This brass switch key from the Rutland Railroad is stamped RRR on one side of its bow. There is no maker mark but the bit cut is Rutland. On the opposite side of the bow is stamped serial number 57721.
This key has a heavy feel, and takes a larger pin. Its tube-shaped barrel means that it is closer to 1950 than 1900. Despite being stamped RRR it may have been ordered by the Rutland Railway (which emerged in 1950 and ran until 1963) but no records exist to prove any kind of provenance.
CONDITION is excellent with just enough use to document authenticity. The bit edges and barrel end are nicely rounded from wear. The metal is an attractive deeper golden brownish color, with excellent patina.
A fine addition to any collection of good railroad locks and keys !
BACKGROUND, per Wikipedia: The Rutland emerged about 1867, when its predecessor the Rutland & Burlington Railroad simplifed its name. The R&B had been chartered in 1843 to build a railway between the cities of Rutland and Burlington. In 1871, the Rutland Railroad was leased to the Central Vermont, regaining its independence when the latter entered receivership in 1896. In 1901, the Rutland completed construction of a system of causeways and trestles across Lake Champlain, through the Champlain Islands, to connect between Burlington, Vermont and Rouses Point, New York. The goal of this construction was to give the Rutland access to Canada independent of the tracks of the competing Central Vermont. The company also operated a line from Rutland, southeast to Bellows Falls, in southeastern Vermont, and a line from Rutland south to North Bennington, thence to Chatham, New York.
At its peak, the Rutland served about a 400-mile system that roughly resembled an upside-down "L" running from Chatham, New York north through Vermont to Alburgh, Vermont (the railroad's northernmost terminus was Noyan, Quebec) and thence west to Ogdensburg, New York along the St. Lawrence River. Never a solid financial operation, the Rutland entered receivership for the first time in 1938, but cost cutting, including wage reductions, brought things around. A reorganization in 1950 changed the name from Rutland Railroad to Rutland Railway.
The year 1953 brought three weeks of strike action by employees unwilling to move the road's headquarters from Rutland to Burlington, which put an end to the remaining passenger service. In 1961, after further strikes, management decided the operation was no longer viable and applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission for complete abandonment. This was approved, and the railroad closed down on May 20, 1963.
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