This is a big heavy brass lock and key set from the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, commonly called "The Big Four," which was an affiliate of the New York Central Railroad system, which operated it as a separate enterprise until approximately 1930.
THE LOCK is solid brass. It was made by the Yale company. On the panel down the back is cast YALE in an oval. Farther down the panel (just above the clevis loop attachment is stamped CCC&StL.
This lock is very heavy, weighing more than 14 ounces! It is in excellent, clean working condition and responds very well to the key. The spring is strong -- the dust cover resists being pushed to the side and snaps back sharply over the keyhole when released. Both surfaces of the body are pebbled / stippled which adds interest. Color is an attractive deep golden. The clevis pin is completely free, and the steel clevis loop swings freely.
THE KEY is rich, deep golden chestnut with a terrific patina. It is stamped CCC&STL down one side of its bow. There is no other marking. It is in fine condition with nicely rounded bit edges and barrel end. It works smoothly with the lock.
BACKGROUND: The Big Four's primary routes stretched across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. It began operations as an independent road in 1889. It was acquired by the New York Central Railroad in 1906. The NYC operated it as a separate enterprise until approximately 1930, with headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the Chesapeake Building at 105 S. Meridian Street that had been constructed specifically for the railroad in 1929. With the 1968 merger of the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad, The Big Four's lines were incorporated into the new Penn Central that arose from the merger.
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