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Welcome to our Question & Answer Bulletin Board -- a bulletin board for collectors and anyone else to post questions about railroadiana and related history. Please note that we do not deal with contemporary railroading. This board is moderated (all volunteer) but is not staffed by "experts". Rather it relies on everyone to share what they know. Any question or reply about railroadiana is welcome except the following:

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Latest 50 Questions:

 Q4032 Locomotive Numbering  Any information on how steam locomotives were numbered? The plate from the front of the engine is solid brass as are the flagstaffs. See picture. Thanks for any assistance you might offer.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, November 6, 2023 by JG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To answer your question, historically there was never any standardization across railroad companies and other entities in how locomotives were numbered, since steam locomotives very seldom left their home line. Every railroad company or entity (such as industries, grain elevators, lumber mills, coal mines, steel mills, sugar refineries, etc etc etc) had the discretion to put almost any ID they wanted on their locomotive(s). Many engines were named instead of numbered. Some numbers were carried over from owner to owner when locomotives were sold, which is how some shortlines which had only a few miles of track and only one or two locomotives had them numbered in the hundreds or thousands series; keeping a prior owner's number saved on repainting and lettering. And most companies or entities at one time or another had an "Old Number One" or a "One Spot." For your specific smokebox door, a couple of thoughts. One clue is the ALCO ID and the 1920 date on the number plate. The apparent size (judging by the dust pan hanging next to it) is fairly small. The brass flag holders and the star decorations suggest a possible foreign line to me--the same (non) rules applied almost around the world, and ALCO shipped steam locomotives world-wide. I tried looking at images of Mexican RR's and industrial lines, but so far nothing close. But someone may recognize that gold star. Do you have any other info about where it might have been used? I would also check the back of the number plate for possible stampings; sometimes a builder's number or a boiler number might be stamped there, and they were much more unique to each locomotive builder. Posted Sunday, November 26, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4031 M Ry Marking  What company does 'M RY' markings stand for? Is it uncommon?  Posted Monday, November 6, 2023 by Jim   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are a lot of candidates for this railroad marking. One possibility is the Monongahela Railway. From observation, many if not most of the Monongahela's lanterns were marked "M.Ry Co.", the "Co" being appended to the other letters. However, it's possible that locks, keys and other items did not follow this practice. Posted Tuesday, November 7, 2023 by PEK

A. One of the handy features on this RRiana website is a search feature for railroad names based on the initials used. The Link is to the start page for such searches. If you enter the capital letter M (followed by a space) for the initials (RR or RY is presumed; no need to enter) you will see a list of over 40 North American RR's that could have used just the letter M as their designator. While reporting marks on locomotives and cars are registered for interchange control purposes, and need to be unique to one company, the markings on various RR property were entirely at the discretion of the RR and many were not unique. On some things we will never be able to tell which line may have marked them.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 12, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4030 Boston to KeeWeeNaw Pennisula (MI) Train Svc 1872-1905  I am writing a biography of a mechanical engineer that lived in Boston but commuted to Houghton Michigan at least twice a year for nearly 30 years, starting in 1872. He worked for the Calumet and Hecla Mining company. Q1: I would like to know what trains he needed to take, stops he had to make and how that trip evolved into the 20th century. Q2: Could you point me towards a source that describes the traveling options for a middle-class professional (ie, berths, dining, amenities, etc.)? Since he spent so much time on trains, I'm trying to imagine the train workers, fellow travelers and stations he must have encountered again and again. Any guidance much appreciated.  Posted Sunday, October 29, 2023 by EP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I would assume that for such a long trip this gentleman would have used the long-distance major railroads as much as possible so here is a guess: Using Google Maps the major cities are Boston - Albany NY (Boston & Albany/New York Central RR; Albany-Buffalo NY (New York Central RR); Buffalo - Cleveland OH - Ann Arbor/Detroit MI (NYC-Lake Shore & Michigan Southern); Ann Arbor/Detroit - Houghton MI (Guessing: Great Lakes Central or Michigan Central ? but I'm not familiar enough with the railroad service in the Great Lakes area. Hope someone else here can help.) Likely there may have been a local rail line at the beginning and end of his trip. As far as amenities, Pullman service available on the larger roads would be a good explanation of choices (hopefully he'd be able to use Pullman for the most comfort on such a long trip). If you can find "advertising" brochures from the railroad lines for that time period, they often printed what was available on their trains. As far as stations, public timetables from the period would give a list of stations he would have passed through. And especially since you're writing a biography, please take this constructively as I truly mean it: I'm 70-ish and still recall my high school English teacher drilling it into us that a person is a "who," not a "that," so your man was a mechanical engineer who lived in Boston.  Posted Monday, October 30, 2023 by JMS

A. I meant to include the possibility that this traveler may have traveled from Buffalo NY straight across Canada to the Detroit area where he would have picked up a northbound train. It would have saved a good deal of time, rather than running around the lower end of the lakes through the U.S. but of course would have involved international travel.  Posted Monday, October 30, 2023 by JMS

A. Thank you so much for this information! Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2023 by EP

A. What you really need for this is the services of a Travel Agent, just as your traveller would have needed one. Of course your travel agent will also need the information appropriate to your time period. The Link is to a wonderful resource of historical railroad documents including public timetables, employee timetables, system maps, and other miscellaneous documents which can provide 'color' related to travelling in the past. (For future reference for all, the Link is also featured in the Library/Archives of this RRiana website.) The other outstanding reference is historical Official Guides to the Railways which are available from various sources, including scanned and searchable versions on line. Both independent travel agents and railroad passenger agents provided travel planning services using these documents and either kind of agent could plan, and ticket, and bill one-way or complete trips on the whole network relying on the very effective interline agreements. This meant that an agent in Boston could and would cheerfully issue a single through ticket to Kewaunee,MI, no matter how many RR's (and the Pullman Co.) were involved in any given trip. Larger companies often had their own internal travel offices, but just as today, smaller companies would usually have a longstanding working relationship with an outside agent. I would suggest you consult and recruit a (present day, or maybe retired) travel agent as a consultant for your project, who will enjoy plying their trade in the past tense, so to speak, likely even without getting paid to do it. Another great source for stories of travel would be the personal diaries of travellers from the time, if you can locate them. Some diary-keepers write down EVERYTHING. Link 1  Posted Sunday, November 5, 2023 by RJMc

A. What terrific further ideas, RJMc! especially the suggestion about station agents acting as travel agents. I would think that since this was a regular trip for so many years (although only twice yearly) surely the gentleman would have made acquaintances with agents who indeed could book him through the entire route to the end, and very likely others along the way where he would change trains.  Posted Sunday, November 12, 2023 by JMS

 Q4029 Sign Identification  Can anyone tell me what the purpose of this sign/signal was? It’s a steel rectangle painted yellow with two round holes, Approximately 16” x 20” and mounted on a steel rod. I’m pretty sure an illustration appears in a Boston & Maine rule book, which I can’t seem to locate. It may appear in other rule books. Thank you for any help!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, October 29, 2023 by JMS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Link is to an excellent site containing a wealth of info about North American railroad signal practices, including scans of many rule books with color illustrations of indications. The site includes all of the signal-related info from a Boston and Maine rule book from 1931. On page 111 of that book they show a "Reduce Speed" and a "Slow" sign, both metal painted yellow mounted on posts. The sign shapes are not rectangular. The reduce speed sign is supposed to show the intended speed limit. I suspect your sign is a more modern, simplified version (just plain old rectangular) and the single metal rod makes it look to me as if it was used portable, maybe to protect temporary track work zones. The holes may have been used to hang lanterns, or may just have been to keep the wind or the backdraft of passing trains from blowing the sign over.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, November 2, 2023 by RJMc

