OLDNYC.COM--> New York Cross Harbor Railroad Virtual Tour --> New York Cross Harbor Railroad Yard --> Gallery #7

Looking north from the float bridge facility, one can barely make out the downtown Manhattan skyline appearing behind the trees.  Some of the area beyond the CHRR yard takes on a rural quality as marshes, trees, and other plant life grow along the waterfront.



One of several old factories that reside by the CHRR yard and float bridge facility.



Along part of the CHRR yard's perimeter, lumber and railroad ties are stacked up in storage.



Another old manual switch controls which track the trains will use on the floatcar.



This device has a little propeller on top of it.

OldNYC.com contributor JJ Earl tells us, "The device with the 'propeller' is a called a 'derail'.  The purpose of a derail is to prevent a runaway car from entering into an area that would create a danger, such as running into the street.  A derailed car would be less trouble than if it were to run into traffic and cause injury or death.  I would be very important to have an indicator on this stand so the crew can see if it is on or off.  Popular names for the derail were 'Hop Toad' and 'Monkey'".

OldNYC.com contributor Blair Kooistra adds, "This device is called a 'derail'.  Railroads use these devices on side tracks or on main tracks where they approach either crossings with other railroads, busy street crossings, or in the case of the Cross Harbor, the apron of the float bridge.  What happens is this: the railroad doesn't want an errant car or locomotive to roll away and cause mayhem by continuing to roll.  So, in order to stop the car, these 'derails' are usually left in the position to 'derail' -- cause to come off the tracks -- anything that rolls over it when the derail is in the 'open' position.  Some derails are simply splits in the tracks, while others are iron 'shoes' that flop over the rail and jar the wheels out of their path.  

As far as the 'propeller' thing -- that is called a switch target.  If you look, you'll see that the colors are red and green... ideally, when the derail is open -- and a train rolling through it would derail -- the target should be aligned to show 'red' to the train crew as they approach on the train.  Conversely, when the derail is closed and the way is clear, the target should show 'green'.  On track switches, it works the same way -- if the switch is lined for the 'main' route, the target should show green, and if lined to take off on a side track, it will show red. 

In urban railroads, not all the switches have these targets -- especially those on track switches imbedded in city streets.  Since train crews on switching railroads such as the cross harbor operate at slow speeds anyway, the train crews are expected to be vigilant about positions of track switches and expect any of them to be lined 'against' their movement at any time."


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