Mississippi Central locomotive bells

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  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 8 posts
Mississippi Central locomotive bells
Posted by WILLIAM O CRAIG on Saturday, November 24, 2018 3:26 PM

Recently you printed a photo of a Mississippi Central locomotive with two bells that you wrote was customary on the road's steam engines.  Can anyone explain the need for two bells?  Just curious.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Huntsville, AR
  • 1,097 posts
Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, December 29, 2018 3:19 AM

My understanding is they had a fatal grade crossing accident and that made them think an additional bell mounted near the front end could stop stupid people from getting run over.

I believe it was once discussed in Trains mag a long time ago.


  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 11,105 posts
Posted by Overmod on Saturday, December 29, 2018 9:10 AM

There is more to the story, some of which has to be interpolated a bit. 

As I recall (from one of the Beebe-style railfan books) there was an accident and succeeding lawsuit, in which the MS was found liable 'because the bell hadn't been ringing'.  The MS shop answer to this was to rig up a second bell with a mechanical arrangement that rang it continuously when the engine was in motion ... forward or backward, in town or out. Perhaps this was a consent decree of some sort on the part of the court, but I've always thought this was a little revenge on the railroad's part; you can imagine the Chinese water torture on the townspeople as the ringin' and dingin' went on and on when the train came to town.  (But never again could a lawyer claim the bell hadn't been ringing!)


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