Working at Remote Locations in the Old Days
nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon May 30 20:18:36 EDT 2005
Recently I have been discussing with a friend and former co-worker (retired
from Conrail headquarters in Philadelphia) some things about the Central
Pacific's "Promontory Old Line" between Lucin and Ogden, Utah. Specifically, we
were discussing things like the number of train order offices between Corrine
N&W Listers may be interested in part of our exchange, as I think it sheds
some interesting light on "how things were" in the "old days" on just about
anybody's railroad. It couldn't have been much different on the N&W. (The "4.2"
men per job he refers to is the number used by railroads in calculating how
many employees it will need to staff one job 24/7.)
-- abram burnett
"Here's a question for you. Those telegraph stations were in the middle of
nowhere. No autos, too far to ride a horse, sparse passenger service, freight
trains pretty irregular. Do you suppose CPR had to maintain 4.2 operators in
residence at each of those Godforsaken places?"
Oh, I figured that out long ago.
Only about half the train order offices were open at night, sometimes less.
The others were "one shift offices."
At a "Day/Night" telegraph office, there were ONLY two men... the daylight
man and the night man... 12 hours each.
When an extra man was farmed out for a vacancy, he rode whatever train or
engine was going his way. Same coming home.
Some years ago I talked to a 1920-hire Port Road (PRR) telegrapher (Bruce
Woodrow) about this. He said that for each location, "everyone knew" which
nearby farmer et ux took in boarders, and the extra man would head there for his
lodging and meals. Unless, of course, there was sufficient room to "make a bed"
in the "ware room" of the station.
My next question was, How did they get supplies? Answer: Da Comp'ny ran a
"supply train" every few months. Ahead of this, each office would order so
much lamp oil, so many lamp wicks and chimneys, so much coal, so much ink, so
many matches, so much soap, so many block sheets, so many balls of train order
string... whatever they needed. (The daylight man "did the ordering," as well
as adjusted the telegraph key to his own touch ! ) All the goods would all be
sent on the supply train (usually a baggage car) which, mirabile dictu, also
had a clamshell and a gondola full of coal and would fill up all the coal
sheds along the line !
Emergency items, of course, would be put in the combine car of the local
passenger train, and set off (or thrown off) at the required location.
It was a different world back then. The 1920-hire telegrapher I mentioned
told me that one Sunday he was called out to open the tower at Garashee's Lane
(Shellpot Branch,) due to a wreck. (The joint was normally closed on Sundays.)
He said that when he got there, he had to tell the train dispatcher that it
would be a while before he could do any work, because the ink well had frozen
and he needed to build a fire and thaw it out !
Next question... ?
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the NW-Mailing-List