Abandoned Rails

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Fallen N&W Color Position Light Signals

- NS Virginia Division -


This page takes a look back at the various N&W color position light signals that have been replaced on the former Virginia Division (now Pocahontas Division) throughout the namesake state.  If you have any material you'd like to contribute, please contact me at jl.hawkins@comcast.net.

Colley Avenue (LP1.7)


The signal bridge at Colley Avenue was standing tall on this bright and blustery February day.  This view is looking railroad west, but compass east. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (February 1, 2002)



Colley Avenue (LP1.7)


A look at the westbound mast signal at Colley Avenue.  This was replaced with a new cantilever signal bridge within a month of this photo. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (November 12, 2005)



Colley Avenue (LP1.7)


There weren't many places you could see three examples of N&W signal structures in one location.  Colley Avenue offered a mast signal, full span signal bridge, and cantilever signal bridge.  The nearest cantilever to Norfolk is at Webster, VA, some 248 miles away. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (November 12, 2005)



Colley Avenue (LP1.7)


By January 2006 the mast signal had been replaced with a new cantilever signal bridge.  However the full span signal bridge had not yet been touched.  In the months following, signal crews replaced the CPL heads with Safetrans tri-light heads while leaving the signal bridge itself intact.   


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (January 28, 2006)



Colley Avenue (LP2.2)


Looking railroad east towards Lambert's Point in this view of the Colley Avenue signals. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (March 15, 2003)



Colley Avenue (LP2.2)


In January 2006 the Colley Avenue interlocking was still in a transition phase.  The new eastbound signals had been installed but the cantilever signal bridge had not yet been removed.  Also note the track on the far right has been taken up. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (January 28, 2006)



Barre Avenue (LP3.2)


This full span signal bridge at Barre Avenue in Norfolk was replaced in mid-2003. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (March 15, 2003)



NS Junction (N2.8)


The eastbound signal at NS Junction in Norfolk was replaced in late 2003. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (August 2, 2003)




Portlock (N5.3)


NS ETT identify this interlocking as "Portlock".  However it was more commonly known as "West End Portlock" by train crews.  Either way these were the last CPL signals to survive in the Tidewater area until they were removed from service in late June 2012.  The two photos above show the westbound and eastbound bracket mast signals at Portlock. 


Top Photo by Jeff Hawkins (July 2002)

Bottom Photo by Jeff Hawkins (January 16, 2011)



Abilene (B21.3)

At 3:35 AM on the morning of December 13, 2007 an eastbound coal train collided with NS 227, a westbound intermodal at the Abilene interlocking.  Two locomotives and four cars from the coal train derailed along with seven cars from 227 which was impacted approximately 14 cars from the head end.  Fortunately the coal train's engineer and conductor only sustained minor injuries.  It was reported that it took the conductor an hour and a half to climb out of the wreckage.  The derailment destroyed all of the N&W color position light signals at Abilene including the classic mast signal seen above.  Safetrans pole signals are now in service here as seen in this photo


Photo by Thomas T. Warshaw III (November 30, 2006)



Lee (N184)

The N&W color position light signals that guarded westbound movements at Lee (MP N184) were toppled on the night of Tuesday, November 30, 2010 by high winds associated with a strong storm system. While the exact time the incident occurred is unknown, it happened sometime between when 234 and 22A ran. As 22A approached the interlocking, the crew reduced speed and stopped prior to the interlocking despite having a clear signal indication at the previous signal, Appomattox. The signals at Lee were laying over on their side, nearly in the eastbound lanes of US 460, and were still displaying a clear indication. NS signals crews quickly went to work and installed new Safetrans pole signals on Thursday, December 2, 2010. This 2002 photo illustrates the signals in better times. Even the concrete N&W mile post was replaced with an aluminum sign sometime during 2009.


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (June 15, 2002)





Signals removed from service in August 2016.


Top photo by Jeff Hawkins (TBD)

Bottom photo by Jeff Hawkins (May 6, 2005)






Signals removed from service in September 2016.


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (June 15, 2002)




Big Otter


Signals removed from service on October 24, 2016.


Top photo by Jeff Hawkins (October 15, 2016)

Bottom photo by Jeff Hawkins (March 9, 2005)



Roanoke Wye


This unique CPL signal guarded the east leg of the wye in downtown Roanoke.  It was replaced in October 2007 by a Safetrans pole signal which now stands on the opposite side of the track.  To date all of the other signals on the wye are CPL signals with exception of the northbound signal off the Winston-Salem District.    


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (April 6, 2003)



Glenvar (N267.7)

One the western outskirts of Salem is the interlocking of Glenvar.  This is one of the many crossovers between Roanoke and Walton that are essential to facilitating the high volume of traffic.  When Greg Ropp photographed this westbound manifest approaching Glenvar in the Spring of 1998, the N&W signals were still standing.  They were replaced sometime between 1998 and 2002.  At one time a small passenger station and two-story interlocking tower were located at Glenvar. 


Photo by Greg Ropp (1998)



Singer (N273.3)


On Monday, October 17, 2011 the N&W bracket mast signals at Singer were removed from service.  At one time Singer was an enjoyable venue for railfans.  Unfortunately in recent years a local resident has been monitoring the access road and is aggressively confronting anybody who so much as pulls off on the side of W. River Road. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (June 4, 2004)



Narrows (N332.8)


New signals were installed at the Narrows interlocking in November 2010.  It was reported that on Sunday, November 7, the new eastbound signals had been activated but the westbound signals were still covered with the CPL signals still in service. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (October 17, 2009)



Robinson (N336.4)


The westbound signal mast at Robinson (also called Robinson Crossover) wasn't long for the world in this 2005 photograph.  It appears to be waiting to just fall down the hillside at any moment.  A new cantilever signal bridge was installed in its place in early 2006. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (August 14, 2005)



Glen Lyn (N340.5)


The N&W bracket mast signals at Glen Lyn were replaced in March 2012.  Safetran cantilever signals now stand here in each direction. 


Photo by Jeff Hawkins (January 3, 2012)



Jugneck (N357.0)


The pair of N&W bracket mast signals at Jugneck were removed from service on July 14, 2008.  These signals were also referred to as "Old 27". 



Copyright 2002- | Jeff Hawkins

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