A. Thank you RJMc for such insights, it is truly kind of you. I actually got a response from the B&M Historical Society: "The yellow painted steel item is a switch--more properly known as a turnout--target. It was mounted on a heavy steel rod on the switch mechanism. When the track was lined straight, the target was nearly invisible, as being viewed end on by the crew. When the track was lined curved, the target was in full view, thus confirming same to the crew. Some targets were at ground level as shown; others were 3-4 feet in the air depending upon the location and situation." They actually included a photo of an identical sign at ground level, rectangular like mine, except mine is attached to the "3-4 foot steel post" they described.  Posted Sunday, November 12, 2023 by JMS

A. the B&M Historical Society response is interesting, and a very unusual practice as described. Did they say what years (or eras?) this might have applied to? Posted Saturday, November 18, 2023 by RJMc

A. To clarify my comments above, having switch targets is not at all unusual and all RR's have them in one form or another. The only unusual part is having only one "flag" to show the switch position and using the color yellow for it is unusual among RR's in my experience; maybe this was used on yard track rather than a main line.  Posted Friday, November 24, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4028 B&O Reed & Barton Piece  I was hoping you could help me with this. I know it is a silver plated piece made by Reed & Barton with a date code for 1929. But I don't know what it was used for. It measures about 2.75 in. tall and is about 2 in. x 1.5 in. wide. I was told it may possibly be for toothpicks or cigarettes and also that is might be an individual sugar holder. Thank for you whatever assistance you can spare.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 16, 2023 by BF   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This piece might also have been used to hold the stubby yellow "lead" pencils traditionally used by dining car patrons to write their orders on the provided order tickets. The matre'd handed out a ticket to each diner who wrote down their own order; the maitre'd picked up the completed ticket, read the order back to the diner to confirm the selection(s), then forwarded the ticket into the kitchen to have the order prepared. Both at the tables and in the kitchen, that system avoided a LOT of repeats and mis-communication otherwise likely on a dining car often proceding down the railroad at 80 or more mph and often in a fairly noisy ambient environment.  Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2023 by RJMc

A.  Is there a pattern number on the bottom (maybe 1400 or 0143) ? This design is a perfect match for the pieces in the wonderful photos of B&O silver and table settings shown on pp. 74-75 of "Silver in the Diner" (John Fowler). I am quite sure this is a toothpick holder. It would seem to be a bit too old for sugar packets.I can't believe it is a cigarette holder - that would be a rather uncouth way to "serve" cigarettes, standing on end out in the open. RJMc's interesting suggestion about a pencil holder would be a good possibility for a railroad that didn't use menu holders with attached "tubes" to hold pencils, usually one at each corner (Link 1)  Link 1  Posted Sunday, October 22, 2023 by JMS

 Q4027 Square MKT Lantern Base  I have many railroad items that are new to me which I was given by my Mother-in-law. These were collected by my late FIL over decades alongside the late Bob Read. I love historical items and enjoy learning as much as I can. With that, I have approx. 25 lanterns and have dove into how they are constructed, variations, and styles. This particular lantern is a Handlan tall globe but what I'm unable to find is another example of the squared shape of the guards/base. And there is no patent number on it. Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, October 16, 2023 by CM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. We've never seem this type of frame before, either. The obvious guess is that the shape was done to make it fit somewhere that round would not. I just looked through the Handlan section in "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Railroad Lighting: V 1: The Railroad Lantern" (Barrett/Gross) and every example has SIX uprights and there is no mention of any square wires. We initially thought maybe the square bottom shape was a custom job by an individual, but because there are only four uprights it looks like the entire frame is "different," not just the base. Also, from the quality of workmanship, it looks like the frame was manufactured that way and would have been too complicated for someone's project. So the other suggestion is, does this lid belong on this frame, or was the original lid switched to the Katy lid by a previous owner ?  Posted Monday, October 23, 2023 by JMS

A. FOLLOW UP - I found one!! Pictured in "Railroadiana II: The Offcial Price Guide for 2011 and Beyond" (Sue Knous) pages 362-363, Fig. 2784 is a flat top Handlan wire bottom frame with FOUR vertical wires not six. The bottom base wire is round, not square. The lantern is marked ICRR (Illinois Central). So the guess at this point is that the frame was made that way, but somebody squared the bottom wire for some reason.  Posted Monday, October 23, 2023 by JMS

A. Over 50 years I have run into a few of these 'square' frames. They are fairly scarce. Road marks I specifically recall are the 2 mentioned. ICRR and MK&T. These are late period tall globes made in the 1920's. The one you show is in beautiful shape, great patina, never been ruined by cleaning.  Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2023 by James

A. James - Thank you (!!) for the correction and additional information. These must be quite rare - I was surprised that there is no mention in the Barrett book. Now we know for sure !! It was really good of you to post about actual sightings.  Posted Friday, October 27, 2023 by JMS

 Q4026 Torch Identification?  This was my father’s. He was a fireman on the Union Railroad. It would have had a long wooden handle. He said it was either used to light a burner or to thaw something.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by Don   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. See prior Q 3487 and other Q's referenced there. The Link is to the New York Central RR-produced motion picture about servicing steam locomotives; look at abt. 10 minutes in to see detailed views of using an open-flame torch in a roundhouse to check for air brake system leaks. Yours would have been used the same way. Like anything else around the RR, these would get used for all kinds of jobs (thawing something, etc) but it really didn't produce enough light or heat to be very useful for that; inspecting things would have been its main use. Link 1  Posted Friday, September 22, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4025 Barrel Globe Green over Clear  I have a barrel globe green over clear. I am wanting to match it to the correct lantern. Its dimensions are 2 5/8 inches at top green outside; 3 1/4 inches at bottom clear outside, and 5 1/4 inch tall. What lantern should this belong to?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by GS   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Really nice globe that is fairly hard to find in good shape. The Macbeth pearl glass 223 or “barrel globe” will fit perfectly in to a Keystone Casey. Posted Sunday, September 24, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q4024 #39 Star Lantern  I need some help. Chimney dome not stamped, instead has a brass tag or (I believe it's copper). Question One: does anyone know why? Maybe salesmen sample, or for a trade show? Question Two: note the twist of the wire where bail attaches, almost identical to the Rayo 39 WB, same goes for the chimney dome. I can’t find any info that links the two companies. Any help would be appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by Jeff   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4023 Badge Info Needed  I was looking for a wee bit of information regarding this item. Would you be able to tell me who manufactured it, what time period it came from and what rank of officer would have worn it? Is it a common type of badge or quite rare? I would be very grateful if you could assist. And may I add as someone who has just recently took an interest in the history of American railroads It looks absolutely fascinating. With kind regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 26, 2023 by JRB, Glasgow Scotland UK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Look at Q. 960 using the archive search boxes (just enter the number itself). There’s info. in the reply to the query. Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q4022 Old NYC Certificate  Just wondering if there was any information out there about this certificate. Found in my in-laws house.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, August 20, 2023 by Jo   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I wish I could help but this sounds like a difficult assignment. Albert Pratt is not the commonest name, but it is not rare enough to make the search easy. You might inquire of the NYCS Historical Society (Link 1), maybe they can provide at least some kind of lead. I checked FINDAGRAVE for Albert Pratt born in NY before 1900 (Start with the state in which this was found) and got "too many" results (Link 2). Findagrave isn't perfect, many graves aren't represented. I would look in states where the NYC&HRR ran, not in Maryland. The only other thing I can think of is, which I believe includes newspaper articles (there could be a congratulatory announcement in his home town?) or possibly A last straw - was this a relative? or possibly a prior resident of the house before your in-laws in which case you might try looking through earlier deeds for the property or even US Census records that could contain useful information. Good luck - !!  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2023 by JMS

