Ball Signals
Banjo Signals
Banner Box Signals
Smashboard Signals
Tilting Target Signals
Semaphore Signals


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!



  Paulsboro NJ




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.


New 1-1-2021
Last Modified On: 01-Jan-2021