Wigwags in Michigan

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Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby MQT1223 » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:11 pm

Where were some of the last wigwags to be left in service in Michigan besides the one that was knocked down in Vernon back in 2005? I'm surprised that more footage of the Vernon Wigwag is not on Youtube, but it would be neat to see crossings that are videoed or photographed with trains today that had wigwags back then.

The main crossing in Greenfield Village by the entrance DOES NOT COUNT. Although I am curious of that signal's history if any is available.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby SD80MAC » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:06 pm

I'm not aware of any other than the ones at Greenfield Village.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Norm » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:04 am

The one from Vernon is near the steam locomotive in Durand.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Jetlink » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:09 am

I remember in my youths seeing a wig wag protecting the grade crossing in Portland at the Divine Hwy crossing just north of the Looking Glass river. I only ever saw a train on that line twice. I'm pretty sure the last train I saw was when they were in the process of ripping up the rails.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Saturnalia » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:37 am

Quick YouTube search found this:



Nothing else from Michigan...
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby MP73point4 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:30 am

There used to be one in Wells, in the UP by the E&LS shops. It was active in the 80's, maybe the 90's. Not sure when it was removed.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby RJB » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:17 pm

There was one in Jenison at the end of Baldwin St. You could look down and see it from the I-196 exit ramp to Chicago Drive (M-21). It was removed around 1984 when Amtrak started running the GR-Chicago service, and replaced with crossbucks. This crossing was removed recently during the construction of the Baldwin St. exit.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby SD80MAC » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:26 pm

I lied, there's also one in Grand Haven at the 1223 display. And the aforementioned one in Durand.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:13 am

Michigan was never a major wig wag state like Wisconsin or Illinois, California or several other western states. Some railroads really favored them, including the Santa Fe, UP, SP, and PE (hence why Cali was such a common place for them), and the C&NW, MILW, Soo Line, CB&Q, and others in the Midwest and plains states (hence why Wisconsin was another wig wag hot spot).

The Parmenter Road installation in Vernon on the old GTW was indeed the last operating setup in Michigan as far as I know, and it was a sad day when the snowplow came along and did it in about 10 years ago now. I've been told that the wig wag display near the caboose in Durand was its mate at the Parmenter crossing. I believe it was a WRRS machine. GTW apparently had other wig wags in Michigan and may have been the most prolific user in the state.

Vernon Wig Wag.JPG
A Mackinac Mac photo of the Parmenter Road wig wag in 2004.


Is the old wig wag frame and banner shield still standing on Isobell Street in Lansing on the old NYC branch? The banner is long since gone but I took some photos of this cantilever and faint lettering on the shield about 5 years ago. I think this was a different WRRS model than the Parmenter installation.

Another Michigan example was found on the old LS&MS line south of Hillsdale, at the Long Lake Road crossing between Reading the Frog Eye. The southbound road comes over the crest of a hill and the angle of the track is such that a wig wag was placed at the crossing to catch the attention of a speeding southward motorist. It was replaced some time ago with the modern lights, crossbuck, lights setup which exists today, but the wig wag was preserved and is located on the property of the Indiana Northeastern Railroad division office in Hillsdale. I've never been able to find a photo of this one in-situ at the Long Lake crossing, but I've heard from several people that this is where it came from. I'm not sure who the maker of this installation was.

I have an old photo labeled as Plymouth with a candy-stripe wig wag pole and banner shield, which looks very similar to if not identical to the Lansing example. The photo may date from the 1930s, as a guess.

I have an aunt who lives in Anaheim, CA, which is home to one of the last Automatic Flagman examples on the Union Pacific (former SP). At the corner of Lemon and Santa Ana Streets, on street running no less, this wig wag still swings for the two daily locals as they plod along the road each way. It's always a treat when I'm able to visit her to check in on the wig wag and see how it looks. UP signal crews seem to keep it well painted and in good shape. It was featured in a railroad industry trade magazine from the late 1920s and continues to stand on the same spot all these decades later. I took a video of it in operation a few years ago - I'll have to upload it to youtube and then link it here.

nathan1_nathan1-R1-043-20.jpg
The Automatic Flagman in Anaheim, CA, on the old SP street running, still doing its thing in 2010. I saw it most recently in 2013.


