ACL Telegraph Stations : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I notice as I look thru older ACL employee timetables that many of its locations that had facilities reflect a T meaning telegraph station. Of course there were stations that existed that were not telegraph stations. Many of the depots with telegraph facilities were at times only 2 or 3 miles apart. What was/were the deciding factor/factors in whether or not an ACL station was or was not a telegraph station? As I look at older employee timetables, there were of course alot of telegraph stations and at the same time I am certain there were many non telegraph stations on the same stretches of track. I can't help but wonder, say to say back in the 1920's how many facilities the ACL had all total of telegraph and non telegraph facilities. ANd then, I am certain there were many locations that had no more than a freight shed or passenger shed alone without any agency type facility.

Raymond Smith

-- Raymond Smith (, May 31, 2002


Thanks, so much, Mr. Walker for adding your experiences to this thread. My desire, expressed in my question of 2002, was to try to find sources for insight into the wayside pole lines along ACL, SAL, (and even SOU) lines), specifically, why some routes had perhaps two sets of pole lines, one with, like 4 crossarms, and along side it, closer to the tracks,a set with maybe one crossarm. Also, I noticed the number of crossarms did not always correspond to the amount of rail traffic on that line. For example, the Florence to Augusta line had only one crossarm set along its route, while Florence to Wilmington had 3 crossarms - but I understand the Flo-Aug line was much busier that the Flo-Wilm division. I'd give almost anything if I could go back now and interview the depot agents who lived around me then!

-- Capers Bull (, December 27, 2004.

I failed to mention what I am sure happened to the decline of the train order offices. When the companys built another track beside their existing track, the train orders were not needed as before (there was less single track operations as before whereby the trains would have to be given right over orders. Northbound trains were superior to southbound, eastbound superior to westbound, passenger trains superior to freight trains, there were freight trains that had superiority over other freight trains). As communications changed the method of handling those orders changed but train order offices were still used to move the trains in a safe and expedient manner. King

-- King David Walker (, December 24, 2004.

On branch lines of ACL all stations that I was aware of was a train order office. Before the telephones, all train orders and message work was done via American Morse Code over telegraph lines. The offices not only handled railroad work but work for Western Union whereby the agent or operator was compensate for money he handled only. If there was no money involved in the transaction, he was paid nothing for his work (meaning if the telegram was prepaid or if a telegram was being sent collect the operator or agent received nothing. Eventually the telephones came into being and the train orders were handled over the telephone. There were terminals whereby the train crews ended their runs and the relieving trainmen were given new orders for that district or division they were operating over. Eventually a lot of stations were closed and a mobile agent covered the territory calling on customers,billing their shipments, (and inspecting the shipments to see if they were loaded properly),collecting charges etc. which were later done by the home office of the railroad. Communications evolved from the telegraph to the telephone, the telex, and then radios and computers. Maybe that will answer some of your questions. I was an operator, clerk operator, assistant agent, handled base station operatiron for a mobile agency (2) and a Mobile Agent. Clerks were not allowed to handle telegraph work as their agreement did not cover it and they were not learned in that capacity. C U 73's. King

-- King David Walker (, December 24, 2004.

Capers, Only source I have is personal experence. I worked as a fireman on the northern division for about two years, then transfered to the communications& signaling dept in 57 and worked there until 1964. As an assistant signal maintainer, I talked with the dispatcher almost every day. I will try to answer any questions I can for you,but if I cant Bill Cogswell or Curtis Denmark certainly can as both worked in the same department I did. Let me know if I can help Dan

-- dan king (, June 07, 2002.

Dan, As a modeler and railroad enthusiast I've always been interested in RR communications from the era of the pole lines. You mentioned the dispatcher, message, and telegraph lines; do you know of a good source of material on how the operations of these lines for the railroads?

-- Capers Bull (, June 05, 2002.

Buddy is absolutely correct about the T in the timetable. in all the etts Ive seen, there is a table of abrevations in the back that says T stands for train order station. as for telegraph stations, all stations had at least 3 ways for the operator to communicate with the dispatcher, the dispatchers direct line, the message line and the telegraph line. all maintained by the coastlines communications department. hope this helps Dan

-- dan king (, June 05, 2002.

Good questions. It has always been my understanding that "stations" (depots, offices, towers, etc.) in the employee time tables (ETT) designated with a T were train order offices i.e. locations equipped with train order boards where train orders from the dispatcher could be issued. Although the majority of stations were not designated with a T in the ETTs, they did generate business and had to communicate with the various departments so it would be safe to assume that they were "hooked" into the ACL telegraph system.

How to account for the decreasing number of "T" stations after the 20s? Before the ACL mainlines were double tracked during the 20's, train movement was controlled by blocks with block towers and depots located every few miles. Every train that passed a manned location was OS'ed by the depot operator or tower man giving the dispatcher real time feedback on the location of trains on his crowded stretch of railroad.

During the 20's the Richmond to J'ville mainline was double tracked and equipped with signals which would have reduced the chance for "cornfield" meets and the need for an excessive number of train order stations.

As for the reduction of T designated depots on secondary and branch lines over the years, that was probably a reflection of dimishing traffic(number of trains) and the elimination of agencies (depots) due to the former - all of which would tend to space out the train order stations.

All this is speculation on my part. Hopefully, a former employee will provide feedback based on first hand knowledge. Again, good questions.

-- Buddy Hill (, June 02, 2002.

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