Railroad time

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Nov 27 10:41:53 EST 2011

A good explanation of Western Union synchronized clocks can be found at:


In the Norfolk & Western Historical Society Archives in Roanoke there is a
large wall clock that once hung in the Virginian Railway yard office in
Roanoke and was synchronized by a Western Union time signal. I remember a
similar clock on the wall of the Norfolk & Western Railway's Shafers
Crossing roundhouse office in Roanoke.

Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
To: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 10:29 PM
Subject: Railroad time

> Last night my mother gave me a railroad watch certification card for my

> great-grandfather's watch that he used while the engineer on trains nos. 1

> and 3 in the 1930's. I know of the great wreak in 1891 that led to the

> creation of special watches manufactured specifically for railroad

> personnel. And I know these watches were required to be set to the correct

> time every 14 days, and re-certified every 6 months. But who kept the

> official time (down to the second) and where did they get their time from?


> Today it's all computerized, but in the early days of steam when the

> telegraph was king the concept of synchronized time seems very difficult

> to attain. Does anyone know how they did it?


> Regards,


> Blair Miller


> Sent from my iPad

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