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TALES OF AN ENGINEER
RHYMES OF THE RAIL
TALES OF AN ENGINEER
of tije ISail
CHARLES SCRIBNER S SONS
BY CHARLES SCRIBNER S SONS.
*** These tales are republished, by permission, from
McClure s Magazine, the Engineering Magazine, and
the Youth" 1 s Companion. The rhymes are mostly from
the New York Sun.
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.
TO THE GREAT ARMY OF
THE SILENT HEROES WHO STAND ALONE AND
BORE HOLES IN THE NIGHT AT THE
RATE OF A MILE A MINUTE,
THESE TALES ARE DEDICATED.
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE ON THE ENGINE OF
A "FLYER" 3
THE DEATH RUN 49
FLYING THROUGH FLAMES 65
A NOVEL BATTLE 73
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 89
ON AN IRON STEED 107
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 125
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 143
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 159
RELATIONS OF THE EMPLOYEE TO THE RAIL
ROAD J 79
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB .... 199
RHYMES OF THE RAIL:
The Flight of the Flyer 213
From Budapest to Belgrade 215
At the Engineer s Grave 218
The Freight Train 220
Our Heroes 22 4
The Tramp s Last Ride 226
The Nellie Ely 227
Nobody Knows 229
The Open Switch 230
The Orient Express 232
The Fellows Up Ahead 234
An Old Story 236
The Country Editor 239
Standing his Hand 241
The Old Engineer 243
When You are Gone 244
Loch Ivanhoe 245
GOD, WHO MADE THE MAN.
I hear the whistle sounding,
The moving air I feel ;
The train goes by me, bounding
O V/" throbbing threads of steeL
My mind it doth bewilder
These wondrous things to scan;
Awed, not by man, the builder,
But God, who made the man.
tjou$an&4ptle Mtoe on fyt
of a 4i
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE ON THE
ENGINE OF A "FLYER"
A THOUSAND miles in a night in one
sleep, as the Indians say was what I
wanted to do ; and I wanted to do it on a loco
motive. I searched some days in vain for an
opportunity. Then I was introduced to Mr. H.
Walter Webb, third Vice -President of the New
York Central Railroad, told him my trouble, and
promptly received permission to ride the en
gine that pulled the "Exposition Flyer." The
artist who was to accompany me as promptly
received permission to occupy the attending
When, on the afternoon of September the
26th, I went down to take my run out, one
hundred and one passengers were waiting in
the Grand Central Station with tickets for
TA.LE? OF AN ENGINEER
Chicago by the "Flyer." It was 2.45, fifteen
minutes before leaving time. At 2.55 they were
all aboard. A little ahead of my turn, I showed
the gate-keeper an order signed by the Super
intendent of Motive Power, which gave the
engineer authority to carry me on the locomo
tive, and passed to the train. I found a little
wiry engineer standing right in under the boiler
of the 898, oiling her link motion.
A one-hundred-pound engineer and a one-
hundred-ton locomotive ! A little bird chas
ing an eagle across the sky ! Each seemed to
exaggerate the other. How different was this
mammoth machine from the mountain climbers
I had been used to built so near the ground
that to get under them the engineer must lie
flat down and crawl.
As the great clock in the despatcher s office
pointed to 2.55 the driver began to glance at
his watch. Then he climbed up into the cab,
exchanged oil cans, climbed down, and walked
around the locomotive, dropping a little oil here
and there giving her a last finishing touch.
Then he put his foot first against the main,
then the parallel rods, to see if they moved
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE
easily on the pins. Already I had introduced
myself to the engineer, and was now on the
engine making friends with the fireman. At
2.59 we were all in the cab. The pointer stood
at one hundred and eighty pounds ; the fireman
leaned out of the window just behind me, look
ing toward the rear of the train. Glancing over
at the engineer, I noticed that he was looking
ahead, and that his left hand was on the throttle.
Just as I looked back, the conductor threw up
his right hand, the fireman shouted "All right,"
the throttle flew open, and the first great ex
haust seemed to lift the roof from the shed.
The drivers are so large six feet six that
with each exhaust the train moves forward
nearly five feet, and with each revolution we are
nineteen and one-half feet nearer our journey s
Whatever of anxiety I might have felt an
hour ago is gone ; and as the proud machine
sweeps over switches, through tunnels, under
bridges, and through suburban New York, and
finally around to the shores of the Hudson, all
thought of danger has vanished, and I know
that I shall enjoy the ride. Nearly a thousand
TALES OF AN ENGINEER
miles of rails reach out before us, but to me the
way seems short. I hear the click of the latch
as the engineer cuts the reverse-lever back,
shortening the valve stroke and increasing the
speed. As often as he does this he opens the
throttle a little wider, until the pressure in the
steam-chest is almost equal to the pressure in
the boiler. Every time he touches the throttle
the swift steed shoots forward as a smart road
ster responds to the touch of the whip. When
the lever is forward and the stroke is long, the
steam flows in at one end of the cylinder, and
pushes the piston head to the other end. When
this exhausts, another flow of steam enters the
other end of the cylinder to push the piston
back. The result of this is a continuous flow
of steam through the valves, and a useless waste
of water and fuel. When the stroke is short,
the valve moves quickly. With an open throttle
the steam darts from the steam-chest, where the
pressure is high, to the cylinder ; another quick
movement of the valve closes the port, and the
expanding steam does the rest.
The long, heavy stroke is necessary only in
starting trains and on heavy grades.
Absence, we are told, makes the heart grow
fonder. The pain of parting is all forgotten in
the joy of meeting; and now as we begin to
swing round the smooth curves, all the old-time
love for the locomotive comes back to me.
The world will never know how dear to the en
gineer is the engine. Julian Ralph says, "A
woman, a deer, and a locomotive." The en
gineer would say, "A woman, a locomotive,
and a deer."
Again I hear the click of the latch, and a
glance at the ground tells me that we are mak
ing forty miles an hour. The scene is impress
ive. The many threads of steel stretching
away in the twilight ; the river on one side,
on the other a rock wall, and above the wall
the vines and trees ; the gentle hills beyond the
Hudson where the leaves are turning with the
touch of time the end of summer at the death
of day !
Now the people along the line begin to look
for us : every one seems to expect us, except
two Italian women who are walking near the
wall. They hear the whistle, look back, and
see the great engine bearing down upon them
8 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
at a fearful rate. I glance at the engineer,
whose grim face wears a frown, and whose left
hand moves nervously to the air valve, then
back to the throttle.
Panic-stricken, the women start to run, but in
a moment we dash by them. The wind of the
train twists their clothes about them, pulls their
bonnets off, while their frightened faces are
whipped by their loosened hair. A step on one
of the sleepers strikes the basket on the arm of
one of the women, and a stream of red apples
rolls along the gutter, drawn by the draught of
the train. Now the smoke clears from the
stack, the engine begins to swing and sway as
the speed increases to forty-five or fifty miles
an hour. Here and there an east-bound train
brushes by us, and now the local which left New
York ten minutes ahead of us is forced to take
our smoke. The men in the signal towers,
which succeed one another at every mile of the
road, look for the " Flyer," and each, I fancy,
breathes easier when he has seen the swift train
sweep by beneath him.
Everything appears to exaggerate our speed,
which is now nearly a mile a minute. An ox-
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE
team toiling up a little hill serves to show how
fast we go. As we sweep by a long freight
train, west-bound, it is hard to tell whether it is
running or standing still. In fact, we cannot
tell until we come up to the locomotive and
hear one loud exhaust, and we are gone.
When the whistle sounds, the fireman looks
ahead, and if the signals are right, he shouts to
the engineer. If the road is curving to the left,
it is not always easy for the engineer to see the
signal displayed. The fireman even tries the
water. Fifteen years ago that would have cost
him his job. " You keep her hot ; I 11 keep
her cool," the engineer would have said at that
time. And yet he should be glad to have some
one help him watch the water, for nothing brings
such lasting scandal to a runner as the burning
of an engine. He may run by his orders, but
if he drops his crown sheet he is disgraced for
We are now fifty minutes out ; the throttle
is closed. A half mile ahead is the water
trough. When the engine reaches it, the fire
man drops a spout, and in thirty seconds the
big track trough is dry. When the tank is filled
IO TALES OF AN ENGINEER
the throttle is opened, the fireman returns to
his place at the furnace door, and in a few min
utes we are sailing along the line as fast as
before. The black smoke curling gracefully
above the splendid train reminds me of what
Meredith said of his sweetheart :
" Her flowing tresses blown behind,
Her shoulders in the merry wind."
We have lost a minute or a minute and a half
taking water, and now we are nearing a bad
bridge a bridge under repair, and over which
the engineer has been instructed, by a bulletin
posted in the round house at New York, to
pass at ten miles an hour. We are three min
utes late, when again we get them swinging
round the curves beyond the bridge ; for it
must be remembered that the Central s track
along the Hudson is far from straight, though
the road bed is so nearly perfect that passengers
in the coaches do not feel the curves. Every
one seems to know that we are three minutes
late. The old man with the long-handled
wrench, tightening up the bolts in the rails, re
proaches the engineer with a sort of " What s-
de-matter-wid-yez?" expression, as we pass by.
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE II
The man in the next tower is uneasy till we are
We are a hundred miles from New York now,
and although I carry a time-card, I am unable
to read the names on the stations. Holding
my watch in my left hand, I tap the case with
my right ; the engineer shakes his head slowly,
and holds up three fingers : we are three min
utes late. I cross over, take a seat behind
the driver, and, speaking loud at the back of
his neck, express the hope that we shall reach
Albany on time.
He says nothing. I cross back to the other
side, and as often as he whistles I ring the bell.
A minute later he turns to the fireman and
shouts : " Look out for her, Jack," at the
same time pulling the throttle wide open. Jack
knew his business and proceeded to look out
for her. Taking the clinker hook, he levelled
off the fire, shook the grates, and closed the
furnace door. The black smoke rolled thick
and fast from her stack, then cleared away,
showing that she was cutting her fire beauti
fully. Swinging the door open, the skilled fire
man threw in three or four shovels of coal,
12 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
closed it, and leaned out of the window, watch
ing the stack. The trained fireman can tell by
the color of the smoke how the fire burns.
The few pounds of steam lost in fixing the
fire, and by reason of the throttle being thrown
wide open, are soon regained. The pointer
goes round to 190, and the white steam begins
to flutter from the relief valve at the top of the
dome. She must be cooled a little now, or she
will pop, and waste her energy. An extra flow
of cold water quenches her burning thirst, and
she quiets down. How like a woman when her
heart is hurt ! She must be soothed and petted,
or she will burst into tears and sob herself
Now we turn into a long tangent, and are
clipping off a mile a minute. Our iron steed
trembles, shakes, and vibrates a little, but aside
from the fact that there is some dust, the cab is
not an uncomfortable place. The exhausts, that
began in the Grand Central station like the
explosion of a shotgun, come so fast, so close
together, that they sound like the drumming of
a pheasant s wings.
The sun sinks behind the big blue mountains,
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 13
the shadows creep across the valley, and up to
our window comes the faint perfume of the
fields the last scent of summer in the soft
September winds. Here and there we can see
the lamps lighted^ in the happy homes by the
Hudson, while the many colored signal-lamps
light up our way.
Not long ago I stood for the first time on the
deck of a steamer bounding over the billowy
bar at the mouth of the Columbia River, and
was filled with a reckless joy. Looking down
at the little woman who hung to the railing near
me, I beheld a face radiant with rapture.
"How is it?" I asked. "It s worth drown
ing for," was her answer ; and so I reckon now.
Taking into consideration all the risk, and the
fact that I must remain on this narrow seat for
twenty hours, yet I am forced to confess that
so grand a trip is but poorly paid for.
If I am at all uneasy it is only when turning
the slightly reversed curves where the way
changes from a two to a four track road, or
back. Plain curves are all well enough. But
it does not seem quite right to shoot her into
those kinks at a mile a minute. Yet after I
14 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
have seen her take two or three of these, I
rather enjoy it. She sways to the right, to the
left ; then, with a smart shake of her head when
she finds the tangent, she speeds away like the
Every man in the employ of a great rail-
.-load company plays an important part. These
smooth curves, perfectly pitched, are the work
of an expert trackman. The outer rail must be
elevated according to the curve, and with full
knowledge of the speed of the trains that are to
use the track. I have seen a train on a heavy
grade, drawn by two strong locomotives, when
nearly stalled on a sharp curve, lift a sleeper
from the middle of the train and turn it over.
