January, 2003 Update
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Signal System
Upgrade Projects

For the past three years, the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad has been undertaking a program to replace Semaphores and improve grade crossing signals along the Siskiyou Line.  In the early 1990's, the Southern Pacific had  a similar project to eliminate or replace many Semaphores.  Those of us who are so fond of the ancient blades and Wig-Wags hate to see these signals go, but the FRA considers them less than adequate and repair parts are scarce to non-existant.

With only a few trains a day on any given section of track, Track Warrant Control dispatching, two-way radios on the entire system and cellular phones on the haulers, the question "Why not just take the Semaphores out and leave the line dark?" is often asked.  The short answer is that the FRA will not allow the line to be darkened.  In practice, the signals do offer an additional margin of safety when two or more trains operate in close proximity to one another plus they protect against broken rails, pull-aparts and other defects in the track structure.

Alpha Rail Net takes a look at some of the projects in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003
 

1999 Hugo to Glendale Semaphore Replacement
1 - Cases, Wire & Rail Preliminary work on the new cases, track wiring, cutting rail for new insulated joints and a quick look at what's coming out.
2 - Setting the Masts A day with the boom truck setting masts on top of the new cases.  How the "flowerpots" are built.
3 - Signal Heads & Wiring The new tri-color heads are assembled, set on the masts and wired.  A look at the old and new equipment inside the cases as the Electrocodes are programmed.
4 - Semaphore Removal After the cutover (placing the new signals in service), the Semaphores are removed.  A chart of the project stats.

 
2000 Upgrade Projects from Hugo to Medford + Yoncalla
Central Point Replacement One of the last four double/double set of Semaphores is replaced near Central Point.  In this "torch job", the cases remain with Tri-colors set on shortened masts.
Gold Hill Replacement Another "torch job" near Gold Hill.  This time a single/double are replaced with the first (I believe) hooded signals on CORP.
The remaining Semaphores and a few Tri-color light signals were replaced in November, 2000      Completed Dec. 17, 2000
Medford Yard Semaphores As part of the Hwy 238 project in North Medford, the double/double Semaphores in the yard were removed as the new overpass would block their view.  Page Under Construction; Please come back later
Hugo (Three Pines Rd) Wig Wag Scheduled for replacement as part of the Electro code project, this Wig-Wag continues on borrowed time working with Harmon HXP-3 controls.
After over a year's delay, the Yoncalla Wig Wag is finally removed after the crossing is barricaded.  Completed Dec. 17, 2000
Projects for 2001
S. Roseburg Replacement Two sets of Semaphores are coming out in April, 2001 with an Electrocode "Flowerpot" going in at Happy Valley Road in the Green District near Roseburg.

 
Projects for 2002

Several sets of Semaphores have had their replacements set around Riddle, OR.  These blades will be coming out during the winter of 2003.  A set of Semaphores in Cottage Grove were replaced.  Finally, the single/double Semaphores in Rogue River and single/single blades between Rogue River and Gold Hill came out in October.
 
Rogue River Semaphores
   
***NEW***
Signals 4650 and 4651 in my home town of Rogue River, OR were removed on October 30, 2002.  After documenting the numerous Semaphore slaughters, it with some remorse that I attended the removal of these blades.  The story has a happy ending, however, with 4651's resurrection.

Projects for 2003 and beyond
The year 2003 will take its toll on Semaphores on the Siskiyou Line.  Of the 69 signals currently in service, 31 are to come out this year.  The area to receive a major hit will be from Rice Hill north to MP 614.4 north of Safley.  The much photographed blades by Dole Road are also due to come out.  Check the Siskiyou Line Semaphore List for complete information on endangered and safe (for now) blades.

Sometime in the Spring of 2003, a set of lights will replace the Wig-Wag guarding Three Pines Road at Hugo.  Also, in 2003, Medford's 11th Wig-Wag will come out.  And, as state and local jurisdictions upgrade highways, other Wig-Wags will fall.

The set of double/doubles near I-5 at Tolo are safe for the time being as well as Semaphores on the extreme north end and from Talent south.  One thing is certain: as long as the FRA mandates signals on the Siskiyou Line, CORP will continue to upgrade as funds permit, eventually installing Electrocode over the entire signaled portions of the railroad.   Don't expect any Semaphores to be in service in four or five years.

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