A.  Not a relative , was just curious that I can’t seem to find much if anything about the railway special agents .thank you for your input. Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2023 by Joe

A. For as long as it ran there surely doesn't seem to be much information as there should be about the NYC&HRR. It lasted from 1869-1914. I google searched "International Association of Railway Special Agents and Police" and found it started in 1896 - but not much else about it. Railroad police of course are still active. Obviously our man was a railroad policeman/special agent, doing safety and security work for the NYC&HRR. It's curious the certificate was issued in 1915, with the NYC&HRR reorganizing/ed into the New York Central in 1914. It's clear his IARSAP membership was effective but did he retire? or stay on with the newly reorganized line? It would have been a hike for him to have attended a meeting in Maryland. Link 2 is a google search for job duties - apparently Special Agents were police officers who additionally took proactive safety and security duties such as investigating public safety incidents which occurred on railroad property and other projects such as taking messages to schools, businesses and civic organizations.  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, August 26, 2023 by JMS

A. I just found this really terrific article about the history of the Railroad Police - Link 1. It's a great read, beginning with wild west outlaws in the 1860s.  Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 26, 2023 by JMS

A. The 1914 change on the "New York Central" was really just a re-branding, not a merger or re-organization. It would not have affected people at the operations level -- such as a railroad policeman -- much at all. Under common Vanderbilt ownership and control, the New York Central and other subsidiaries such as the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and the NY&HR had been running through service from New York City to Chicago since 1878. The subsidiary railroad names continued to get used for a very long time on many things, first under the "New York Central Lines" banner and the subsequent "New York Central System" banner, so its not unusual to see NY&HR named in 1915, and also not unusual to see much separate history on what was only a subsidiary of the the much bigger operation.  Posted Saturday, August 26, 2023 by RJMc

A. And as to Baltimore, I see that the certificate was issued at Baltimore, where the organization's Secretary/Treasurer, and likely the organization's main office, were based. Not clear Mr. Pratt ever needed to go there; he probably got the certificate in the mail. Posted Saturday, August 26, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4021 B&O Marked Goblets  Good day! My husband and I came across 4 of these glasses and purchased two. Does anyone know how I can find info on the reverse image, or why and when these were made? It say in cursive, large, 'Chimes', and just below, DEEDS NOT WORDS. The B&O side wording is 'Baltimore & Ohio, with stop-over privilege'. The gold leaf has a griffin on each side of the B&O emblem with various lines and decoration. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Saturday, August 19, 2023 by JBD   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Trademark filed (Link 1) in 2010. Vacated circa 2018. Chimes acts as agency related to developmental disabilities, apparently employment/education/etc.. Too late for actual B&O railroad connection, but maybe museum/historical entity? Old logos/emblems might still have been controlled by CSX but this stuff rarely is tightly enforced. Link 1  Posted Saturday, August 19, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Here is a YouTube video (Link 1) About Chimes. I'm wondering if someone had glassware made up for a fundraiser or celebration of some sort. But why use the B&O connection is a complete mystery.Link 2 is to a website selling an Old Fashioned style glass with a logo. "Deeds Not WOrds" apparently was a rallying cry of early suffragettes. If you're interested, do a Google search for "deeds not words."  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Sunday, August 20, 2023 by JMS

 Q4020 Porcelain RR Sign?  A few months back, I was at my favorite antique store and came across a colbalt blue porcelain sign with the word 'West Port' spelled out in all caps. Since I collect railroad memorabilia, the price was right, and this sign definitely wasn’t a road sign as it was single side, I decided to pick it up. I was wondering if this came from the railroad or is a geographical location sign and if so which railroad did it come from? My guess it might have been used at a depot. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, August 17, 2023 by Andrew   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. It would be helpful to know the size, and what geographical area it came from.  Posted Thursday, August 17, 2023 by RJMc

A. The sign is 29” long by 7” wide. I purchased the sign at one of my favorite antique/junk stores in Greenville, SC. However, the person purchased at a flea market in Maryland off a picker from Baltimore which has a neighborhood called Westport. I hope this helps.  Posted Thursday, August 17, 2023 by Andrew D

A. I am sorry to be negative, but without any railroad connection it is just too "general purpose" and can't be positively identified with any railroad connection. This is a really nice sign in super condition and a great display, but its background is just too hazy. Pickers get around, who knows where the person who sold it to the Baltimore picker got it. A quick Google search ( Link 1) yielded several results including "an ambitious and developing collection of 5 distinct communities" in Port Charlotte FL and a West Port High School in Ocala, FL. There surely must be others. This sign looks like many I have seen mounted on entry pillars or gate posts to places like a housing complex, an industrial area or commerce park, designating an entry location rather than a specific place. It's really interesting with the TWO words - I can't see anyone making a sign for WESTPORT (one word) with two words and a space between, that's just too much of an error. I do hope you can find something concrete about it.  Link 1  Posted Sunday, August 20, 2023 by JMS

A. Westport, Maryland is an area just south of downtown Baltimore. It has a lot of railroad and interurban history. The Western Maryland and a B&O branch both pass thru; but I have not seen them use signs of this style. The Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Electric RR, the original Baltimore and Annapolis, and the successor Baltimore and Annapolis also had station stops there (first stop after leaving Baltimore) and freight stations as well. And the Baltimore streetcar system served that location. But all of them seemed to spell it as one word, and I haven't located any photos which show any kind of station with a sign. However, the currently operating Baltimore Light Rail system DOES have a station and they use blue signs with white lettering (see Link). They operate on the right of way established and operated by the former interurban lines. So there are some possibilities, but nothing definite. Link 1  Posted Monday, August 21, 2023 by RJMc

A. Ah -- but the Westport on the modern Maryland sign is one single word. I was specifically looking for two words with a space between. That said, more-modern "folk" tend to shortcut / abbreviate / modernize / condense. (But I know nothing about the history of the area.) I wonder if the small sign was made (1) At a time when West Port was two words, which has since morphed into a more modern one word (like the "h" has been dropped from so many cities ending in "burg"); or (2) With a space deliberately in the middle for what should have been one single word, as a place for an attachment to mount it on a pole. Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2023 by JMS

A. For its size, and being a Porcelain enamel type sign, it certainly appears to be very much a city street sign. I have several local signs in Roanoke, Va. that are very much like this. As JMS posted, the space between words might have been for it to have been posted on a pole. I doubt it would be a lineside location sign due to its size, and it would be easily damaged by shooters or rock-throwers if placed in a remote area.  Posted Monday, October 9, 2023 by KLM

 Q4019 Adlake #100 Kero Lanterns  I can’t find any info on the Adlake Kero no.100 lanterns.  Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2023 by George B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Barrett's Illustrated Encyclopedia of RR Lighting Vol.1 in its Adlake section mentions the Model 100 only twice, with most info in a pcture caption which says that a Model 100 was identical to the Reliable, introduced about 1912, except for being set up for a different sized (4") globe. The subsequent 200 Model was intoduced only a few years later apparently as a response to WW I requirements so probably very few Model 100's were made -- which explains hardly any mention of them in most references.  Posted Friday, August 18, 2023 by RJMc

A.  See Q1968 on the Q&A Board posted October 13,2010 by me, and answers. Posted Monday, August 21, 2023 by CK

A.  I also might add that my #100 is a Southern Railway lantern with a clear casted Southern Railway globe. Hope this info helps.  Posted Monday, August 21, 2023 by CK

