Keys, Locks, and Lanterns
Keys and locks go back to the Civil War Era to protect the switches and turnouts from valdalism. Early locks were all heart-shaped locks, sometimes ornate with railroad names or initials engraved or embossed on them. Later locks were made out of brass and steel and used hollow brass keys. Railroads continue to use locks to protect their switches, but security is now far more important than eye appeal. Lanterns also date back to the beginning of the railroads. They were required for night signaling. Also lighting was required on the end of trains, in interior cars, and various other places. Many railroad lanterns are marked on the top of the lantern with the railroad initials. The value of the depends on condition and rarity. The same is true of locks and keys. We can assist you in identifying unusual markings from rare and obscure early railroads.