Northfork Branch signals

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Tue Aug 27 07:56:49 EDT 2013

Thanks very much for the great information about Northfork junction. Was
that signal with two reds and a lunar just a short mast with three marker
type lights in a stack, or some other arrangement? You seem to have some
quite intimate knowledge of the operations in this area, could I impose
upon you to share some more with me/us? My grandfather worked at Crumpler
and I plan to model this area, so I am keenly interested in operations at
Byrd yard and Eckmann as well as the mine runs to all the tipples.
Thanks again,
Jim Cochran

On Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 1:26 PM, NW Mailing List
<nw-mailing-list at>wrote:

> There were junction signals prior to the mid-50's in the form of a stand

> signal on the branch and a control signal on the main. The North Fork

> Branch main track swung west thru downtown parallel to the WB main and into

> Byrd Yard allowing use as a yard lead and for branch movements without

> interfering with the main. Alex Schust's "Billion Dollar Coalfield"

> (highly recommended) has a terrific photo of the tracks thru town. Instead

> of venturing onto the main to access the station, even the North Fork

> passenger run stayed on the branch track to board passengers in front of

> North Fork Drug. Note the baggage cart.


> When a branch job was ready to come out on the main, the brakeman would

> call Eckman or the dispatcher(?) for permission and he would respond with a

> signal. The stand signal was near a double crossover that connected the

> parallel branch and WB main. It stood about 3-4 feet high with two red and

> a lunar lamp on top. Normally red, the signal went to lunar, the brakeman

> threw the appropriate switches which then knocked the signal back down to

> red, and they proceeded onto the main.


> The stand signal was interlocked with the control signal (#106L) located

> east of the junction on the WB main near the road crossing, allowing WB

> movements to stop short of the crossing. The EB counterpart #106R, also

> east of the junction, was apparently used only as the approach signal to

> the west end of Powhatan. The short middle track (called North Fork

> Middle) between these two signals was not directly related in that it was

> dark and the turnouts, one off each main like a long crossover, were

> hand-thrown with electric locks. In fact, all of the turnouts on both

> mains thru North Fork were hand-thrown including crossovers just west of

> the station and on the west end of Byrd Yard at the pullout. The middle

> track was used to get electric helpers in the clear while waiting on #4 and

> #16. Usually at night, 2nd 84 would set off refrigerator cars of meat here

> for the night job to switch the packing houses nearby.


> Grant Carpenter


> > Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2013

> >

> > According to my notes, in the mid-1950's the switch to Northfork Branch

> was

> > of the electric-lock, hand-throw type. There were no signals to govern

> > train movements off or on the branch. With permission from the

> dispatcher,

> > the switch could be thrown by hand if there were no conflicting movements

> on

> > the main line.

> >

> > Louis Newton

> >

> > > Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2013

> > >

> > > The Northfork branch was dark (with a register to sign for access if I

> > > remember reading correctly). Does anyone know the signal configuration

> on

> > > the main relating to the branch? Was there a signal controlling

> movements

> > > coming off the branch onto the main?

> > > Jim Cochran

> > >



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