 Q4018 ALCO-COOKE builder plate number 39132  I have a 7 in. x 14 in. builders plate number 39132. I live in the Republic of Panama. Was this a steam engine? What was it purpose in Panama? What material is this plate? Thank you very much,  Posted Sunday, July 16, 2023 by Tom S   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Built as Isthmus Canal Affairs 2-6-0 number 611 this locomotive was used in the construction of the Panama canal Posted Sunday, July 16, 2023 by Santafeboy

A. Should be either bronze or brass if a magnet sticks to it then it is cast iron Posted Sunday, July 16, 2023 by Santafeboy

 Q4017 Santa Fe Courier Nurse Poster  Can anyone tell me some information about this item? Found inside a wall in my grandparents house, so the condition is pretty poor. It's large, about 4' x 3' and on a thick, cardboard like material. I haven't found anything from an internet search so hoping someone with an interest knows more about it. Thanks in advance!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, July 13, 2023 by CP   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The Santa Fe made a big selling point of the onboard courier nurse program. See the Link for an initial quick discussion of how the Santa Fe Railway assigned "Courier Nurses" to their long-haul passenger trains, as a way to encourage travel by families and particularly to assist (often unaccompanied) women and children. While sleeping car passengers always could call on the porter, coach passengers often needed assistance as well. Since those trains ran between Chicago and the West Coast, a thru trip took two and one-half days or longer and all kinds of things came up on the way. The Scout was a particular Santa Fe named train. The Super Chief and El Capitan also had courier nurses. Several other railroads also had onboard hostesses,"Zephyrettes" on the Burlington.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 13, 2023 by RJMc

A. The Link below has more info about the Scout train, including how the Santa Fe marketing targeted "family" or "economy" travellers on the Scout while trains such as the Super Chief targeted "elegant travel".  Link 1  Posted Thursday, July 13, 2023 by RJMc

A. The history of train nurses was covered in a pamphlet sized journal issue by the NRHS (Nat. Ry Hist. Soc.) some years back. IIRC, it began with Union Pacific using registered nurses and spread to the other roads quickly. (The first airline stewardesses, replacing the early male stewards, began on United A/L which UP happened to be an investor in before the feds got involved in finding new ways to make a big mess.) Eventually, the registration requirements were lightened as these women became more of a nurse/hostess. You’ll notice your nurse here is outfitted very much in the airline style of the era. (There were even railroad travel bags issued by the same people doing the airline overnight grips. Even the Disneyland Monorail got those.) Playing the role of part time babysitter/child care provider seems to have been part of that job. I guess if Judy Garland had made a musical about it, we might have seen more written on the subject. But back then in the ‘30’s it was a big deal which even involved some radio broadcast stuff. Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Despite the overall poor condition, the best part is pretty good. I can't recall ever seeing another ATSF Nurse poster - and I do watch posters. Surely even this tattered there is some kind of value. Do try to flatten it out and take care of it, if you can. Also , see Link 1 for an ATSF Nurse advertisement. Link 2 is terrific information about the "COURIER NURSES." Best wishes !  Link 1  Link 2  Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2023 by JMS

A. University of Virginia Flashback Friday general article on the train nurses (Link1) with photo gallery [Santa Fe not mentioned specifically]. BTW, great find! Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Thank you all for the responses and information, I appreciate it. :) Posted Monday, August 21, 2023 by CP

 Q4016 Steam Loco or Traction Headlight?  I would be very grateful for help in identifying this headlight. The housing looks like it was originally made for a kerosene lamp, perhaps modified in its working life with the addition of the Pyle National electric light, but that is just a guess. Thanks very much for your help with determining just what type or types I have and the approximate date. The overall height is about 36 inches and the box is about 24 wide x 24 deep. The chimney or vent has three glass sides, which I haven't seen in any I could find online. Thanks again.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2023 by Donald L   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This looks to me like something which would have been used on work equipment, such as a snow plow. The folks associated with work equipment would be the kind of people who would make a conversion such as sticking in the Pyle electric headlight into something already on hand. For that kind of use the headlight would likely have been permanently mounted. See Link for a pic of a railroad snow plow train in 1890. Note the headlight on the plow, and also the headlight on the following engine -- both similar to your unit. For interurban or streetcar use (and some of them also had snow plows), the headlights often had flat strap hooks on the back, because they were installed and removed daily as cars were assigned to runs. Does this unit have anything like that? Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2023 by RJMc

A. Here's another Link to a second very similar snow plow pic. I suspect that in the original headlight application, the glass panels may have been number boards. But its not clear how the illumination would have gotten up to them. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2023 by RJMc

A. Some further review turns up quite a few pix of interurban electric passenger cars in the 1890 to 1910 time frame routinely using the large boxy headlights such as yours before it was modified(see link for a 1905 pic in Ohio.) That was apparently before high-wattage regular headlight bulbs became available and arc headlights required more "care and feeding." But on work equipment old hardware often soldiered on for decades and as mentioned above, the work crews had the facilities, the time, and the inclination (but usually not a budget) so they rebuilt things with the materials on hand. So as the pix show, either a regular railroad or a traction source is quite possible. Link 1  Posted Wednesday, July 5, 2023 by RJMc

A. Do you know any of the history of your lamp, such as where it might have been used?? My comments above come from the appearance of your lamp looking like it was used more or less recently. However, a look thru the Pennsylvania RR Power book, just for example, shows that the PRR alone in 1917 had probably HUNDREDS of locomotives with the boxy oil type headlights on all kinds of engines; and apparently even continued building new locos that way as late as 1917. That despite the fact that electric headlights had already been available for many years. 1917 is also when the US RR Administration (USRA) took over all US RR's so the US Gov't could support fighting World War I. Congress also passed some kind of law about then governing railroad headlights. By 1921 (only 4 years later), every new PRR locomotive was coming out with a steam-driven turbogenerator and the more compact electric headlights. MANY of the boxy oil lamps on PRR locos were converted in that time period to electric lamps and the boxy headlights continued in use for many more years. This experience was probably similar on most US railroads. So once again, there are many possibilities where your lamp may have originated.  Posted Friday, July 7, 2023 by RJMc

A. If I were a “betting man” (which I am not) I’d say this was used something like a steam tractor. It doesn’t appear to be heavy enough for use on a locomotive.  Posted Friday, July 14, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q4015 SRy Lock Question  Here is a photo of my collection of padlocks from the Southern Railway. I have a good idea of where most of these locks were used, with the exception of the smaller Yale lock on the right of the photo which has the key in it and the lock is in the open position. What purpose did this smaller Yale lock have on that railway? It takes the same flat key as the larger version Yale lock to the left, which I know for sure was an old switch lock. Was this smaller-sized lock also a switch lock back in the day or was it used as some kind of signal or tool house lock? Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2023 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have a vague recollection that there were some applications (such as some types of switch mechanisms that crews needed to operate) where the much larger, fatter lock body just wouldn't fit. The extra-heavy hasp on the smaller lock makes clear it was also used for high-security functions even though the lock body is smaller.  Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2023 by RJMc

A. The top lock is obviously a signal box lock. The other three are switch locks. The Yale locks predate the N.S. merger and the high security locks used today. The one with the S.R. and arrow is the older design. It can be found in two varieties with two different key cuts. One for Eastern System and one for Lines West.  Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Thanks very much fellas for your insight into these vintage locks, it's appreciated!  Posted Friday, June 30, 2023 by Steve B.