It was because the curve was too sharp, and
the elevation too great, for so slow a train.
The engineer looks across the cab and smiles,
and I know that he has taken my hint about
reaching Albany on time good-naturedly; we
understand each other. In his smile he asks :
" How do you like it? " and I answer by raising
my right hand with all save the first finger partly
closed, and with a slight turn of the wrist give
him that signal so well known to train and
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE
engine men, which means "All right; let
We were due at Albany at 5.45, and at 5.40
the fireman stepped over and shouted in my
ear : " That big building at the end of the
stretch there is the capitol of the State ; " and
the " Exposition Flyer " rolled into Albany on
An extra sleeper, well rilled with the good
people of the capital, was switched to our train.
Saying good-by to the old crew, I swung into
the cab of the 907. The engineer shook hands
warmly, said he expected me, introduced me
to his fireman, showed me a comfortable seat
directly behind him, and opened the throttle.
This locomotive was nearly new, black and
I noticed that we pulled out a few minutes
late. There is a heavy grade out of Albany,
and though we had a helper pushing us over
the hill, it seemed as if we should never get
them going; and when we did, we were six
minutes behind our card time. The fireman,
with whom I sympathized, worked hard, but he
was handicapped. The hard pounding up the
I 6 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
hill had torn holes in his fire. His furnace door
worked badly it would not stay open ; and
to make a misstroke with a single shovel of coal
on such a train is not without its bad effect.
The gauge lamp bothered him. Twice he had
to climb to the top of the big boiler and re
light it. The additional car, too, told on the
locomotive, and it seemed impossible, though
the crew worked faithfully, to get a mile a min
ute out of her. When the engineer shut off to
slow for a station, running without steam, she
swept over the steel track as smoothly as a
woman rides on roller skates, making little
more noise than a coach. She was the smooth
est rider and the poorest " steamer " of the lot ;
but it does not follow that with all things work
ing well she would not steam, nor was her crew
at fault. But so important are the moments on
a train like this, that the least mishap is as fatal
as for a trotting-horse to slip in the start.
A number of little things, including a bad
stop at a water-spout, put us into Syracuse six
minutes late ; and the gentle and gentlemanly
engineer, for whom I was really sorry, showed
plainly his embarrassment.
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE I 7
A jolly-looking young man was the engineer
of the 896. This crew was a little remote, I
thought, at first. But when they had seen my
credentials they thawed out ; and although we
left eleven minutes late, the ride to Buffalo was
a delightful one. Just as we were pulling out,
one of the black boys from the " diner " came
to the engine with a splendid luncheon, sent
over by Conductor Rockwell. We were soon
going. Holding the plate on my lap, I began
to devour the eatables ; but as the train began
to roll about, I was obliged to throw the lunch
eon out of the window, almost losing the plate
as I did so. But I held to a half-gallon pail
which was nearly full of steaming coffee. I
asked my friends to join me, but they shook
their heads. The engine rolled more and
more, as did the coffee ; and the boys laughed
as I stood tiptoe, taking one long drink after
another. I passed the pail to the fireman, who
was about to dash it away ; but, catching scent
of the coffee, paused, and passed the pail up to
the engineer, who took a good drink. The
fireman then took a good drink too, and would
have emptied the pail ; but I touched him on
I 8 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
the shoulder, and he passed it to me. I took
another drink, all hands smiled, and we settled
down to business.
I had been riding on the fireman s side for
half an hour when the jolly driver motioned me
over, and I took a seat behind him. This,,
locomotive was not very new, but she was a
splendid " steamer." The fireman appeared
to play with her all the while. The track was
straighter here, but not so good. This made
nojifference with the bold young man at the
" How old are you? " said I.
" Twenty- five."
" How long have you been running? "
"Twenty-two years," he said.
I don t know whether he smiled or not, for I
saw only the back of his head. These men on
the " Flyer " seldom take their eyes from the
rail. I expressed anew a wish that we might
be able to make up the lost time.
" I think we shall," he said, and he pulled
the throttle lever back toward the tank.
It was nearly midnight now, and the frost on
the rail caused the swift steed to slip. When
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 19
we had reached the speed of a mile a minute,
and gone from that to sixty-five miles an hour,
I thought she would surely be satisfied; but
every few minutes her feet flew from under her,
and the wheels revolved at a rate that would
carry her through the air a hundred miles an
hour. The engineer stood up now, with one
hand on the throttle, the other on the sand
lever; for it is not quite safe to allow these
powerful engines to slip and revolve at such a
" We Ve got twenty-eight miles up-hill now,"
said the engineer, as he unlatched the lever
and gave her another notch. The only effect
was a louder exhaust, and a greater strain on
the machinery. It seemed the harder he hit
her, the better she steamed ; and we went up
the hill at almost a fifty-mile gait.
"Now it is down hill to Buffalo," said the
driver; and, as the speed increased to sixty-
five, seventy, and then seventy-five miles an
hour, the sensation was delightful.
" We Ve got thirty-six miles now, and thirty
minutes to make it in," said the man at the
20 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
"And you Ve got your nerve also," said I in
a whisper. Orchards, fields, and farms sweep
by, and the very earth seems to tremble beneath
our feet. The engine fairly lifts herself from
the rail, and seems to fly through space.
We stopped at Buffalo at 11.39, just one
minute ahead of time, and this remarkable run
was made over the poorest piece of track on
the main line of the New York Central and
Hudson River Railroad. Eight hours and forty
minutes, and we are four hundred and forty-
four miles from New York.
The men who manned the 898 and the 907
are sound asleep, and this last crew will be so
within an hour. The flagman and brakeman
meet for the first time since they left New York,
come forward to ask how I like it, then drift
into the station, "jolly up" the girl at the
lunch counter, pay for their luncheon, " stand "
her "off" for a couple of cigars, and go out
into the night. These are the jolly sailors of
the rail. Perhaps they have worked together
for a dozen years, in sun and sleet, skating
over the icy tops of box-cars, and standing
on the bridge at midnight. For this they
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 21
have been promoted to the smoothest run on
The conductor swings his hand-grip, and whis
tles as he strolls into the station and registers.
"Train 41, on time." The wary watchman in
the despatcher s office, who can close his eyes
and see every train on his division at any
moment, lights his pipe, and puts his feet upon
the table, glad to know that the most important
train on the line has reached its destination.
Mr. H. Walter Webb, at the club, the play
house, or at home, glances at his watch, and
as he has received no notice of delay, knows
that his pet train the " Exposition Flyer "
has been delivered safely to the Lake Shore.
While this was being accomplished, the one
hundred and one passengers laughed, chatted,
ate dinner, and went to bed.
It might be of interest to pause a little in
our journey here, and give some account of
how a great railroad is operated each man
going about his business, and doing what he
has to do with so little noise.
The Superintendent of Motive Power and
22 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Machinery has full charge of the rolling-stock
the road s equipment. The officers imme
diately under him are the Division Master
Mechanics, who are assisted by a travelling
engineer, who goes about seeing that the men
as well as the locomotives do their work. He
is usually promoted from an engineer, and is
a valuable officer, seeing that engineers do not
abuse their engines or waste the supplies.
Often, upon the recommendation of the trav
elling engineer, firemen are promoted.
Every man reports to his immediate superior
the fireman to the engineer, the engineer to
the Division Master Mechanic, he to the Super
intendent of Motive Power. These officers
and men are in the Motive Power Department ;
they are in the Operating Department also.
At the head of the Operating Department is
the Division Superintendent. This officer ap
points the train-masters, yard-masters and sta
tion agents. It is usually with his indorsement
that brakemen are promoted to be freight con
ductors, and freight conductors to passenger runs.
The engineer, especially when on the road, is
responsible to the Division Superintendent.
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 2$
Next in importance is the Traffic Depart
ment. If the road has a General Traffic Man
ager, the work will be in the hands of a Gen
eral Freight and a General Passenger Agent.
Neither the section boss, the local agent, nor
the conductor can issue transportation com-
There are also the Engineering, the Auditing,
Track, and Medical Departments. There is
a Superintendent of Bridges and Buildings.
There is the General Store Keeper, in charge
of all building material and supplies. Every
pound of waste, every gallon of oil, every nut
or bolt, is charged to the locomotive for which
it is requested ; and at the end of the month
the Master Mechanic knows what each engine
has cost the company how many miles she
has made to the ton of coal, the pint of oil,
and the pound of waste. So, you see, there
are other records an engineer must make
besides a record for fast running.
The conductor is the captain of the train,
and as long as he is consistent his talk "goes."
In addition to his duties as collector of revenue,
he must, especially on a single-track road, read
24 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
and check up the register, to see that all trains
due, and having rights over his train, are in.
If we except the despatcher, the conductor is
the best judge of orders in the service. By the
use of two carbon sheets, the operator receiving
an order for a train will make three copies : one
to file in the telegraph office, one for the
conductor, and one for the engineer. The
conductor will examine the order, and, if it is
correct and proper, sign his name and the
name of the engineer. He should go to the
head end and read the order to the engine-men.
If the brakemen hear it, so much the better.
It would be a good plan if all these men were
furnished with a copy of the order. The con
ductor now returns to the train. The engineer
does the running ; but if he should run contrary
to orders, the conductor may pull the automatic
air valve and stop the train.
The writer of a recent article says : " It may
be possible to make such mechanical improve
ments as will permit a rate of one hundred
miles an hour ; but where are the men who will
run these trains of the future when they are
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE
This reminds me of a conversation which
took place in my hearing thirteen years ago, in
the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. The men
talking were a train crew, waiting on a side
track for the Leadville express, which had just
begun to operate between the carbonate camp
and Colorado s capital.
11 They are going to build a line over Marshall
Pass to Salt Lake," said the conductor; "but
I 11 husk punkins fore I 11 run a train there."
" You think you would," said the long, lank
brakeman, taking the stem of a black clay pipe
from between his teeth. "I want t tell you
that if they build a road to Pike s Peak, they 11
be men just fool nough to go there and rail
In less than three years these very men were
running over the mountain, and in less than ten
years we saw a railroad to Pike s Peak. It
makes no difference to these fearless fellows
where the road runs up a tree or down a well
so long as there are two rails. Bring on your
thunder birds ; never yet in the history of rail
roading has an engineer asked for more time.
When the running time between New York and
26 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Chicago is fifteen hours, the engine-men will
work harder for promotion than they do now.
We have now not only the men to run these
trains, but we have the motive power. With a
track as nearly perfect as engine 999, for ex
ample, herself is, she will make her one hundred
miles an hour. This locomotive is the plain
single-cylinder, eight-wheel type of engine,
which has been a favorite with engine-men for
the past fifteen years. Manifestly, Mr. Buchanan
has very little faith in the newer compound loco
motives which have been claiming the attention
of managers of late. The Rio Grande Western,
one of the swiftest little lines in the West, has
been making a thorough test of the compound
engine. It finds that with an ordinary train
they show no saving of fuel, but with a heavy
train they perform beautifully.
When the next new ocean-steamer is placed
upon the Atlantic, she will probably shorten the
time from Queenstown to New York to five days.
That would be six days to Chicago, and seven
days from Queenstown to the summit of Pike s
Peak. There is no excuse for squandering five
days in a journey from New York to San Fran-
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 2>J
cisco. This would make a comfortable time-
New York to Chicago ... 19 hours
Chicago to Denver .... 23 hours
Denver to Ogden 19 hours
Ogden to San Francisco . . 23 hours
Total, eighty- four hours, or three days and a
half, from New York to the Pacific Coast. The
same time can be made going east ; for actual
running time is reckoned, no allowance being
made for difference in time. A sleeping-car
attached to the Union Pacific fast mail leaves
Omaha every evening at 6.30, and arrives in
Denver at 7.30 the next morning, five hun
dred and sixty-five miles. This run is made
across the plains, where the traffic does not
justify the expenditure of a very considerable
amount of money on track. There is never a
night that this train does not reach the speed
of a mile a minute. Every day this fast mail-
train makes the run from Chicago to Denver in
a little over twenty- four hours.
