MDAH archivist Ashley Koostra unearthed this intriguing photograph in the unprocessed collection of Sidney T. Roebuck, Highway Commissioner of the Central District. It shows a railroad crossing signal built at an Illinois Central crossing near Grenada around 1940. W.A. Billups designed the signal, “embodying an appeal to the sense of hearing through piercing sirens and an appeal to the sense of sight through the illumination of neon signs depicting the word ‘Death,’ ‘Stop,’ and the skull and crossbones.” The arrows indicated the direction of the train.
See the signal in action in a simulation posted to YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGhFHKtDhns.
Winona Times, October 4, 1940
Illinois Central Magazine (April 1941), page 22