THE RAILROAD GALLERY AT THE
MUSEUM OF YESTERDAY
THE RAILROAD EQUIPMENT COLLECTION
RAILROAD gallery #1 contains many articles from the Museum's own authentic Railroad Equipment Collection, plus a brief history of railroad facilities that are of interest to Railfans in the Richmond, Virginia area. When you have viewed this page, be sure to continue to Page 2, which contains our model train items, by clicking the button at the bottom of this page.
Cross buck at Doswell Railroad Crossing, Doswell, VA.. (Animation by John DeMajo)
Note: Click the image above to see an Amtrak passenger train at this crossing.

 

We have assembled an authentic turn-of-the-century railroad station master's office in the museum's railroad gallery. The office contains all of the tools, equipment and fixtures that would be found in a typical American small town railroad station. In most small stations, the station master on-duty served as the ticket agent, the Railway Express shipping clerk, the Western Union telegraph operator and the local train dispatcher.

Below: An early photo of the New Orleans district office of the Southern Pacific Railroad (ca: 1905).
The clerk sitting at the desk is John R. Nicolini, great uncle of Museum Of Yesterday chairman John DeMajo.


Some items from the museum's equipment collection: Click photos below to see full-size view

Original oil painting of Southern 4501 steam engine
Miscellaneous insulators used in railroad telegraph
Stock certificate from the New York Central Railroad
Level used in the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad
 
Whistle from a Louisiana sugar refinery's steam locomotive
Track Switch position lantern
Track directional signal lamp
Railroad track car head lamp
 
Obstruction warning lantern
Blue kerosene lantern from Southern Pacific Railroad
"Tall" Lantern from
NY Central Railroad
Red lantern from B&O railroad
 
Yellow lantern from Western Railway of Alabama RR.
Dietz lantern
Car clearance lantern
Engineer's oil can
 
B&O RR Conductor's cap
Railroad office Scissors Phone
Station Telegraph Sounder
Railroad Station Clock
 
Wood stove from a caboose
Conductor's Pocket Watch
Track Hazard Spirit Torch
Official Station Stamp
 
Railroad clerk's dip pen and ink
Railroad switch lock stamped "St Paul Stock Yard"
Automatic Electric Co, Monophone was used in track-side enclosures for communication between trains and railroad switch towers
Railroad automatic dispatch unit by
Western Electric
 
Railroad track electrical bonding tester by Roller-Smith Co. A donation to the Museum collection by Mr. Jim Lewis of Richmond, VA.
A rail car illumination lantern from Nazi era German Railroad
Railroad radio relay unit
Cuspidor from Northern Pacific
       
.
Oil Can with RF&P RR markings
Interior caboose illumination lantern by Handlan Co. of St. Louis, and marked "C&O RY"
Flyball governor from a stationary engine
A rare example of a pre-1900s "Tall" green lantern from the Erie RR.
       
Switch position lamp
Signal Control Relay
Spike Mall used to drive track spikes
RR station ticket date stamp
 
BRONZE A.S.M.E. BOILER LABEL FROM A 1936 UNION IRON WORKS LOCOMOTIVE
 
Part of our railroad stock certificate collection which includes certificates from most of the North-East corridor rail roads.
 

A collection of railroad handbooks and other internal material from various rail carriers
 
Sign originally from a Union Pacific box car.
 
The Museum's Collection of
Railroad China and Dining Car Items

Photo credit: Rick from Boulder via Wikimedia

Dining on the railroad was a memorable experience for those who were fortunate enough to have traveled in the glory days of pre-Amtrak train service. Individual railroads strived to out perform their competition by offering the finest accommodations and service, rivaling some of the nation's finest land based hotels and dining establishments. Trademarked railroad china and serving pieces were indicative of the pride in brand recognition that the railroads sought to bring to their dining cars. The Museum Of Yesterday collection contains many varied examples of authentic railroad dining car china from a number of major U.S. railroads.
A bouillon bowl from a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad dining car.
 
A rare example of a plate from a Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad dining car.
 
More dining car china including a rare and excellent condition Chessie coffee cup and saucer from the Chessie System R.R. Below, a gravy boat from the Baltimore and Ohio along with an extremely rare cup and saucer from the Chesapeake and Ohio.
 