Either the Rio Grande or the Santa Fe", in
connection with the Rio Grande Western, can
take you from the Queen City of the Plains to
28 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Ogden in nineteen hours. The Southern Pacific
has a very good track and splendid equipment,
and they should be ashamed to take thirty-six
hours of a short life to run a little over nine
hundred miles. They can make the run in
twenty- three hours, and do it easily. What we
want is better track. The locomotive of to-day
will do for some time.
^Ve want, also, a high regard for the lives of
passengers on the part of railroad officials and
employees. Much as I would like to, I am un
able to offer a reasonable excuse for some of
the collisions which have cost so many lives.
It was not to be expected that the railroads
could handle the multitudes to and from the
World s Fair without injuring a number of
people, and without some loss of life. But
if every section of a train had been kept ten
minutes behind the section it followed, there
could have been no rear-end collisions such
as we have heard of recently. Every train
should have proceeded upon the theory that
it was followed closely by a special, and the
flagman should have been instructed to flag
without ceasing. Better be in Chicago ten
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 29
minutes late than in eternity ten years ahead
A locomotive should never cross the turn
table without a box of sand, and the driver
should see that the pipes are open. Enough
sand to fill the sailor hat of a summer girl will
often save a whole train.
Of course there will always be wrecks as long
as mortal men- tend the switches and hold the
throttles, for it is human to err ; but the mind
should be on the work at all times. No man
should be compelled, or even allowed, to remain
on duty more than twelve hours, or eighteen at
the most. After twenty-four hours the eyes
become tired ; after thirty- six hours the brain is
I have been on a locomotive forty hours, and
all desire to sleep had left me ; but I felt that I
was dreaming with my eyes wide open. The
fireman had to speak twice to get my attention,
I was not asleep, but my mind was away, and
when called to note a signal it returned reluc
tantly. The brain seems to feel the injustice
of such abuse, and simply quits walks out.
Of course, it can be compelled to work, but it
30 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
will not work cheerfully or well. Just as any
other striker may be forced to submit to a de
crease in wages or an increase of hours, so it
may work, but will " soldier " enough to put its
employer on the losing side.
After such a strain I have gone to bed at
eight in the evening, and have rolled and tossed
and beat about until midnight, unable to sleep.
Once I dozed for a few minutes, and then sat
up in bed, pulled my watch from under my pil
low, held it to the open window where the full
moon fell upon its face, and said, so loud that I
was wakened by my own voice : " Nine fifty-
five ; No. lois due here at 10.1." Half asleep,
I had dreamed that I was on the side track at
Chester, waiting for the east-bound express.
How forcibly the time-card rules are photo
graphed upon the brain ! Even in my sleep I
was " in to clear " six minutes before the oppos
ing train was due.
It so happened that the night-train from
Leadville was due in Salida at about that time.
I could hear it roaring down through Brown s
Canon, and then I heard the long, wild wail
of the whistle echoing along the sides of the
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 3!
Sangre de Cristo range. I saw the head brake -
man open the switch, dropped out on the main
line, saw the signal from the rear-end when the
switch was closed, and drifted away down the
valley of the Gunnison to the vale of sleep.
A yard engine screamed for brakes that
short, sharp shriek that tells of danger and
hints of death. I looked out of the window,
and saw the great white quivering head-light
bearing down upon me. Twice in reality I
have stood in the shadow of death, and I know
that at such times the mind sweeps over a
quarter of a century in a second or two. We
were on the side track ; our train was stand
ing. Some one had left the switch open, and
the express was heading in upon us. There
was nothing to do but to leap for life. As
I threw my feet out of the window to jump,
the cold air awakened me, and I saw before
me, not a head-light, but the big bright moon
that was just about disappearing behind the
And this is the way I slept until 6.30, when
the caller came. I signed the book, and at
7.30 was on the road again.
32 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Where there are no regular runs, and the
men run " first in, first out," it is almost im
possible to always have just work enough to
go round. T t he men are as much to blame as
the management for the overwork of engineers.
They are paid on these mountain roads four
dollars per day. Days are not measured _by
hours, but by miles. Forty- four mountain, or
eighty-five valley miles is a day on freight. On
passenger service one hundred and five valley
miles is a day s work. The point between
valley and mountain mileage is passed when
the grade exceeds two hundred feet to the
mile. Men have made sixty days in a month
on these mountains, and they have earned the
two hundred and forty dollars ; but they should
not have been allowed to do it.
One young man, Hyatt by name, used to
threaten to put himself into a receiver s hands
when he made less than forty days a month.
Fifty days was fair business, but sixty suited
him better. He kept it up for three years,
collapsed, and had to be hurried out of the
country. I don t know that he ever wholly
recovered. He was a fine fellow physically,
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 33
sober and strong, or he would have collapsed
sooner. I am afraid the older engineers are a
V little selfish. When the management proposes
to employ more men, or promote some fire
man, there is usually a protest from the older
In the general instructions printed in the
New York Central time-card, we find the fol
lowing : " The use of intoxicating drink on the
road, or about the premises of the corporation,
is strictly forbidden. No one will be employed,
or continued in employment, who is known to
be in the habit of drinking intoxicating liquor."
They might have added " on or off duty,"
just to make it plain and strong. A man who
was drunk last night is not fit to run a train or
engine to-day. Men who never drink should
be encouraged, and promoted ahead of those
who do. I have always opposed the idea of
promoting men strictly in accordance with the
length of time they have served in any capacity.
If all firemen knew that they would be pro
moted when they had fired a certain number
of years, there would be nothing to strive for.
They would be about as ambitious as a herd of
34 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
steers who are to be kept until they are three
years old, and then shipped.
The best engine-man has been a fireman;
the best conductors are made of brakemen ;
the best officials are promoted from the ranks.
Mr. John M. Toucey, General Manager of the
New York Central, was once a trainman. Pres
ident Newell, of the Lake Shore, used to carry
a chain in an engineering corps on the Illinois
Central. President Clark, of the Mobile and
Ohio, was a section man ; afterwards a fireman.
Another man who drove grade stakes is Presi
dent Blockstand, of the Alton. Allen Manvill,
the late president of " the longest road on
earth," was a storehouse clerk. President Van
Home (Sir William now), of the Canadian
Pacific, kept time on the Illinois Central. A
man named Towne, who used to twist brake-
wheels on the Burlington, is now Vice- President
Towne, of the Southern Pacific. President
Smith, of the Louisville and Nashville, was a
telegraph operator. Marvin Hughitt, of the
Chicago and Northwestern, began as a telegraph
messenger-boy. President Clark, of the Union
Pacific, used to check freight and push a truck
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 35
on the "Omaha platform." The Illinois Cen
tral, I believe, has turned out more great men
than any other road. President Jeffrey, of the
Denver and Rio Grande, began in the Central
shops, at forty-five cents a day. General Super
intendent Sample, of the same Company, began
at Baldwins at $1.50 a week.
But this has been a long detour, and my
wait at Buffalo was really a very short one.
The 896 gave place to the 293, and in a few
minutes we were under way again.
The locomotives used by the New York Cen
tral were designed by Mr. Buchanan, Superin
tendent of Motive Power. They consume a
tank of coal over each division, and drink up
thirty-six hundred gallons of water an hour, or
nearly a gallon a second. A number ten moni
tor injector forces the water from the tank into
the boiler. When I stepped from the Central s
magnificent hundred-ton locomotive to the
Lake Shore s little McQueen, with her five-foot-
ten wheel, the latter looked like a toy.
I had not heard so much of the Lake Shore
and Michigan Southern, over whose line we
36 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
were now to travel, and was agreeably surprised
to find such splendid track. The 293 put a
mile a minute behind her with a grace and ease
really remarkable. The lamps have all been
blown out in the farmhouses, and the world
has gone to sleep. The big white moon, that
came up from the Atlantic as we were leaving
the metropolis, is dropping down in the west.
The Lake Shore is remarkable for its short
divisions and long tangents. " That s the east-
bound Flyer, " said the fireman, as a bright
head-light showed up in front of us ; and in a
minute she dashed by. I had just begun to
get used to the bell when we stopped at Erie
A flat-topped Brooks locomotive, number 559,
with a big, roomy cab, a youthful driver, a six-
foot wheel, and an enthusiastic fireman who
knew his business (as they must on this run),
backed up to our train. " You 11 have this
class of engine all the way to Chicago," said
the engineer. "They were built for these
trains." They are but little heavier than the
McQueen, but splendid " steamers," good riders,
and run like a coyote. The fireman found
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 37
time to show me the home of the dear dead
Garfield, and made me shudder when he pointed
to the Ashtabula bridge, where so many lives
were lost some years ago. I was glad to think
that wooden bridges and poor roadways were
things of the past.
We are making a mile a minute. What
would the driver do if he saw before him a
burning bridge, or the red lights of a standing
train ? His left hand is on the throttle ; he
would close it. Almost in the same second his
right hand would grasp the sand lever, and
with his left he would apply the brakes. With
both hands, in about the third second, he would
reverse the engine. Perhaps he has heard that
old story that to reverse a locomotive is to
increase her speed that a bird will fly faster
with folded wings : he may pretend to believe
it ; but he will reverse her just the same. If
she has room she will stop. Even without the
aid of the air-brake she will stop the train, if
the rail holds out. I ought to say that, the
instant he reverses the engine, he will kick the
cylinder cocks open otherwise he may blow
off a steam-chest or a cylinder head.
38 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
engineer will risk his life to save his
train. Of this the travelling public may rest
assured. Even though he may be, or may
have been, the greatest coward living, a man
who has run a locomotive for a number of
years will do, in the face of a great danger,
just what I have described. To say that he
does this mechanically is not to accuse him
of cowardice. It is harder to enlist than to
march to the music and keep up with the crowd
when the battle is on. He does not, mechani
cally, say good-by to loved ones, and step into
the cab knowing that he must face danger, even
death. The mother seeing her child fall in
front of a cable-car, without stopping to reason
what is best to do, or taking thought of the
risk, springs to the rescue. The engineer, see
ing an open switch, reasons no more, but does
that which human instinct tells him to do. It
was my business, for a number of years, to read
and write about railroad people ; and if_an,
engineer ever left the cab without first making
an effort to save his train, I have failed to hear
Having met and passed the east-bound
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 39
"Flyer," we have absolute right of track to
Chicago. All north or east bound trains have
rights of track over trains of the same or in
ferior class going in the opposite direction. The
terms passenger or freight are descriptive, and
do not refer to class. All trains are designated
as regular or extra. The regular trains are
those on the time-cards ; the extras are run
by special telegraphic orders, and always carry
white flags or white lights on the locomotive.
An extra train composed of passenger cars
is usually called a " special ; " of freight cars
an " extra ; " and they must always be kept off
the time of regular trains of whatever class.
" And this is Cleveland," said I, as I looked
from the roomy cab of another Brooks, " the
home of the Grand Old Chief? " I had hoped,
by showing that I knew Mr. Arthur, to put
myself in touch with the driver ; but a prophet
is never appreciated at home, and the only
reply was a good-natured grunt and a sarcastic
It is hard pounding out of Cleveland, and
I wonder that a yard-engine does not give
us a little start. It is almost morning now.
40 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Just the time for a wreck. More collisions,
I believe, occur between the hours of two and
six A. M. than in the other twenty hours of the
day. Now for the first time I feel just a little
tired. Just once I closed my eyes, and it
seemed to rest them so that I kept them closed
for a moment, until I felt myself swaying on
the seat. Then I opened them wide, for we
were making more than a mile a minute, and
to sleep was to run the risk of falling out of
the open window at my left. That was the only
time on the whole trip that I felt the least incli
nation to sleep.
