Hierarchy and defintion of job

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According to family stories, my uncle worked for Southern Railway probably from the late 1920s until his death in 1955. He supposedly began as a fireman, then became an engineer first on steam and then on diesel locomotives and was a yardmaster in Atlanta at the time of his death. Question 1: Is it a logical progression to go from fireman to engineer to yardmaster? Question 2: What is the job of a yardmaster? Question 3: Where could I get a detailed copy of the SR route from Atlanta to Columbus, Ga. during the 1940s (that was his run)?

-- Sherry Brown (sdb8949@aol.com), April 21, 2000


The progression from fireman to engineer was standard, but then going to yardmaster would be unusual. Until recent times when an engineer qualified as a yardmaster, he had to give up his engineer's job and seniority. It was normally just too much to give up to potentially make a few dollars more a day if the yardmaster work was regular. The more plausible scenario was that he mave have been appointed to a railroad officer position known as "general yardmaster". The title is interchangeable with terminal trainmaster on the old Southern. A few engineers that I know of went this route. Since general yardmasters were classed as officials, the engineers got to fully keep their seniority. Some later decided to return to the ranks of engineers. A regular yardmaster was a union position on the SR. The yardmaster controlled and directed movements through his assigned yard area. He conferred with the dispatchers on what order he wanted trains to pass through his area. He planned the work for his yard engines to do, as well as any air bleeders. He was responsible for seeing that the originating trains were ready and departed as promptly as possible. He had to see that trains terminating there and cuts of cars set off there were switched and made their proper connections or delivery times. He conferred with the yard clerks, agents, chief and trick dispatchers, control center, signal towers, superintendents, and others to see that there was a clear understanding of the work to be done, trains dispatched or needed, delays, or any other situations that might arise.

As for a detailed info on the Atlanta-Columbus Ga. run, I recommend trying to find an employees timetable coving this district issued during the time frame you desire. There are dealers and collectors that sell old employee timetables.

Ben Lee

-- Ben Lee (Bengineer7@aol.com), April 24, 2000.

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