Stop on signal

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Tue Feb 15 02:27:15 EST 2005

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 21:53:10 -0500 
To: nw-mailing-list at 
From: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Station Information 

Looking in the 1940 passenger timetable...

It lists, in table 25, the Dry Fork schedule pass
train. It lists the regual sceduled stops and a couple
of towns as flag stops... I get it...but...

On a following page, there is a heading titled...
"Stations at which no time is shown at which trains
will stop on signal"  Sounds pretty self
explanatory....but...then... It says...

"Scheduled trains stop at Gluck, Bartley, Lomax,
Susanna, Canebrake and Hartwell: and stop at Mile
Branch, Garland, Tusler, and Brit on signal"

None of these towns are listed as stops on the
scheduled train.

So my questions are, for example, Gluck is neither
listed on the schedule as a scheduled stop or a flag
stop, so what kind of stop is it?  and, is the
sentence, being written 55 years ago throwing me off
and everything in the above paragraph is a "stop on
signal", and if so, why list it in two sentences?

Leslie Eversole

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 22:56:03 -0500 
To: "N&W Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at> 
From: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Re: Station Information


Well you have a good question.  Not sure I have the
answer.  Gluck was listed as a legal station on the
N&W (one on file with the ICC from at least 1929 to
1963). This would mean that some level of Common
Carrier service was provided.  Will stop on signal may
have various meanings.  A signal could be one by the
dispatcher, the agent on duty or someone wanting 
the train to stop and waving his arm etc. I suspect
the arm wave by a waiting passenger is the most
plausible explanation.  When you find these
non-timetable points on the main line where there 
were many trains there is normally a note in the
timetable which trains will stop at non scheduled
stations.  Not all trains would stop and some 
were restricted to which non scheduled stations they
would stop. Not sure about the Dry Fork but suspect
they only had one passenger train in each direction
during the time period in question. This train would
stop at every timetable stop and would slow to stop on
a signal by person standing by the track on the

That stop on signal was a bothersome question to me
one time when I was 14 years old.  I caught the east
bound Pocahontas out of Roanoke and was going to meet
the west bound Pocahontas at Crewe which my dad was
conductor for the return to Roanoke.  That particular
day the west bound train was late and the conductor on
the east bound told me to ride on and we would 
meet the westbound at some point. Any way I was put
off in Blackstone as I recall by Conductor Tucker
Bowles and told the west bound would stop and 
pick me up.  Well at this time the Pocahontas was only
required to stop at Blackstone to discharge or pick up
passengers a non scheduled stop.  Needles to say I did
not get very far from that track until the 
westbound train stopped as I had no idea how they
would know to stop except by my hand.  Since he was
late, I don't think the non required stop at
Blackstone was appreciated by the westbound conductor.
 Not sure if the train ever came to a complete stop
but perhaps just picked me up by the 
collar. Apparently they knew who was there.

Jim Blackstock

February 15, 2005

Hello, Leslie and Jim:

Jim mentioned several methods for "stop on signal." 
It also included telling the conductor that a person
wanted to get off a train.  The more rural the
branchline, especially for mixed trains, the more
customized the precise stopping point.

M. Tyson Gilpin II recently mentioned to me that when
he traveled in the early 1950s as a child on Train 2
from Boyce which arrived around midnight, the family
would sit in the car at the north end of the station,
angled southwards towards the track.  When train 2's
headlight brightened the rails, the car's driver would
start flashing the headlights.  That was the apparent
customary "signal" and the engine crew knew to stop.


Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator
Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.
f_scheer at
(202) 268-2121 - weekday office
(540) 837-9090 - weekend afternoons 
in the former N&W station on VA rte 723 
117 East Main Street 
Boyce  VA  22620-9639
Visit at

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