Evan Werkema has visited several corners of the Santa Fe system
over the last decade and a half, and managed to see a few wigwags along
the way. Below are a few of the survivors that hung around long enough
for him to photograph. Most are Santa Fe, but there are a growing number
of SP and "others" in there too. Many of these wigwags are gone now, and
the current status of several others is not known.
All photos and text by Evan Werkema
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe
Topeka, KS. Among the goodies at Santa Fe's
signal training center in Topeka, KS in 1990 were an upper quadrant semaphore
(Union Switch and Signal Style T-2) and a lower quadrant wigwag. A view
from the rear shows the mechanisms. In 1990, there were still plenty
of both devices left on the railroad, and maintainers had to be trained
in their upkeep.
Independence, KS. A letter from Evan Stair in
the "letters" section mentions a surviving wigwag in Independence on the
ex-ATSF line (now SKO, South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad) in 1999. The
image shows a wigwag in Independence in 1992, but it is not known if it
is the same one Mr. Stair refers to.
Superior, NB. Definitely not typical of the
majority of surviving wigwags on the former Santa Fe, this signal in Superior,
NB appears to be a Western Railroad Supply (WRRS) design. Santa Fe bought
its line into Superior from the Chicago & North Western, so this wigwag
was probably installed by CNW.
Raymond, KS. Situated on the ex-ATSF Hutchinson
Sub (now Central Kansas Ry) between Hutchinson and Great Bend, Raymond,
KS in 1990 was home to many ghosts of railroading past. It must have been
a picturesque and quaint scene when a depot occupied that space outlined
by the remains of the platform, with the magnetic flagman standing by to
guard Main St. The current status of this wigwag is not known.
Lewis, KS. One wigwag that almost certainly is
not extant is this one protecting Main St. in Lewis, KS. In late July 1990,
the new crossing protection was almost ready to take over, dwarfing the
diminutive wigwag in the middle of the street. Those middle-of-the-road
installations always looked precarious - it's a wonder this wigwag never
had a fatal altercation with an automobile. Lewis is on the Santa Fe's
old original main line across Kansas, the one used by Amtrak's Southwest
Holly, CO. Continuing west on the original ATSF
main, the first town over the Colorado border is Holly (as in Sugar). This
wigwag protects the Main St. crossing just east of the depot, and is another
middle-of-the-road installation (note the reflector and striped base).
It was intact in 1993, but its current status is not known. The Southwest
Chief blows by this location at 79 mph on a daily basis.
Carlton, CO. "Somewhere near Carlton" will
have to do for this one - the photographer neglected to write down the
exact location. The wigwag is plainly visible from US-50, for what it's
worth. Note the large, signal-sized base, similar to the wigwag at Delhi,
CO. Its current status isn't known either.
San Felipe, NM. Indian Service Route 84 connects
San Felipe and Santo Domingo Pueblos, and this wigwag protects the road's
crossing of the old ATSF main about half way between the pueblos.
Chloe, NM. Chloe isn't a town, per se, just Santa
Fe's name for its siding in the "town" of Los Chavez just north of Belen,
NM on the line to Albuquerque. This wigwag protected the Camino De Los
Chavez crossing. It was replaced by flashers in the early 90's.
Lamitar, NM. Another upper quadrant Santa Fe
wigwag, this one protecting a rural crossing on Santa Fe's "Horny Toad"
line to El Paso near Lamitar, NM. Its current status is not known.
Vista, CA. On the branchline to Escondido, the
Guajome Ave. wigwag in Vista, CA had a rare Minneapolis-built motor box
when it was photographed in 1998.
Redlands, CA. Two lower quadrant Santa Fe
wigwags survive in Redlands, CA on the remaining portion of the Redlands
Loop. This one protects the Mountain View Ave. crossing west of town and
north of I-10 (freeway overpass is visible in the distance).
Redlands, CA. Here's the Redlands Local cruising
past the Mountain View Ave. wigwag with a pair of wood chip cars for a
customer in Redlands on December 30, 2000.
Redlands, CA. The same local passes the other
wigwag on the line to Redlands at Nevada St. shortly before sunset.
