Lake Superior
Railroad Museum

From Watchtowers to Lights & Bells – New Signals Coming to NSSR

Railroads don’t like stop signs on their lines.  It takes time and distance to stop a train and that can be dangerous at grade crossings.

Trains, because of their size and weight and because historically they got there first, have the right of way at street, road and highway crossings.  That’s why the stop signs along the tracks apply to motorists and pedestrians.  Heed their warning!

Last year the Federal Railroad Administration reported 2,025 grade crossing accidents that caused 798 injuries and resulted in 265 fatalities.

Back in the day railroads built watchtowers at busy crossings which were occupied 24/7 with guards who would stop traffic to allow for the safe movement of trains.  There was one such watchtower at 5th Avenue West by the Depot in downtown Duluth.  It and others were replaced by flashing red lights and warning bells as we have today along the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

In an effort to improve crossing safety, the NSSR and the St. Louis & Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority are putting in new signals with lights, bells and GATES.  The three new crossing protection signals will be similar to the ones updated several years ago where our tracks cross Hwy 61 just outside of Duluth.

The intersections that will receive new signals and improved grade crossings are; Harbor Drive by the DECC, 45th Avenue East & McCulloch Street and 47th Avenue East in Lakeside.
The cost of these Safety Improvements will top half a million dollars.

The best safety device at any crossing is for motorists and pedestrians to Stop, Look and Listen before crossing any railroads tracks.  Be Safe!