According to a local railroad employee who goes by the name Signal Maintainer as a Tribune online commenter, the tombstone-like markers along the track are either whistle posts (which have a black "W" on them and alert the train crew to an upcoming crossing, and lets them know to start blowing the horn for the crossing); or the old concrete mileposts that can still be found in some spots, which tells conductors what mile of the subdivision they are at.
"Sadly, both are quickly being replaced by modern metal signs as the old posts are vandalized or damaged, or deemed obsolete by crossings being taken out, or the boundaries of the subdivision being changed, thus throwing off the original mileage," said Signal Maintainer, who remains otherwise anonymous because of his job.
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