Static Trackside Signs

Great Northern 76 Aug 24, 2020

  1. Great Northern 76

    Great Northern 76 TrainBoard Member

    How does one know which trackside signs (not signals) to use (for what purposes) and where they would go on a layout when many prototype signs consist only of a letter, a number or a symbol of one kind or another and no wording?

    My GN freight layout, c. 1945-1955, is a small 5' x 7' with a double reverse loop, five track crossings by road, a wayside siding and two freight depot sidings, so there would be a need for only a modicum of signage.

    I've already placed crossbucks where the roads cross the tracks. What other non-operational signs would be appropriate and practical for the GN line in my era? Color photos with interpretations (uses) and appropriate locations along the route would be most helpful.

    I've already contacted the GNRHS, but did not receive a helpful reply. I've also since learned that the only books even remotely related to my question are long-winded recitations of rules and regulations, with basically zero graphics, that were written for railroad employees, not the general public.
  2. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

    Depending on the era there are markers such as whistle posts, mile posts, speed limit signs, and yard limit signs.

    There will also be signs for place names.

    Likely many more, but I am no expert.
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  3. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

    I sent you a PM.
  4. Nimo

    Nimo TrainBoard Member

    Historical ones are difficult to get accurately - my top recommendation would be Google photo search of the locale that you are modeling. Standard road and railroad crossing signs are pretty common in old photos and the appearance also doesn't change much over time. If you can find suitable Govt. or company websites, then that might help immensely. Here is one for the roads: railways also have used pretty standardized signs over the years - here is the site for NORAC signals - tatic signs are at the bottom of the page:

    Hope this helps.

  5. Great Northern 76

    Great Northern 76 TrainBoard Member


    Thanks for another set of potentially usable signs from NORAC!
    Nimo likes this.
  6. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

    OK, I'm pretty new at this, but I noticed NORAC Rule 296 signage notes specify:

    "... in non-electrified territory, this sign will be mounted on an overhead bridge of [or?] pole approximately 12 feet above the top of the rail." [insertion mine]

    Isn't an overhead signal bridge at 12' above top of rail way too low?

    Or does the height apply only to pole-mounted signs alongside the track?
  7. Nimo

    Nimo TrainBoard Member


    Yes, must be a typo or something, I would read this to be on any pole, whether catenary, or overhead bridge or its own separate pole at 12' above the rail.
  8. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

    I don't know about GN, I'm big on Santa Fe, so that's what I know about. Some. Back about 1980, I drove along the Matagorda district of the Santa Fe
    documenting lineside signs. This one in Bay City, Texas, giving noitice that ATSF would cross ,another roads track (MP) up ahead.


    One near Cane Jct. where the Hall District cut off from the Matagorda line.


    And at the actual junction, a "Blind Siding" sign where there is no station building.

    I even wrote a "humorous" story for the historical society about a "Keep off this bridge" sign, where there was no visible bridge on the railroad. A public street went across the track, with a drainageway from one side of the track to the other, running underneath the street. Street traffic was legally crossing the railroad bridge without knowing it. And anyone on the tracks would see only the street bridges on each side. But regulations apparently required the "Keep Off This Bridge" sign.

    baybrdgsign.jpg baybrdgtrk.jpg

    Most of this line is now gone, and I assume the signs are gone too. Later I got a set of books of Santa Fe Standard Plans, which included drawings of typical signs for various uses and how they were to be placed. Don't know if there might be any such books for YOUR railroad.
  9. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

    BNSF FAN likes this.

Share This Page