Electric switch lantern?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Sep 5 09:28:48 EDT 2016

>From the few old photographs I have seen, b&W main track electric switch
lamps in the 1950s were the "can" type mfgd by the Peter Gray Co. of
Boston. Round body, constructed of sheet metal, access door on one side
which slid up/down, and of course, no ventilator chimney on the top. As I
recall, they were equipped with a carrying "bail" on top.

Photo of one is attached. But I never saw one on the N&W equipped with
copper bezels, such as shown in this photo.

The question, or course, is: When was the application of these things
begun? My wild guess is that it was done at the time the 'W began
installing CTC, although it could have been done earlier, at the time the
railroad began hanging 440 volts on its pole line for AC track circuits
(which was sometime around 1913, if I recall correctly.)

Interlockings, of course, required no switch lamps, as switches were
"protected" by the signal network circuitry and the home signals of the
interlocking. It was non-interlocked, hand operated switches on main tracks
which received switch lamps.

I just checked a photo I took on 11-27-1960 at the Pull Up, 16th St,
Roanoke, and it shows oil switch markers still in use on yard switches. I
will also attach that photograph to this email. I took other photographs in
this area, from the foot bridge, during the Winter of 1961-1962, and they
also show oil switch lamps still in use.  But by the time I hired, June
1964, all the switch markers in the N&W Roanoke Yard were electric. Oil
markers were still used in the VGN Roanoke Yard at the time the last
electric engines were run, June 1962, as indicated by my photographs.

Radford Yard was the last place I saw oil switch lamps still in use, and it
was in the early to mid-1970s. My old time books have a note on that, made
one cold Winter night when we stopped on No. 52 to pick up, and some day I
will go through my time books and dig out the date.

BTW, the proper nomenclature for these things is "switch lamp" or "switch
marker," NOT "switch lantern."  In railroad parlance, a "lantern" is
something a man carries in his hand. If the device is affixed to a
mounting, it is a "lamp" or a "marker." This was never a formal (e.g. rule
book) definition - it's just the way the vocabulary worked.  You do the
job, you know how to use the words.

-- abram burnett

Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
... better than AT&T 4G LTE

http://nwhs.org/mailinglist/2016/20160905.Peter Gray Switch Lamp.JPG
http://nwhs.org/mailinglist/2016/20160905.ADB_N&W_11-27-1960_Roke_Tr 51 Eng
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