Prague Twin

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

End of an Era

According to an unconfirmed rumor, the railroad crossing gate that you see here is the last hand-power railroad crossing gate in the EU. If you look just below dead-center you will see the "cables" coming out from under the stone housing that leads out of the main mechanism. Those stones are probably there because there is a pedestrian short-cut over those stones. You wouldn't want people to trip on the cables. I put "cables" in quotes becuase the "cables" are nothing more that 12 gauge wire. Basically, they are made of good stong bailing wire. You can see the short iron poles sticking up every 10 yards or so which support the "cables". Way off in the distance, you can see the train station on the right. The white line is the edge of the plaform. Just on this side of the platform, the "cables" run underneath the railroad tracks and are then connect to a crank that the attendent turns by hand to raise and lower the gate. Don't ask me what they do when they break.

In this picture, you can see where they have dug up the ground to lay electricity, which I am presuming will run the gates very soon. They turned off the electricity for the entire neighborhood for most of the day yesterday to do this electric work. If you look closely at the red-and-white painted gate, you can almost see that it is made of a small, debranched tree, which is simple, cheap, and effective (which is probably why they stopped). The diameter of the gate naturally gets smaller towards the far end which reduces the torque on the iron fittings.

What I will really miss, is the slow, irregular ringing of the bell as the gates go up and down. Ding... DingDing, Ding...Din-Din-Ding..... . Faster as the crank is on the way down and slower as the crank is on the upturn, plus a certain randomness that can only be created by a hand-operated, mechanically-activated, railroad bell.

Obviously, there are no signal least not yet.


  • The images keep drawing me back. They are strangely familiar. Seems like wherever you go in the world the same homicidal maniac designed the rail crossings.

    By Blogger Cartledge, at 11:04 PM  

  • I love trains and pretty much everything associated with them. I like them here in the US, but i especially loved the European train systems I encountered with their very beautiful and classic aesthetic. Sometimes, when a little of the world's past is torn down to make room for progress, I feel like it lost a little piece of its soul.

    By Blogger DA, at 6:24 AM  

  • And the trains in Europe run on time. The ones in the U.S. would too if they weren't such a low priority for funding.

    Nice pictures. The end of an era.

    By Blogger Tom Harper, at 9:47 PM  

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