Redlands, CA. The Nevada St. wigwag is also
located within sight of I-10 (the bridge in the background). The Redlands
line crosses under the interstate between the two wigwags, such that the
Mountain View Ave. wigwag is north of the freeway and the Nevada St. wigwag
is south of it.
Vernon, CA. In contrast to Redlands, somewhat longer
trains pass the lower quadrant wigwag at 49th St. in Vernon. In late 2000,
this line was still part of the BNSF Harbor Sub, used by double stack trains
to reach the port of Long Beach.
Bakersfield, CA. In 1995, there were two wigwags
along the Santa Fe main line in Bakersfield between the depot and Kern
Junction. This one, at P St., was gone by 1998.
Bakersfield, CA. The other Bakersfield wigwag
was just a few blocks away at K St. The wigwag had less than a month of
service left when it was photographed on May 7, 2000. The crossing was
already closed and the planking ripped up, but the wigwag was still functional.
Porterville, CA. Santa Fe once had a modest
network of branchlines in the San Joaquin Valley. Among them was the Porterville-Orosi
District, which left the Santa Fe main at Jastro, used SP trackage rights
from Oil Junction to Ducor, and proceeded north to Orange Cove by way of
Ducor and Exeter. The line harbored many wigwags into the 1980's, but its
sale to the Tulare Valley Railroad (a front company for A&K Railway
Materials) in the early 90's saw most of the track ripped up. Only a short
segment from Exeter to Lindsay survived into 1999 (the three
surviving ex-ATSF wigwags in Lindsay are covered elsewhere). The wigwag
shown in the picture was guarding the already embargoed trackage at Mill
St. in Porterville in 1995. By 1998, the track was gone and the wigwag
had been "decapitated" - the motor housing and banner were gone, but the
cantilever and mast remained.
Pittsburg, CA. Amtrak San Joaquin Train 717
whizzes past the endangered Columbia St. wigwag in Pittsburg, CA shortly
after sunset in this one-second time exposure. Construction of a new road
in the foreground had resulted in the removal of the fence that normally
blocks clear views of this wigwag.
Richmond, CA. The westernmost public grade
crossing on the entire Santa Fe system, West Richmond Ave. in Richmond,
CA, is protected by a pair of upper quadrant wigwags. The signals stand
in the middle of the street, and are protected by concrete "planters" that
help absorb the impacts of wayward automobiles. The planters had just been
repainted solid white when this view was recorded in August 1996.
Richmond, CA. Two months earlier, the planters
were still wearing their faded black and white stripes, in stark contrast
to freshly painted BNSF 124 approaching with a westbound intermodal train.
Richmond yard is actually behind the train at this point, and nothing lies
ahead but a few thousand feet of track leading to an abandoned ferry slip.
There isn't always enough room on the east end of the intermodal facility
to handle incoming westbounds, and trains have run through the classification
yard and back into the intermodal area from the west. This maneuver usually
involves at least part of the train blocking West Richmond Ave to clear
the west yard throat switch.
Richmond, CA. Another intermodal train lead
by brand new (and as yet unstriped) BNSF 4743 crosses West Richmond Ave.
in the process of pulling down and backing into the yard.
Riverside, CA. This former SP wigwag was
located on Mission Inn Road in Riverside, one block south of the Santa
Fe passenger depot (the crossing gates for the Santa Fe tracks can be seen
in the distance). It protected a weed-eaten industrial spur that appeared
to be completely out of service by the time this photo was taken in 1998.
Two years later, someone made off with the motor box and banner.
Riverside, CA. The other former SP wigwag
in Riverside is on 3rd St., a few blocks east of Mission Inn Rd.
Rialto, CA. A classic Pacific Electric installation
on a pole. This signal was one of several that once guarded the PE right-of-way,
but has since been removed.
Colton, CA. This classic PE-style wigwag was
still guarding the M St. crossing in Colton in May, 2000.
Gardena, CA. Best looking of the four surviving
wigwags on this bit of former PE right-of-way in Gardena, the 164th St.
wigwag was sadly not functional when this picture was taken in May 2000.
