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Ball signal pole installed at Darlington Station in Ligonier

Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A new piece of history has been installed at the Ligonier Valley Rail Road Museum in Darlington. Recently, a ball signal was restored and erected on the museum grounds near the caboose.

Ball signals were a necessity in the early days of railroading as a method of signaling train movements and configurations.

The number of balls (lanterns) visible above the pole enclosure indicated what train movements would be permitted. Use of the ball signal was discontinued in the late 1960s. It has been replaced by more updated automated systems.

The signal originally stood in the rail yard at Wells River, Vt. It was mounted high above the tracks for visibility in all directions. At that time, the signal had a row of five lights for nighttime use.

The signal was acquired in 1953 by Bill Smith of Latrobe. The avid railroad memorabilia collected had it moved from Well River and installed in Latrobe.

Funding for the restoration and installation was provided by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation and the Ligonier Valley Endowment.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or


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