A unique complete place setting from the C&O Railroad's Greenbrier Hotel Dining Room.
 
The following photos are from an exhibit of the DeMajo Family Railroad China Collection
that is currently on extended loan to the Richmond Railroad Museum.
 
Complementary playing cards from a parlor car on the Chesapeake and Ohio Lines
 


Porcelain on tin advertising banner from Chessie System C&O Railroad

More photos from the railroad collection coming soon.

We are in the process of photographing the collection. The items shown above represent only a small portion of the entire museum railroad collection. More photos will be added shortly. Please check back often for updates.

 


RAILROAD MAINTENANCE TOOLS


The Museum Of Yesterday has undertaken a project to develop and grow our collection of railroad construction and track maintenance tools. We have recently acquired a small collection of track tools, and have begun to photograph them into this virtual presentation of our collection.
 
The tool pictured above was used by crews to move lengths of railroad track. The caliper of the tool was used to grab a section of track. Several of these devices would be used along the track section. A worker would stand with a shoulder under the arm that protrudes left and right from each of the tools. One worker would support each arm of the tool on his shoulder. Using this method, a heavy section of steel track could be carried on the shoulders of the workers and thereby moved into position for alignment and staking to the crossties. See photo below for more information.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
 


A spike mall used to secure railroad track to the ties that support them

Click on image above to see demonstration of the use of this tool.

MORE PHOTOS OF TRACK TOOLS WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON

SIGNALS USED ON THE RAILROADS
HISTORIC USE OF OIL LANTERNS ON RAILROADS

Several different lenses were in use in kerosene lanterns used on the railroads before the advent of electrical signaling. The following table lists the various lenses that were in common use, and their purpose or message. In the pre-electric signal era, switching towers were required to keep three oil lamps burning at all times after dark. The specified lamp colors were red, clear and yellow.

Blue Lantern- Signaled that a train was being worked on.
Red Lantern- Indicated the rear end of a train, and also signaled approaching trains to stop for orders or track obstruction.
Yellow Lantern- Used to cautiously wave a train passed an otherwise red signal.
Green Lantern- Used to flag a train to stop for passenger pick-up.
Clear Lantern- Simply used for illumination or hand signaling in the way that a flash light would be used today.

The museum collection contains a complete set of kerosene signal lamps of the various colors explained above.
Click here to see a comprehensive primer on railroad signal use
 
As electricity became available, many early mechanical railroad signaling devices were replaced by more modern electrically operated signals. Shown above is a signal relay from a track-side grade crossing signal control unit.
 
RAILROAD TELEGRAPHY
 
 

This is an example of a railroad station telegraph sounder installed in an acoustic amplification box. This device would have been used in a railroad station office to act as the source of sound for incoming telegraph messages. While the sounder enclosures worked well to amplify the clicks of the telegraph sounder magnets, railroad employees quickly discovered that they could further accentuate the sound of the telegraph signals by inserting a specific type of empty pipe tobacco container next to the electro-magnetic sounder.
 
An example of a railroad telegraph transceiver, from the era of World War I. It includes a special spark-arresting key that was designed for use around flammable and explosive materials.
 
Railroad telegraphers used a version of Morse Code that differed slightly from the International Radio Telegraph Code that is still in use today. Here is a chart showing the characters of the now obsolete code once used by the railroads. For more information on telegraph and radio telegraph in the early 20th Century, please visit our radio and communications exhibits gallery which houses the DeMajo Communications Collection.
 
The "Western Union" clock was a later fixture in railroad stations. These clocks were synchronized across the country via theWestern Union telegraph system, with time signals generated from the U.S. Naval Observatory. Prior to the invention of atomic clocks, these automatically set clocks were considered the ultimate time standard. It was important that railroads maintained exact accurate time across the entire rail system , not only to insure that connecting trains ran on schedule, but also to avoid accidents that could be caused if a train was in the wrong place at a given time, thereby causing it to encounter another train on the same track or cross track.
 
PLEASE CONTINUE YOUR RAILROAD HISTORY TOUR IN THE NEXT GALLERY