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Point Richmond - Wigwags Forever Event  
Point Richmond Wigwags 2019 Restoration
Wigwags Forever Event

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Sunday's wigwag event in Point Richmond was a success! Nice mix of PR residents, Bay Area railfans and friends. They set up some tents in the park area next to the bank that is located in an old, restored Santa Fe railroad building (near the wigwags). At 1:45, Tom Butt, the Mayor of Richmond, gave a speech and handed out "Mayoral Certificate Of Excellence" documents to key members of the committee (and myself) for the restoration work on the wigwags. Then it was time to activate the 90 year old Magnetic Flagmen Wigwags for the first time since 2004. It sure was strange seeing everyone go out to the middle street just to photograph a couple wigwag signals swinging away. But it was worth the many hours that I spent over the last 9 months getting them restored. The real surprise was when a BNSF train had to use the crossing to perform a switching move in the nearby Richmond yard. Everyone ran back out to the crossing, and the wigwags were switched back on for more photos. Plans are for this to become an annual event. But for now, the wigwags will remain silent again, just like they've been for the past 15 years.

The restored banners were reinstalled the day before. Some potted flowers were added to dress up the "planters".
Victor Morales is the guy that spearheaded the whole campaign to restore the wigwags. He is surrounded by "wigwag art" that was for sale.  Victor is the guy that decided to bring a tape measure to the crossing last year only to find out that, yes, the wigwags are in fact more than 25 feet from the center-of-track (30+ feet in fact). This allowed us to get the restoration work done without having to hire a flagman employed by BNSF at $$$'s per hour.
That's Karen Buchanan from the event committee who helped organize the Wigwags Forever event.
Artwork was on display (and for sale) by artists such as Elizabeth Tarr, Jim DeWitt, Linda Lee,  Edward Hopper, Fernand Leger and Camille Pissarro.
The painting on the lower right shows what the Point Richmond wigwags looked like when they were first installed (most likely) in the late '20s or '30s. Notice the mast is black and white and the banner is red.
The Golden State Model Railroad Museum had an operating, portable model train layout on display. They also had hats and whistles for sale for the kids.
More of the booths...
More of the booths..
By 1:30, there was a decent size crowd gathering to hear a speech by Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.
Mayor Tom Butt.

The mayor hands out "certificates of excellence" to key members of the restoration project.
My friend (and Point Richmond resident) Shon Johnson gives me a 2 minute warning to fire off the wigwags. They are being powered by 12 volt batteries since they are no longer part of the crossing circuit. They will not be activated by trains. Only on special occasions.
This was the response as soon as they were activated.
Wigwags running for the first time.
Photo by Glen Norman

After a little break for other entertainment, they were activated again. Photo by Glen Norman.
After some deliberation it was decided to go ahead and remove one of the side doors so folks could see how they work.
Close up of the restored guts.
Photo by Glen Norman.
Free food was generously provided by Up & Under Pub & Grill, across the tracks from here.
Barbershop quartet sang some railroad related songs.
BNSF train sits on the crossing for a few minutes. The wigwags were activated for this.
The train backs into the yard after blocking the crossing for several minutes.
One last shot as the train backs through crossing. By now the wigwags are starting to swing at a slower rate. The batteries were finally wearing down. It was close to 4:00 by now, so the timing worked out just fine.

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All photos and text this page by Dan Furtado (except where noted).

Here's a link to a Youtube video I shot from the event.

Here is a link to an article that appeared in SFGATE on 7/24/19 about the event.

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