Trains.com

Flushing toilets in train station pre holding tank era must have made for smelly stations

1298 views
27 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March 2022
  • 93 posts
Flushing toilets in train station pre holding tank era must have made for smelly stations
Posted by roundstick3@gmail.com on Thursday, June 9, 2022 2:19 PM

Despite what the sign said the public flushed toilets on passenger cars in stations that were enclosed and underground which took away the romance of the old palaces that were train stations in the US and Britain as dirty smelly places in their last days. That because of this some of the public we're glad to see them demolished.

  • Member since
    July 2020
  • 949 posts
Posted by pennytrains on Thursday, June 9, 2022 6:11 PM

A few pics of a Pullman toilet:

https://link.shutterfly.com/pANNSNLnJqb

 

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,306 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, June 9, 2022 7:07 PM

roundstick3@gmail.com
Despite what the sign said the public flushed toilets on passenger cars in stations

Well, you're right, they weren't supposed  to do that.  Just how often it happened is open to speculation.

I WAS on a Norfolk-Southern steam excursion where a passenger did just that!  We'd stopped in Appomattox VA and as the passengers were exiting the car there was a WOOOSH! and a SPLAT! as the "stuff" hit the ballast.  The car host turned red with embarassment (Poor woman!) and ran back into the car and then we could hear a woman wailing:

"But Mother couldn't wait!"  Embarrassed

What are you gonna do?

  • Member since
    June 2012
  • 279 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Friday, June 10, 2022 11:06 AM

Remember the man who was riding the Milwaukee mixed in Wisconsin at age ten? He was sticking his head out the window to enjoy the breeze. Suddenly he felt something wet, though there wasn't a cloud in sight. Turns out the brakeman was relieving himself from the open door of the baggage section!

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 23 posts
Posted by WILLIAM O CRAIG on Friday, June 10, 2022 3:43 PM

When I was riding Frisco trains as a boy in the '30s and '40s (my Dad was an employee) the conductor would lock the restrooms if we were going to be sitting in a station for any length of time, then unlock them when the train started up.   Dad said you had to watch where you stepped if you were out in the country on the line somewhere.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 22,718 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Friday, June 10, 2022 7:23 PM

Just imagine riding non-air conditioned coach with the windows open when the carrier picks up water in the tender on the fly.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,808 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, June 11, 2022 10:00 AM

Opening the windows could be difficult to impossible.  I can remember seeing a carman at Randolph Street using a crowbar as a lever to open the windows on South Shore's non-air conditioned coaches on hot summer days.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 18,948 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, June 11, 2022 2:42 PM

Balt-ACD:  Water-on-the-fly - open window coach:

Usually not a problem with only one baggage, baggage-and-masil. or mail car behinf the tender.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,306 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, June 12, 2022 12:02 PM

Fr.Al
Turns out the brakeman was relieving himself from the open door of the baggage section!

At least the head-end crew had the coal pile in the tender!

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • 1,898 posts
Posted by Backshop on Sunday, June 12, 2022 5:41 PM

WILLIAM O CRAIG

When I was riding Frisco trains as a boy in the '30s and '40s (my Dad was an employee) the conductor would lock the restrooms if we were going to be sitting in a station for any length of time, then unlock them when the train started up.   Dad said you had to watch where you stepped if you were out in the country on the line somewhere.

 

Could you please increase your font size?

  • Member since
    July 2020
  • 949 posts
Posted by pennytrains on Sunday, June 12, 2022 6:43 PM

Things look different on different platforms.  When I'm using my android phone I often have to turn it sideways to read an entire post.

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 23 posts
Posted by WILLIAM O CRAIG on Monday, June 13, 2022 8:44 PM

Why?

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,808 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 10:22 AM

WILLIAM O CRAIG

Why?

 
Some of us are old and small print is difficult to read.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    June 2011
  • 975 posts
Posted by NP Eddie on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 10:30 AM

I heard a story of a Soo Line Carman getting flushed on while the train was in St. Paul.

 

Ed Burns

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,306 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 11:13 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
Some of us are old and small print is difficult to read.

Some of us aren't THAT old and small print's difficult to read.

Doing the Ben Franklin thing and sliding the glasses to the end of my nose only works to a point!  Geeked

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • 996 posts
Posted by mvlandsw on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 7:44 PM

When riding at open dutch doors I learned to duck back inside when I saw a mist arise from the track under a car ahead.

