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'Curious Rock County' answers questions about rocks and trains

Star Herald Editorial

‘Curious Rock County’ answers questions about rocks and trains
Several weeks ago, the Star Herald launched its “Curious Rock County” segment, which solicits questions from readers with promises to search for answers.
Q. Our first question was a softball: Where did Rock County get its name?
A. Many might assume that it’s named for the rock outcroppings of the Blue Mounds, but Rock County was named for the Rock River that flows through the county.
The river is named for the Blue Mounds, which on an 1843 map was designated “The Rock."
This information is according to Minnesota Geographic Names. Another railroad history source attributes the county name to its rocky soil.
Q. What are the rules dictating train horns at intersections?
A. Under the federal “Train Horn Rule,” locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings.
This is according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration “the train horn rule,” which was updated in January 2020.
If a train is traveling faster than 60 mph, engineers will not sound the horn until it is within one-quarter mile of the crossing, even if the advance warning is less than 15 seconds.
There is a "good faith" exception for locations where engineers can’t precisely estimate their arrival at a crossing and begin to sound the horn no more than 25 seconds before arriving at the crossing.
Train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of two long blasts, followed by one short and one long blast. The pattern must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the grade crossing. The rule does not stipulate the durations of long and short blasts.
The maximum volume level for the train horn is 110 decibels which is a new requirement. The minimum sound level remains 96 decibels.
Up next for Curious Rock County research:
Q. What happened to the vineyard on the east edge of Luverne? We reached out to folks in the know and will let you know what we learn.
Until then, more Curious Rock County questions may be submitted to or by calling 507-283-2333.

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