family members who worked for a railroad

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Maximus Man, Jun 17, 2019.

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  1. Maximus Man

    Maximus Man Maximus Man

    Jan 1, 2011
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    Kind of fitting given yesterday got me thinking of my father.
    I know this topic pops up once in a while in different threads, but I wasn't sure if there had been a specific thread dedicated to this. Did any family member work for a railroad and did that connection help influence your interest in collecting watches? Who? What rail lines? What watch did they carry and do you know where that watch is today?
    My dad, Skip, work as a brakemen for the Union Pacific in the 50s, a conductor for the Rock Island in the 60s and 70s (the last conductor on the last passenger Rocket), and a track foreman for the Chicago Northwestern in 80s and 90s. He wore an Elgin Father Time until it fell off the back of the caboose. He switched to a Buliva Accutron wrist watch after that. I have both, but refurbished the Elgin and gave it to him on Father's Day before he passed in 1998. Still by favorite watch today.
     
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  2. butlercreek

    butlercreek Registered User
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    My grandmother was in the first class of women hired by the seattle bus system just after the start of world war 2, prior to this bus drivers were men. any how on the first day the were told to purchase a pocket watch for time keeping on there routes, and were given money to do so, she purchased a 21 jewel bunn special 60 hour in a first model bunn special case carried in a leather pouch atteached to her belt so that in the sitting position it laid on her thigh crown foward so all she had to do was look down and see the time. I still have both the watch and the leather pouch. I know its not railroad related but still interesting to me.... she was the last to retire out of that class and carried the watch everyday of her 35 year career
     
  3. glenhead

    glenhead Registered User
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    My maternal grandfather, Glen (he went by Hap), was yardmaster in Clovis, New Mexico for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. My parents lived in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in the late '50s and Daddy traveled quite a bit on highway jobs, so Mother and I spent a lot of time with Hap and Grandma. Hap died on the job when I was two (1959), under circumstances that have always been questionable. I inherited his Bunn Special.

    Glen
     
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  4. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Jul 20, 2018
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    I'd love to see some photos!
     
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  5. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Can we see a few shots?
     
  6. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    How about posting a few pics?
     
  7. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Aug 26, 2000
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    I became aware of railroad standard watches during the early 1960s when my brother returned from college with a 16-size Bunn Special watch he had used on a part-time job on the Kansas City Southern Railway. This piqued my interest to the extent that I spent the fifty-plus years since then searching for information about those watches and the requirements that they had to meet.
     
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  8. OldSchool1959

    OldSchool1959 Seaboard Coastline RR Fanatic!
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    Jan 8, 2018
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    My grandfather was an Engineer for the Seaboard Coastline RR from 1941 until he retired in 1978. My avatar is him in the seat at the Raleigh NC yard in November 1975. I still have some of his logs and stuff. I used to have his travel bag but it was lost years ago.
     
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  9. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

    Apr 10, 2008
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    I think this topic could also go well in the European and other watches forum
    There are, or were, lots of railroad,bus, tram (streetcar) and trolley bus systems
    A trolley bus is an electric bus powered from overhead wires like a streetcar
     
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  10. Fritz Katzenjammer

    Fritz Katzenjammer Yeah... that Fritz....
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    Feb 4, 2013
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    My Dad worked on an extra gang that was servicing the line that ran by his parents farm. It was summer only work as they lived in northern Saskatchewan, he did it from when he was 13 until he was 16. The summer he was 13 they sent him packing when they found out his age, but it was almost the end of the season anyway so he got most of the summer in. He joined Canadian National full time as a fireman in 1947, became engineer in about 1950 and was promoted into management in 1964. He finished up in senior management as operations control officer for the Great Lakes region retiring in 1988.

    He wore a 992B on the engines and an Omega Century in the office. I think the importance of time in his life kindled my interest in timepieces.
     
