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When did railroads start using colored flags or lights to identify trains? I've seen plenty of engines without any provision for marker lights (basically, any with an oil lamp for a headlight), but almost every engine I've ever seen has flag holders.

A related question is, what would be apropriate flag colors in the 1870s? I understand the color codes for later eras, and know that they were pretty much standardized across the US at some point (when?). But in an earlier era, did each railroad make up it's own color codes? Were flags even used as part of an operation, or were they merely decoration?
 

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Kenneth,

Flags have been in use almost from the start.. No flags is a schedualed train.. White flags is a extra.. Green flags is a schedualed train with more than 1 section, the last section will have no flags.. Marker lites are the red lites that are low on the pilot of steam locos & the rear of the tender, they were lite @ nite so people on the ground could see the locomotives.. Early RR's used there own colors, but over time all went to the same colors..

BulletBob
 
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