In General

Doll Posts or Doll Arms are "sort of" an accessory item for signals.....
When a signal could not be located directly to the right of the track it governed, with another track between it and the signal, railroads employed a Doll Post to indicate that to the engineer..... Think of the Doll Post as a place holder.

Many railroads employed a bracket post installation, much as they would if they were using two signals.  In place of a second signal though, they would use a short mast with a blue light on it, and if you have ever seen one, it is a deep, deep blue.  NONE of the pictures below have a lit doll post lamp, darn!

Other bracket post installations, such as the one below on SEPTA in the Philadelphia area, uses a blue circular reflector on the mast.

When the railroads did not want to go to the expense of putting in a bracket post, they would set up a simple two pipe installation to the side of the mast, supported by a small piece of angle iron as seen below in the B&O and SCL installations.

And furthermore, some railroads, like the B&O, employed no signal at all.

The B&M was one railroad to employ Doll Posts with an active blue signal,
A visit to Waltham Massachusetts will not disappoint you (unless the lamp was out as it was on one of my trips)!
The Seaboard is another railroad that employed the blue lights, also shown below.

The picture below, out of a B&O rulebook, illustrates the doll post concept.

"Perryville" MD

Typical B&O CPL Doll Post located on the east end of Aiken Siding siding north of Perryville MD.
Notice the lack of a lamp on the post.
Also notice how the dwarf signal is mounted to the base of the high signal.... interesting!
The high signal is for the main line, which is to the left,
And the dwarf signal is for the siding on the right, which is in between the signal and the track it governs, hence the Doll Post.
Picture taken from Jackson Station Road.
With the aggressive signal replacement program CSX has in place, this signal is now gone.


Lineville AL

A pair of pictures of a US&S Searchlight signal with a doll post in Lineville AL on an ex-SCL line, one of which includes a shot of a classic SCL whistle post.
As with many other railroads, they use a high signal for the mainline and a dwarf for the siding.
CSX has done away with this signal installation as part of a double-tracking project.
The whole scoop on this location is at my guide here.
Photos courtesy John Higginson.

Ann Arbor MI

You don't often get to see any semaphore with doll post installations any more.  This is a long unused semaphore installation in on the north side of Toledo not to far away from the Ann Arbor tower off Matzinger Rd.  My picture on the left is from 2009.  The photo on the right, courtesy Eric Schmelz, was taken back in 1998 when the signal installation was still intact.  Very nice shot!


Media PA

SEPTA's version of a doll post, it uses a blue reflector.  This one is on the R3 line in Media PA.

Shenandoah Junction WV

This signal is no longer with us, as NS re-graded the interlocking.
As of June 2017, the last N&W CPL in these here parts was up in Sheperdstown WV, but it was finally replaced in 2018.
Photo used by permission from Todd Paoni.
Many more excellent pictures from around the MD-VA-WV areas by Todd are at:  http://members.trainorders.com/bucky1986/

Waltham MA

Just east of the tower in Waltham was a signal installation with a lit doll post.  I've was there twice back around 2000, and on one of the occasions, the lamp was out.  The reason for the doll post is because the signal mast is located to the right of a siding, and it is between the signal and the track it governs.  The siding has been "dis-connected", so there is no need for a doll post, and hence, the signal has now been replaced -- darn, there goes another set of searchlight signals (they are beginning to disappear as quickly as the CPL's and PL's!  :-)

I have a picture of it somewhere in my slide collection, but if someone lives near there and can swing by to get a picture, it would be greatly appreciated.

Below are pictures of the Waltham Doll sent in by Dave Pierson:


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.

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 :-)

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New OCT06/2006, JUN27/2017
Last Updated: 11/18/2019