Telephone Huts
Telephone Boxes
Telephone Poles


In General

Railroads and signals do not operate on their own, they need help, or support, to function properly (or at all :-).  This section covers one aspect of that support network: telephones and telegraphs that were used on the railroad, and their associated cousins, insulators, phone boxes and telephone poles.

Much of what is presented on this page is going away, just like Pennsy PL and B&O CPL signals,  never to be seen again.  Take your pictures NOW if you see this stuff.

Bayard Lawes
Denver Todd

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
None for now.....

Railroad Telephones

A dispatchers microphone, in so-so condition, seen at the Gaithersburg MD Train Show in the November time-frame.

Railroad Telegraphs

      A couple of telegraph sounders

  An overall shot of one guys offering, and detail shots below

The above shots were taken at the Gaithersburg MD train show on 11/05/2006

Telephone Huts

This "hut" iswas along the ex B&O's Old Main Line at AVALON, near the (closed) Gun Rd crossing.  In looking at the birds eye view from Bing Maps, it seems that CSX may have removed this structure.  The B&O used many of these concrete buildings all over the place at one time.  They were replaced by the small telephone box, which in turn, hasn't seen a telephone for many a year once radios became the standard.  With fiber optics being the norm now, it appears as tho the old telephone line has been removed, along with the hut and old telephone box.  The CPL's just a few hundred feet west have been replaced by "darth vader" color light signals, around the mid 2000's timeframe or so, like 2004.

Below are pictures taken by Michael Watnoski on the same trip, and a PDF drawing he made after taking measurements of the one at Gun Road.




In the Bing Maps aerial below, the green circle is where the telephone hut used to be, the blue arrow points at the WB signals (above) for the interlocking to a siding that starts in the yellow circle, and the yellow arrows point to two sets of flange lubricators.

              The dwg is here as a PDF


Railroad Telephone Boxes

A phone box on the old New York Central main line in Depew NY, on the east side of Buffalo.  8/2006

This one is on the south side of Richmond VA, maybe on the old Seaboard tracks.  10/2011

I found this one on the old RF&P in Richmond VA under I-195.

Railroad Telephone Poles

A couple of shots of pole lines - courtesy of Jim Mihalek from the Minneapolis MN area.
Taken around Leipsic, OH, on the old NKP - March 3, 2005

  A pole next to the ex-NYC depot in Batavia NY   Aug2006

A pole line on the CP in Lancaster NY, just outside Buffalo

Railroad Telephone Pole Insulators

A table full of insulators at the Gaithersburg MD train show 11/5/2006....
Most were going for only 3 or 4 bucks.... I dunno how they paid for a $75 table that way!

Up in Traverse City MI, my 91 year old aunt's boyfriend Bayard has a small collection of insulators in his garage, including a bunch of ceramic insulators from the Canadian National RR.


Every now and then, you get lucky.  Several years ago, I was following the right-of-way for the former Green Spring Branch here in Baltimore during the winter months  when the brush was dead, and I came across a Pennsy insulator laying among the leaves.  How old is it?  Don't know, but it probably dates back to (maybe) the 1920's-30's-40's???  True, the skirt is missing on one side, but very few of the insulators I see at the shows have the P.R.R. stamped on the top.  One of these in good condition commands $20 at a train show, cause one I have still has the price sticker on it....


A discussion on one of the Yahoo groups in February of 2017, prompted by a question about Western Maryland insulators:


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 being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


New: NOV09/2006, FEB16/2017, APR12/2020
Mod: 12-Apr-2020