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pgrig

Is This a Whistle Post?

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In searching for a railroad benchmark (MY0671), I found the partially destroyed concrete post in the attached photo along an active MBTA (ex-B&MRR) line. The chiseled letter looks like an "F" or a blocky "A", and the post looks like it later had some other sign bolted to it. Is this a whistle post?

 

d27ed554-00fa-45ec-bbf1-ddd469748607.jpg

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In searching for a railroad benchmark (MY0671), I found the partially destroyed concrete post in the attached photo along an active MBTA (ex-B&MRR) line. The chiseled letter looks like an "F" or a blocky "A", and the post looks like it later had some other sign bolted to it. Is this a whistle post?

 

d27ed554-00fa-45ec-bbf1-ddd469748607.jpg

More than likely, no. I don't know of any railroad that uses either an "F" or an "A", or even an "R" for "Whistle". Now, if there was a sign attached, it may have been a whistle post.

 

The two most common types are:

A sign with the letter "W", with or without an "X" underneath. Or, a sign with symbols on it consisting of bars and/or dots (in foreground of picture). Usually, square cement posts are mile markers - if a whistle post is going to be cement, it'll be tall and elongated.

 

Like I've said elsewhere - b really darn careful around tracks! :D

 

Good luck!

Mike.

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Thanks, foxtrot_xray. Actually, there is a similar post with the "W"/"X underneath" legend about 500' further down these tracks before a crossing gate, so I've seen that one. And since we've had a few people killed on the MBTA/B&M tracks here lately, I have gotten much more careful. I spend an absolute minimum of time crossing the tracks, and try to walk 30' off to the side.

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I will note, too, that you (anybody, actually) should only use whistle posts as a last resort. Unlike mile markers, whistleposts can and are often moved over time.

 

Usually whistleposts are meant to inform the engineer that a crossing or tunnel is coming up ahead, and were (years back) placed 1500 feet from said crossing. In the case where there is more than one crossing (like a small town, or several farm roads), the "X" tag will be added to denote multiple crossings. About two years ago, federal law changed the rules of blowing before a crossing, and as of now, all whistleposts are deemed unnecessary. (Previously, law required to blow the whistle 1500 feet before a crossing. Now, it's 20 seconds before the crossing.)

 

Useless info, I know, but.. now you can amaze your friends when you tell them this! :D

 

Me.

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Here is what the old concrete whistle posts look like in WV along the old B&O (now CSX) lines:

 

Whistlepost.jpg

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Thanks again, guys! And foxtrot_xray, I have no torch to carry for whistle posts--it's only that this is my Description for this mark:

 

0.5 MI SE FROM SOUTH LINCOLN. 0.5 MILES SOUTHEAST ALONG THE BOSTON AND MAINE RAILROAD FROM THE CROSSING OF LINCOLN ROAD IN SOUTH LINCOLN, ABOUT 0.2 MILE NORTH OF THE CROSSING OF STATE HIGHWAY 117, 58 FEET EAST OF A CONCRETE WHISTLE POST ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE TRACK, ON THE TANGENT OF THE WEST RAIL EXTENDED SOUTH, 35.6 FEET NORTH OF A SET BACK IN THE FENCE, 25.2 FEET EAST OF THE EAST RAIL OF THE EASTERLY TRACK, ABOUT 4 FEET ABOVE THE LEVEL OF THE TRACK, SET IN THE TOP OF A CONCRETE POST PROJECTING 3 INCHES.

 

Since the fence is gone and the .2 mi. distance is a bit general, the whistle post is key. :D I actually think the chipped post that I found is the referenced post. At least I hope so, or this one will descend into the Pit of the Unfound.

 

Again and again around here, I find that the Descriptions of RR marks are pretty vague on the distance of the mark, along the tracks, from some known point. I've actually considered getting out my "rolling measurer" (the wheel with a counter attached that I used to use to measure rooms) and rolling this along a rail (like for 1000 feet !), but the hazard inherent in this approach scares me. :)

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Since the fence is gone and the .2 mi. distance is a bit general, the whistle post is key. :) I actually think the chipped post that I found is the referenced post. At least I hope so, or this one will descend into the Pit of the Unfound.

Do you have any other pictures of the post? Like the back side? Or the top? I'm trying to think of what that could be - It's not an "A", it's either a "P" or "F". Not an "R" either. I'm going to talk to a few of the older engineers I work with this weekend, see if they have ever heard of a post like that.. Now I'm curious.

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A possibility is that the person who wrote the description was confusing 2 kinds of RR posts:

a whistle post

a RR right of way post

 

The picture looks like it could be the ruins of a RR right of way post.

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Since the given 0.2 mile is imprecise, there is no use in getting an accurate distance with the rolling measurer. You can get accurate enough with a topo map if there are identifiable features near the post.

 

Or you can do it with your GPS. Set a waypoint at the crossing and another one at the mysterious post. On my unit, the "measure distance" function on the map display would round to read 0.2 mile anywhere from 0.15 to 0.25 mile. So I would then put 1 or 2 additional wayponts in (using the map, not necessary to visit them) to break the distance into segments of no more than 500 feet each. If the track curves, you may need those waypoints anyway to follow the track. Then the unit will display in feet and I can add the numbers up to get the distance to the mystery post.

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cool, whistle post. I had never heard the term before, but I've seen many of those 'W' Posts like the photo from 89SC. I always thought it was for "West" and train direction.

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Thank you all! That'll teach me to ask whistle post questions! :D

 

I had never thought of using the GPSr (usually little use on these scaled RR marks) as a distance-measuring machine. :) Also, thank you BDT for the RR mark idea.

 

Here are a couple of more photos, foxtrot_xray.

 

Here is a shot showing the top of the post. Note again the couple of "socket" holes in the front (N) side of the post, facing the on-coming southbound trains on that side. These do not go through the post. A sign could have been lag-bolted onto the post here (??).

 

45c97b82-5a7d-4d0e-b1e3-6c13ec6c6d14.jpg

 

Here is a clip from a bigger photo, but it shows the back of the post. It's bare.

 

6203e34f-4ccf-4ee2-871f-a9a984f96490.jpg

 

I have now posted a DNF log on GC for this station, and it explains that my measured distance between this post and the supposed location of the mark came within .2 ft. of the distance given in the Description. Of course, it might have been wishful laser-rangefinding on my part! :D

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