A Neat Old Relic

Today was a pretty slow day, but I did manage to find one cool item: a brass railroad lock. It was a screaming signal and only a couple inches down. The “SR” stands for Southern Railway, and this lock probably dates to the 1890s or the early 1900s.

I’ve seen people post railroad keys before, but I had never seen a railroad lock until today. The shackle is bent and the dust cover is missing, but a cool find nonetheless.

Found in a field about half a mile north of the railroad tracks, near an 1800s house site. This hobby is full of fun surprises.


That is a nice old one!


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Cool find!

Are those initials stamped into the shackle, or a word?

Just curious if you’ve hunted the site before, and if so, did you find anything?

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The letters “E S S” are stamped into the shackle. I’m not sure what it stands for.

Here are some other finds from the nearby old house site:

Couple wheat pennies, etc. I think large brass object could be a keyhole cover.

1899 Indian cent hidden inside makeup compact

Lots of scrap copper and brass

Two early wheat cents

I’m still hoping this site will give up a silver coin or two.


Good finds. Old coins are there waiting to be plucked. Good luck.


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Thanks, just a matter of getting the coil over it. Next time I go out to this site I’m going to try gridding and see what else turns up.

Can you tell if the other side of the shackle says anything?


The large piece is odd, for sure. Doesn’t appear to have any attachment points or screw holes, anything on the back side?

Maybe you’re not finding silver “stragglers” because the land owners were hoarders, and you’ll eventually run across the largest silver hoard in history.

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Like this

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Yes, after a toothbrush scrubbing, I can make out “ET FRAIM LANCASTER PA” on the other side of the shackle. That refers to the E.T. Fraim Lock Company which operated from 1895 to 1925. Neat.

Here’s the text that went with the pic I posted above:

“SR”. 3 1/2" high x 2 3/8" wide. Brass body. Brass shackle. “ET FRAIM LANCASTER PA” is stamped on the obverse of the shackle. “ES S” is stamped on the reverse of the shackle. Made for: Saline River or Sandy River or Scotts Run or Suburban Railroad or Sugar River or Salmon River or Santa Rita or Savage River or Slate Run or Suwannee River or Swan River. Mfg by: E. T. Fraim Lock Co.
“The Bill MacNab Collection”

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Lol, that description has so many guesses for what SR stands for, but it is Southern Railway based on the arrow logo used.

Keystone Lock was formed in 1879 by E.T. Fraim and brothers and grew to be a major manufacturing operation in Lancaster, claiming to be the largest manufacturer of locks under one roof in the world. After his death in 1917, E.T. Fraim’s son Samuel assumed ownership of the business. In 1925, his other son William purchased an interest in Slaymaker Lock, forming the Fraim-Slaymaker Lock Company. Keystone Lock Company was acquired by Safe Hardware and Lock Company in 1955. source: Locks and Lockmakers of America (Hennessey).

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Nice lock.

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Nice lock, I’m still waiting for my first one. Closest thing Ive found is the stub of a broken railroad key; pretty much just the very top where the circle is, missing the shaft and the “teeth”. Any idea what that oddly shaped thing is that looks like a large eyeball with a hole in the center (and two giant eye lashes!)

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I’m still not quite sure what it is, but it’s brass and heavy. My best guess is that it is an old keyhole cover. It is about the right size for that.

That is cool! I actually found one just like it about 10 years ago. I think yours is the only other one I’ve seen posted on detecting forums. Nice find!

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That’s awesome. The one I found is pretty beaten up, but yours looks like it could be operable. These locks are actually worth a bit (maybe $25-75) in working condition, lots of railroad collectors out there. Some of the more scarce railroad locks go for a few hundred dollars on ebay.

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I think it would work if I had a key. I love RR relics. I have a few rare buttons and baggage tags too.

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