 Q4014 Handlan Caboose Marker Lantern  I have had my unrestored Handlan Caboose Marker lantern for 40+ years, so it’s about time to get about restoring it. I am unfamiliar with the proper nomenclature, but I want to take the top off. When I flip up the lid, it appears there is a twist off arrangement…but it is rusty and won’t budge. I don’t want to muscle it. Can anyone offer me some info? Thanks  Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2023 by Lou   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. To make life simple, the Archives here on the Railroadiana site include a complete catalog of Handlan railroad lighting products from 1956. On page 3 (see link) is an "exploded" illustrated view of a completely torn-down caboose marker lamp, to show what various parts could be purchased from Handlan to replace worn out, corroded, or damaged parts from service use. The only part I recall which was not immediately separable was the flat spring cap latch, which was spot-welded onto the cap and could be replaced only by spot-welding on another. Those parts are not shown as separable in the diagram. Railroads often had shops dedicated to refurbishing this type of lamp since thousands of switch lamps were in use which were essentially identical to the markers except for mounting arrangements. Note also in the other catalogs in the Archives that the RR's forced considerable standardization on the various lamp manufacturers; so in many cases replacement parts supplied by one manufacturer fitted just as well into someone else's product, keeping the whole process very economical for the RR. So if you need replacement parts, it is perfectyly 'prototypical" to use any parts that fit regardless of manufacturer.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2023 by RJMc

A. Thanks so much! I managed to twist out what appears to be part "I". Can you tell me how 29 is fastened to the body? It looks like it is riveted. Thanks again!  Posted Thursday, June 22, 2023 by LH

 Q4013 What To Do with Several RR Locks?  Thanks for helping me ID the Miller RR lock. I was given a box of RR locks and keys by a retired RR worker. He said they were tossed out when the yard he worked at was shut down and the RR became part of a larger RR. I see 100's of examples listed on a well known auction/sale site, but they shut me down saying it's illegal? Some forums say that it is illegal and some say not if they are from defunct RRs. Only 1 piece is marked with an existing RR. I see so many places selling them. I have several without keys. Are there any issues with selling locks without keys? Only one of the lot of extra 'barrel' keys is marked with a RR name; the rest are just numbered. May I sell them? I WAS thinking of starting to collect RR locks, but I have so much RR ephemera items now, I realized that I probably shouldn’t start collecting these large, heavy, and expensive pieces. Is there a site dedicated to RR locks that I might find people interested in them? Thanks again for your time and any suggestions.  Posted Monday, June 12, 2023 by Karl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Illegal? BALONEY. It is not against any law to sell used railroad locks/keys. YES the "biggest online auction site" prohibits railroad KEYS but they allow LOCKS (Link 1). HOWEVER You have to be careful listing locks, to NOT MENTION the word "SWITCH" because those are still prohibited. On other venues - You can go right ahead and sell any railroadiana lock/key on, or other online sites, or consign them to an auctioneer who will sell them for you (pick one who sells online). That said - just because something is "railroad" doesn't mean it is "expensive." Railroad markings make all the difference. No railroad mark? Not worth the time and trouble to list because there is no proof of original ownership. To paraphrase, If it looks like a RR lock/key, walks like a RR lock/key and quacks like a RR lock/key, it may NOT necessarily be a RR lock or key, because multitudes of non-railroad companies/individuals bought "railroad grade" hardware, or ordered equipment directly from the production companies to use on non-RR operations; and there is no way now to distinguish which is or is not actual railroad owned. Lastly, the only issue I can think of as far as selling a lock without a key, is that it won't bring nearly as much money as a complete set.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2023 by JMS

A. I apologize for being so blunt in my prior answer... I should have been more empathetic. As for "illegal" - Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I can't find anywhere that selling railroad equipment is against the law, unless it is stolen property. "Prohibited" (not allowed) is a different situation, and a website can prohibit anything it wants. I was selling on that big online auction site and got caught up in the "prohibited" locks and keys situation when it first happened. Suddenly, RR locks and keys were not allowed, and sellers were discovering their listings were being ended/removed. When I inquired, the answer I got was that because of 9-1-1, the Bush administration wanted the big auction to help safeguard the U.S. transportation infrastructure by not allowing "switch" locks and keys (and other things) that could be used to sabotage railroad operations. The auction site since relented somewhat and is now allowing most locks but not keys. You see key listings because many new sellers do not know this. Everyone I know agrees that this prohibition is nonsensical, if only because similar kinds of working locks and keys are readily available.  Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2023 by JMS

A. Karl, there is a terrific Facebook group (Link 1) on railroad locks/keys that you should check out. As far as seeing all those auction listings of similar items, scrutinize them. What wording is used (or not used); which category (probably not "railroad") are most in? you'd want to list there. Check your own wording - do not mention the word "key" or the word "switch" which apparently trigger bots to pick up negatively. Most importantly, bookmark listings and keep track of which actually make it through to a sale. Good luck !!  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2023 by JMS

 Q4012 Miller RR Lock ID?  I collect railroad pieces but mostly paper items and I came across this lock that I paid $30 for it because it looks more unusual. My brother worked for the MPRR/UPRR for years and gave me a box of locks and keys. This lock peaked my interest. The lock I just acquired is a Miller from Philadelphia. I looked around and couldn’t find this style Miller lock so my question is: is it a good piece to start collecting? Thanks for your time and any info,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, June 11, 2023 by Karl   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This steel lock is known is a “banjo lock” because of the shape. The So Ry. marking for the Southern Railway System. Any piece that you like is a good way to start collecting but you have to make some decisions like: Where do you go from here? Do you only collect steel locks or include brass as well? Do you only collect locks from Southern Ry? Do you stick with Banjo locks or do you include heart shape locks? On and on… My best advice is to get with an experienced “lock guy” who can teach you “the ropes”. Then decide what you are collecting and only buy the best QUALITY pieces you can afford.  Posted Monday, June 12, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q4011 RR Button?  I live in the UK and am trying to identify a button which I think is from either a US railroad or road car company uniform. Its brass with a block letter N set inside a five pointed star on a lined background, 24mm diameter with American Rly Supply Co Park Place NY backmark. Any ideas would be gratefully received.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2023 by Nigel   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Northern Steamship Company, owned by the Great Northern Railway, in operation 1888 - 1916. Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2023 by DA

A. Many thanks for that, much appreciated. Nigel. Posted Thursday, June 8, 2023 by Nigel

 Q4010 Fuel Pot Number for Erie Lackawanna Lamps   I have 3 adlake EL (Erie Lakawanna) lamps that are missing the burner/fuel pots. I need to know the number of the fuel pot if someone would be so kind. Thanks,  Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2023 by Bruce   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There are many different kinds of Adlake lamps and lanterns, many different ones probably used by EL. We need more specifics and/or photos of the lamps or lanterns before we can begin to answer your question. That said, you can look in the Archives on this RRiana site (see Link) to see many older and more recent Adlake catalogs, many with spare parts drawings and listings if you can recognize the models of your lamps or lanterns.  Link 1  Posted Friday, June 9, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4009 Handlan Lamp  I work for [a local museum] in a river town until the river moved away from our side of the channel. But until then it was a bustling river town. We were recently given this lantern, being told it was from a steamboat. When I searched to find Handlan, i found you and mostly railroad lamps. So I understand steamboats may date back to an earlier period of your interest but thought there might be a chance somebody knows about lanterns on steamboats as well as on railroads. If anyone has any information on if this is really from a steamboat or if someone modified the story, I would appreciate whatever you might know. Thank you.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by MH, Historic Interpreter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. U.S. Lighthouse Establishment? : see history here (Link 1) Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. U.S.L.H.E. still active to 1903 era (Link 1). Link 1  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. See Morphy Auction lot 3259 from the recently completed RR auction March 23, 2023, for a similar lamp with a complete description and photos. Your lamp is missing the oil fount. Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2023 by ASwoyer