At Toledo we changed engines and train
crews, and in the gray dawn of morning pulled
out for Elkhart, Indiana. The 94 had seen
considerable service ; she was not very beauti
ful, and, having a flat spot on one of her wheels,
was a little lame. The hostler " slid " her, the
fireman said ; but when the serious-looking
engineer got her headed down the sixty-eight
mile tangent, the flat spot and the little limp
gave us no more trouble. The speed was so
great that she touched only the high places,
and the ride down the long stretch of straight
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 41
track was a delightful one. The sun, that I
had seen drop down behind the Catskills, as
it seemed, but a few hours ago, swung up
from the Atlantic, and shone on the Hoosier
hills, " where the frost was on the punkin, and
the fodder in the shock." The trainmaster,
from Toledo, came over to ride with me, and
showed me where the daring train robbers held
the train up in an open prairie, on a straight
track. We held our watches on the 94, and
found that she made ten miles in eight minutes,
and eleven miles in eight and one half minutes.
Old and lame as she is, she manages to limp
over eight thousand miles a month, at an
average rate of a mile a minute..
The 94 reminded me of a jack rabbit. When
he gets up he is so stiff and lame that a well-
trained greyhound is ashamed to chase him.
He will wabble about, stumble and fall, put
down three and carry one, until the dog is
ready to eat him. Then he lays his ears down
along his spine, and skims over the sage-brush
with the speed of the wind.
At Elkhart the 160 backed on to our train.
The conductor came running forward with a
42 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
manifold order, and, handing a copy to the
engineer, they both began to read. " Put up
green signals," said the driver; and the fire
man planted a small green flag on either side
of the front end of the locomotive, and we were
off for Chicago. These flags did not affect
us or our train ; they only showed that some
thing was following us with the same rights
that we enjoyed. As often as we passed a train
or switch-engine, the engineer sounded two
long and two short blasts of the whistle, and
the other engineers answered with two short,
sharp whistles, saying that they understood the
The 1 60 was an easy rider, and as she slipped
down the smooth steel track, the run over the
last division was no whit less glorious than was
our midnight ride on the Central.
The cheerful driver appeared to regard his
day s work as a pleasant morning ride down
to Chicago, one hundred and one miles, in two
hours. When we were acquainted, and he had
seen my old worn license as a locomotive
engineer, he called me over to his side. Find
ing myself, for the first time in my life, at the
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 43
throttle of a locomotive making a mile a minute,
I was almost dizzy with delight. Fields and
farms flew by, and the mile-posts began to get
together like telegraph poles. A prairie hawk
flying down the track became bewildered, and
barely saved his life by a quick swerve as the
front end of the locomotive was about to strike
him ; his wing brushed the signal lamp on my
side. Little brown birds, flying in front of us,
dashed against the cab windows, fluttered from
the running board, and dropped to the ground
While she was making her mile in fifty to
fifty-five seconds, the train inspector came over
the tank, bearing a tray which held a steaming
breakfast for the " dead-head," in the cab.
" Put it on the boiler head," shouted the engi
neer ; and then I learned what the flat top was
intended for. Placing the tray on top of the
boiler, I stood up in the corner of the cab and
ate my breakast, and enjoyed it at the rate of a
mile a minute and a dollar a meal.
Looking back along the side of this remark
able train, I was surprised to note that the
heavy Wagner cars, owing to hydraulic buffer
44 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
equipment, swayed not to exceed two inches
out of a straight line when we were making
seventy-five miles an hour. I have never trav
elled in the cars of this swift train ; but, judging
from the way the locomotives ride, the coaches
must be as easy as a sleigh. We placed the
coffee cup outside the tray on the jacket, which
is almost as smooth as glass, and it rode there
for a half hour, when the inspector took it off.
Nobody ever heard of a person drowning on
air, and yet I believe it is possible. When we
were running at the rate of seventy-five or
eighty miles an hour, I closed my mouth and
leaned out of the window. The force of the
air was so great that it actually strangled me ;
I tried it again and again, with the same result.
The air drove into my nostrils with such force
that I invariably opened my mouth to breathe ;
and then the air drove down my throat, and
compelled me to draw back into the cab. Now,
when we breathe water into the nostrils, we
always throw open the mouth, only to take in
more water and strangle the worse. If, when
you had put your head out of a locomotive cab
moving at seventy-five or eighty miles an hour,
A THOUSAND-MILE RIDE 45
a strong hand seized it and held it there, you
would, I believe, actually drown.
In California they do not say the oldest mis
sion, the largest orchard, the biggest tree " in
the State" or "in the Union," but "in the
world." I shall say this is the swiftest and
safest long distance train on earth. That it is
the swiftest, the time-card proves. It is the
safest, for the reason that, from the moment
the " Exposition Flyer " leaves New York,
every man in the employ of the New York
Central and the Lake Shore railroads, including
Dr. Depew and Mr. John Newell, look out for
her until she whistles into Chicago. If the
"Flyer" loses over five minutes, the fact as
well as the cause of the delay is wired at once
to Mr. Edgar Van Etten, the General Superin
tendent. Everything is out of the way, and
switches set for her ten minutes before she is
due. Ordinarily, when a passenger train is
late, her danger is correspondingly increased.
Not so with the " Exposition Flyer ; " she has
the right to the rail until she is able to use it,
or until she becomes twelve hours late. When
she is one minute late, all who are watching
46 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
and waiting for her know it, and their anxiety
increases until she is heard from. No train on
the road runs closer to her time-card than the
" Flyer." Nearly all the ugly wrecks are rear-
end collisions ; but there is no danger from that
source to this train. Nothing short of a thunder
bolt can catch her.
But, behold, here in full view are the glisten
ing domes of the White City and the mammoth,
high-mounted Ferris wheel ! The last of nearly
a thousand miles of steel has slipped from under
our faithful steed, and at precisely ten o clock
A.M. we stop at the Chicago station on time.
It has taken twenty hours, eight engines, and
sixteen engine-men to bring us through, and it
has been a glorious trip the best of my life.
THE DEATH RUN
A LONG in the early eighties, when the Den-
"^ ver and Rio Grande was a narrow gauge
road, and the main line lay across the great
divide at Marshall Pass, there was a wreck in
the Black Canon, and of that wreck I write.
So rough and impenetrable was this canon
that the men sent out to blaze the trail were
unable to get through. Engineers, with their
instruments, were let down from the top of the
canon wall, hundreds of feet, by long ropes;
and to this day, if you look up when the train
goes round " Dead Man s Curve," you will see
a frayed-out rope whipping the gray rocks, five
hundred feet above the river and the rail.
By the breaking of this rope a human life
was lost : the first of many lives that have been
lost in this wild canon. In the rush and hurry
to complete the road, little attention was given
50 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
to sloping the cuts or making it safe for the
men who ride ahead. So, when spring came,
and the snow began to melt on the mountains
and moisten the earth, great pieces of " scenery "
would loose their hold upon the steep hill, and
sweep down the side of the canon, carrying
rails, road-bed, in fact everything but the right
of way, across the river, where the land-slide
was often landed high and dry on the opposite
So often was the " scenery " shifted during
the first twelve months that the night run
through the Black Canon, so wildly beautiful
by day, so grand and awful by night, came to
be called the "Death Run."
It was engineer Peasley s run out that night ;
but he had just returned from the stony little
graveyard that had been staked out on the
banks of the Gunnison, where they had buried
his baby. He was a delicate-looking man, and
when he came into the round-house that after
noon to register off, he wore his soft hat far
down over his inflamed eyes, as if he would
hide from the world any trace of that sacred
grief. Kipp, his fireman, saw him, and was
THE DEATH RUN 51
sorry, for he knew how dearly the driver had
loved the little one now lost to him. Sliding
from the pilot, where he had been scouring the
number-plate, Kipp went to the book and
registered off also.
And so it happened that, when Number
Seven left Gunnison at 9.15 Jack Welsh held
the seat, and fireman McConnell handled the
scoop. The sharp exhausts from the straight
stack sent up a solid stream of fire, as they
hurried out through the yards, that fell like hail
among the crippled cars on the " rep" track.
The brisk bark of the bounding engine
dwindled down to a faint pant, and was drowned
in the roar of the wheels, as the long train
hurried away down the valley, and was swal
lowed up in the Black Canon. The run was
regarded as a difficult one ; but the extra crew
were equal to it, and at every station up to
11.30 the operator wired the despatcher, the
despatcher the train- master, and he the super
intendent : " Number Seven on time."
Although he had no regular run, McConnell
was really an old fireman. He had but recently
returned to the road after a year s absence.
52 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
At the earnest solicitation of his good mother,
he had left the rail to return to his father s farm
near Salina, Kansas. He was a good and duti
ful son, and he loved his mother as only such
a son can love ; but he could not help the long
ing within him to return to the road. That
summer the Missouri Pacific opened a new line
right through his father s farm, and every day
he heard the snort of the iron horse, saw the
trains go to and fro, saw the engine-men throw
ing kisses to the girls on the farm, and he
wanted to return to the Rockies. More than
once every day he looked away to the west,
where he knew the trains were going up and
down ; where the snow lay in great drifts on
one side of the track, and the flowers bloomed
by the other. Who can say how the heart of
the engine-man longs for the engine?
<? i ? -^-~: "
He loves the locomotive
As the flowers love the lea,
As the song-birds love the sunlight,
As the sailor loves the sea.
When the harvest had been cut and the
golden grain garnered, the restless youth bade
his parents adieu, and set his face toward the
THE DEATH RUN 53
sunset. He had been a faithful fireman, and
found no trouble in re-establishing himself in
the service of the "Scenic" Line.
The Death Run was a long one : one hundred
and thirty-five miles over mountains and through
canons. They had crossed Cero summit, and
were now roaring along the canon, by the banks
of the beautiful river.
The night grew warmer as they drifted down
toward the valley of the Grande. The engineer
sat silently in his place, trying the water, whist
ling for stations, and watching the way. The
fireman, having little to do now, lounged in the
open window and looked out on the rippling
river where the moonlight lay. It was almost
midnight when the operator at Roubideau was
awakened by the wild wail of the west-bound
express. As the long train rattled over the
bridge beyond the little station, the operator
reached for the key and made the wire say :
" Number Seven on time."
Beyond the bridge there was a bit of a tan
gent, a few hundred yards; and when they
turned into it, the fireman got down from his
comfortable seat to fix the fire.
54 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
The driver released the brakes at the bridge,
and the train was now increasing her speed at
every turn of the wheels. Looking ahead, the
engineer saw the open mouth of Roubideau
tunnel, which, being on the shadow side of the
hill, looked like a great hole in the night.
Nearer the engine he saw a number of dark
objects scattered about. In another second he
discerned what these were, and realized an
awful danger. As he reversed the engine and
applied the air, he shouted to the fireman to
jump. He might have jumped himself, for he ^j
saw the danger first ; but no such thought came
to him. In another second the pilot was plough
ing through a herd of cattle that were sleeping
on the track. If they had all been standing,
he would have opened the throttle and sent
them flying into the river, with less risk to his
train. But they were lying down ; and as they
rolled under the wheels, they lifted the great
engine from the rails and threw her down the
dump at the very edge of the river. So well
had the faithful engineer performed his work
that the train was stopped without wrecking a
car. Many of the passengers were not awakened.
THE DEATH RUN 55
x- The trainmen came forward and found the
engineer. He was able to speak to them ; he $
knew what had happened, and knew that he
had but a few minutes to live. These brave,
\ rough men of the rail never hide anything from
each other, and when he asked for his fireman,
they told him the fireman was dead.
As he lay there in the moonlight, with his
head resting in the conductor s lap, while the
brakeman brought a cup from the mail-car and
gave him a drink of water, he told them where
he wanted to be buried, back East some
where ; spoke of his insurance policy ; left a
loving message for his wife ; and then, as if he
had nothing more to say or do, closed his eyes,
folded his hands over his brave heart, and with
out a murmur apparently without pain
It was many hours before they found the fire
man. When the crash came, he was standing
in front of the furnace door. The tank doubled
forward and forced him up against the boiler-
head, where, if he had not been killed instantly,
he must have been slowly roasted. He lay in
the wreck so long that, when they got him out,
56 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
there was a deep and ugly groove across his
face, where he had lain against the narrow edge
of the throttle lever. Save this deep furrow,
there were no marks upon his face. But that
one mark remained, even after the body was
The writer was, at that time, employed by
the same company, and was sent out to the
wreck to take charge of the body of the fire
man, bring it to Denver, and then take it back
to the farm at Salina. The travelling engineer
went out with a special engine and the superin
tendent s private car, and I went with him.
