The Importance of Railroad Batteries in Locomotive Operations

There have been plenty of arguments made that the West was won largely because of railways. It was by rail that many settlers, including many businessmen and women, went west and it was by rail that much of the wealth, including gold as well as agriculture, made its way back East. Railroads played an integral economic and societal role and much of their importance continues on today. Without railways, many of the consumer goods and foods we rely on today wouldn't get to where they are needed in time. But as essential as railroads are for the health and wealth of the nation, they can also be extremely dangerous, for which backup railroad batteries are essential.

The Need for Railroad Batteries for Safe Operations

It shouldn't be too surprising, but yes, massive locomotives hurling down tracks are incredibly dangerous machines. This was exceptionally true back in the 1800s when railroads were first being laid across the country. In the United States, in the year 1889, a stunning one out of every 35 railway workers were injured each year. Injuries and deaths sustained by the general public were equally high, as throughout the 1800s, there were no significant safety measures like railway crossings and warning lights operating on railroad batteries. In fact, the injuries sustained by workers and the general public were so frequent and severe that railyards started employing their own railway surgeons. During the 1890s, there were about 6,000 railway surgeons employed across the United States solely to respond to train and railroad-related injuries. 

Thankfully, around that same time, engineers and inventors started looking at better ways to prevent rather than react to such high rates of injuries and deaths. In 1867, the very first U.S. patent for a railroad crossing gate was awarded to two inventors out of Boston, Massachusetts, and by the end of the century, many railyards had started utilizing the devices. These early crossings were operated manually by means of cables and chains. A gatekeeper would be on the lookout for trains and would crank the gates as needed across busy roads to help reduce the number of injuries at popular crossings. 

But manual operations have their obvious limits. The biggest of which being that railroad companies and local governments tended to only require such crossings at the most popular of intersections. This meant that plenty of people still were injured and killed every year on more rural or low-traveled routes. At least until the second quarter of the 20th century, and then came the improvement of railroad batteries.

Starting in the 1920s, patents for automatic railway gates like this one filed by Kriss Joseph and James R. McGee started popping up. These systems operated electrically, using conductor circuits that would activate the gates when the rail vehicles approached. The obvious benefit of being no longer reliant on a human gatekeeper ensured that plans like these quickly became utilized across the country. Today, these systems have become even more advanced and reliable thanks to the use of railroad batteries like those created by East Penn, our manufacturer.

Stay Safe With MK Battery's Railroad Batteries

Railroad batteries are there to make sure that the crossing guards and safety lighting systems that keep both workers and the general public safe stay working even if there is a disruption in power. You never know when a disruption in power may occur, so it's best to be prepared. Contact our team today to learn more about connecting Deka locomotive batteries with your railway safety systems. 

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