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  11. John Arrowood

    John Arrowood Registered User
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    My Grandfather was a station agent (I think) at Delano, TN (don't know which railroad, probably Southern or L&N) in the early 1900's and as far as I know he didn't use a watch, unless he sold it in later years. He left the railroad and was working at sawmills by 1910 or so, I don't know why, seems to me that the sawmill work was harder and more dangerous (maybe more money) Neither he or my Grandmother ever talked much about their early lives. I think there is some telegraph equipment in his tool box which is sitting my garage. He got a Waltham 9-j watch around 1938 probably mail order from Sears or Montgomery Ward and spent the extra to have his initials and a locomotive engraved on the back cover. He carried it until mid 1967 when he had a fatal stroke. I have that watch. .
     
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  12. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I'm tied into post #6. I'm the only male member of the family that did not
    work for the Railroad.

    Two uncles Kansas City Southern Railroad (one yard master and one train engineer).
    Two first cousins, brakeman Kansas City Southern.
    Dad, traffic manager East to West, Kansas City Southern.

    My Dad's Elgin 17J from 1923 and I went on to collect English fusee watches after my
    Going Barrels. First one 1805, gives one day of the month and the second one, 17J RR
    King, gives the exact time.

    Keith R...

    100_4808 (1600x1200).jpg 100_5547 (800x600).jpg
     
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  13. Dano4734

    Dano4734 Registered User

    My dad worked as a clerk on the passenger line for the railroad. He gave me my first 992b. Now I have way too many of them
     
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  14. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    My Grandfather started work at 14 on the London & South Western Railway Company. He started as an oiler, at 16 he went to war in WW I then returned at the end of the war to resume work. He became a Guard, and at some point later in life became a senior Guard, now on the Southern Railway which by now had absorbed the L&SWR and led on to becoming one of the Big Four the companies that ran the railways between the wars. After WWII the railways were in a mess, they had been worked to death through the war, and were nationalised to become British Railways. At some point, he became Guards Inspector, I think likely under British Railways, Southern Region. There were three, working 8 hour shifts. When one was off sick or on holiday they worked 12 hour shifts. A Guard Inspector was in charge of all the Guards.

    My Grandfather had to return his watch when he retired, and was given a rather less attractive one.It isn't how I got my interest in horology, and railways here were already barred from using timing as a means of separating train movements by the time my Grandfather started work.

    A couple of years ago I missed out on a guards timepiece, not a pocket watch, that had been made by John Walker for the L&SWR, my Grandfather had probably handled it at some point. Somehow it found its way to the US.
     
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  15. Christopher Burris

    Christopher Burris Registered User
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    My Great Grandfather, was an Engineer for C&O RR and then Southern RR. I have his oil can from Southern RR and two switch Keys, a Richmond&Danville RR and a Southern RR. While I might like to jokingly claim some of my watches were from him, none are, I only wish... His younger brother Lewis Withrow, was the proverbial fireman that leaped from the train wreck of C&O’s Fast Flying Virginian (FFV) Oct 23 1890. He had scalding scars from that day, when he retired he was the Chief Mechanical Officer for C&O.
     
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  16. Lee Passarella

    Lee Passarella Registered User
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    Really interesting to read about all these railroad connections. A good thread. My family's from Altoona, PA, which was the cite of the Pennsylvania Railroad Shops, so I have lots of kin, close and distant, who worked for the railroad, including my maternal grandfather (a laborer) and my dad, who apprenticed at the Altoona Shops and worked there as a machinist until the Great Depression shut everybody down. He told me about one of my relatives whose job was to paint decorative designs in first-class passenger cars, so that must go back quite a ways.

    On the other hand, those railroad connections didn't really get me interested in pocket watches, though my more recent interest in RR watches was certainly influenced by my family's PRR associations.
     
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  17. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Jan 12, 2017
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    I have two second hand connections to the RR's.

    First, both my wife's grandfathers worked on the RR's in Pennsylvania. A few nice RR watches were handed down to my
    brother-in-law's(and cousins). The daughters didn't get any RR stuff(even though they wanted them and were the oldest).

