Type" S Ry" into our Railroad Names Database, and 19 candidates appear! However, the database makes no distinction between "RR" and "Ry" so some candidates could be ruled out with additional research. Still, there are definitely multiple candidates for these initials, and therein lies one of the most perplexing problems for railroadiana collectors-- matching railroad initials with the correct railroad.
Case in point: Shown at right are a uniform button and a token that are unquestionably from the Scranton Railway -- a traction line that operated in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Shown below these is a lantern with an "S Ry. Co." marking. The collector who sent these photos is not sure which line the initials stand for but thinks it may be a traction line, perhaps Scranton Railway Company. In favor of this hypothesis are the following points:
Even narrowing the candidates to traction lines, there are still other possibilities in the same general geographic area of the country -- Schenectady, Schuylkill, and perhaps others. Ultimately the best (maybe only) way to solve this problem is to match the lantern with a similar known example. This is where there is no substitute for sharing knowledge among collectors. Few public forums exist for this to happen, and hopefully websites such as this can start to fill that gap.
Notes: Thanks to Tom Stranko for providing all images and the idea for this page and to Bart Nadeau for a textual correction.