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Station Agent Reading Train Orders (editor's title)

Agent at Yorktown, Texas
Station agent O. W. Pennington looking over a set of train orders at Yorktown, Texas on August 22, 1961. Prior to the advent of rule changes and computerized signaling systems, railroads utilized written timetables and train orders to govern all train movements. The timetable listed all scheduled trains; these were often amended, and "extra" trains added, via written orders. The dispatcher issued train orders to the nearest station agent, first by telegraph and later by telephone. The agent then delivered the orders to the train's engineer and conductor.

Notice the telegraph sounder on the swivel stand, with a metal Prince Albert tobacco can barely visible behind the sounder. This was very common and helped improve the sound of the telegraph. The telegraph key is just visible on the desk above Mrs. Pennington's left hand. There are two telephones, one is a "city" phone and the other a "company" phone. A manual typewriter is on the desk in the foreground and to the right of it are two clipboards of shipping bills. Station agents were responsible for the paperwork documenting all freight and passenger traffic in and out of their stations. The black boxes on the wall, ubiquitous to all depots, were related to the communication lines and were used to pinpoint trouble spots. Other period details include a glass Coke bottle and, beside it, a well-worn Official Guide of the Railways.

Yorktown was on a branchline between Cuero and Kenedy, Texas. By 1961, the only regular trains were local freights 377 and 378, which ran between Yoakum and Kenedy, Texas, and train orders were seldom issued at Yorktown. The depot closed on November 17, 1967, but languished for years before being torn down in 1999. The last train ran on February 10, 1972, and the line was abandoned and removed shortly thereafter.
Source Joe McMillan, Arvada, Colorado
Coverage Spatial, Yorktown, Texas; Temporal, August 22, 1961
Rights Joe McMillan
Date Created 1961-08-22
Resource Type
Extent 2-1/4 in. x 2-1/4 in.
People: Name
Depicted Railroad
Location Yorktown, Texas
Depicted Occupation
Creator Description Joe McMillan was raised in the small south-central Texas community of Yorktown, located on a now-abandoned Southern Pacific branch line. He received a civil engineering degree from Texas Tech University at Lubbock, Texas. Aside from a military obligation with the Army Corps of Engineers, he spent his entire career with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, working his way up from draftsman to assistant director of safety and rules. Following his retirement in 1995, Joe moved his family to Arvada, Colorado, where he stays busy traveling and publishing railroad calendars and books.
Collection Joe McMillan Collection
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