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Pennsylvania RR lock

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Recent activity175734 of 181639The Harley Davidson Bulletin March 1914fossil head i found over 30 years ago
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Posted 7 years ago


(42 items)

I've heard these called switch locks but I'm not sure if that's all they were used for or not.


  1. dwest4099, 6 years ago
    Yes, it is a switch lock only because the majority of what they were used for were switches. The second most use of them were probably derails. Other than that, they were used on pretty much house doors, warehouse doors, tool sheds, you name it.

    Yours is marked PRR which stands for Pennsylvania RR, one of the largest and most powerful RR's, east of the Mississippi River. They often touted themselves as the Standard RR of the World.

    I am a former RR employee and can only speak of modern practices but I would speculate that the same practice was in use from the early 1900's.
    Most RR's have a differently keyed lock for every department. Modern day locks are usually marked as to the department they apply to. Older ones as the one you have, usually do not. Some RR's marked the locks to the department and some RR's changed to a padlock style for different departments. I have 4 PRR locks like yours and they are all keyed differently, so I am guessing that they were of different RR divisions or operating departments. You did not want to have a person from the mechanic shop, who you unlock one of these locks to get into his building, going out and unlocking and throwing a switch.

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