    My second connection was that I grew up in a RR town on the NY Hudson River line.
    Many of the conductors(and regular RR workers) lived in our area, and it serviced commuters to and from New York City.
    We had(and they still do have a very large train Hub in our town).

    But I don't collect watches because of any of these connections.


    Rob
     
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  18. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
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    My maternal grandfather worked as a freight conductor for the Cambria and Indiana RR. The C & I was a coal hauling shortline in Western Pennsylvania. He carried a Hampden 16S model 5 19J Railway. Sadly he was killed in a railroading accident on April 1, 1921. My mother gave me is watch, which I still have. This started me on to the 64 years I have done this watch collecting thing.

    I wrote an article on this watch that can be found in the NAWCC Bulletin June 2004, Vol 46/3, No 350, page 339.

    Tom
     
  19. jcreamer49

    jcreamer49 Registered User
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    One of my great-uncles, my grandfather’s brother, worked for railroads for his whole unnaturally short life. He started out as a telegraph operator at the age of 19, and by the time he was in his 40s he was a station agent in Sheridan, Wyoming, for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. When he died in 1927, my grandfather was involved in settling the estate. This necessitated a train trip from upstate New York to far-off Sheridan, and much wrangling with the local authorities who, Grandpa was firmly (and mistakenly) convinced, were trying to loot his brother’s estate.

    In 1960, when I was about 10 years old, Grandpa rooted through a desk drawer one day and handed me, with no explanation that I can recall, several pocket watches. All were broken and heavily used. Being a careful little kid, I took good enough care of them so that forty years later I still had them and now was able to repair them. The standout of the lot is an 1887 Elgin 18s G.M. Wheeler. No one in the family, so far as I know, had the money or the need for such a watch, except, perhaps, great-uncle Henry -- and he would have bought it used. I suppose it might have been accepted on some railroads at some point, and perhaps a station agent didn’t have to have a grade 349 or some such, as a conductor or engineer would.

    Was it Henry’s watch? I obtained a copy of his voluminous estate papers, in the hope that there would be an inventory of his personal possessions. No such luck. He sure had lots of money, though -- Grandpa said that Henry was an inveterate cheapskate. Unfortunately, none of it has come down to my generation. But I have the watch, and until I hear otherwise (and maybe even after) I’m going to let myself believe that it may be the last earthly vestige of great-uncle Henry.
     
  20. Leigh Callaway

    Leigh Callaway Registered User
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    #19 Leigh Callaway, Jun 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
    Sometime in 1993, my wife’s dad gave me his father’s watch. My father in law was 92 years old then, a retired surgeon living in Florida. He went into his bedroom and came back with the watch – from a dresser drawer - a Hamilton 940.

    We still have the wooden box in which he – i.e., my wife’s grandfather Dr. Henry Stewart (1872-1935) – carried tools and medicines on the fields of France, WWI.

    Later, Dr. Stewart practiced medicine in Monroe NC, sometimes for whatever folks could afford (eggs, livestock). And for the Seaboard Air Line, for which Monroe was a major hub "Through the Heart of the South". He may not have needed a railroad watch for his practice, but he had one anyway. Here it is:

    Ham 940 SN 942125 .jpg

    Dr. Henry Dixon Stewart. The little guy is my wife’s Dad, also a very good man. Photo about 1905.

    Henry Stewart MD.jpg
     
  21. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    I love the G M Wheeler watches and have a bunch of them, but they were a gentleman's watch not
    a Railroad Grade watch. That doesn't mean that he didn't use it while working for the RR
    but not as a Standard watch. Great story thanks for sharing.


    Rob
     
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  22. OldSchool1959

    OldSchool1959 Seaboard Coastline RR Fanatic!
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    I should have added that my grandfathers father, my great grandfather, also worked for the railroad. One day many years ago when he was at work he decided, like many others, to jump off when the train had slowed down coming into the yard. He slipped and hit his head on one of the rails. He immediately blacked out and was taken to a local hospital where it was found that his brain was pushed back in his skull. The Dr's went in through his back and used air to somehow move his brain back to where it was supposed to be. When he came to he had lost the sight in his right eye. He went back to work until his retirement which was sometime in the 50's. He suffered with debilitating headaches the rest of his life. Just a hazzard of railroad life back in the day......
     
