Last Manual Blocking of Trains on the N&W ?

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Fri Oct 13 21:54:58 EDT 2006

Anyone know where the last Manual Blocking of trains was done on the (old) N&W?

I notice that the 1933 Radford Division T.T. only mentions Manual Blocking in connection with the North Carolina Branch, but the Manual Block Rules are still in the 1951 Rule Book.

Here's my theory on how Manual Blocking went away. First, automatic block semaphores started coming around in the 19-teens, and that eliminated Manual Blocking on the mains. The branches with a significant amount of traffic, but no automatic signals, probably kept Manual Blocking for another twenty years. As the Great Depression took the passenger trains off and all but one daily freight from most of the branches, the need for Manual Blocking was eliminated, and the branches came to be operated on a "Register" principle.

So, where was the last place trains were manually blocked on the (old) N&W ? Perhaps somewhere on the Pocohontas Division?

(And, yes, I'm aware that trains were probably manually blocked on the Virginian lines until N&W got automatic block signaling installed...)

-- abram burnett
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