 Q4008 ALCO Number Plate  Can anyone tell me how the American Locomotive Company numbered their steam locomotives? I have an original round brass plate showing the American Locomotive Company # 1 dated 1920.  Posted Thursday, May 18, 2023 by JG   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. From what you posted if this is indeed an original it is not a builder’s plate. The number 1 is more than likely the designation for an engine number. Round number plates were mounted on the front of engines. Accurate measurements and a picture would be helpful. Posted Saturday, May 20, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q4007 C&O Greenbrier Known Variations  Sample double size butter chip made by Hutschenrether of Selb Bavaria and supplied by B. H. Field Co. of New York in 1925. Another version seen for a room tray is dated 1932 carrying the Black Knight brand (Selb) and with a different supplier. Luckin only noted Buffalo for C&O-5 even though Syracuse also produced it (maybe earlier?). Does anyone have a full list of all versions? [Unfortunately, Luckin assigned 5.1 to another decoration and used up his letter codes on the Rhododendron patterns.]   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by Shasta Route   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. A note: In exploring this, a good deal of information on B.H. Field ‘s background and company was located and has been forwarded to Larry Paul who has added it to his suppliers data base. Posted Monday, June 5, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q4006 ID of RR Lock Marking?  I have a lock stamped with PS RR. There are many railroads with PS. Does anyone know specifically which railroad this is? Thanks.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4005 Lantern ID?  I picked this up the other day and cannot find who made it. It has a Dietz burner but I don't know if it's a Dietz lantern. There are no markings anywhere. It is odd for a tall Lantern because usually the bottom ring is wider than the top ring. In this case they're identical so it's straight up and down and only tilts in to hook to the top piece. I have never seen a globe shaped like this and the letters B&A are actually carved into the glass. It's not etched on. I don't know if some person frankensteined this in their basement or if it's a legitimate Lantern. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I looked through a thousand Dietz Lantern pictures and could not find it.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by Blake   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Your lantern frame was made by the Excelsior Lantern Co. of New York, ca. 1870. Most Excelsior frames were not RR marked, except for a unique version made for the Erie Railway Co. The fount is a late model Dietz replacement. If the globe fits properly, then it’s correct for the frame. The B&A letters were copper wheel engraved, which is appropriate for the time period of the the lantern frame. Posted Thursday, April 27, 2023 by ASwoyer

A. Blake, you didn't ask but the B&A is almost certainly the Boston & Albany Railroad. (The other Northeast option is Bangor & Aroostook, in Maine.)  Posted Monday, May 1, 2023 by JMS

 Q4004 Globe Identification  I have 2 globes that I am trying to identify as to which types of lanterns they go with. The amber one is cast MEG CO 2 and the other is Cnx MADE IN USA. AMBER: 4 5/8 tall x 2 ½ x 3 5/8 outside diameter CLEAR: 4 ½ tall X 2 ¼ X 2 ¾ outside diameter. Is the clear for a Handlan lantern? Is it correct that MEG Co is also MacBeth? Thanks   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by DM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. M.E.G. is for Macbeth-Evens Glass. The Cnx is the Corning logo. Posted Tuesday, April 25, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. It is my understanding that Handlan lanterns that used this style globe were 4 1/2 inches tall and not 4 5/8 tall. Looking further into this, I am thinking the Amber is for Handlan based on the shape in the width area and perhaps the additional 1/8 inch in height is not an issue. Thanks Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2023 by DM

A. I remeasured the Amber MEG. It is 4 5/8 tall x 2 ½ x 3 3/8. I had the wrong base measurement.  Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2023 by DM

 Q4003 Lantern Info?  I'm trying to find out any information on this lantern. I've been searching and I can't find anything. I'd love to find out more about its history and time period. I have not been able to find a B&O MAIN STEM DIVISION lantern, and I haven't seen too many Star Head Light Company lanterns. Any help would be greatly appreciated.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2023 by BH   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I note in the pix that there appears to be no globe in the lantern. The B&O RR lettering was clearly stamped by the lantern manufacturer. But the type style, spacing, and indentation type on the "MSD 3938" was clearly made by hand stamping with separate stamps for each character. That process could have been done by almost anybody at any time in the lantern's history, from the manufacturer's shop down to an individual grade crossing shanty, to an individual's initials who was assigned the lantern or who acquired it as a keepsake later. If the lantern had been found with a red globe, I would have suspected a grade crossing watchman assignment. As a pure guess, I would also look at "M S Department" for the "D" rather than Division, but I have no strong candidates for what a "MS" Department might have been.  Posted Friday, April 21, 2023 by RJMc

 Q4002 Patent Model?  I have a question about this mostly wooden made model. I was told this is a locomotive patent frame from a 4-4- 2 Baldwin locomotive. Do you have more info please?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2023 by Rolf   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q4001 SP Sunset Lock Questions  I recently purchased a Southern Pacific sunset logo cast lock and am trying to determine which of the key patterns I need to use. Everyone I speak with tells me that in order to determine which one, they need to know the letter and number stamped into the shackle. The problem is that my lock has no numbers, only has two letters in different places. So no one seems to know which key to use without the number. There is a capitol Z on the top of the shackle, and then on the right it looks like a capitol K or possibly R. So my questions are… (1) Is it normal for that SP lock to only have letters? (2) Would you know which key style to use?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, April 6, 2023 by TK   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This is the lock you have and the key you'll need. Link 1  Posted Monday, July 3, 2023 by TF

 Q4000 GM RR Kero  I have a GM RR Lantern Adlake Kero. Can you tell me anything about it? Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by Ed   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I also have one. I beleive it to be from the Green Mountain RR of Vermont. I would be interested to know if any where actually used by the railroad or sold as fund raiser. I think they ran excursions and may have had a gift shop. Bob Posted Thursday, May 11, 2023 by shvlhdbob

 Q3999 Switch Lamp Info?  I've recently acquired an Adlake switch lamp which I've been told is a model 175& 1/2. I've been looking for information on this and haven't been able to find anything. I've seen several models on your website but not this one. I am interested in finding out any information I can about this. Thanks.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by Chris   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. The excellent catalog references in the Archives on this RRiana Site have Adlake reference material for the 1912 to 1916 time period (see Links). They describe the No. 175 switch lamp as the same as a no. 169 except improved by the addition of a much larger oil reservoir. As with their other switch lamp models, the "one half" model no. indicates a lamp supplied with day targets which were optional. There is also a full parts list and exploded view of the No. 169 lamp, most of which will apply to a No. 175 1/2. Link 1  Link 2  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3998 Uniform Visor Preservation  Can anyone recommend a product or method for preserving uniform hat visors? I've noticed it is very common for visors to lose their shine, dry up and crack or flake off. I'd appreciate any advice on preventing this from happening. Thank you. Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by JW   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. If I am not mistaken, cap visors should be patent leather. This is leather with a varnish coating to make it impermeable (which also prevents it from absorbing conditioners). I haven't noticed any becoming worse after I obtain them; most already are cracked and brittle from railroad use - sun is particularly bad news. Serious damage is not reversible. Suggestion: search online for "patent leather care" or ask at a better shoe repair.  Posted Saturday, March 25, 2023 by JMS

