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Station agents on branchlines

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  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 130 posts
Station agents on branchlines
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, February 1, 2020 8:55 AM

I've read a number of stories about lightly traveled branchlines that might be serviced by a single mixed train in each direction daily. The stations along that branchline would need a station agent would they not? With just one train a day passing in each direction, it seems that agent would be like the Maytag repairman the rest of the day. I think those agents were responsible for handling REA shipments but even that doesn't seem like it would be enough to keep somebody busy. Did railroads actually pay a living wage to someone to fill that job or would they find somebody to work the station part time?

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Iowa
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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, February 1, 2020 9:28 AM

The agents were also required for billing out car load lots for their station.  In later years, one agent may have also taken care of the freight work of adjacent towns.  The agent also would've handled Western Union telegrams.  (Both REA, or other express companies, and Western Union would've been on a commission.)  In later years, some offices were dualized.  The agent would work part time at one location and then drive to another to finish out the day.

At really light work locations, the agent might be a part-time position.  I've seen them referred to as a "custodian agent".  Those duties were usually more limited to opening the depot at/or shortly before train time and sell any tickets.  They didn't handle the freight work that a regular agent did or handle telegraph work.  The position also might be filled locally, with no bidding or bumping rights to other positions on the railroad.  Sometimes the job might be held by a close to retirement or one in ill health agent/operator who could no longer handle the full duties of a regular agency.

The really, really small locations might just have a shelter (maybe not even that) and the conductor sold tickets to any passengers there.

Jeff

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  • From: OH
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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, February 1, 2020 9:56 AM

Recall passengers could buy tickets on the mixed train and remember when rubber wheels and improved roads came along that doom a lot of jerk water station agent jobs and any freight car needs was referred to a freight agent. Greyhound,Trailways or some local bus line soon killed the mixed train.. Since the branch saw one round trip daily the combine was the first to go and as the freight traffic dwindel the branch line was abandon.

As a interesting side note the U.S.Mail (if any) and if the state demand it inexchange for dropping the combine  any passenger(s) would ride in the caboose. This would last into the 70s on many branch lines..However,the station agents in cities and towns was encourage not to sell tickets on any branch line still offering passenger service. The agents was to use a connecting bus service.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 130 posts
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, February 1, 2020 10:02 AM

jeffhergert

 

The really, really small locations might just have a shelter (maybe not even that) and the conductor sold tickets to any passengers there.

 

I do have such a shelter on my branchline. I have the idea that it will also be a loading point for milk cans but I am reading Kalmbach's new book on milk operations to determine if that would be a prototypical practice. 

Thanks for all the other information. My branchline is a little busier than that with a morning milk train and commuter trains morning and evening. It also has a midday mixed train that operates in both directions, making drop offs and pick ups at the interchange with the mainline. It got me to thinking about how a more lightly traveled branch would operate. 

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