It is not a pleasant task to deliver the dead
to bereaved relatives; but it is the least that
can be done, and some one must do it. The
engine left the track precisely at midnight,
Friday night, and it was not until the after
noon of the following Tuesday that I reached
There had been six children in this happy
family, three boys and three girls. The eldest
son was a locomotive engineer, but he had left
the road for good, and was now with the family
at the Kansas farm.
THE DEATH RUN 57
"How does he look?" asked the engineer,
when we had taken seats in the farm carriage.
"Can mother see him?"
" He looks very well," said I ; and then^
remembering that ugly furrow in his face, " but
would it not be better for all of you to remem
ber him just as he left home? "
" I shall leave that all to you," he said, while
the hot tears fairly rained down upon the lap-
robe that covered our knees.
When we reached the McConnell place, and
I went into the house where the family were all
assembled in the large, plain parlor, there was
no need of an introduction. They all knew
me, and knew why I had come, and when they
crowded about me, all weeping so bitterly, I
felt that I could not hold out much longer my
self. I did better than I had expected, however,
until I attempted to talk, when the tears came
up in my throat and choked me. So, with a
little brother on one knee, a little sister on the
other, while the two young ladies were sobbing
by the window, and the brave young engineer
was trying between his tears to calm his mother,
I gave way, and wept with the rest.
58 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
When we had all gained the little relief that
always comes with a shower of tears, the mother
began to talk to me and ask questions. To
begin with, she asked me if I could tell her
exactly when her boy was killed.
"Last Friday night," I said.
"What time?" she asked, glancing at her
two daughters, who had turned from the window,
and were trying to dry their eyes.
"Almost exactly at midnight," was my reply.
"Ah!" she said, bursting into tears again,
" I knew it ! I knew it ! "
" He was killed instantly," said I ; "he never
knew what happened."
I said this with the hope of their deriving a
shade of comfort from the fact that the dear,
brave boy was not roasted alive, as so many
" Not quite instantly," said the weeping
mother. " He called me twice : Mother !
Mother ! and I saw him standing before me
with a great deep furrow across his face."
Then she placed the edge of her hand against
her face to show me where the scar was ; and
when I saw her mark the very angle of the ugly
THE DEATH RUN 59
groove, I felt a strange tingling sensation at the
roots of my hair.
" Has any one written you the particulars of
the wreck? " I said.
"No," she answered, "we have had but two
telegrams : one from the superintendent, telling
of his death, and the one from you when you
What she said so affected me that I excused
myself and walked out to the barn, where I
could think. I was not long in arriving at the
conclusion that when the 177 left the track, in
that infinitesimal fragment of time, the boy saw
that he was in the shadow of death, and his first
and only thought was of his mother. His whole
soul went out to her so swiftly and so surely
that she not only heard him call her, but saw
him, just as he was.
At the barn I found the dead boy s father,
who had insisted upon his son s going in with
me, upon our arrival at the house, while he
" put up " the team. I thought his the saddest
face I had ever seen, as he moved about in his
tearless and silent sorrow.
" Plow did it happen ? " asked the farmer,
60 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
when he had finished his chores, and we were
walking back toward the house together.
" Hit a bunch of cattle," said I.
"In the night?"
"Yes," was my answer, "just about mid
" Last Friday."
"Stop," said the farmer, touching my arm.
" I want to tell you something that happened
here last Friday night and I remember that
it was just about midnight."
Then he told me how his wife had screamed
and wakened him, and how she had wept bit
terly, and insisted that Johnny had been killed.
He had been struck by somebody or something,
she insisted, and she could see a great deep,
ugly scar on his face.
I don t know why I did not ; but I remem
ber distinctly that I did not tell them not
even the engineer, who was accustomed to see
ing such things that the scar was there, on
Jack s face, just as his mother had seen it that
Friday night. We did not open the coffin at
the church, nor at the grave.
THE DEATH RUN 6 1
I remained with the family at the farmhouse
that night, and with them, on the following day,
went to the little church in town, where the
good priest talked a great deal longer than was
necessary, I thought, for he had it not in his
power to do John McConnelt any good by
talking. In a pleasant place, on a gentle slope
that tipped to the west, his grave was made ;
and while we were weeping there, another
grave, in another place, was being filled, hiding
from the eyes of the world the body of the
FLYING THROUGH FLAMES
"POOREST fires had been raging in the moun
tains for more than a month. The pas
sengers were peering from the car-windows,
watching the red lights leap from tree to tree,
leaving the erstwhile green-garbed hills a bleak
and blackened waste.
The travelling passenger agent had held the
maiden from Normal out on the rear platform
all the way up the mountain, soothing her fears,
and showing her the sights and scenes along
the line. "Over there," he said, "is the
sunny San Luis Valley, and those high hills
that snowy range when seen in the golden
glow of sunset was called by the Spaniards
Sangre de Cristo, the blood of Christ. Far
ther to the south and a little west is the great
silver camp of Creede, where it is always after
" Looking far down the vale you can see the
66 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
moon-kissed crest of the Spanish range, below
whose lofty peaks the archaic cliff-dwellers had
their homes. Here to the north, where you
see the fire flying from the throbbing throat of
a locomotive, is the line that leads to Lead-
ville, whose wondrous wealth is known to all
the English-speaking people ; yes, even as far
south as Texas they have come to talk of Lead-
ville and the mines.
" Now we have reached the crest of the con
tinent, where "
" Oh, yes, I have seen it ! " chimed in the
maiden. " It s by Ernest Ingersoll, is it not? "
"No," he replied, "this one is by the
Builder of the universe, and, as I was about to
say, the water flows this way to the Atlantic,
and that way to the Pacific Ocean."
" Why, how very, very funny," said the
" schoolmarm ; " but the railroad man has
never been able to see where the laugh came
in. He was making no attempt to be funny ;
and, turning the tourist over to the porter, after
assuring her, for the one-hundredth time, that
accidents were never heard of on Marshall
Pass, he said good-night.
FLYING THROUGH FLAMES 67
The conductor came out from the smoky
station, lifted his white light a time or two, the
big bell sounded, and the long train began to
find and wind its way over the smooth steel
track that should lead from the hoary heights
to the verdant vale. And the gentle curves
made cradles of the cars, and the happy maiden
in high Five dreamed she was at home in her
hammock, while the man of the road went
peacefully to sleep in upper Six, feeling that
he had shown all the wonders of the West
to at least one passenger in that train-load of
The engineer reached for the rope, and the
long, low "toooo toooo-too toot " went out
upon the midnight air ; and the women folks
whispered a little prayer for the weary watcher
in the engine cab, placed their precious lives
in his left hand, and went to sleep again.
The long train creaked and cracked on the
sharp corners, and as the last echo of the
steam-whistle died away in the distant hills,
slid swiftly from the short tangent, and was
swallowed up by a snowshed.
At that moment the fire leaped from a clump
68 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
of pinions, and the sun-dried snowshed flashed
aflame like a bunch of grass in a prairie fire.
It had required the united efforts of three
locomotives to haul the train up the hill, and
the engineer knew that to stop was to perish in
the fire, as he was utterly unable to back out of
the burning building.
That is why it appeared to the passengers
that all at once every tie that bound this
human-burdened train to the track parted, and
the mad train began to fall down the moun
tain. Away they went like the wind. On
they went through the fiery furnace like a
frightened spirit flying from the hearth of hell.
The engine-men were almost suffocated in the
cab,whlle the paint was peeled from the Pull
man cars as a light snow is swallowed by the
burning sun on a sandy desert.
At last the light is gone ; they dash out into
the night, out into the pure mountain air ;
the brakes are applied, the speed is slackened,
the women are still frightened ; but the con
ductor assures them that the danger is past.
Now they can look back and see the burning
sheds falling. The " schoolmarm " shudders
FLYING THROUGH FLAMES
as she climbs back to her berth, and an hour
later they are all asleep. At Gunnison they
get another locomotive, a fresh crew, and the
train winds on toward the Pacific slope.
The engine is stabled in her stall at the
round-house. The driver walks about her, pats
her on the neck, and talks to her as he would
to a human being : " Well, old girl, we got
through, didn r t we? But it was a close call."
# ofcel Battle
A NOVEL BATTLE
ONOW-BUCKING with a pilot plough is
dangerous business. However, there is very
little of it to do in these days. Now a road
that is able to accumulate a snow-drift is
able to own a rotary plough or snow excavator.
These machines are as large as a coach and as
heavy as a locomotive. The front end is funnel-
shaped ; and instead of throwing the snow away
it swallows it, and then spurts it out in a great
stream like water from a hose at a fire. Inside
the house, or car, there is a boiler as large as
a locomotive boiler, with two big cylinders to
furnish power to revolve a wheel in the funnel-
shaped front end. This wheel is like the wheel
of a windmill, except that the fans or blades are
made of steel and are quite sharp. As the
plough is driven through the drifted snow by a
74 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
locomotive, sometimes by two or three of
them, the rapidly revolving wheel slices the
snow from the hard bank, draws it into the
steel chest, where the same rotary motion drives
it out through a sheet-iron spout.
Once at Alpine Pass, on a summer branch of
the Union Pacific, I saw one of these machines
working in six feet of snow that had been
there six months, and was so hard that men
walked over it without snowshoes. It was about
the middle of May; the weather was almost
warm at midday, but freezing at night. A
number of railroad and newspaper men had
gone up there, eleven thousand feet above the
sea, to witness a battle between two rival exca
vators. The trial was an exciting one, and
lasted three days. Master Mechanic Egan,
whose guest I was, was director-general, and a
very impartial director, I thought. The two
machines were very similar in appearance ; but
instead of a wheel with knives, one had a great
auger in front, the purpose of which was to
bore into the snow-drift and draw the snow into
the machine, as the chips are drawn from an
auger hole by the revolving of the screw. The
A NOVEL BATTLE 75
discharging apparatus was similar in the two,
and like that already described.
There was a formidable array of rolling stock
on the two sidings at the foot of the mountain
where we had our car and where we camped
nights. On one side track stands one of the
machines, with three engines behind her ; on
another, the other, with the same number of
locomotives. You could tell the men of the
one from those of the other, for the two armies
dwelt apart, just as the Denver police kept clear
of the State militia in Governor Wake s war.
It was perfecd^_jnatural for the men on the
different machines to be loyal to their respec
tive employers, and a little bit jealous of the
rival crew ; but I was surprised to see how
quickly that feeling extended to the crews of
the half-dozen locomotives, all working for the
same railroad company, and in no way interested
in the outcome.
On the morning of the first day of the trial,
when the six engines came down the track
from the coal-yards, a trainman stood at the
three-throw switch, and gave a locomotive to
each of the two machines alternately. They
76 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
all knew where they belonged, and they kept
the same place, each of them, until the battle
There was no betting, but there was a dis
tinct "favorite" from the start; and when the
iron horses were all hooked up, the men on the
" favorite " began, good-naturedly enough, to
"josh" the other crew.
Mr. Egan decided that one of the machines
should go forward ; and when it stuck, stalled,
or stopped, for any reason, it should at once
back down, take the siding, and give the other
It was nearly noon when the railway officers
and pencil-pushers climbed to the storm deck
of the first machine, and the commander gave
a signal to start. The whistle " off brakes "
was answered by the six locomotives, and the
little engine that brought up the rear with the
special train. The hungry machine gathered
up the light drifts which we encountered in the
first few miles, and breathed them out over the
tops of the telegraph-poles. At a sharp curve,
where there was a deep drift, the snow plough
left the track, and we were forced to stop and
A NOVEL BATTLE 77
back out. The engineers looked sullen as they
backed down to let the other crew pass, and
the fresh men laughed at them. The snow was
lighter now, so that instead of boring into it,
the second plough only pushed it and piled
it up in front of her, until the whole house was
buried, when she chocked up and lay down.
Now the frowns were transferred to the faces of
the second crew, and the smiles to the other.
For two days we see -sawed in this way, and
every hour the men grew more sullen. The
mad locomotives seemed to enter into the spirit
of the fight ; at least, it was easy to imagine that
they did, as they snorted, puffed, and panted in
the great drifts. Ah, t was a goodly sight to
see them, each sending an endless stream of
black smoke to the very heavens, and to hear
them scream to one another when about to
stall, and to note with what reluctance they
returned to the side-track.