  • Member since
    July 2020
  • 949 posts
Posted by pennytrains on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 5:44 PM

Well this thread's officially in the toilet...Whistling

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,306 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 7:11 PM

I don't know, the moderators haven't flushed it yet.

Maybe they don't pay attention to what goes on over here?  Whistling

  • Member since
    May 2022
  • 61 posts
Posted by anglecock on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 7:55 PM

I would assume that any renovations of old passengers cars for excursion railroads would have to include a holding tank for waste.

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 18,948 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 16, 2022 1:57 AM

I have not complained earlier.   Am at age 90.  You weill do me a favor by not requiring me to use both my reading glasses and a nagnefying glass.

 

Thanks in advance,

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 12,879 posts
Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 3:33 PM

BTW, I wonder now how many people hearing that line in the "City of New Orleans" song ("passengers will please refrain...") understand what it means.

Stix
  • Member since
    May 2012
  • 4,656 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 5:47 PM

One thing I do miss is the pleasant light percussion sound from the trap cover in the toilets of a roomette in a "heritage" sleeper.  Very soothing at night.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,306 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 8:52 AM

wjstix

BTW, I wonder now how many people hearing that line in the "City of New Orleans" song ("passengers will please refrain...") understand what it means.

 

Speaking of songs, I just remembered this one!   Embarrassed

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/oscar-brand-humoresque-passengers-will-please-refrain-lyrics.html

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • 23 posts
Posted by WILLIAM O CRAIG on Thursday, June 23, 2022 8:04 PM

I'm 90 myself, but fortunately don't have to wear glasses.  This discussion has given me a whole new appreciation for railroad track workers.  But I rode trains, mostly Frisco, from the 1930s to the '50s and never smelled or saw anything that looked like sewage in any of the stations I was in, including St.Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, the big cities of the East, and my hometown of Springfield, Mo.  I think other railroads did what the Frisco did in that time, lock the toilet doors before going into a major stop.  My father was a Frisco employee from 1909 to 1958 in the offices at Springfield, but once was sent out on the lines to find errant freight cars, I think in reponse to the car census ordered by the federal government when it took over the carriers during World War I.  That was when he learned to step carefully on the tracks out in the countryside and also when he got tired of small town boarding houses with bugs and bad food.  He was drafted another time in the 1920s to help clean out boilers in Oklahoma when shop workers were on strike. He said it was tough, dirty work for office workers, and they did not dare go into town where the strikers were hanging out.

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 12,808 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, June 24, 2022 10:09 AM

Crossing picket lines (scabThumbs Down) may be hazardous to your health.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    July 2020
  • 949 posts
Posted by pennytrains on Friday, June 24, 2022 5:57 PM

I got that beat.  My dad was a tax attorney for internal revenue during the great depression!  Tongue Tied  I wish I could have talked to him about what it was like.  Can you imagine being the "revenuer" that had to foreclose on some unfortunate family's farm?  Crossing a picket line sounds tame to me compared to throwing somebody off their land.  Don't get me wrong, my dad was no Simon Legree.  He would have helped every way he could and I'm sure in ways he wasn't supposed to.  Wink  But man!  Those first tense moments making contact with the new "case number" must have taken guts!

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,306 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, June 25, 2022 11:07 AM

It's easy to understand how the Great Depression thoroughly spooked the generation that lived through it and to a lesser extent the generation that came after.  Cataclysm is the best description I can give for it. 

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 14,424 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, July 2, 2022 9:18 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
Opening the windows could be difficult to impossible.

I recall some of the Pullman heavyweight cars I've been in and there was usually a window lifter as standard equipment located in the linen locker. It was a wood lever with a hinged, leather-covered pendulum like affair that rested on the window sill. I believe there was a brass plate with ridges on the "business end" that engaged the finger lift of the sash. I'll see if I can dig up a photo.

I do recall some trainmen locking the annex doors just before arriving in a station. If the layover was going to be a while I recall some cars would get "honey buckets" placed under the waste chutes. I don't know what craft was in charge of the honey buckets, perhaps the least-senior car inspector?

Here are the paragraphs mentioning the windows and the "window Jack":

 Pullman by Edmund, on Flickr

In addition to stations, the annex toilets were locked while passing municipal water supply sheds and military bases (?) apparently GIs were sometimes marching along the rights-of-way, perhaps.

 Pullman_Toilet by Edmund, on Flickr

The Pullman "Deodorizer Jug" was also a fixture in each car. I just wonder what the recipe was for the deodorizer "juice"?

 

Regards, Ed

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter