The Maine Narrow Gauges (Historic & Preserved) > Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad

Signal at Phillips depot

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Wayne Laepple:
Does anyone out there have any information regarding the semaphore signal on the platform at Phillips? Specifically, information concerning the operating lever mechanism? One of my Australian friends is interested in signals and inquired about it. Any help appreciated. Thanks.

Philip Marshall:
That's a very good question, Wayne.

The Phillips semaphore was not on the platform. Rather, it was located midway between the station and the covered bridge, just south of the Main Street crossing. (See attached map.)

Unfortunately, I've never seen a clear photo of the signal so I can only guess as to the mechanism, but I've always assumed it was a pretty simple home-made affair, probably all wood.

It's one of those things we definitely know existed because it's specifically mentioned in the SR&RL rule book, but there are more questions than answers about it, unfortunately.

It was the only semaphore on the Two-Footers.

Philip Marshall:
I had a conversation about the Phillips semaphore with Guy Rioux at the Amherst Railway Society train show yesterday. He has a chapter about the semaphore in his next book, and suffice it to say the situation is more complicated than I'd thought.

Guy has found evidence of at least three different versions of the semaphore, at least one of which may have been illuminated, at different locations from the north end of the Phillips station platform to the Main Street crossing, and in between. One of them appears to have been operated remotely by a some kind of chain and cable linkage (in the Australian fashion?) passing overhead. He says there may also have been a used standard gauge signal acquired from the MEC in 1919 that may or may not have actually been installed.

I didn't follow everything he was saying, so I hope the book clears things up somewhat rather than muddying the water even more.

Ken Berlo:
There's actually a photo on Ebay now which shows the operating lever located just north of the depot. Search- Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad photo 15.  Zoom in on the platform and you'll see the lever attached to a big gear wheel with a cable heading upwards toward the north. The cable ran over two poles, one taller than the other, then across the track to the signal.

Philip Marshall:
Yes that's it, the winch at the end of the platform at the base of the telegraph pole. (I'm attaching a cropped version of the photo so others can see  what we're talking about.)

It hadn't registered with me that the winch was the semaphore control until Guy pointed it out to me in a different shot.


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