Guide to Railroad Symbols and Signage

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GNMT76

Active Member
I'm looking for a guidebook, website or other reference source that interprets and describes the uses, functions and placement of the multitude of static, trackside railroad signs and their symbols found on the prototype across the U.S. If they happen to be line-specific, I model the Great Northern in the transition era. I found no such information on the GNRHS site.

What do you recommend?

Thanks.
 
Last edited:

cv_acr

Active Member
One sticky point here is that while each railroad will generally have signage for the same/similar purpose, each RR kind of developed their own styles so not everything will be the same across different railroads.

For example a whistle post (warning crews to sound whistle/horn approaching grade crossings) is almost universally a sign with a "W" on it, but might be black W on white square, red W on white diamond, white W on black square, black W on a solid concrete post, etc. Flanger signs (telling snow clearing equipment to raise between-the-rail blades to clear obstructions (grade crossing planks, switches, bridge guardrails etc.) tend to be very specific to the railroad, and other signage will also vary. Different styles and sets of signal indications as well.
 

GNMT76

Active Member
One sticky point here is that while each railroad will generally have signage for the same/similar purpose, each RR kind of developed their own styles so not everything will be the same across different railroads.

For example a whistle post (warning crews to sound whistle/horn approaching grade crossings) is almost universally a sign with a "W" on it, but might be black W on white square, red W on white diamond, white W on black square, black W on a solid concrete post, etc. Flanger signs (telling snow clearing equipment to raise between-the-rail blades to clear obstructions (grade crossing planks, switches, bridge guardrails etc.) tend to be very specific to the railroad, and other signage will also vary. Different styles and sets of signal indications as well.
Interesting. I model the Great Northern in the transition era. Is there a GN-specific website or book that would show signage and symbols with color photos, names and functions of each all in one place? I'm a member of the GNRHS, but have found little if any such information there.
 

GeeTee

Well-Known Member

twforeman

Well-Known Member
Interesting. I model the Great Northern in the transition era. Is there a GN-specific website or book that would show signage and symbols with color photos, names and functions of each all in one place? I'm a member of the GNRHS, but have found little if any such information there.
I'm also a GNRHS member. And I model the GN in 1958.

It's not all in one place, but the reference sheets have a lot of the info you are looking for. You can order reference sheets online. Useful ones would be:
  • RS54 - GN Standard Signs; Part 1
  • RS60 - GN Standard Signs; Part 2
  • RS70 - GN Standard Signs; Part 3
  • RS160: GN Standard Signs, Part 4
  • RS187: GN Standard Signs, Part 5
There are also a ton of books about the Great Northern. None that I know of are specifically about the signage, but many of the photos have signs in them.
 




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