I started this series on railroad employees with the “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” post. To find the link, please CLICK HERE.
Today, I will be focusing more on those who worked at the train depots in the 19th century.
Oversees operations connected with railroad building adjacent to tracks, where passengers and freight may be located.
Baggage Handler or Clerk
The baggage handlers duties were to load and unload baggage from inbound and outbound trains. They were responsible for tagging baggage, loading, unloading and routing baggage. In small towns, the telegraph operator or station agent usually did this. In large towns, such as Omaha, it was a full time job. The baggage handler had to make sure the baggage was placed on the right train, or was transferred from an inbound train to the right outbound train.
The person in charge of the baggage car. From 1840 to about 1920, passengers referred to him as the "baggage smasher." They swore he held contests with the baggage handlers to see who could stand at one end of the baggage car and hit the far wall with someone's baggage.
Directs and manages passenger traffic, provides information relating to passenger travel.
One employed to carry baggage for and assist patrons at rail terminals. Although porters worked more inside as a car attendant who waits on passengers and makes up berths, they also helped passengers manage their baggage while getting on and off the train. These employees were specifically hired by the Pullman company for their Pullman Sleeper cars, also known as palace cars, which were a luxurious car for day or night travel.. Pullman hired Black men, because he wished employees in this position to be accustomed to being accommodating and serving the needs of others.
Stationed at the ticket window, this person provides tickets and tour information to passengers.
Here are some positions that might not be employees of a railroad but were often found at the station (depot):
While not actually an employee of the railroad per se, they were employed by the "Railway Express Agency," which was a private concern, and usually had an office in the depot. Their job was to ship packages, much like United Parcel Service (UPS) or Federal Express (Fed Ex) does today. Quite often, especially in smaller communities, the Express Agent was also on the payroll of the local railroad. He might have been the telegraph operator, or the ticket agent, or even the the station agent.
Railroad postal clerk. These clerks were usually employees of the U.S. Post Office, especially if they sorted and routed mail while on special railroad cars. Others, merely picked up and dropped off bags of mail at specified locations.
Telegrapher (Telegraph operator)
The person operating an electro-magnetic telegraph using Morse code to create audible messages sent to distant receiving instruments.
In my January book, Kate’s Railroad Chef, one of main characters, Garland McAlister, was a ticket agent. One of the secondary characters was Quentin Thompson, the telegraph operator. Please CLICK HERE for the book description and purchase link.
A Bride for Quentin, my book most recently released, is Quentin’s romance. To find the book description and purchase link, please CLICKHERE.