Greenfield Village is obviously not the only railroad museum which has preserved a wig wag example (though I too am curious about the Village's wig wag's heritage). My museum in Connecticut, the Shore Line Trolley Museum, has a preserved Magnetic Flagman example, which is mounted to a line pole. I'm not sure of its heritage, but the Pacific Electric used them extensively and often had them mounted to their wooden line poles, so it may be where ours originated, and if so would certainly be appropriate. Ours activates by a push button and runs on a 25 or 30 second timer at the museum's one road crossing. Plans are afoot to possibly tie it in with the signal system so it will activate automatically when a trolley car approaches. We'll see!

P1130832.jpg
Magnetic Flagman restored and operable at the Shore Line Trolley Museum.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby MQT1223 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:39 pm

SD80MAC wrote:I lied, there's also one in Grand Haven at the 1223 display. And the aforementioned one in Durand.


I am aware SD80MAC, however I was looking for where they were last in service before displays like this.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Dan Cluley » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:39 pm

GP30M4216 wrote:Is the old wig wag frame and banner shield still standing on Isobell Street in Lansing on the old NYC branch? The banner is long since gone but I took some photos of this cantilever and faint lettering on the shield about 5 years ago. I think this was a different WRRS model than the Parmenter installation.


Isbell st looks pretty much the same as it has for years.

This shot was taken in 2004
Image

This one was taken earlier today.
Image

Back in 1988 it was still in service.
Image
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby MQT1223 » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:10 pm

Dan Cluley wrote:
GP30M4216 wrote:Is the old wig wag frame and banner shield still standing on Isobell Street in Lansing on the old NYC branch? The banner is long since gone but I took some photos of this cantilever and faint lettering on the shield about 5 years ago. I think this was a different WRRS model than the Parmenter installation.


Isbell st looks pretty much the same as it has for years.

This shot was taken in 2004
Image

This one was taken earlier today.
Image

Back in 1988 it was still in service.
Image


Few questions. When was the banner and motor removed/stolen? What was going on back in 88 in your picture an excursion of some sort? I'm assuming NS owns the line now with this wig wag? Does the bell still ring regardless if the wig wag banner is present? Would it be against the law to repair this wig wag if the railroad decided to do it or would it be legal since the wig wag is not a new installation? Wig Wags were grandfathered in the 1950's I think which prevented new installations on common carriers except on museum tracks.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Dan Cluley » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:13 pm

I'm not sure when the mechanism came down. I think for a while the mechanism was there but with the light (or at least the lenses) gone.

There was a group trying to start a RR museum in Lansing, and the National Park Service loaned them a pair of the old South Shore cars. They were stored in a warehouse at the end of this line for the time they were in Lansing.

This line is part of the former Lake Shore & MI Southern line from Lansing to Albion, and has been a stub ended industrial spur for decades. It is now part of the Jackson & Lansing RR, and sees a train maybe a couple of times a month?

It is a pretty quiet neighborhood street, and I'd guess the only reason it had any crossing protection is because there are T intersections either side of the crossing, and given the angle of the tracks visibility would be bad making the left turn from either of the N/S streets.

No idea if the bell works, but it wouldn't surprise me. They obviously moved it to the top of the pole at some point, and it is considerably shinier than the rest of the hardware.

A few blocks West & South of the wigwag, the Washington Ave and Mt Hope Ave crossings have unusual old overhead flashers.

