Home » Before Smartphones: ‘Without Words’ Exhibit Debuts at Railroad Museum

Before Smartphones: ‘Without Words’ Exhibit Debuts at Railroad Museum

without words

Interested in learning more about communication techniques used before texting, smartphones and other technological devices so prevalent today?

California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum are proud to present a new exhibit titled Without Words, which opened this Friday, April 8. This interactive new exhibit focuses on the various non-verbal communication tools used by the railroad — and the science behind them — that allowed for railroad technicians to communicate at night, across distances, and during challenging weather conditions such as heavy rain, dense fog and snow.

The new Without Words exhibit will help Museum visitors gain an appreciation for the bells, whistles, flags, lanterns and lights effectively used by the railroad for decades prior to modern electronic communication methods.

As an exhibit highlight, an impressive collection of 24 lanterns are on display that showcase hand-held lanterns dating from the 1800s and that span over 100 years of railroading. Museum visitors will be able to identify and illuminate the lanterns by pressing corresponding buttons to see the vividly colored glass lenses light up (using LED lights).

In addition, steam whistles in a variety of shapes and sizes are on display as is a “Colors That Speak” electronic matching game for young visitors to match the color of a lantern with the word that describes what the color means to a railroad crew member (i.e. red means stop; green means go; yellow means caution and blue means repair in progress).

This special interactive exhibit will remain on display in the Lobby Gallery at the California State Railroad Museum through October 12.

More information about the Without Words exhibit or the California State Railroad Museum in general is available at csrmf.org or by calling 916-323-9280.

Railroad Museum Without Words Lanterns


About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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