The Northern Pacific installed GRS Model 2-A semaphores on the west side of Stampede Pass in 1914. By the time I got around to photographing what remained in 1980 there were surprisingly quite a few left. Immediately out of Auburn at Milepost 102 you could find semaphores all the way to Ravensdale at Milepost 87. At Kanaskat the next siding to the east searchlight signals were in place.

      The line in 1980 had two types of semaphore blades. One was the red blunted end blade called "Absolute" meaning if the signal was red, trains stopped and waited for permission to proceed. The other was the yellow pointed end blade that I understood to be called "Permissive". A train encountering one of these in the stop position could, after stopping proceed past it to the next signal at restricted speed. As the line out of Auburn climbed an almost steady 1.00% grade some of the signals had "grade markers" which was a yellow marker attached to the semaphore mast governing eastbound movements. When one of these signals was in the stop position a train was allowed to proceed by it at restricted speed without stopping prepared to stop for any obstruction ahead. This prevented possible stalling on the grade.

      From what I recall all of the semaphore blades were made of wood, and a few were pretty rotted thru. Most were probably no doubt replaced one or two times since they had been installed in 1914.

      By 1982 Amtrak no longer operated over Stampede but moved to the ex-GN Stevens Pass route. Freight traffic was only down to just one train a day. East one day, and west the next. In 1983 BN embargoed the Stampede Pass line and the semaphore blades were removed but the masts left standing for quite sometime afterwards. Now the semaphores were just "sticks" and it was pretty much assured that the glory days of Stampede were over, at least until the mid-1990's and BNSF would bring revival.

      And now on to the Gallery....

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