The UP local came by a few minutes later, but the wigwag did not respond.
The tracks run down the middle of Vermont street beyond the wigwag in this
Gardena, CA. The Hobart Blvd. wigwag, on the
other hand, was very much alive as the UP local arrived to do some switching.
The track ends at a lumber yard just a few blocks west of this location.
Gardena, CA. Another look at the Hobart Blvd.
wigwag, slumbering peacefully in the early morning light.
Gardena, CA. Compared to Hobart, the Denker
Ave. wigwag a few blocks to the east looked much less healthy, and the
bell clunked instead of ringing, but as of late 2000 it was still on the
Gardena, CA. Gotta agree with Steve Crise -
the weather-beaten banner on the Denker St. wigwag just begs for close
up "character studies."
Gardena, CA. Where the Red Cars once travelled.
The former Pacific Electric right-of-way, with the Denker Ave. wigwag on
Anaheim, CA. The Lemon St. wigwag was wagging
for no apparent reason when its picture was taken in May 2000. Something
other than a train must have been shunting the crossing circuit.
Los Angeles, CA. That this upper quadrant SP wigwag
at 55th St. and Alameda survived into 1999 is a real marvel. The crossing
was flanked by traffic lights interlocked with the crossing circuits, rendering
the wigwag superfluous. The signal was nearly hidden by one of the traffic
lights, such that a motorist would have to know the wigwag was there and
purposely look for it to see it waving its warning. Somehow, perhaps because
it was so well hidden, the wigwag managed to evade the junkman, and was
still standing at the ready when this photo was taken on October 11, 1999.
The signal finally succumbed in early 2000.
Florence, CA. An even more amazing survivor
is this signal at Hooper and Gage in Florence. The spur the wigwag protected
had been taken up by late 2000, with only fresh asphalt in the street to
indicate where the tracks used to be. Yet the wigwag still stands at the
ready, waiting for trains that will never come again. The wigwag is also
well hidden by a traffic light.
Florence, CA. The wigwag at Randolph and Wilmington
and its accompanying Southern Pacific crossbuck had presumably seen their
last trains by the time this picture was taken in December 2000.
Lemoore, CA. Out on the lonely SP Coalinga branch,
this wigwag still guards the Fox St. crossing in Lemoore.
Hanford, CA. One of two surviving wigwags in
Hanford, CA, the ex-SP wigwag at Brown St. looks after a piece of track
that now belongs to the San Joaquin Valley Railway.
CA. San Joaquin Valley also maintains four ex-SP wigwags in Fresno.
On October 22, 2005, SJVR 2037 and 3048 were on the interchange run to
the BNSF Calwa yard, which involved shoving past three of the wigwags.
Here, waiting to get on the BNSF, the local stands beyond the O St. wigwag.
CA. On the way back from Calwa, the train shoves across Fulton St.
CA. The battle-scarred Cherry St. wigwag does its best as GP20E 2037
shoves across the crossing to tie up for the day.
CA. The fourth wigwag is on the former SP Exeter branch. The recent
addition of crossbucks to the mast and the lack of a Magnetic Signal Co.
base give this one a decidedly non-SP look.
Oakdale, CA. Things weren't looking good for
the E St. wigwag when this picture was taken in April 2000. The street
was "closed for improvements," frequently a death knell for wigwags. Luckily,
this one was spared, for now.
Oakland, CA. This wigwag protected a spur that came
off the land side of the Southern Pacific main and crossed the Western
Pacific at Melrose. By the time this picture was taken, the spur was out
of service, and the wigwag was soon removed.
Tacoma, WA. This unusual wigwag protected the
BN crossing of Chandler St. in Tacoma, WA. Here is a view from the other
side - note how the crossbuck is bolted to the front of the mechanism
case. This wigwag was removed few months after these pictures were taken.
Wall Lake, IA. A well worn WRRS style wigwag
was still protecting the Chicago & North Western at Wall Lake in 1992.
The current status of this wigwag is not known.
Sullivan, IN. Another WRRS wigwag, this time
protecting the Main Street crossing of a former Illinois Central line now
operated by the Indiana Railway.