signaling question, florida : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I have a question on signaling on the ex-acl and sal lines in florida... in particular the ex-sal from tampa - brooksville line which now joins and terminates at the former ACL mainline from orlando to jacksonville... the ex-ACL from orlando is abandoned from orlando to dunellon and no runs to approx. lake butler (the other branch off at newberry went to thomasville, GA now terminates at high springs). My question is this... were these lines ever signaled? I would think that at least part of it HAD to be, because the SAL and ACL crossed each other at several points north of inverness right off US-41 until Williston... after the 1967 merger the SAL line was removed south of williston and only the ACL was used, what kind of interlockings were used? towers? And when was signaling on this segment removed Completely?? AFAIK there is no signaling on it at all north of tampa until the ex-sal line from starke meets the current baldwin-tampa mainline... can some of you shed some light on this?

-- troy nolen (, December 03, 2000


As to Danny Harmon's inquiry of the signal box at 78th st, the box was indeed removed from Sulphur Springs when the TC was removed and sits at 78th st for the control of the Tampa Bypass that was constructed in the 80's to allieviate the congestion caused when the Bone Valley-Port trains ran thru the yard at Yeoman. The Bypass is TC , the crossing at 78th st is non-signaled. Speed limit is 40 at the YN signal and is reduced to 35 before the trains turn into a sharp curve where the old "X Tower" was (ex SAL main to Tampa crossed the ex ACL Uceta yard lead into the south end of the yard.

-- walt rogers (, June 06, 2001.

before the rr decided on running "DTC" territory (track warrants) Direct Traffic Control, dispatcher authorized occupancy of a section of track denoted by block boards, the Tampa x-SAL line to Brooksville and St. Pete was noted as CTC from Gary north to the junction switch. There were signals from TN tower (remote control interlocking) through Parkers (absolute signal, no pass track) to Sulphur Springs, (pass track with RC power switches and the JCT switch was also powered. Past that it was 1 DTC block on the ST Pete line and YL rules on the Brooksville line until it reverted back to timetable- train order. Further up, at Drexel, the former ACL line from Trilby to St Pete crossed with manually operated gates, until it was abandoned and removed.

-- walt rogers (, April 11, 2001.

The signals you referred to on the ex-SAL Orlando Subdivision south of Tavares were for Ellsworth Junction. Ellsworth Junction was located @ milepost 786.8. The Tavares and Gulf Railroad had trackage rights into Tavares. Their mainline started at Ellsworth Junction and continued to Winter Garden and Ocoee along with a branch to Clermont. The switch at Ellsworth Junction was a spring switch.

Also, you did not dream the semaphore signals at the Dead River bridge. These signals remained there until the line and bridge were removed about 1984 when all unused track in Florida was being removed. The Dead River bridge was located at milepost 781.3 and had a 15 mph speed restriction on it 1965. All trains were required to approach the bridge prepared to stop unless the bridge was in proper position, the track is clear, and signal indicates proceed.

-- Bill Dusenbury (, February 02, 2001.

I don't know about the lines mentioned. However there is something interesting on today's Florida Central RR. On what was formerly the SAL line from Tavares-Orlando, at a point less than 1 mile south of Tavares, just south of the crossing by the citrus shop on US19, on both sides of the track, there are concrete supports with remnants of heavy duty insulated wires sticking out of them. Don't know what else these could be but supports for signal masts. Think I also remember seeing as recently as early 80's, where this line crossed the ACL Sanford-Winter Garden line north of Orlando, signals on the SAL line protecting the crossing.

On the part of this line that ran from Tavares-Leesburg-Wildwood, I seem to vaguely remember as a young kid, seeing a swing bridge where it crossed the Dead River, with semaphore signals. Does anybody else remember this or did I dream it?

-- bob lowry (, February 02, 2001.

There were plenty of signals at the Sulphur Springs junction, at least in 1966 when I was there photographing them - but the presence of signals at a junction or crossing did not necessarily mean the line of road had a signal system -

-- Larry Goolsby (, February 02, 2001.

That box may have been the control box for the grade crossing itself. Based upon the track speeds, as well as the fact that SAL minimally signalled its secondary lines, the line was probably not signalled. Lines which did not have signalling could have had small islands of track circuits, especially where they crossed busy highways or lines which had scheduled passenger service. Signalling is expensive to install and maintain, and you can operate very well in dark territory- especially a secondary line with minimal traffic levels.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, February 02, 2001.

I too have wondered about signaling on this line for some time. At Tampa's 78th Street crossing (Milepost S840), there is a signal box on which the faded words "Sulphur Springs" can be seen. Obviously removed from service there some time ago. But there must have been signals at least that far North from Tampa's TN crossing. A 1960 SAL employee timetable reveals no information about signaling on The Brooksville Sub, but speeds were low. 40MPH for passenger and 25MPH for freight trains. The line may have been in serious decline at this point.

-- Danny Harmon (, February 02, 2001.

I am sure that ex ACL folks and ex SAL folks familiar with the particular lines can state whether the lines had signalling, but I can state that just because two lines crossed at grade, it does not follow that the lines had to be signalled. Many grade crossings between two railroads had a simple signalling scheme involving just that grade crossing. Some of these were automatic-the home signal at the crossing was controlled by a signal box, while others were fixed- the approach to the grade crossing was under a permanent speed restriction. The rules for which road having precedence varied by crossing. Needless to say, there were accidents-one that comes to mind occurred in Zephyrhills on December 19, 1940. At that time, neither line had automatic signals, with the SAL running its trains on a manual block system, timetables and train orders, while the ACL used timetables and train orders only. The signals at the crossing were automatic type semaphores, approach lit. These were what are known as home signals( at home you stop and stay!) while the distan signals were fixed semaphores permannently at caution. The home signals were normally at stop, but would clear upon the approach of a train. The first train entering the track circuits for the crossing established precedence. At that time, the ACL speed limit was 20 mph while the SAL had a 60 mph limit.

SAL passenger train 305 proceeding south from Wildwood, struck ACL freight 213 at the grade crossing at a speed of 30-35 mph. The engineer of the SAL train was killed. The SAL train entered the approach to the crossing first and therefore had precedence. The ACL train apparently ignored the home signal. Of interest was the fact that the ICC dtermined that the SAL operation was not in compliance with its rules. The SAL permitted 60 mph on the approach to the grade crossing which as was stated had a fixed distant signal. The ICC had issued an order on September 1, 1939 that automatic grade crossings with speed limits higher than 20 mph must have operative approach signals tied into the aspect of the home signal. Since the SAL had only a fixed approach signal, its train speeds could not exceed 20 mph.

The problem with a fixed signal is that it is often ignored-a factor in many, many wrecks.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, December 04, 2000.

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