Railroad time

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Nov 27 09:46:58 EST 2011

There was a program on PBS' "History Detectives" about a master clock used
by the Illinois Central railroad (I think) to keep their clocks
synchronized. I believe they used the telegraph connecting their stations to
set the clocks. Here's a link to the program:
http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigation/chicago-clock/ It
might answer some of your questions.

Phil Miller

-----Original Message-----
From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org
[mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 10:30 PM
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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?


Blair Miller

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