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Discussion Starter #1
One more question for tonight...

I understand basic whistle signals, though I've not yet memorized them all. As far as I can tell, they were standard across the US (and probably North American) railroad industry. But, I cannot imagine it very likely that the standard was developed all of a sudden or by a single entity. My question is, when did that standardization occur, and what was the common practice before that? I know engineers were sometimes known by how they played their whistle, and they could very easily blow just about anything at a public crossing to warn people and traffic from the rails. But, when an engineer wanted to recall a flagman from the south, what did he do? When he needed brakes, or had to communicate any of a number of important things with the rest of the crew, how did he accomplish that? Would each crew, or each railroad develop it's own set of signals? Were trains so short and so slow that all communication could be done visually?
 

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A way to look at railroad whistle signals is kinda like morse code. I am currently at school so I do not have my rules book with me, so I cannot give you the exact signal, but to recall a flagman from south is has its own set of long and/or short blows. Where as to recall flagman from north has a different set of long and/or short blows. Railroads had many different whistle signals for many different words. This of course was before the radios, which have pretty much killed whistle signals, though they are still around. If you can think of a necessary phrase, a railroad probably had a whistle signal for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Snoq,

I understand what the whistle signals are for, and have plenty of rulebooks, etc. which tell me what they are. What I do not know is when and how they were developed, and what was used before they were standardized across the country?

In somewhat practical terms, if I'm modeling the 1860s-'70s, would it be appropriate to use the same whistle signals that we use today? If not, what would be appropriate?
 
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