In the little town at the foot of the hill the
rival crews camped at separate boarding-houses.
This was fortunate, for it would not have been
safe for them to live together. Even the
engine-men by the end of the second day were
7 8 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
hardly on speaking terms. Bob Stoute said
that somebody had remarked that the 265
would n t make steam enough to ring the bell.
He did not know who had said it, but he did
know that he could lick him. After supper
that evening, when the " scrappy " engineer
came out of Red Woods saloon, he broadened
the statement so as to include " any Rotary
man on the job, see?"
When we went into the field on the morning
of the third day, not more than seven miles of
snow remained between us and the mouth of
the Alpine tunnel, where the race would end,
for the tunnel was full of snow. All the fore
noon the hot engines steamed and snorted and
banged away at the great sea of snow that grew
deeper and harder as we climbed. The track
was so crooked that the ploughs were off the
rail half the time ; so that when we stopped for
luncheon we had made less than three miles.
The least-promising of the two machines was
out first after dinner; and as the snow was
harder up here, she bid fair to win great credit.
She rounded the last of the sharp curves that
had given us so much trouble successfully.
A NOVEL BATTLE 79
But as the snow grew deeper she smothered,
choked up, and stalled. Then even her friends
had to admit that, " she was not quite right,"
and tne engine-men looked blacker than ever
as they backed down and took the siding.
Up came the rival, every engine blowing off
steam, the three firemen at the furnace-doors,
the engineers smiling, and eager for the fray.
As she turned into the tangent where the other
had stalled, the leading locomotive screamed
" off brakes," and every throttle flew wide open.
Down, down went the reverse levers, until every
engine in the train was working at her full
capacity. While waiting in the siding, the en
gineers had screwed their " pops," or relief
valves, down so that each of the engines carried
twenty pounds more steam than usual. There
were no drifts now, but the hard snow lay level
six feet deep. The track was as good as
straight, just one long curve; and the pilots
would touch timber line at the mouth of the
tunnel. The road here lay along the side of
the mountain through a heavy growth of ,pine.
The snow was granulated, and consequently
very heavy. By the time they had gone a
80 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
hundred yards, a great stream of snow was flow
ing from the spout out over the telegraph
wires, over the tops of the tall spruces and
pines, crashing down through their branches
until the white beneath them was covered with
a green carpet of tree-twigs. On and on, up
and up, the monster moguls pushed the plough.
Higher and higher rose the black smoke ; and
when the smoke and the snow came between
the spectators and the sun, which was just now
sinking behind the hill, the effect was marvel
lously beautiful. Still, on they went through the
stainless waste, nor stopped nor stalled until
the snow plough touched the tunnel-shed.
The commander gave a signal to " back up ; "
and with faces wreathed in smiles, and with
their machine covered with cinders, snow, and
glory, the little army drifted down the hill.
The three days fight was at an end, and the
Rotary was the victor.
But I started to write about pilot ploughs and
old-time snow- bucking, when we used to take
out an extra insurance policy and say good-by
to our friends when we signed the call-book.
On a mountain division of a Western road,
A NOVEL BATTLE 8 1
some ten years ago, I had my first experience
in snow-bucking. For twenty-four hours a
pilot-plough and flanger had been racing over
the thirty miles of mountain, up one side and
down the other. As often as they reached the
foot of the hill they received orders to " double
It was Sunday afternoon when the caller came
for me. Another engine had been ordered out
to help push the snow-plough through the great
drifts, that were getting deeper and deeper
every hour. Ten miles out from the division
station, at the foot of the mountain proper, we
side-tracked to wait the return of the snow-
The hours went by, the night wasted away.
Monday dawned, and no news of the snow
brigade. All we could learn at the telegraph
office was that they were somewhere between
Shawano and the top of the hill, presumably
stuck in the snow. All day and all night they
worked and puffed, pushed and panted, but
to no purpose. Now, when they gave up all
hope of getting through, they attempted to
back down ; but that was equally impossible.
82 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
The heavy drifts in the deep cuts were not
to be bucked away with the rear end of an
Tuesday came, and found us still watching
and waiting for the snow plough. Other engines
came up from the division station with a work
train, and a great army of trackmen with wide
shovels. A number of railroad officers came,
and everybody shovelled. We had no plough
on our side of the hill, and had to buck with
naked engines. First we tried one, then two?
then three coupled together. The shovellers
would clear off a few hundred yards of track,
over which we would drive at full speed. As
our engine came in contact with a great drift,
all the way from eight to eighteen feet deep,
she would tremble and shake as though she was
about to be crushed to pieces.
Often when we came to a stop only the top
of the stack of the front engine was visible.
The front windows of the cabs were all boarded
up to prevent the glass from being smashed.
For three or four days the track was kept clear
behind us, so that we could back out and tie
up at night where there was coal and water.
A NOVEL BATTLE 83
All this time the snow kept coming down, day
and night, until the only sign of a railroad
across the range was the tops of the telegraph
poles. Toward the last of the week we en
countered a terrific storm, almost a blizzard.
This closed the trail behind us, and that night
we were forced to camp on the mountain side.
We had an abundance of coal, but the water
in the tanks was very low; but by shovelling
snow into them when we were stuck in the
deep drifts, we managed to keep them wet.
For three or four days sometimes in the
dead hours of the night we had heard a
mournful whistle away up on the mountain
side, crying in the waste like a lost sheep.
This was a light engine, as we learned after
ward, that had started down the hill, but got
stuck in the storm. For four days and nights
the crews were imprisoned in the drifts. They
had only a few pieces of hard bread, which
they soaked in snow water and ate. More than
once during the fourth day they had looked
into the tallow bucket, and wondered if they
could eat the tallow.
On Sunday morning, just a week from the
84 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
day on which I had signed the call- book, the
sun shone clear and bright. The crew with
the big pilot plough had reached the summit ;
and now a new danger confronted the lone
engine, whose cry had gone out in the night
like the wail of a lost soul. The big plough was
coming down the hill with two locomotives
behind her ; and if this crew remained on the
main line, they would be scooped into eternity.
When the storm cleared away, they found that
they were within a few feet of the switch target.
If they could shovel out the snow and throw
the switch, it would let them on to a spur.
Hungry and weak as they were, they began
with the fireman s scoop to clear the switch and
shovel away from the wheels so that the engine
could start herself. All the time they could
hear the whistles of the three engines, now
whistling down brakes, back up, and go ahead,
as they hammered away at the deep drifts.
At last the switch was forced open, the engine
was in to clear ; but not a moment too soon,
for now came the great plough fairly falling
down the mountain, sending a shower of snow
over the lone engine on the spur.
A NOVEL BATTLE 85
We, too, had heard and seen them coming,
and had found a safe siding. When the three
half-starved and almost desperate engineers
came to the clear track we had made, the great
engines, till now held in check by the heavy
snow, bounded forward down the steep grade
at a rate that made us sick at heart. Each of
the locomotives on the side track whistled ; but
the wheels were covered with ice and snow,
and when they reversed their engines they
seemed to slide as fast. Fortunately, at the
next curve, there was a heavy drift, so deep
that the snow-train drove right through it,
making a complete tunnel arched over with
snow. Thus, after eight days, the road was
opened, and eight sections of the passenger
train came slowly and carefully down the moun
tain and passed under the arch.
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER.
A T midnight seventy-two fires were lighted
"^ under the nine big boilers of the " Bis
marck," and shortly after a cloud of yellow
smoke, rolling from the huge stacks, was float
ing over the bosom of the bay.
In their various homes and hotels a thousand
prospective travellers slept and dreamed of their
voyage on the morrow.
By daybreak the water evaporating into steam
fluttered through the indicators, and as early as
6 A. M. people were seen collecting about the
docks, while a fussy little hoisting engine worked
away, lifting freight from the pier. At seven a
few eager passengers came to the ship s side,
anxiously inspecting her, and an hour later were
Officers in uniform paced the decks, guarded
the gangways to keep intruders back, and others
of the crew, in citizens clothes, mingled freely
TALES OF AN ENGINEER
in the crowd, having a sharp eye for suspicious
Finally, the steam-gauge pointer advances to
the hundred mark. Noise and confusion wax
wilder. The ship s crew is busy, from captain
to meanest sailor, until at ten o clock, thirty
minutes before sailing, the sound of hurrying
feet is lost in a deafening hum of human voices.
All visitors are now refused admittance, except
perhaps a messenger with belated letters, pack
ages, or flowers for people on board.
The little hoister fairly flies about in a heroic
effort to lift everything that is loose at one end
and store it away in the ship s hold. The pier
is invisible, buried beneath a multitude of peer
All being ready, the captain is notified, and
at his signal the first engineer pulls the lever
and starts the little engine whose work it is to
open the throttle, the steam shoots out from
the big boilers into the great cylinders, screws
begin to revolve, and the ocean-liner, with one
thousand passengers, two thousand tons of coal,
and three thousand pounds of ice cream, leaves
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 91
Hundreds of handkerchiefs flutter, and hun
dreds of people say good-bye, with eager, up
turned faces that try to smile through tears.
Some are sad with the pain of parting, while
others, like Byron, are sad " because they leave
behind no thing that claims a tear."
Thirty-six stokers take their places before the
furnace-doors, each with two fire-boxes to feed.
There are three stoke-holes, twelve men in each,
and twelve buckets of cold water, with a bottle
of red wine in every bucket. As the speed in
creases, the great ship begins to rise and fall ;
not with the swell of the sea, for there is no
swell and no sea, but with her own powerful
When the ventilators catch the ocean breeze
and begin to drink in the salt air, there is rejoi
cing in the stoke-room. Unfortunately for the
stokers, the increased draught increases also the
appetite of the furnaces, that seem famishing for
After four hours in the heat, semi-darkness,
and dust of the furnace-room, the stokers come
out, and fresh men with fresh bottles take their
places. Gradually the speed of the boat in-
92 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
creases. The fires are fanned by the ever-
increasing breeze, the furnaces fairly roar, and
the second shift work harder than the first.
If there is no wind, instead of allowing the
stokers to drop dead, the engineer on watch
simply turns a lever and starts the twelve large
steam fans, and saves the firemen just before
the bone buttons are melted from their overalls.
The steamship stoker is inferior mentally to
the locomotive fireman, but physically he is the
better man. The amount of skill required to
stoke is nothing compared to that of firing a
railway engine. The locomotive fireman must
use his own judgment at all times as to how,
when, and where to put in a fire. The ocean
stoker simply waits for a whistle from the gang-
boss, when he opens his furnace-door, hooks,
rakes, and replenishes his fire, and at another
signal closes the doors, the same whistle being
a signal to his brother stoker at the other end
of the boiler to fix his fire.
The white glare of the furnaces when the
fires are being raked is so intense that the place
seems dark when the doors are closed. And
through that darkness comes the noise of the
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 93
rattling clinker-hooks, the roar of the fires, the
squeak of the steering- engine, and the awful
sound of the billows breaking on the ship.
Once above all this din I heard a stoker sing :
" Oh, what care we,
When on the sea,
For weather fair or fine ?
For toil we must
In smoke and dust
Below the water-line."
Then came the sharp whistle, and the song
was cut short as the stoker bent to his work,
and again the twenty- four furnaces threw their
blinding glare into our faces.
With all the apparatus for cooling the stoke-
room, it is still a first-class submarine hell.
One night, when the sea was wicked, rolling
high and fast from the banks of Newfoundland ;
when the mast swung to and fro like a great
pendulum upside down, I climbed down to the
engine-room. When the ship shot downward
and the screws went out of the water, the mighty
engines flew like dynamos, making the huge
boat with her hundreds of tons tremble till the
screws went down into the water again.
In the stoke-rooms the boilers lie crosswise
94 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
of the ship ; so when she rolls it is with the
greatest difficulty that the stoker prevents him
self from being shot head first into one of the
furnaces. Here I watched these grim toilers
this wild night, and it seemed the more she
rolled, pitched, and plunged, the more furiously
they fed the furnaces. What with the speed of
the ship and the speed of the wind, the draught
was terrific, and the fire boxes seemed capable
of consuming any amount of coal that could be
thrown into their red throats. Though abso
lutely safe, the stoke-room on a night like this
is an awful place for one unused to such scenes ;
so terrible that a young German, working his
way from New York to Hamburg, was driven
As the sea began to break heavily on the
sides of the boat and make her rock like a frail
leaf in an autumn wind, the man was seen to
try to make his escape from the stoke-hole.
