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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2578
Location: Northern Illinois
Just a series of comments that come to mind...

Women in the cab unlucky? Certainly. They're a distraction. There is always some Bozo who wants to flirt, and while flirting he's not paying attention to his duties, and THAT could get everyone killed. Eventually social pressure forced acceptance, but back in the steam era there was no pressure to accept this risk.

Restroom facilities? I grew up in the construction industry, not railroading, but I can still remember my Dad carried a roll of toilet paper in his toolbox... all the carpenters did. If you needed to crap, you found an empty nail box and took it off in a corner somewhere. Need to urinate? Even I am old enough to remember the lectures, "We have portable toilets now... Anyone caught pissing on the walls will be fired." This was in the early seventies.

This spilled over into railroading... I recall a published story about the DSS&A where the superintendent wanted to promote a woman to a yard clerk position. All the carmen objected, because when they needed to whizz, they just let fly... it was accepted practice. The compromise reached is the woman got the job... and a whistle, which she had to blow repeatedly anytime she was out doing a yard check, so the men knew she was coming. This was late fifties, early sixties.

Some women clung tenaciously to their wartime jobs. I recall when I was a kid in the fifties or early sixties, an interview on TV with a woman who was retiring as a crane operator in one steel mills. She had gotten the job during the war and never left. The fact that this was newsworthy speaks to how rare it was.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:31 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:22 pm
Posts: 363
It did happen, but pictures are rare. One preservationist (can’t remember who at the moment) had a grandma with a regular run on a half-dead short line in the 1950s. She had been doing the job more or less under the table in wartime, the postwar recession knocked down miles and hours, and most of the men went off to Class 1s. I’ve had a couple of older women tell me they were hostlers during WWII and occasionally had to take a train over the road because they were the available crew, but they weren’t supposed to admit it was happening.

ARMM has a whole presentation about the women who worked Juniata Shops and their difficulties, including almighty hikes to the only bathroom they were allowed to use. Without going into TMI, daily waste disposal is one thing, the...other stuff...is another. A lot of the women who told me about being out on the road were in their forties and fifties at the time and neither had those needs nor reason to think they might be pregnant.

As for superstition, it was sometimes codified. In Ohio, a woman couldn’t (legally, if the inspectors caught her) work in a mine unless she owned it. Ida Mae Stull took over her family mine after her husband was too busted up to work. Others, my mom among them, helped a dad or husband off the books in mines too small for inspectors to worry about. I suspect the railroad, with its two-initial tradition, had more than occasional women firing for a relative. After all, I.M. Stull could be a man’s name as easily as not.

As for other railroad jobs, guesses seem to be all over the place. I’ve seen guesstimates that ten percent of workers might have been women in the Golden Age. Kate Shelley is well known, but let us also recall H.M. Ogle, who died at her post during the Johnstown Flood of 1889. PRR officials were reportedly surprised that their heroic tower operator was a Harriet, not a Harry.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 527
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Reading Company converted two wood, steel underframe, PBf coaches to washroom cars for female employees: 1079 in 3-1943 for Rutherford Engine House and 1055 8-3-1943 for Wayne Junction Electric Car Shop.

1055 is now on the Strasburg RR as coach 92, Susquehanna.

PRR had hired female ticket collectors and at least one remained with PRR and became a conductor on the NY Division, working Chestnut Hill suburban trains.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:18 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 222
I have enjoyed reading all the replies. Truly amazing there seems to be not a single photo of any female Engineers or Fireman during the steam era. I am certain there was female Hostlers who moved the locomotives around the maintenance faculties during World War 2 as they replaced many men who went to War. Would be pretty amazing if there was video of something like that.

When I was in the military I was surprised how many females were in the intelligence gathering division. When I asked about it I was told "females have better attention to detail". It would be interesting to see how a female crew handled a steam locomotive. Could they fine tune it better than a male crew?


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:31 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 392
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Since this has expanded a bit to women working for the railroad, my mom started working as a teletype operator on the SP after she graduated from junior college during WWII war, I think for about five years. She worked in Roseville, Klamath Falls, and her final job was on the second floor of the Sacramento depot. She had to quit when she became pregnant - with me. Something that she mentioned many times was her memory of having the "mallets" roll past her when she was making her regular walk to another office in the yards, sometimes while on a night shift.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:28 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:35 pm
Posts: 3
The Pentrex Big Boy videos shows women working the Cheyenne Yard doing jobs such as operating the turntable, wiping down loco's windows, changing number boards etc. and they were decked out in clothes of the time such as bib overalls, denim shirts & hats with gauntlet style gloves. I wouldn't be surprised if it was some union rules that kept them from being engineers & firemen??


