??This railroad signal device is a semaphore, originally located in Maitland on the main line of what is now the CSX Railroad. In 1880 the South Florida Railway built a narrow gauge railway between Sanford and Orlando running through Maitland. Taken over by Henry Plant in 1883 the line was extended to Tampa (115 miles) that same year and later upgraded to standard gauge. Today's railroad from Sanford to Orlando is on the same roadbed laid out in 1880.
???This type of signal was the communications link between the dispatcher and the train's conductor and engineer (see signal designations below). It was the dispatcher's job to regulate all the train traffic on the tracks to make sure that the trains did not run into each other.
???If the dispatcher wanted a train to pull off on the next siding to allow a train to pass going the other way, or to allow a fast passenger train to pass a slow freight, he sent a telegraphic message to the station master at the next station to train was to pass. The station master then adjusted the levers in his office that positioned the arms of the semaphore along the track to relay one of the messages shown below. If a train were to slow down to receive orders without stopping the station master wrote the order and attached it to a rod with a hoop at the end. He held it up to the passing train and the engineer on the train would catch it by sticking his arm through the hoop and pulling the message into the cab.
???Today telecommunications between the dispatcher and the train have replaced the semaphore along much of the track; however red, yellow and green signals are still used to tell the engineer the condition of the track ahead.
[graphic: yellow light, black, yellow]
Receive train orders without stopping. Reduce the speed of the train to permit orders to be delivered safely.
[graphic: green, black, yellow]
Proceed. No orders.
[graphic: red light, black]
Stop and receive train orders.