Friday, April 18, 2014

Crossing gate retired

One of the aspects of railroads that Spike finds particularly interesting is the longevity of many fixed assets.  Bridges, depots, and even rails are frequently in service for many decades, and in some instances for more than 100 years.  Electrical apparatus, however, are not things you often see with long service lives, but there are exceptions. 

The Museum recently retired a railroad crossing gate mechanism that was placed in service in 1953, reportedly on either the Great Northern or Northern Pacific Railway here in Washington State. It was received in a donation from the Burlington Northern in 1977 and installed on Meadowbrook Way SE in Snoqualmie.

The Griswold-built device was manufactured in Minneapolis by the precursor to today's Siemens Rail Automation.  This device is known in the industry simply as a model EM gate, and was replaced with a much newer device of the same design that was rebuilt by the Museum's signal maintainer Jon B.  Rebuilding included new wire, a new relay, repainting, new lights, new cross bucks and more.  Total financial investment was modest but an estimated 175 person hours were invested in the project.

The original device served the Museum well but the mechanism was badly worn; replacement was the only practicable option.  The newly rebuilt device will easily serve for twenty or more years thanks to the efforts of Jon and others at the Museum.

Come and see it in operation for yourself - trains operate weekends through the end of October.  Check out schedules and fares on the Museum's web site at

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