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2007 8:03 pm
Posts: 981
Location: Warszawa, Polska
Dave wrote:
484Mike wrote:
The Russians just lowered the men's wages so much that their wifes had to go to work as well.
Mike


Much as the American capitalist system has done since the 1980s - few families can get by on one salary alone. Funny how much we all have in common, now if only people would stop trying to drive us apart.......

Dave


I wonder how much of that has to do with the US getting off the gold standard, and going absolutely bonkers on deficit spending thanks to Vietnam and LBJ's social programs? Oh let's not forget The Fed.

From everything I've heard, the 70s and 80s were an absolute financial nightmare. "Stagflation", double digit interest rates, people losing their homes and savings, etc., and society in general seems to have gone down the tube since Nixon cancelled the gold standard.

https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/

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CNR 6167 in Guelph, ON or "How NOT To Restore A Steam Locomotive"


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:55 am
Posts: 121
joe6167 wrote:
Vietnam

Sorry guys,

probably we're getting a bit too much off the track. I only tried to explain why the absence of women as locomotive engineers was neither "patriarchic suppression" nor "racism", but just the pragmatic status quo of the 19th and early 20th century, caused by the natural differences of the two sexes which had considerable effects in an industrial environment mainly based on physical power.

Only those few women who really wanted to become engineers AND were fit enough to become one had to suffer in that system. I heard of some women who were very disappointed after they had been trained to run streetcars im WWII and liked it (the streetcars, not the war) , but then had to go after the men had come home.

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 7:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1876
Location: Southern California
The Southern Pacific and maybe other railroads had woman station agents/train order operators who in the earlier era were telegraphic operators.

A few years ago the Eastern California Museum in the Owens Valley (think SP narrow gauge) displayed a telegraph key that the signage said it was used by the woman agent at the ng Mt. Whitney depot and later at the sg Lone Pine depot.

On the narrow gauge -- both as the Carson & Colorado and later under SP operation -- I have seen a listing showing that wives of the track foreman based at a depot location that were working as telegrapher/depot agent.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 527
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Female RR telegraphers are not restricted to the WWII days.

Emma Ehrenfeld was a telegrapher at the PRR South Fork Pa. tower May 31, 1889. She was asked to telegraph Johnstown about the South Forkh Dam on the Little Conemaugh River upstream of both South Fork and Johnstown. She made up a message and had a runner take it to the next tower West account the wires were down.

When she saw the flood coming from the dam, she exited the tower and went up a coal tipple. The tower washed away, but the coal tipple held.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:12 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 11:16 am
Posts: 704
All
posted for info. SP Bulletin 12-1919 found in Google search.


Robby


Attachments:
nyp.33433020889022-seq_434 SP Bulletin Women Working meeting 12-1919 (2).jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:13 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:29 pm
Posts: 383
Decades ago I befriended an old AT&SF engineer who told me about an experiment to put female engineers in the cabs of locomotives during WW II. He said they could not get past the "need for a regular bathroom" so the idea was dropped. Understandable.
As for black trainmen...they did exist. I have seen a hand-written roster for Southern Railway (pre-WW I) that had all the train crewman listed by name, position and senority. It was divided into two "chapters"...White and Colored. There were fewer black trainmen but there were a good number of them. I can only guess that they did not get the best mainline assignments...but that is only a guess.
I also love to look at all the RPPCs that get listed for sale and over the many years I have seen a number of cards showing African-American crews on steam engines. Those RPPCs are great records of history...and looking is usually free.
T7


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 527
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Simeon "Sim" T. Webb, Casey Jones' fireman on Jones' farewell trip to the promised land, was African-American. Webb jumped from the engine and survived the wreck.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:38 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 222
I don't see the bathroom issue as a problem as both freight and passenger trains were stopping at stations or yards along the route. In those days I doubt if stations were anymore than 30 miles away from any location with the exceptions of some very rural locations. If the train was a passenger train the women in the locomotive could always board a passenger car, and go to the bathroom, when they stopped at a red signal or for coal or water.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 12:38 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1876
Location: Southern California
Tom F wrote:
I don't see the bathroom issue as a problem as both freight and passenger trains were stopping at stations or yards along the route. In those days I doubt if stations were anymore than 30 miles away from any location with the exceptions of some very rural locations. If the train was a passenger train the women in the locomotive could always board a passenger car, and go to the bathroom, when they stopped at a red signal or for coal or water.
Please remember that "back in the days" the toilets dropped directly onto the track. This resulted in the admonishment "Do not flush toilet when standing in stations or crossing roads."

Even the first Amtrak "Supper-Liners" that had retention tanks would dump them when the train reached a specified speed (that would indicate away from stations and urban areas) this reportedly cause certain sections of track the maintenance crews wanted to avoid.

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