Monday, February 21, 2011

The Silent Policemen of Route 66

Betty W. bestowed upon me a real treasure when she gave me a subscription to the local Afton/Vinita/Grove newspaper for Christmas. Besides letting me catch up on what's going on around the area, there is also a fantastic column called "Pushin' Up Daisies" by Betsy Warner which addresses a different aspect of the history and/or genealogy of the region each week.

You may recall that last year (see posts from Aug. 19 & Sept. 18) I was given some bricks from old Route 66 in Vinita. They had been unearthed when the city tore up the road in order to find a water leak at the main intersection of town. It was interesting to find that the original Route 66 in that city was indeed paved in brick. Now, according to "Pushin' Up Daisies", something else of interest was found. The photo below is most likely that of a Silent Policeman, installed in the road as a means of regulating traffic when automobiles were just beginning to overtake horses as the main means of transportation.

"Some forms of Silent Policemen were placed in the center of an intersection, their base of cast iron, bolted down to the ground. The idea was to get drivers who intended to turn, to pass and go around the sign and not cut corners. Rubberized or other flexible pieces often stood up from the cast iron base so that a poor driver who happened to run into the Silent Policeman would not be seriously injured."

The Silent Policeman found in Vinita is now on display at the Eastern Trails Museum in that city.

I found this image of another form of Silent Policeman on line. Running over either of these would surely quickly wake up anyone asleep in the car!


Trevor Hilton said...

Don't know if it would work with cars, but it sure would keep motorcycle riders from cutting corners.

Susan Yates said...

The things we learn, reading your blog. I've seen these things all my life and had no idea what they were.

Beth said...

I've never heard of these! I wonder if it's a very localized thing?

John Russell said...

"Silent Cops", as we called them, like the yellow one pictured, were once commonly used in Australia. They were used to stop drivers cutting corners when making a turn at a cross-road or T-intersection. They were gradually phased out due to changes in the recommended method of performing turns, and the hazard they posed to motorcyclists and pedestrians.