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Curator's Corner
June 6, 2013

On Track and On Time: Employee Timetables

September 25, 2015

Timetables are some of the most important historical documents created by the railroad. They were designed to help station agents, employees and passengers know when a train should be departing and arriving. To ensure employees knew which trains should be stopping at their stations; timetables are set up in columns.

Here's what each column means:

  • The number at the top of each column represents the type of train.
  • The columns on either side of the center are the times that the westbound or eastbound train will arrive at each station.
  • The center column represents where the train will be arriving or departing.

The Union Pacific collection includes a large amount of employee timetables dating back to 1866. Over time these timetables contained more complex information. Station lists began to become regional instead of branch-specific. Public timetables, for passenger traffic, started to contain additional information, information including tourist spots and advertisements for railroad technology advancements.

Historic timetables are interesting for many reasons, but perhaps the most engaging aspect is that they are a tangible link between railroad operations and the hundreds of employees who insured that they arrived safely over thousands of miles of track. Railroad operations have certainly changed over time, but these documents illustrate the basic tenant of rail transportation that has endured: insuring that precious cargo arrives safely and on time.

The Origin of the Blue and White Striped Engineer's Cap

June 17, 2015

There is no sport that evokes more nostalgia among Americans than baseball. America's favorite pastime originated before the Civil War as a game called "rounders." Throughout the 1850s and 60s, the game evolved to include more mental judgment skills, and eventually involved scoring and record keeping. By 1871, just two years after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the professional baseball league was born.

By the time the early 20th century rolled around, most large cities in the eastern United States had professional baseball teams. Because of the sport's popularity, many famous ball players like Phil Rizzuto, Eddie Matthews, Harry "The Hat" Walker and the legendary Babe Ruth spent a significant amount of time riding the rails.

Employees of the railroads, with a desire for camaraderie and recreation, formed employee baseball teams. These teams were quite organized and even competed in leagues and championships.

One semi-famous railroader took time off to play semi-pro and professional baseball. George "Stormy" Kromer was an engineer for the Chicago and North Western. Kromer made a habit of wearing his baseball cap while at the controls of his engine, but it just wasn't quite what he needed while on the job.

Kromer came home one day and lamented his discomfort to to his wife, Ida. The Kromers put their heads together and came up the design of what we now call the railroad engineer's cap.

Ida Kromer, an expert seamstress, assembled George's new cap with what she had at hand: blue and white pinstripe pillow ticking. Their efforts were a hit. The cap became very popular among railroaders, and ultimately resulted in the beginning of a business that still exists today.

George and Ida Kromer.

Recent Headlines

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