July 1, 2016

USMRR Rules on Signals on Trains

First page - there is no title page

A question on the Yahoo AWCRRHS Yahoo Group list recently came up on signal flags used on trains in the ACW. I have a copy of the USMRR rule book courtesy of D.C. Cebula. It has a section that cover signals. The excerpts below are the pertinent sections.  Note that this is exactly opposite of later TT&TO Rule, where an engine displaying red flags or signals meant that no section followed that train.

There is no mention in the USMRR Rule Book on the use of white flags. 

Page 6
Page 5

Extract from USMRR Rules and Regulations (presumably for railroads in Virginia.)

15. Two red lanterns must placed
at the rear of every train that is on the
road after dark.
16. Two red flags by day, and two red
lanterns by night, shall be placed on,
front of an engine to indicate that the
engine is to be followed by another. In
case, by accident, two red flags or lanterns
cannot be obtained, one flag or
lantern shall indicate the same thing.

The difficulties with this system is that at night red signals would be used on front and rear of the train. That had to cause confusion, though the front would also have a head light.

B&O 1864 Rule Book
For comparison, here is a copy of a page from the 1864 Baltimore and Ohio Book of Rules. This rule adds the white signal on the front of  train when none is following. As with the USMRR, a red signal means that a section is following the train. They also use the term "convoy" of trains.

Again, this is opposite color system of the "modern" practice that started sometime after 1877.

These next two pages are from the B&O Book of Rules from 1852. Note that the rules are very basic and don't address following sections.

B&O 1852 Rule book


  1. Thanx Bernie, for this piece of info. Is the manual available from the LOC or Google as a downloadable PDF?

    1. No, I got a copy from DC. I will look into getting the whole document posted.