Historic Solari Board On Exhibit

Since it departed the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station in Philadelphia earlier this year, there’s been a lot of flap about Amtrak’s split-flip arrivals and departures board. Now, the historic Solari board, named for its Italian manufacturer, is on exhibit at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

You’ll find it displayed in Rolling Stock Hall on Platform 5 West next to the 114-year-old H6 locomotive No. 2846. Museum staff and volunteers have thoroughly cleaned it and built a base on which to safely showcase this Solari board, which was the last one in service for Amtrak.

It’s at the Museum on an interim basis, and will be displayed here until the developer considers if it can incorporate the board in redevelopment plans for Gray 30th Street Station. Because it is on loan, the Solari board will not be operational, so as not to risk damaging it in any way. Instead, it will be preserved just as it looked when it flipped for the last time at Gray 30th Street Station on January 26, 2019, its final day of operation.

Split-flap arrivals and departures status boards are electromechanical wonders dating back more than half a century, replacing chalk boards and other earlier methods for announcing and updating the arrival and departure times at train depots and terminals from the dawn of the railroad age. The sights and sounds of this Solari board were part of the daily lives of countless Philadelphia commuters and travelers for more than four decades, and they now live on in our fond memories of Pennsylvania railroad history.