 Q3997 China ID?  I was told this was early Tennessee Central Railroad china. It is different from the style I have seen from 30's and 40's. Greenwood Pottery Trenton, NJ. I have searched for another TC in railroads, but with no luck. Anyone out there with info? Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2023 by Ed B   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. With regrets, Ed, I don't believe this is railroad china. Your pattern is not in any of the McIntyre or Luckin railroad china books. Link 1 (a display of several pieces in the Tennessee Central Railway Museum) is the only pattern considered as from the Tennessee Central - tan base ware with hand painted blue/yellow florals. McIntyre mentions it in his book as "Nashville" pattern. It is possible your pieces could be from a "T-College" or "T-Club" or another source.  Link 1  Posted Friday, March 10, 2023 by JMS

A. The “oldtimes rule of thumb” is: if its not marked railroad it is not railroad. This is not 100% always true but its best to when in doubt leave it out. Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. @Ex Sou Ry --- Yup. Anything without a railroad mark truly needs a book reference. The books are new enough and patterns old enough that probably 99.44% of them are covered. One cannot say "never," as an undiscovered pattern might possibly surface, but they are very rare birds indeed.  Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by JMS

A. The boxes of TC corporate records are itemized on-line. I eye scanned it all and found no mention of legal papers or contracts with China makers nor suppliers. There are some things related to a station restaurant (Nashville) and the Crescent News & Hotel Company (train and station concessions), but nothing specifically on dining car services. (Pullman does come up in general.) It would take a lot of work to prove an unknown pattern with no photo evidence, so it comes down to how reliable that “claimant” was or how good your “hunch” is before going any further on a goose chase. Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3996 Railroad King Button  I have a railroad king button that looks different compared to ones I see in images. Are railroad king buttons a part of the rail workers' uniforms? And is this button an earlier date from when they were manufactured or something? Thank you for your help,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by Ashlynn   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These buttons were not used on passenger employee uniforms. They are from heavy duty work clothes (oten denim, sometimes striped) worn at work by many railroad workers on the job, and also by many workers in farming and other heavy industries. Put the word "overalls" (without the quotes) in the Search By Word or Phrase Box to see many prior Q's about this type of button. The Link is to a website all about the type of work clothes which used these buttons, and the people who lived in them, with some illustrations of buttons.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3995 ATSF Builders Plate  I wanted to see your opinion on this one. It is from ATSF 2-10-2 #59252. Front looks very clean but back looks kind of legit. Do you think it's real? It has an E stamped on back when is a 2-10-2 and should be an F plus it's not curved. Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2023 by Pete   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. This won't be a definitive answer, but I think highly suggestive. Searching "Baldwin Locomotive 59252" on the web quickly brings up a reference to a website called "Elvas Tower" which hosts many well-attended forums on many topics on railfanning, including modelling with a special focus on railroad simulators and a recent focus on "3-D Modelling Software contributed by members." That refers to what is commonly called "3-D printing" which converts computer file data into solid objects. The Link is to an article published on the Elvas Tower forum back in 2009 specifically about the Santa Fe 2-10-2 with builder number 59252, which is why it came up in my search. For forum members, an apparently extremely detailed package of plans containing over 4 megabytes of data could be downloaded as the basis for producing models of the loco - then and apparently still now. Since I am not a member of the Elvas group I could not download the package of plans to check, but you can see in the Link the quote from the original upload provider "Also a very special thanks to: Steve Thomas for his fantastically detailed Baldwin builder plates." If someone went to the trouble to 3-D print a full size plate, it would probably be flat, as you have noted. And I strongly suspect they made more than one after the trouble of setting up. If we have any readers that are members of the Elvas group, it would be interesting to access that package of plans and see if the plate in the package has the various bumps and other details that we see in the plate in the pix. And also interesting to know whether the plans may have been based on scanning an authentic original plate, or whether the creator of the plans just made up all those interesting details.  Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 9, 2023 by RJMc

A. And the reason that answer is NOT definitive: there is some chance (remote, in my opinion)that the actual plate in your pic is the authentic one that those plans were scanned from.  Posted Thursday, March 9, 2023 by RJMc

A. To follow up on this question, I contacted the webmaster at the Elvas Tower website. He very obligingly checked and sent me a copy of the image of a Baldwin builder's plate they have on file. It is clearly different from the image in your pic; it does not have a builder's number, the month and year are different, and many details in the lettering are different. And he advises that the people involved in the project to build the model of the ATSF loco have not participated on their site in over a year. So once again, we can not be sure about the actual plate in the pic.  Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2023 by RJMc

 Q3994 20th Century China Photos?  I am planning to do the dining car table settings on an O gauge model of the 20th Century Limited, I was wondering if anywhere on your site might be photos of a full table setting or if not, of individual pieces of their china that I could copy. I would print them and adhere them to thin plastic to at least give a bit of a 3D effect. Thanks.  Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by Peter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. There might be some photos from railroadiana shows in that section of the site [see link]. It would require someone who knows the pattern(s) to go through those pages to find them. Offhand we don't have any on the site. But some other collectors could send photos to this website as an attachment to an email, and they will be posted here. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by web editor

A. Presumably, Peter is asking about the original pattern for the 1938 streamlined train sets manufactured by Buffalo China with the full color border panel? Keeping in mind that the back-to-back dining car sets were used after the dinner service as a nightclub, I would add the question of whether the black Doric pattern (O.P.Co Syracuse China) demitasse sets reportedly used by the Central were part of this service (or even another color if that were the case)? Posted Saturday, March 4, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Peter - check out Link 1 - it's a Google search that has brought up quite a few photos of 20th Century Limited dining car interiors and ads. I don't know how helpful most would be but perhaps you will find something workable.  Link 1  Posted Monday, March 6, 2023 by JMS

 Q3993 RR China?  I have had this Syracuse plate for many years. It was sold to me as railroad china, but I can find no reference to it online or in Luckin’s book. I even looked up Syracuse hotel china on the web to see if it is maybe on there somewhere, but again no hits. Any ideas? Thanks for your help.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by Peter   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Find here (Link 1) the Restaurant Ware Collectors Network idwiki-2 entry for the 1922 stock pattern “Encanto” with the additional explanation of how pieces were customized for Fred Harvey with an orange stripe border. Link 1  Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Added here (Link 1) is the Syracuse pattern “Sorrento” which is also “railroad related” (sometimes) stock pattern designated as a patented design and may cause some confusion for collectors. Link 1  Posted Monday, March 6, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Shasta Route is correct, and thank you for the additional information about "Sorrento." Luckin's book DOES show and discuss "Encanto" (Fred Harvey) on page 278 but his picture is a poor example : It's a coffee cup/saucer with only the outer rim band. A picture of a plate with the big floral decoration would have been so much easier to work with. Regardless, I'm sorry to say, Peter, yours is not railroad china. Fred Harvey Encanto must have an ORANGE outer rim band. I think this is one of the cases where Syracuse China used the same base design tweaked with minor details here and there, to make several very close but not identical pattern variations.  Posted Monday, March 6, 2023 by JMS

