Curious About Signals

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Mountain Man, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I live only a couple of miles from the mainline track through Monument Valley between Denver and Colorado Springs. JUst across those tracks and right alongside is a house. This house has to belong to an old railroader becaus it has a resembalance of a yard tower built into the side facing onto the tracks, and the owner has two semaphore signals flanking his driveway, visible to both passers-by and the crews of the trains. These are fully lit and change constantly. My wife and I joke about whether he is in a good mode or a bad mood depending on the position of the arms and the color of the lights.

    Does anyone know of a site where I can find the meaning of the positions and lights? Each tower has three arm positions and three corresponding lights, Red, Yellow and Green.

    I'm curious to know what he is saying.
  2. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Have you done an Internet search for signal indications yet? The meaning of signal indications varies by railroad and era. If you're looking to see what that guy is trying to say why not go ask that guy?
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I think that generally, Red is the indication for Stop, Yellow means Approach (usually at reduced speed) and be prepared to Stop at the next signal. Green is the indication for Proceed.

  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Well...probably because he isn't entirely user friendly and this is Colorado. We have a Make My Day Law.

    i assumed that the signals functioned much like vehicular traffic lights; however, he sets them differently, i.e. one at Red, one at yellow or green or any combination thereof.

    As a side note, the trains are frwqently held half-a-mile north of his place waiting for the green, and I see a car or truck there all the time delivering stuff to the crews. I think someone, perhaps famly, lives nearby and meets them with chow and coffee. :thumb:

    BTW, search of over a dozen pages of links fails to produce one decent piece of info on the subject...
  5. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Maybe that means it's time to buy a book on signals. There are a bunch listed on that big auction site at any given time. Just search for railroad signal rule books.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I posted the Canadian signal rules her:

    I was wondering: are there a pair of signals on each post facing opposite directions? Possibly with rounded ends on the arms? These would be train order signals which tell the train crew whether there are orders (written instructions) waiting for them at the station. green would be no orders, yellow orders to be picked up on the fly, and red orders that they have to stop and sign for.
  7. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Well, I just spent some time searching using search words like "American railroad sempahore signals" and found sites with pictures of them but precious little info regarding signal aspects and indications until I came across this Trains magazine article. You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the semaphore part. Interesting stuff.

    I think the guy with the signals is just choosing the indications by whimsy unless they have some private meaning like "we're home" or "no visitors right now"; similar to a story I once read about home owners with pools using a flag system to let their neighbors know when it was OK to come over and have a swim. :)

  8. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

  9. lapuce033

    lapuce033 New Member


    Maybe you should post a photo of them so that we could help you with them.

  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    That helps - thanks. I was more puzzled because he mixes the signals on his two masts.

    Next time I go by I'll get a photo and see if I can load it to this site for everyone to look at.
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The other thing to keep in mind is that the word "semaphore" refers to the action of the blade, and there are no messages possible other than those provided for by the three aspects (red, green, yellow) of the blade/lense combination. The position of the blade is for daytime viewing, and it's augmented by the coloured lights at night. You cannot "semaphore" a message as you would by the use of flags or arm position, nor are the lights used to send Morse signals, like those on a ship.
    It sounds to me as if your neighbour is choosing the display at random, or they may be controlled by a random timer. It seems pretty obvious that he's interested in trains, so someday, when both signals show green ;) , drop by, mention that you saw the "green" aspect indicating proceed, and introduce yourself as a fellow railroad buff. In my experience, most of us train nuts are pretty friendly and always happy to talk trains with another enthusiast.

  12. railohio

    railohio Active Member

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