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Whistle Posts and Mile Posts

Two types of sign posts can be found alongside most railroad tracks: the whistle post and the mile post. Whistle posts indicate upcoming road crossings to the engineer, requiring use of the locomotive's horn, while mile posts denote mileage from one end of the line.

Georgia law requires whistle posts to be placed 1200 feet before a crossing, but on the long-unused former L&N Railroad line between Blue Ridge and Ellijay the posts were spaced at that railroad's old standard of 1500 feet. As part of a 1997 effort to reopen the line for Georgia Northeastern trains, a group of NARCOA volunteers decided to help get the posts in compliance.

Every one of the old concrete whistle posts had to be replaced. Because most were damaged, and pulling them from the ground tended to cause further cracks, the railroad decided to replace them with metal signs.

Pulling up an old whistle post. Note the new "W" sign in the background. It's not 300 feet away from the old post because the road crossing was moved closer at some time in the past.

Loading an old concrete whistle post on a flat car.

Many of the mile posts just needed repainting. After a wire-brush scrubbing, they were painted white and the old numbers were restored. There were two styles of numbering along the line, with some posts featuring an "L" for Louisville, Kentucky, from which the miles were measured. Posts were repainted to the style the crew found them in.

Some mile posts were beyond repair or missing, so the railroad provided kits to make new ones. These metal versions lack the character of the old concrete posts, but they're easier to install! There are numbers on both sides. The back side had smaller numbers and for some reason they had to face north.

Removing the rust on switch targets. They hadn't been painted in 20 years.

Old posts, shown here being off-loaded at Blue Ridge, were given to the volunteers by the railroad. Under the worker on the right is a rail clamp that keeps the crane from tipping over. This crane was restored just for this work.

Thanks to Kenneth Huffines for the information and photos on this page.


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