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  23. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    My Grandfather worked for a while as a fireman on the CB&Q. He said it was the hardest job he ever had. Fast forward to the 21st century and his great grandson (my son) works as a fireman on the Durango and Silverton narrow gauge RR. He has nightmares about working on a locomotive they call the "widow maker". It's a very demanding job both physically and mentally.
     
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  24. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    My Great grandfather was an Engineer for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was killed by a rail yard accident in 1920, when his locomotive was sideswiped by a passing engine and a stem pipe was torn open and he was scalded. Apparently it took him a while to die, even so.

    My Grandfather, who played baseball professionally in the Teens, was on the books of the Pennsy as a 'Track Inspector', so he was able to play on the company baseball team as a ringer.
     
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  25. 4thdimension

    4thdimension Registered User

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    Such great stories and connections! My gggrandfather owned some railroads back when. His watch was pretty special by all accounts but apparently stolen back in the 60's. I am named after his son who was also involved with the business. Apparently my cousin recently found a wristwatch of his. It's engraved with his initials (and mine minus the "IV")and I have heard she wants me to have it. I will see her at her daughter's wedding in September and will let you know..-Cort
     
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  26. Tim Fitzgerald

    Tim Fitzgerald Registered User
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    My Grandfather was a N.Y.Central railroad cop & was killed at work (not sure how). He had 5 children & my grandmother in Utica N.Y. They were both immigrants from Ireland in the 1800's. The NY Central wired back to the family in Ireland , to send the next unmarried eldest brother. The railroad paid his passage & he arrived in Utica taking over his dead brothers job, home, wife, and 5 children. Actually, he was my Grandfather, they were married and had 5 more children , that's what family's did back then .I can't even imagine it. What if you didn't like each other?
     
  27. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Wow

    Rob
     
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  28. WilliamT1974

    WilliamT1974 Registered User
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    My great-grandfather worked for two different railroads in his working life. I think the first one was the either NC&StL or the L&N Railroad. I only know so much about his early life. I know his family was quite poor and lived in north Alabama. He was able to attend a military academy on scholarship, but we don't have any records that he actually graduated from that school or any other. He was a WWI veteran and saw action in Europe, and married my great-grandmother some time after his service was over. I think he was a hot-box inspector and may have moved to Somerset, KY for a time. His first child, my grandmother, was born in Etowah, TN, which was an L&N railroad town. They moved back to Chattanooga in the early 20s. He lost that job for reasons that are a bit contested within the family during the Great Depression, which made life hard. To the best of my memory, he got another job with the T.A.G. Railroad in a similar capacity to his previous job. I think this job was considered a bit of a step down from his previous work. He was alive until I was around 12 or 13, though he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease the last couple of years of his life, and I wasn't around him as often. I remember that even though he hadn't done railroad work in many years, his hands were still callused and his fingers had dark spots on them which he told me were due to frostbite incurred on the job.

    If memory serves, the watch he carried was an Illinois Bunn Special. I remember seeing it a few times when I was younger. It was promised to my younger brother, but another relative took it shortly after both of my great-grandparents were deceased. I don't know its whereabouts these days, and fear that asking could stir up family drama.

    Also, my ex-wife's great-grandfather was a railroad conductor or brakeman, though I don't know for which railroad. He lived in Birmingham, AL, and the railroad for which he worked ran out into the western states. He was killed when his train was hit by a tornado. His family still had some items that had belonged to him, including a Winchester revolver and a brakeman's lantern, but if there was a watch, I was never aware of it, and the family knew I was interested in stuff like that. At the time of his death in the mid to late 30s, he was married and his son was preparing to start either jr. high or high school, so if his watch survived whatever killed him, it may have been sold to provide much-needed cash during a difficult time.
     
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