Railway and Railroad Badges

What “Railroad Man” wouldn’t want to own these…?

Denver  Rio Grande Western Railroad Police Badge

(Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Police Badge sold for $2,070.00 by Greg Martin Auctions)

I like badges, I always have, can’t really explain why, maybe I don’t have to – but let me try. Badges are artistic symbols of power. They convey authority, mystery, respect and yes, even fear.

Railway Badges seem to inspire though; they seem to make us want to remember something different – a past filled with the vibrations of iron meeting iron, of steam rising thunderously up from a forlorn landscape, of people going home or starting a new adventure into the unknown.

Railway, and Railroad Badges are the Stars of Railway Collectibles

Ocean shore railway badge

(Ocean Shore Railway Badge Sold for $1,380 By Greg Martin Auctions)

I wish I could have been on the first train that rolled across this great country – joining the hands of the East Coast with those of the West. And that “West” would never be the same, would find it’s wildness diminish a little each day as the “Settlers” came.

Oh, but the promise of new things, the rush of hope and the adrenalin of wonder, for these the imagination will always grasp….

Older examples of Railway Badges are Highly Collectible

Scarce Denver  Rio Grande Railway Police Badge

(Scarce Denver & Rio Grande Railway Police Badge Sold for $316.00 By Greg Martin Auctions)

But there is a dark side to Railway and Railroad badges. Because they are also symbols of vanquished dreams, of hobos rousted from camps, thrown from trains, and the tyranny of Robber Barons protecting their expanding empires.

To have been an otherwise honest man without funds, in need of transport, riding the rails like my Grandfather, meant a constant and vigilant eye had to be kept in order to prevent a meet up with the police.

Look for Railway Badges at Estate Sales, Flea Markets and Auctions

Atchinson Topeka  Santa Fe Railroad Police Badge

(Atchinson Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Police Badge Sold for $403.00 By Greg Martin Auctions)

My Grandfather did ride the rails as a very young man, through the Southwest, and Northern Mexico. Those were different times, and he got lucky by meeting a very respectable woman, settling down and raising a family.

I am sure there were others who had this luck, who had this experience. And I wonder how many of these Railway Lawmen might have helped them, move from one place to another safely…

Here’s a Rare Steamboat and Railroad Badge

Southern Pacific Railroad  Steamboat Police Badge

(Southern Pacific Railroad & Steamboat Police Badge Sold for $1,380.00 By Greg Martin Auctions)

Let us know what you like or dislike about Railway and Railroad Badges, I by no means am an expert in them. I look forward to hearing any tales about your collecting experience.

Take Care,

Martin Codina

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3 thoughts on “Railway and Railroad Badges

  1. I had a great uncle that used to tell stories about riding freight cars during the Great Depression. Apparently he spent a lot of time AVOIDING men wearing those badges; he called them “Railroad Bulls”. Thanks for this post, it brought back some great memories.

  2. Wayne – OH it could not have been a very good experience to run into a “Railroad Bull.”


  3. Personally, I’m drawn to the more intricate badges but they all hold, as you said, a great sense of mystery and authority. I agree and think it’s interesting how something so small can command such a weighty impression and evokes a range of very distinct emotions and responses.

    Thanks again Martin.

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