More on the mystery sign

I’ve looked through my various resources and I have found a few more photos of the mystery sign in Port Rowan that I wrote about earlier this week.

I’ve scanned the photos and cropped them (so I don’t get into too much trouble) to show just the sign at the Port Rowan station:
Port Rowan - Station Sign photo PtR-Station-Sign-101_zps83ce85e0.jpg

Port Rowan - Station Sign photo PtR-Station-Sign-100_zps48cb9960.jpg

My CNR survey of the area shows this sign, and notes it’s at “894+57” – which translates to “MP 16.94”, so it would make an unusual milepost marker. I think we can rule that out.

Curiously, there’s a similar-looking sign near – but not actually at – the entrance to the yard. It’s shown in these two photos – but is not shown on my CNR survey:
Port Rowan - Yard Throat Sign photo PtR-YardLead-Sign-101_zps8e52b6d3.jpg

Port Rowan - Yard Throat Sign photo PtR-YardLead-Sign-102_zpsb878bd91.jpg

Ideas welcome, as always. Meantime, I’ll keep looking through my resources to see if I can find a shot of one of these signs elsewhere.

18 thoughts on “More on the mystery sign

  1. Could these be whistle posts? You do have a level crossing just past teach of them. BTW I have been impressed with your modeling since my days with OVAR.

    • Hi John:
      It’s a good guess, but I don’t think so.
      For starters, there’s only one level crossing in the photos – a farm crossing between the orchards at the yard lead. I doubt they would even bother whistling for it.
      At the other end – by the station – the track ends before reaching Bay Street.
      Thanks for the kind words. OVAR – that’s a while ago!

  2. Trevor,

    Is it possible that Yard limits to a nearby yard could have been extended up to that point on that line? It could be both signs state the yard limits. The Ma & Pa RR in York PA, had a situation like that where the Yard Limits in York extended well beyond the yard itself enabling the yard crew to do a lot of the local switching in and around the city of York, under yard limit rules.

    • Hi Ted:
      The yard limits actually started at a switch in Simcoe, almost 17 miles away. The whole branch was considered yard limits. So I’m not sure there would be another sign here. In addition, if there were yard limit boards for Port Rowan, they would likely be beyond the switches, out on the single track mainline, to allow a train to switch here without having to send out a flagman for protection.
      Good thought, though!

  3. Trevor: if I was a betting man, I would bet that this sign says something to the effect ” End of Track
    XXX Yards
    probable centered in two lines – I beleive that I may have a standard CNR drawing for a sign like that – I’ll look when I have a few minutes.

    Great job with the modeling and the blog / sharing of your work!

    Dan Kirlin / Waterloo, Ontario

    • Hi Dan:
      Thanks for the nice words – and yes, I’d love more info on such end-of-track signs!
      I’ve been looking through some books and found similar signs at other stations. Owen Sound is an example. All have their back turned to the photographer. Most frustrating!

  4. Hello Trevor,
    I have been following your blog, – and what a delight.
    These small rural hamlets have many similarities and it is so interesting to see the details that you run across modelling Port Rowan.
    Interesting – I am doing CP in the small western village of Mather to where I used to haul grain to the local Pool Elevator.
    I have a copy of Joe Smuin’s Book entitled “Kettle Valley Railway Mileboards”, and
    on the front and back covers of the book are similar shaped signs as yours.
    In this book, Joe Smuin seems to call the sign on the back cover a “Station Mileboard” , although there is no mile number on it, only the station name.
    What do you think?
    I suppose at some point, we could contact Joe S. and ask him

    I have DCC – ed some CP GP 38-2 diesels and an SW 1200. Is there any chance that some person may hijack some CP diesels, run them from Tillsonburg to Simcoe to Port Rowan? I know this is a dicey issue running CP diesels on CN tracks, however, I did see a CP Box in one of your photos.

  5. I think the answer you are looking for can be found in a document entitled “CN Standard Clearance Diagram” (I found this document in the CP SIG library page at There is a sign, about the same size as your mystery sign, that reads “Engines must not pass this point”. This would require idler cars to be used past the sign. Hope this helps!

  6. Hi, Trevor:
    Looks like the back of a flanger sign to me- ie. to instruct plow and flanger crews to raise their flanger blade to avoid damaging switches, crossings, etc.

  7. “DO NOT TRESPASS”. The similarities between the signs lead me to this conclusion. And you can almost read these words out on the sign in the last photo.

  8. Hi Trevor,
    I believe your sign might read End of Yard Limits. there is a sign that one of my neighbours has for Vittoria which reads Yard Limits One Mile. When this was the South Norfolk Railway then a Grand Trunk Line trains ran faster. In the early 1900’s there were two trains passenger trains that ran daily as well as freight so this line wasn’t all yard limits in the beginning.
    Hope this helps,
    Monte Reeves

  9. Hi Trevor- There generally is not a 1:1 relationship between stationing (i.e. 2710+42, etc.) on the railroad and mile posts. Sometimes you might find a mile post 4900 feet from another, or 5300 feet and so forth. Mileposts are located where they’re located and nothing more. I assume they originally tried to get them at a mile apart, but that didn’t always happen.
    Great web site. Ned

    • Mile signs were often nailed or bolted to telephone or telegraph poles. Pole line poles were usually spaced 40 to the mile. But the men planting these poles into the ground often did so without reference to chainages. When a mileboard was in need of affixing to a pole, the nearest pole would have it nailed on. The GTR tried having cast reinforced concrete triangular mileposts made and inserted into the ground at what appear to be this late date the correct location and chainage from the start of a subdivision. Most well-known is the Kingston Sub. which had a number of these even a few years back. The Oakville Sub. used them as well–I recall seeing one at mile 4, (Sunnyside). I also saw one of these posts in use on its side at Rymal as part of a rail rack. This one is likely gone by now…

  10. Gents: My book KETTLE VALLEY RAILWAY MILEBOARDS shows a standard station mileboard sign. These were commonly used all over Canada, if not North America. As noted above, where exactly the sign was ‘one mile’ from could be open for discussion sometimes. The sign illustrated on the back page of my book was the standard design for such signs right into the early 1970s and some were still around long after the 1970s. The lettering on the signs changed somewhat through the decades. 1920s era signs had the station name lettered to follow the curve at the top of the sign. In smaller letters underneath the station, it read ‘one mile.’ I don’t know exactly when the practise was changed to show just the station name as illustrated in my book, but it was in the 1930s, I think. Station mileboards never showed a mileage, to the best of my knowledge. I understand that in earlier years, it was standard practise for engineers to sound their whistle as they passed the mileboard inbound. Hope this helps. JDS

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