RAILFAN GUIDES HOME RAILROAD SIGNALS HOME
These pages cover signals that have (mostly) gone the way of the
steam engine. Pretty soon, we will be able to add B&O CPL and
Pennsy PL signals to this page at the rate they are being replaced by color light signals.
This page will cover Smashboard Signals.
Smashboards were used by the railroads for basically two
purposes: 1) They alerted the engineer to a potentially very dangerous
condition, such as an open bridge span and the train could wind up in the
drink, and 2) They provided management with a visual affirmation that the
engineer did not stop "in time", after he went by the smashboard and broke it off.
As shown below, the smashboard will be in the "up" position until the protected
structure is in a position where trains can not use it - as with a bridge - if
the bridge is down, aligned, and locked, the smashboard will be up. As
soon as the bridge is unlocked and starts to move out of position, the
smashboard will come down.
Smashboards have their origins with the semaphore, and the
similarity can be clearly seen in the drawing below. The drawing is from a US&S catalog, showing
dimensions of one of their models, circa the 1940's or so.
These unique signals are becoming rarer and rarer all the
time. I know of three that used to be around in New Jersey.... Two
are/were on both sides of the PATH "Dock" bridge in Newark NJ - one of which
was removed several years ago (the EB one), and in 2020, the WB one was
removed. The third one was on a Conrail branch in southern NJ (Paulsboro), and was
featured in an issue of Railpace a few years back - I haven't visited the
site, so I cannot say whether or not this one is still around.
Below are pictures of the surviving smashboard in Newark on
the PATH tracks, and there is a parking lot next to the track where these
pictures were taken from. The high rise building to the left of the
bridge in the second photo is the NJT Headquarters building; we're looking east,
or south. A BIG THANKS goes to Rich W. for taking
the time to go out and take these pictures for me!!! The accompanying
colorlight signals are also pretty old!
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
is always given! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.