A. Updating: Getty images of the Fred Harvey Restaurant at Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) include enough of a close up to identify the china as having the Encanto border, but there seems to be no orange band visible in the photos. This would be 1940’s era which may date back to the opening in the late ‘30’s. Posted Saturday, June 3, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Adding a direct route (Link 1) to the Esther Williams dining photo which shows the pattern; click on and expand to get the detail. Link 1  Posted Saturday, June 3, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3992 Dressel Class Lamp  I have a Dressel classification lamp that is believed to be off of a Rutland 4-6-2, road number 80. This information came from a well-known steam engine collector. However, there are no markings inside or outside the lantern that would verify this. I have done some research and it seems Dressel stopped stamping lanterns after 1940. Do you know a way to verify? Thanks!   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by Dave   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3991 Keystone Lantern Co. Shortie  This is a short globe lantern from a company known for the Casey model and other tall globe lanterns. I can't recall ever seeing a short globe Keystone lantern. Are there others out there? Neither the frame nor globe have any railroad marking.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by Anon   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3990 RR Sconces  I am the administrative assistant at [a museum] in Nevada. We recently received a donation of two 1907 Adlake spring loaded candle sconces. We are planning on adding these pieces to an existing exhibit and I wanted to find some more information about these particular pieces. I'm hoping to find photos of this model either being used on an actual train, or catalog photos of the model. I am also wanting to know how fresh candles would have been loaded into the sconces. If you or someone you know could give me any information please let me know. Thank you,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by LM   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. These are commonly called "candle lamps" and were widely used as emergency lighting on Railway Mail cars and some passenger cars as late as the 1970's. 1907 is the date of a patent that Adams and Westlake obtained on the design in 1907 and that year was stamped on many thousands of these produced over decades. Fresh candles were installed by inserting them in the top of the housing and pushing down on the spring. Put the words "candle lamp" (but without the quotes) in the search by word or phrase box to see many prior questions and illustrations of this type of lamp, and which include sources for parts such as the Pyrex chimneys and wall mounting brackets which were always used with these.  Posted Monday, February 20, 2023 by RJMc

A. To add to RJMc's good repsonse, I have good luck loading candles by unscrewing the bottom caps and slipping the candles upwards into the tubes (make sure the spring goes back in after the candle). Candles should be available at hardware and/or non-electric lamp supply stores - "emergency candles," not decorative ones. You can cut them to different lengths if you wish to improve the fit. Also, if you google "railway mail service" (WITH the quotations) you should get all kinds of interesting leads including photos and contacts.  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2023 by JMS

A. Attached are two pix of complete candle lamps with mounting brackets and heat shields.  Link 1  Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3989 Handlan Warehouse Photos or Info?  I enjoyed your piece on the St Louis Handlan Company in 1902 and was wondering if any information and/or photos of the Handlan Warehouse are extant? It was at 7th and Gratiot Streets. In 1904 the St. Louis Exposition Organ (now the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia) was put in storage after being the centerpiece of the World's Fair, in Festival Hall. The owners could find no buyers until the summer of 1909 when merchant John Wanamaker bought it and loaded it into about 11 freight cars (Vandalia Line) for his Philadelphia department store. I am trying to see if there are any photos of the warehouse, if anyone knows how much storage fees were back then, and any other information on the warehouse division of the company. Apparently the owners were unable to pay warehousing fees, and the instrument was sold for the back storage fees. Please accept my thanks for any light you might shed on this, and thank you for a wonderful website!  Posted Sunday, February 19, 2023 by Ray   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3988 MR Traveler/Peacock China List?  I’m wondering if you could possible help. Several years ago we received a complete list of Milwaukee Road Traveler and Peacock china patterns as well if they they had a BM. Unfortunately we misplaced the list and have not been able to locate it. I'm wondering if anyone would know how to obtain another list i.e books, catalogs, or personal lists? Thank you for your time.  Posted Sunday, February 19, 2023 by Liane   Post a Reply  Email a reply

 Q3987 Monon Button Die?  Is this a Monon Railroad button die?   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. What is the size? Something in the pic for size comparison would (always)be very helpful.  Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by RJMc

A. For reference, the Waterbury Button Co. of CT made several designs of buttons for the Monon RR (see Link to Waterbury's excellent website for illustrations.) None of the Waterbury styles matches your design. In their section on "craftsmanship" there is a pic which shows some of their dies, which seem to be deeper and more robust that your pieces, but obvously different manufacturers would have used different tooling. I am wondering what other objects might have been embossed in the way your dies would do it; imprinting both sides of the material. Possibly business cards; stock or bond certificates, and maybe annual passes where elaborate designs were sometimes used. As a practical matter I am wondering how the two pieces of your die set were aligned in use, to make sure the "positive" imprint side correctly mated into the "negative" receiving side. You might try using the dies on some aluminum foil as an interesting experiment. Link 1  Posted Monday, January 30, 2023 by RJMc

A. There's a long list of Great Seal Button makers/suppliers (1902-on) at the site, including Marshall Field & Co. of Chicago. Guessing if you can make a button then you can also do button covers to customize standard uniforms for lobby clerks, baggemen, bellhops, and elevator operators here (Link 1) is the history of the Monon Building in Chicago from which the railroad removed their headquarters. Of the two hotels with the name, neither seems a good fit. The high school in Monon Indiana (where the railroad "X" lines crossed) used the name until three schools merged, but I found no history of any marching band online. This was not the actual railroad name until the post-war era, and was just a shortening of the "Monon Route" logo (Monon-The Hoosier Line later) which seems to always be in block letter style back to the late 1800's. In the town, there was also a Monon Telephone company but I found no logos. The uniform button collectors had some group on FB, IIRC. Good Luck, with whatever it is. Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3986 Lantern Marking  I'm hoping to get a solid identity on a tall globe A&W 'ADLAKE' lantern clearly marked 'I.R. Co' on the top (the globe is plain). This marking does not appear in your known listings as far as I can tell! I collect items from the International Railway Company (traction, western NY state), that generally marks their wares 'IRC' or 'INT RY CO'. I think we can rule out that company in this case. That leaves two main options as far as I can tell: the Interstate Railroad of Virginia, or the Indiana Railroad (traction). Any other ideas? Can anyone help confirm? Thanks,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Tom   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I have locks and keys here marked IRCO for the Ironton Railroad Co. They did not use the second R for Road like most railroads did. While I've never seen a lantern for them that has positively been identified for Ironton, this is a possibility. Hopefully, readers who live in the area of Allentown, PA will weigh in.  Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by N

A. Might be a longshot, but perhaps in plant switching operations for Ingersoll Rand. They were instrumental in the making of early Diesel switchers.  Posted Friday, February 3, 2023 by JFR

 Q3985 Union Pacific Sign  Could you help me identify this Union Pacific sign? It measures 7ft. 6in. x 23in. It looks like it would have been a nose badge on a 1940's locomotive. Regards,   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by Steve   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. Yes, it appears to be a nose logo but it is impossible to determine which engine it is off of with out more information. Posted Monday, January 23, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

A. Perhaps an Alco FA-1?  Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2023 by ShastaRoute

A. Some info here (Link 1) under "Winged Medallion Useage". Of course, not so sure about that three piece info in every application as photos might tell otherwise. In any case, there's a changeover to including RAILROAD on the third line at a time around 1950.  Link 1  Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2023 by ShastaRoute

 Q3984 RR Tag?  Is this a tag from the Chicago, Indiana & Southern RR; or does it come from a non-railroad company? The use of 'CO' and the lack of 'RR', after 'C.I. & S.' has stumped me.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by ME   Post a Reply  Email a reply

A. I & S markings in almost all cases, stand for Iron & Steel. Consider where the tag was found and then research any Iron & steel companies nearby to determine what the C stands for.  Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by N

A. The old “rule of thumb” applies here: If its not marked railroad its not railroad.  Posted Monday, January 23, 2023 by Ex Sou Ry

 Q3983 Key ID?  Does anyone know if the cut of this key matches any known railroad key cut? I wanted to know if this key could possibly be a railroad key. Thank you in advance for all answers.   [Click on image for larger version.] Posted Sunday, January 22, 2023 by DBN   Post a Reply  Email a reply