3 PIECES OF TEXAS RAILROAD LORE...
Railroad keys laid a heavy responsibility on their holders. Switches and signals needed to operate as intended and the men with the keys to the switch locks made that happen. The loss of a key typically meant the loss of a job to a railroad man and often times, his keys were left safely with his wife if he trudged off to the local watering hole! Keys were serious business.
Lanterns were the traffic lights of the rail yard and assured that trains went where trains should go...and not smash into one another. Lanterns were swung by hand. Skilled men sent the signals and skilled men understood them. The color of the globe displayed in a lantern along with the any number of signals told everyone what they needed to know. Everything from a simple "SLOW DOWN" to telling a conductor that a part of his train had come loose was executed simply with lanterns.
Offered here are two authentic brass Katy (MKT or MK&T) Railroad switch keys and one brakeman's lantern.
The older of the two keys probably dates to 1900. It is stamped with employee #7883 and displays a fair amount of pocket wear from being held so dearly over the years. Very nice patina. Maker's mark is not visible, but is likely Adlake. The second key dates to about 1920. No employee stamp. Cut is a known MK&T switch cut (each railroad had several cuts for their various switch locks). Made by Fraim and stamped as such. Nice patina on a solid, little-used key.
Also in this lot is a great old brakeman's lantern with its original MK&T globe. With this clear-globed lantern, a brakeman could stop a train at a flag station or give general orders around the yard. It is a Handlan-Buck double-guard bell bottom model. Fuel was conveniently loaded into the bottom so that the user didn't have to remove the globe to refuel. Original 5-5/8" globe etched with the road's letters. Globe has one edge chip and a couple of inclusions. Lantern is marked with Handlan's mark on the top dome of the lid and "MK&TRR" along the brim. Measures 11" from top to bottom...15" with the handle fully raised. Burner, wick and fuel pot intact. It has weathered over nearly a century in South Texas and is rusty as can be. This may be something that you want to refinish or just leave it as it is and dutifully protect it from further decline.