Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Downtown Railroading

Old PRR signals-Chicago, IL by William 74
Old PRR signals-Chicago, IL, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
An interesting shot from just outside of downtown Chicago, on the near west side. These are a pair of Metra commuter trains, heading out of the city on a midday run, just a few minutes out of Chicago's historic Union Station.

The signals are interesting-they're old position signals that date from the 40's, when the Pennsylvania Rail Road ran passenger trains into the city. Position signals have rows of lights that mimic the positions of old semaphore signals. In this case they're also color coded-three greens vertically, three yellows at an angle, and three reds horizontally. Position signals have been gradually phased out, especially in light of more sophisticated communications between dispatchers and crews, but there are still a few of them in Chicago.

This shot is also interesting because you can see the Sears Tower in the background. It's one of, if not the, defining shape on the Chicago skyline, and seems to turn up whenever you shoot.

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