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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Last rotating Griswold signal mechanism removed NEWSWIRE

Last rotating Griswold signal mechanism removed NEWSWIRE

By Nick Benson | November 4, 2016

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GriswoldsignalMinneapolisNickBensonIMG_4628
GriswoldsignalMinneapolisNickBensonIMG_4628
A Griswold mechanical stop signal in Minneapolis.
Nick Benson
MINNEAPOLIS — The last mechanically operable stop signs on a Griswold crossing signal were removed in late October, having protected a BNSF Railway grade crossing in northeast Minneapolis, just 2.5 miles from where they were manufactured by the Griswold Signal Company. While the stop signs are gone, the signals themselves remain.

The iconic design, introduced in the 1930s, features a stop sign that rotates 90 degrees to face street traffic when activated. Once common across the Midwest, Griswolds were widely used by the Minneapolis & St. Louis; Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern; Milwaukee Road; Northern Pacific; and Soo Line among others. A handful with rotating banners remained in operational service into the 2010s, with other holdouts in Hibbing, Minn., on BNSF, and San Jose, Calif., on Union Pacific.

While the charm of the mechanical banner can no longer be found in the wild, there are still half a dozen Griswolds along active rail lines in Minnesota. A list of these signals is available online.

11 thoughts on “Last rotating Griswold signal mechanism removed NEWSWIRE

  1. I never saw them, I’ve lived in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Alaska and been to 35 other states, oh well, I’ll google it.

  2. The rotating Griswold signal made a mighty “thwack” as it locked into position with a degree of mechanical violence. That, the flashing reds, and passing train made for a wonderful, multi-sensory memory.

  3. My home town (Low Moor, Iowa) on the C&NW main line had wig-wags at the town’s one crossing, and everyone said they usually saw the train before they saw the signal. Nostalgic, but not very effective.

  4. The Soo Line had them all through town in Oshkosh, WI up until the lines were consolidated in 1996. They were cool…

  5. how about a video of a working Griswold signal. Never have seen such a thing and I thought I knew almost everything !

  6. I remember them from my early railfanning days. As someone says below, they made the loud whack sound as they turned very fast.

  7. Here’s a YouTube video of one in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q84BRD7MzRU

    It would be interesting to evaluate whether these crossing signals might be significantly more effective in preventing level crossing accidents. Drivers are much more conditioned to heed a Stop sign than they are a railway crossing’s flashing lights, especially since the vast majority of times a driver crosses a railway track there is no train and the lights are off. Stop signs are everywhere!

    Maybe the Griswold signals shouldn’t be retired.

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