Signal at Wallula, WA

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Back in May 2008 I was passing through Wallula, WA and came across this "short" searchlight signal. I have also seen an example of this type of light at the NP museum in Toppenish with an explanation for its size, but for the life of me cannot remember what it said.

If anyone can provide the reason for its stocky stature I would be most grateful.

Regards John

My guess, better than a dwarf. Also it's a double head, so they didn't want the second head to get lost in the dirt if it was a dwarf.
Judging by the way the lights are aimed it could be that the lower one is for the outside track and the upper one is for the second track, much like those little lights you see hanging off to the right of tall signals that are for a far right siding that the signal cannot be placed in between the two tracks. Maybe? TZ

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
The short height will make maintenance a lot easier if a tall signal is not necessary for viewing from a distance. Are the switch engines used in the area remote controlled by someone on the ground? The short signal would be seen much easier from ground level than a tall signal would.
I contacted the nice folks at and RC Ballou was kind enough to provide me with the following information:

"Before the UP sold the branch line to Walla Walla to a short line operator, there used to be a dual control switch just west of the siding switch which connected to the Walla Walla branch line to the left via another dual control switch. It then remained under CTC control all the way out to Zanger Jct. where the old NP branch line to Pendleton diverged. Thus the need of a dual head signal for the siding to mainline to the junction switch.

All of the branch line connecting tracks were reconfigured to the UP mainline after the sale and they are not dual controlled switches. I did find it odd the lower signal head was not removed at that time since the main line WB home signal's lower signal head was removed.

The dwarf signal has since been replaced with a single 3 light signal head as part of the UP's signal replacement project for the area."

Regards, John is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.