N&W Train Order Signals - "Calling On"

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sat Sep 16 17:21:02 EDT 2006

I just checked some old editions of "The Standard Code of The American Railway Association - Train Rules" and found that the Train Rules Committee of the A.R.A. did not include anything about "interlockings" in the Standard Code until October 6, 1897.

This despite the fact that the first interlocking of switches and signals was installed in 1859 in England; that the great John Saxby patented the rudiments of interlocking in England in 1856; that Ashbel Welch of the United New Jersey Canal & Railroad Companies installed the first interlocking in this country (British made) at Trenton, NJ in 1870; that the first interlocking built in this country was installed in 1874 at Spuyten Duyvil, NY; and that the 1876 Centennial Exhibition contained a large exhibition of railroad interlocking appliances. All of these, of course, were purely mechanical and had no electrical adjuncts.

We could probably conclude that it took 20 years for the concept and hardware of "interlocking" to be refined, improved, standardized and adopted by a sufficient number of railroads in this country, so that the Train Rules Committee found it was time to include interlocking practices in the Standard Code.

Which, for us on this List, raises the question of where and when the N&W became involved in this stream of events.

-- abram burnett
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