Image

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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby jimnorthwood » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:01 am

I interviewed for a job in "downtown" Stephenson in either 1994 or 1995. Upon my arrival I was very surprised to see a wig-wag signal guarding one of the downtown grade crossings on the former C&NW line. UP was operating the track at that point. I didn't see any trains before, during or after the interview, and I didn't get the job, either :) I haven't been back to Stephenson since, but I would imagine the wig-wag is long gone by now.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:10 am

Dan, thanks for sharing those photos of the Isbell Street wig wag, both then and now. I'm glad to see the remains are still there guarding the pavement they have protected for decades.

It seems WRRS installations were by far the most common in lower Michigan, and there were more of them on former NYC lines than I originally thought.

According to RRHX over on MichiganRailroads.com, another WRRS wig wag was located in Sterling, MI on the old MC/NYC/D&M/LSRC Grayling line. According to the text, it survived into the late 1990s. I wonder if it was saved when it was removed from operation? Here's a photo and link:

[img]http://michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/imagesRRHX/NYCCrossingSignalAtSterlingMI[TomDecker].jpg[/img]
[Tom Decker photo]
http://michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Stations/CountyStations/ArenacStations/SterlingMI.htm
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:19 am

Dan Cluley wrote:I'm not sure when the mechanism came down. I think for a while the mechanism was there but with the light (or at least the lenses) gone.

There was a group trying to start a RR museum in Lansing, and the National Park Service loaned them a pair of the old South Shore cars. They were stored in a warehouse at the end of this line for the time they were in Lansing.

This line is part of the former Lake Shore & MI Southern line from Lansing to Albion, and has been a stub ended industrial spur for decades. It is now part of the Jackson & Lansing RR, and sees a train maybe a couple of times a month?

It is a pretty quiet neighborhood street, and I'd guess the only reason it had any crossing protection is because there are T intersections either side of the crossing, and given the angle of the tracks visibility would be bad making the left turn from either of the N/S streets.

No idea if the bell works, but it wouldn't surprise me. They obviously moved it to the top of the pole at some point, and it is considerably shinier than the rest of the hardware.

A few blocks West & South of the wigwag, the Washington Ave and Mt Hope Ave crossings have unusual old overhead flashers.

Image

Image


I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like those Mt. Hope Ave. Cantilever Signals. Clearly a very old design. Are The Washington Ave cantilevers the same or slightly different? I'm kind of a crossing signal nut on the side. :lol:
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Dan Cluley » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:36 pm

MQT1223 wrote:I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like those Mt. Hope Ave. Cantilever Signals. Clearly a very old design. Are The Washington Ave cantilevers the same or slightly different? I'm kind of a crossing signal nut on the side. :lol:


Washington Ave is very similar if not identical. You can see them on streetview as well, but the shot isn't as good.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby MQT1223 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:50 pm

RJB wrote:There was one in Jenison at the end of Baldwin St. You could look down and see it from the I-196 exit ramp to Chicago Drive (M-21). It was removed around 1984 when Amtrak started running the GR-Chicago service, and replaced with crossbucks. This crossing was removed recently during the construction of the Baldwin St. exit.


They just "X" out the whistle post for this former crossing with black spray paint fairly recently.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:55 pm

MQT1223 wrote:
RJB wrote:There was one in Jenison at the end of Baldwin St. You could look down and see it from the I-196 exit ramp to Chicago Drive (M-21). It was removed around 1984 when Amtrak started running the GR-Chicago service, and replaced with crossbucks. This crossing was removed recently during the construction of the Baldwin St. exit.


They just "X" out the whistle post for this former crossing with black spray paint fairly recently.

I think they were out Repainting the whistle and mile posts again recently. Several on the GRS look pretty fresh, and the CG 5 at Ivanrest got a new post for main #2

Cool to see the railroad still embracing those old concrete posts, instead of pushing them over and just going with the newer signs.
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Re: Wigwags in Michigan

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:57 pm

Here is my video referenced above of the wig wag in Anaheim, CA on the former SP Costa Mesa branch, doing its thing while a UP local rolls by:



It's not really mounted to that fluted streetlamp post, this was just the only angle I had available for a video shot. :P
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