For an hour he worked in the same nervous
way, always looking for a chance of escape.
At last the ship gave a roll that caused the
furnace-door to fly open, and with the yell of a
demon the green stoker sprang up the steps
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 95
leading to the engine-rooms. Here one of the
engineers, seeing the man was insane, blocked
the way. The poor fellow paused for a moment,
and stood shaking like an aspen, while the cold
perspiration rolled down his face. Two or three
men tried to hold him, but, without the slight
est effort, apparently, he cast them off, and,
running out on the steerage deck, jumped into
All through the night, above the roar of the
ocean, at regular intervals, came the sharp
whistle of the head stoker, and at longer inter
vals the cry from above: "All s well." On
Sunday morning when we awoke, the waves still
washing up the steerage deck and the great
ship rolling from side to side, we could hear
from the stoke-room the same shrill whistle, and
the same cry outside of "All s well." Then,
like a flood of sunlight, came the sweet strains
of the anthem, which the band always plays on
Sunday mornings ; and again the sea came up
and closed our windows and shut out the light
of day, and the sound of the sea drowned all
other sounds, and seemed to suggest " Nearer
My God To Thee." The waves rolled back,
96 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
the sun shone in through the window, and the
hymn was heard again.
When the reckoning was taken, we were all
surprised to learn that on such a tempestuous
sea this wonderful ship had made a mile more
than on the previous day on a summer sea.
" Look away," said the captain, as we passed
an ocean steamer that seemed to be standing
"Is she at anchor? " I asked.
" No," said the captain, " she *s making twelve
knots an hour ; and only a few years ago she
was one of the ocean greyhounds."
Within the last decade the time between
New York and Southampton has been reduced
by nearly two days ; but those who look for a
like reduction within the next ten years will
surely be disappointed. The Lucania, with
thirty thousand horse-power, is able to make
only a little over a mile an hour more than
the Fiirst Bismarck, with sixteen thousand. If
by nearly doubling the horse-power, and with
twenty-five per cent more firemen, we can
shorten the time but half a day, then indeed
does the problem become a difficult one.
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 97
The Fiirst Bismarck is 502 feet long, 27 feet
wide, and 60 feet deep, from her hurricane deck
to her keel. There are nine huge boilers, 15
feet 7 inches in diameter, and 19 feet long. It
requires 130 stokers and trimmers, and 300 tons
of coal a day to keep them hot. They boil
down 100 tons of water every 24 hours. There
are, all told, 55 engines on board the ship.
The steam that drives the boat passes through
three pairs of cylinders. The first are 43 inches
in diameter, and work at a pressure equal to
eleven atmospheres. The next, 67 inches,
working at four atmospheres. The third are
the low pressure cylinders, 106 inches in diam
eter, with one atmosphere pressure, and a
vacuum equal in working power to an atmos
There are two main shafts, one to each screw,
or propeller, 20 inches in diameter, each 142
feet long, and weighing a ton for every foot of
There are twelve engineers and twelve assis
tants. Over all these men there is a chief engi
neer, whose duties are similar to those of a master
mechanic on a railway. His office is a little
98 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
palace, finished in beautiful Hungarian ash,
supplied with easy-chairs and soft couches.
There is an indicator which shows at all times
the pressure under which the various engines
are working and the speed of the boat.
When we were ready to go below, the chief
engineer pressed a button, which, he explained
to us, was a signal to the engineer in charge to
open the doors and allow us to pass from one
room to another ; for there are water-tight doors
between the engines. There are in all thirteen
air-tight compartments, so that if a man-of-war
were to stave a hole in one side of the Bismarck,
that compartment would simply fill with water,
but would do no serious damage. In fact, a
half-dozen holes might be stove in, and she
would continue to ride the waves.
If the Bismarck were to strike a rock and
cave in six feet of her bottom or keel, a solid
plate or false bottom would then be reached
that would stand almost any pressure.
When a boat with a single propeller loses her
steering apparatus, she is in great danger ; but
with a twin screw ship there is absolutely no
danger. By simply reversing one screw, the
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 99
ship may be steered as a row-boat is guided, by
holding one oar still, and moving the other.
The electric-light plant alone is of interest.
There are four dynamos, and they supply a cur
rent for eighteen hundred lamps. In addition
to the lamps in the saloons and state-rooms, all
the signal-lights are electric, as well as the lights
used in the steerage and in the supply rooms.
The chief steward has been with the com
pany twenty- seven years, and will probably
be there as long as he cares to remain. There
are eighty-four other stewards, who report di
rectly or indirectly to him. The passengers
are divided into three classes, first cabin,
second cabin, and steerage ; so that three sep
arate and complete kitchens and dining-rooms
are kept up. The food furnished for the steer
age passengers is better than one would expect
when we consider that the company carries
them from New York to Hamburg and keeps
them on board seven days for $10.
The food and service in the second cabin are
better than at the average $3 a day American
hotel. In the first cabin saloon they are per
fect. The stewards file in in regular order, and
IOO TALES OF AN ENGINEER
when a change is made they all march out,
keeping time to the band, and making, with
their neat uniforms and snow-white gloves, a
goodly sight to see.
Each table has its own table steward, and at
the elbow of each passenger stands a white-
gloved under-steward who seems capable of
anticipating your very thoughts. If a drop of
coffee is spilled over your cup before you
have time to realize it yourself both cup and
saucer are exchanged for one in perfect trim.
The regular dinner consists of from seven to
ten courses, and is fit for the Emperor. The
wines and ales are excellent, and are forty per
cent cheaper than in New York.
In addition to the regular meals, at eight
o clock every evening they serve tea in the main
saloon to all who care to indulge in that stimu
lant. After that, at nine o clock, the band
gives a concert in the second cabin saloon,
which is always attended by many of the first
cabin passengers. There, the people sit about
the tables and eat the daintiest little sand
wiches, and some of them drink the delightful
Hamburg beer, while the band plays.
ON BOARD AN OCE^N FLYER TO I
If you are ill and remain in your berth, the
room steward will call a half-dozen times a day
to ask you what you want to eat. If you
remain on deck, the deck steward will bring you
an excellent dinner without any extra charge.
It was the day after the rough sea when we
were shown through the steerage ; the women
and children were still huddled in their gloomy
bunk-rooms, recovering slowly from the sea
sickness of the previous day.
Cheerless as their surroundings were, they
had the satisfaction of knowing that the count
ess at the top was as sick, when she was sick,
Forward, where the ship s side walls are close
together, the sailors sleep. Here, when the
sea is rough, one may experience the sensation
of riding in the elevator of a sixteen story
building, and, as the bow descends, the sensa
tion of falling. The occupants of this rough
quarter are a rough-looking lot, but apparently
as happy as cowboys. Every sailor has his
regular ration of rum, while the stokers, in
addition to the red wine they have in the stoke
room, have kiimmel four times a day.
102 TALES OF A N ENGINEER
Just back of the sailors are the stores. In
the cold room, where the meats are kept, all
the pipes are covered with frost. The large
ships all have ice -machines, and make their own
ice. There are also two large evaporators, so
that if the supply of drinking water should
become unfit for use, drinking water could be
made from the sea. The same evaporators
could easily supply water in the same way for
the boilers, should the supply run short.
Two things I should like to change : the tons
of wholesome food, delicious meats, and delicate
sweets that are carried from the tables and
thrown into the sea, I would give to the poor
steeragers. Every day at dinner, when the
lamps made the saloon a glare of light, I could
see these poor people peeping in at the windows,
where the tables were freighted with good things,
and it made me sad. Sometimes a mother would
hold her poor, pinch-faced baby up to the win
dow; and I could not help wondering what
answer that mother would make if the baby
were to ask why they did n t go in and eat.
After making the steerage happy, I should
like to rig a governor to the main shafts, so
ON BOARD AN OCEAN FLYER 103
that the screws would not " cut up " so when
out of water. I mentioned this to Mr. Jones.
He looked at me steadily for a moment, then,
as he allowed his head to dip slightly to the
starboard, a sunny smile broke over his kindly
face, and he replied, "Well, somebody has
tried that already."
ON AN IRON STEED
TTUNDREDS of hansom cabs, countless car
riages, and myriads of omnibuses came
out of the fog and filled the ample grounds in
front of Victoria Station. A solid stream of
men, women, and children was pouring in at
the gates to the platforms where the trains
stand. Long lines of people were waiting in
front of the windows in the booking office.
Trunks, bags, and boxes fairly rained into the
luggage-room ; but the porters (short, stout fel
lows) picked them up and bore them away, as
red ants run away with crumbs at a picnic.
To the train, titled people came in carriages,
behind splendid horses, with coachmen in high
hats, and footmen in yellow trousers. American
millionnaires came also in coaches and tally-hos,
and mingled with the plain English nobility.
You can tell the American women by their
smart dresses, and the English by their heavy
108 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
boots, red cheeks, and heaps of hair. You can
tell the London swell from the New Yorker, for
tliere is something the matter with one of his
eyes. And you can pick out the duke and the
lord, for they are, in most cases, plain and
modest men. There is a noticeable absence of
poor people ; for the train is not going to the
hop-fields of Kent, but to Paris and the Riviera.
The American representative of the London,
Chatham, and Dover Railway, in a shining silk
hat, a snow-white cravat, and blood-red bou-
tonniere, and the station-master, are busy assign
ing small parties of Americans to compartments,
and larger parties to saloons. The Englishman
travelling in his native land makes little trouble
for any one. He usually has his luggage aboard
and his porter dismissed with a scowl and a
threepence, while the foreigner with a smile
and a shilling awaits his turn. All the English
man asks is to be let alone ; and surely that is
not too much.
The faded carriages that stretch away in a
long line towards the locomotive look singularly
small to those who are accustomed to seeing
the heavy trains of America.
ON AN IRON STEED 109
And now we come to the locomotive. The
stoker touched his cap when I stepped aboard,
and I noticed that he did this every time he
addressed me. If I asked a simple question
he invariably touched his cap before he an
The absence of a pilot, or "cow-catcher," as
it is sometimes called, makes the English loco
motive look awkward and unfinished to an
American. There are no cylinders, cross-heads,
or main rods in sight, and at a first glance she
reminds one of a well-made stationary engine.
Even her beautiful high wheels are half covered
with steel. Like a well-dressed Englishman,
the English locomotive looks best from her
Above her running-board she is scrupulously
clean, bright, and interesting. But even here
she has a vacant look. There is but one steam
dome and no sand box or bell ; she looks as
though she had been driven under a low bridge
and had her back swept bare, and then had
nothing rebuilt but one dome and the stack.
In the cab, where ought to be comfortable
seats for the driver and stoker, there are high
IIO TALES OF AN ENGINEER
boxes that come nearly to the window sills.
No matter how long he remains on duty, the
driver must stand up ; nor has the stoker, who
in descending a long bank might get a mo
ment s rest, any place to sit, but must stand
the whole way on his weary feet. This is
simply disgraceful. The precious lives.. oL
sands of people are placed in the hands of the
engine-driver, and yet no thought is given to
his comfort. I read, with considerable amuse
ment, an article in an English journal urging
the Board of Trade to provide medals as a
reward to engine-drivers " for duty ably done."
I would suggest better wages, and seats in cabs.
Medals are all right as a mark, but even
titles are no good when we are dead. Think
of a man spending years in learning a trade,
and then doubling the road between London
and Dover, a hundred and sixty miles, for seven
shillings, $1.75, or ninety miles for a dollar,"
just $3 less than an engineer gets for cover
ing the same distance on a mountain road in
the United States. The risk is about the same,
for an English driver runs four times as fast as
ON AN IRON STEED III
Out through the ragged edge of London,
over the Thames, and down the rail our steel
steed whirled us at a rapid rate. The English
driver does not run "with his hand on the
throttle, and his eye on the road," as we are
wont to picture a locomotive engineer ; for the
throttle is at the top of the boiler head, and
t* ^^-- .^^*^** "******** ** "^ *""**^* n^^ * 1 ^^^*^ m " * J ^**
must be sought out by the driver before he can
shut off steam, no matter how great the emer
gency. It does not require a practised rail
roader to understand that if the driver had his
hand on the lever, he could shut off without
taking his eyes from the rail, and in less than
a quarter of a second.
