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Amarillo Yardmaster: 1943

Amarillo Yardmaster: 1943

March 1943. Yardmaster at Amarillo, Texas, railyard. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano, Office of War Information.


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Sure brought back memories. My father was a yardmaster for the Erie Railroad in Meadville, Pa. in the 1950's and 60's. As a child I would go with my mother to pick him up after work and would go into the yard office. He was the westbound yardmaster and his clerk sat directly across from him at a two big desks. The phone was just like the one he had to stay in touch with the other offices along the system to Cleveland.

They had a big pigeonhole system that the waybills for the freight cars were kept in when they would make up the order for the cars and their destinations in the length of cars pulled by the engines. The office was a busy place and they had three shifts each day on both the east and westbound sides of the division yard.

He worked the midnight shift for almost twenty years as the yardmaster. During the night in our small town we could hear the trains pumping the cars in the process of making up the trains even though we were several miles from the train yard. There were numerous trains each night in both east and westbound moving along the system between Chicago and New York.

There was always a saying in our home that when we would hear a train whistle we would say, "there goes a new pair of shoes." As long as the trains were moving Dad had a job and money to support us all.

Both of my grandfathers worked all their lives for the Erie railroad. It's sad now when we visit Meadville and see that the yard just barely exists. The yard office that I remember as a child is no longer there. The new yard tower that he moved to in the late 60's is still there but doesn't appear to be functioning.

Thanks for the picture and the thoughts it brought back.

Atlas Shrugged

Read 'Atlas Shrugged' recently - this picture pretty much fits my imagination's.

paperless office

Notice how neat and arranged everything is? Bet he knew where everything he would need was .... and could get to it faster than someone today with the best of computers.

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