JeffPo's Seaboard Air Line Railroad Lanterns Page

Last update:  01/23/13

This is a pair of Seaboard Air Line Railroad lanterns made by the Armspear company.  While this isn't a matched set, locomotives were often required to have both a red and clear globe lantern in the cab.


The first lantern has a red globe.  The brim of the lid is stamped with S.A.L. RY.

The globe is etched with S.A.L.  The red globe indicates that it was used as a stop signal.


The second lantern has a clear globe.  The brim of the lid is stamped with S.A.L. RY. Co., which is slightly different from the other lantern.  You see variations in railroad markings like this on a lot of lanterns.  A lot of times it's a good marker for the time frame the lantern was used for that particular railroad, as the lantern markings would change to reflect name changes with the company (due to acquisitions, restructuring, mergers, etc.)

The globe also has a different style of etching.  It's etched with S.A.L. Ry.  The clear globe means it was used for general rail yard hand signals.


Seaboard Air Line Railroad

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad (SAL) existed as a separate entity from April of 1900 until July of 1967.  Headquartered in Virginia, it served most of the southern seaboard area.  The mainline rain from Richmond VA, through Raleigh NC, Columbia SC, Savannah GA, and onto Jacksonville FL.  From Jacksonville the lines continued to tourist destinations such as Tampa and Miami.  The Seaboard Railroad brought vacationers down to the southern states and carried lumber, minerals, and produce (particularly citrus) to the northern states.

The Seaboard Railroad’s earliest predecessor was the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad charted in 1832.  In 1846, after suffering financial difficulties, the P&R was reorganized as the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, known informally as the Seaboard Road.  Another railroad that made up the early history were the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad.  By 1881, the Seaboard and Roanoke, the Raleigh and Gaston, and others were operating as a coordinated system under the Seaboard Air-Line System name for marketing purposes.  The Air-Line part of the name, which existed before air travel, was a common metaphor for the shortest distance between two points.

Seaboard Hamlet Depot & hotel, circa 1916

The Seaboard Railroad hauled both passengers and freight.  Hamlet NC was a major hub at which two main SAL routes crossed.  I remember dropping my brother off at this depot in the late 1960s when he shipped off to the Navy.

Hamlet depot today, restored, and moved across the tracks.  The hotel is long gone.

The Seaboard also use to stop at a depot in my home town of Laurinburg NC in the first half of the 1900s.  My father has told me stories about sneaking aboard the passenger train when it stopped to take on water (i.e. pulled by a steam engine).  He and his friends would dodge the porter when came time to check the tickets.  He told me he would take the train to one of his favorite swimming holes.  He even went swimming in the water tower!

Seaboard diesel engine on display at Hamlet, NC depot.

The Seaboard Railroad merged with its long time competitor, the Atlantic Coast Line (ACL) in July of 1967.  They formed the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL).  Passenger service was turned over to Amtrak in 1971.  By 1972, the SCL was part of the Family Lines System.  The Family Lines System, along with the Chessie System, became subsidiaries of the CSX Corporation in November of 1980.  The Family Lines System became the Seaboard System in December of 1982.  In July of 1986, the Seaboard System’s name was changed to CSX Transportation and is how it exists today.

Seaboard caboose on display at Hamlet, NC depot.


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