Five miles out we stopped at a small station,
and picked up four more carriages. Our train
was equipped with the matchless " Westing-
house " air-brakes ; and they do the work de
lightfully on these light cars. So perfectly were
they adjusted, and so smoothly did the quiet
old seven-shilling-a-day driver apply them, that
the train came o a dead stop with as little jolt
as would attend the stopping of a baby carriage.
Already I had learned to like our locomotive ;
but when we got a signal to go, and the driver
112 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
gave her steam, the fifteen carriages refused to
start. Here I witnessed, for the second time
" \p in my life, the working of the slowest, clumsiest
piece of machinery in use to-day in any civilized
country, the " reversing wheel." I had seen
it once before, when the London and North-
Western s prize engine was leaving Chicago.
When the locomotive fails to start her train, it
is always necessary to reverse her to get what
there is of slack between the cars. In this way
the engine starts a car at a time, so that by the
time the last car is started, the locomotive has
made a quarter of a turn or more, and the front
part of the train is in motion. With a quick-
working reverse lever this is accomplished
easily ; but with a wheel that must be given
from seven to eleven revolutions to reverse the
machinery, the process is painfully slow, with
out the saving grace of being sure. As the
wheel revolves, the locomotive creeps forward,
stealing the slack from car after car, so that
by the time the machinery is in the forward
motion the slack is gone, and you are just
where you were before you began to reverse.
There was a serious collision on the Great
ON AN IRON STEED
Northern not long ago ; a double-head express
train dashed into a goods train that was being
shunted ; and if the locomotive had " wheels,"
the wonder is that more people were not killed.
From Herne Hill, where we got the last four
carnages, it is seventy-five miles to Dover ; and
we were to make the run without a stop. Just
about the time our steed got them going, she
dashed into a tunnel half a mile long. The
great drivers hammering the rails, and the
rattle of the carriages, made a deafening roar,
and, to add to the torture, the driver pulled the
whistle. The English locomotive whistle is
the^shrillest, sharpest, most ear-splitting in- .
strnmpnt nf tnrtnrp pver Vipnrrl Tt i<5 aHrmf-
s v trument of torture ever heard. It is about
as musical as a Chinese fiddle accompanied
by a lawn-mower.
As the smoke of London began to grow dim
in the distance, a beautiful panorama of fields
and farms opened up before us. As far as
the eye could reach on either side were rolling
meadows and brown fields, dotted with thatch-
roofed stacks. If the speed slackened as we
ascended a long "bank," these rural pictures
claimed my attention and made me forget for
114 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
the moment that we were at the front of the
Paris express. But when we had reached the
summit, and the world began to slip beneath
us till the keen air cut our faces, we were made
to realize that we were not losing any time.
Now we were rolling along the top of a high
hill, from whose flat summit we looked down
the chimney-pots in the village houses ; and
now dashing into a deep cut, where flocks of
frightened quail rose up and beat the bank,
or, caught by the eddying wind, were dashed
against the sides of the flying train, as a man
standing near the track and grown dizzy throws
himself beneath the wheels.
A sharp curve throws our train out on the
brow of a gentle hill. Below, through a green
valley, winds a lazy looking river the Med-
way. This is the old town of Rochester, the
land of Dickens, and beyond the river stands
the old Norman castle.
And this is what Mr. Jingle said when he
saw it :
" A fine old place a glorious pile frown
ing walls tottering arches dark nooks
crumbling staircases old cathedral, too
ON AN IRON STEED 115
earthy smell pilgrims feet wore away the
old steps little Saxon doors confessionals,
like money- takers boxes at theatres queer
customers, those monks popes, and lord treas
urers, and all sorts of old fellows with great red
faces and broken noses turning up every day
buff jerkins, too matchlocks sarcophagus
fine place old legends strange stories."
The red vines that cling to the shoulders
of this rare old ruin glow warmly in the autumn
sun. Only a flash, and we turn another corner,
and the old castle is lost in the dreary blond
brick houses of Rochester. Now and then,
as the train whirls through the city, the tower
ing spires of the cathedral are seen.
Away, away, the engine flies, and the dull
town is left for the sunny fields. We are now
entering the great hop fields of Kent, one
of the fairest counties in all England, I am
told. Ours is not the only locomotive abroad,
for almost every moment we can see another
train flying across the country, always crossing
either above or below our track. Out in the
fields are other engines, great awkward machines
pulling ploughs, and sometimes trains of wagons,
Il6 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
through village streets. At the end of a long
curve, around which we swing at a mile a
minute, rise the great spires of the cathedral
Here, too, are clinging vines and crumbling
walls, old legends and strange stories. Here
are stone steps worn away by pilgrims knees,
the steps that lead from the musty crypt to
Becket s shrine. Here sleep the murdered
Bishop and the King. But there is no time
to dream, for we are now whirling away towards
the water-edge. At last the driver shuts off
steam, the stoker washes the deck with a water-
hose connected with the injector pipe, and
remarks that his work is done. His labor,
like his salary, is light ; for although we have
been on the road nearly two hours, he has not
burned a half-ton of coal. The trains, of
course, are light, and that makes light work
for the engine-men. It is all down hill now,
and we fairly fall through the tunnels and deep
cuts, till all at once the " silver streak," as they
call it here, is seen ; and this is the end of the
Many things bear the name of " the widow
ON AN IRON STEED 1 1 7
at Windsor," and I was not surprised to find
the Victoria rocking restlessly by the dock
at Dover. It is surprising to an American to
see how quickly fourteen English carriages can
be emptied. I should say that in two minutes
from the time our train stopped, we were all
aboard. In eight minutes the baggage was
transferred from the train to the boat, and in
ten minutes we were leaving the dock.
The Channel has not the reputation of being
particularly pacific, and this was one of her busy
days. In ten minutes after the whistle sounded,
the Victoria was capering out towards the
coast of France just as an untamed broncho
capers with a cowboy across a corral. To the
disgrace of the London, Chatham, and Dover
Railway Company, she is a side-wheeler. Ex
cept the reversing-wheel and the seatless cab
of the 117, this is the only disgraceful thing
I found on the Dover route.
There are in the Victoria a number of state
rooms, a splendid lounging saloon, a ladies
cabin, and a " public house." Better than all
these things, there are the ever-ready stewards,
who watch the women ; and just at the moment
Il8 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
when life loses its glitter, and the unhappy
tourist ceases to care, come quietly, wearing
the while a look of deepest sympathy, leave
a small regretting basin by her chair, and move
I made a short study of a lord going over.
He was not what you would call distinguished
looking, in his large soft hat and rain coat, but
he looked respectable at least. We had not
gone very far when he began to turn his head
from side to side as if he had lost something.
Then he would close his eye for a spell, and
try to think. He was the homeliest man I
have seen in Europe; and he was constantly
doing "stunts" with his good eye in order
to keep the glass in the other. I don t know
whether he died or not, for a sort of mala
rial feeling came over me, and I lost interest
in everything except the French coast.
In spite of the rough sea, we made the run
from Dover to Calais, twenty-five miles, in a
few minutes over an hour.
"Chemin de Fer du Nord " is the first
French sign seen by the voyager from England.
It is the name of the railway or " road of
ON AN IRON STEED 119
iron," as the French put it over which we
are to pass to Paris.
The captain of the Victoria had given me
a letter which contained a pass, a " permis
de monter sur les machines," and this pass
went on to say that I would be "permitted
to circulate or promenade on the machine
drawing the quick express during one voyage
between Calais and Paris."
Sliding back into my engine clothes, I went
forward to where the locomotive stood steaming
and sizzling, ready to be off.
Just as I reached her, the driver began to
whirl the reversing wheel ; for he had heard the
signal- bell, and the long train moved away.
I showed my pass. The driver smiled, and
waved me out of the fireman s way. The cab
was the same wretched, comfortless cavity that
I hacT seen on the Dover, only not so clean.
The tank, or tender, where the coal is carried,
was filled with slack and dust. As fast as he
shovelled into the heap where the slack was
dry, the fireman turned the hose on it, until
it was a puddle of mush ; and, to my surprise,
he shovelled this slop into the firebox, and kept
120 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
the locomotive howling hot. It would be im
possible, of course, to fire an American express
locomotive with such fuel ; for there the engines
are worked so much harder to draw heavy
trains. When we had whipped around a few
curves I saw that the best place for me was
behind the driver, and I stepped over to his
There existed between the engine, the engine-
men, and me a feeling of estrangement that
was almost melancholy.
I missed the sleepy panting of the air-pump,
and the click of the latch on the reverse lever.
There was no bell to relieve the monotony of
the rasping, phthisicky whistle. I wondered if
we could ever understand each other, if she
would respond to my touch ; for the driver
talked to her in a strange tongue.
The engine-men wore no gloves, and handled
the door-chain and hot levers as though they
were wood. The driver held a piece of burn
ing waste in his hand to furnish fire for his
cigarettes. I dicl, not repxoach him or blame
hini for smoking cigarettes ; it was the " wheel,"
no doubt, that drove him to it.
ON AN IRON STEED 121
If cabs had seats, running a locomotive would
be much easier in Europe than in America.
The ways are all walled or fenced in, and there
is no necessity for the constant straining of the
eyes and nerves, from which American drivers
suffer so much.
The first stop is at Amiens, eighty miles out.
There I saw what I had never seen before,
women working the switches in a signal-tower.
There were two of them, and they appeared to
have the station quite to themselves. I make
no doubt that they find their work very agree
able and interesting, that they are faithful, that
their homes are happy, and that they consider
themselves very superior, and refuse to exchange
calls with their sister, the " bull whacker."
At Amiens we met Night on her way to the
west, and I gave up the engine for the more
comfortable carriage. This compartment was
very like the one assigned our party on the
Chatham and Dover, except that it was a trifle
wider, and done in tan instead of blue.
Here, as in England, the stations are ample,
with all the tracks under cover. The trains
stop but five minutes; but the European car-
122 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
riages soon discharge their passengers, the
first-class into the buffet, the second, as a rule,
into the buvette. A brass-hulled yard engine
was hustling about, uttering shrill shrieks in the
great sheds. The yard-men worked without
lamps, and wore horns over their shoulders,
through which they " conched " signals to the
engineers. The locomotives have no head
lights in Europe, sucrf as are used in the States,
but there was a hand-lamp, or a lightning-bug,
chained fast to the pilot of the " shunter " at
After trembling away in the twilight for an
hour, and an hour into the night, the street-
lamps began to thicken by the way, and in a
few minutes we stopped in the great station
of the Nord, and were in Paris.
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE
R more than twenty minutes the cab rat
tled through the narrow, stony streets of
Paris, crossed the Seine, always interesting, but
weirdly beautiful at night, with its many bridges
and countless lamps of every color, and finally
stopped at the Gare de 1 Est.
" Orient Express, Monsieur? " asked the por
ter, as he balanced my box on the scales.
"Oui," said I ; and then he cried the weight,
fifty kilos. " Twenty-one francs, if you
please," said the man in the baggage-office, and
I flashed up my transportation.
"Twenty-one francs," the money-taker re
peated, and I showed my sleeping-car ticket,
thinking I had him on the hip this time sure.
" For the baggage, for the baggage," he said,
in French, growing impatient ; and I gave him
the money. Manifestly there was no free bag-
TALES OF AN ENGINEER
gage on the Orient Express ; and the rate of
twenty-one francs, 173-. 10^., or $4.20 for one
hundred pounds, eight hundred miles, was a
To the porter who freighted my trunk I gave
some sous, and saw him drop them into a
locked box at the door of the baggage-room.
In England the porters keep what they get, and
it has a good effect. It makes the individual
porter look out for baggage ; for the more peo
ple he serves, the more he will receive. In
France each porter waits for the other, knowing
the division will be equal at night ; and so there
is nothing to work for. It kills competition,
this French arrangement, and makes the man
almost worthless. The moment you relinquish
the "pourboire," the porter s interest in you
ceases. He simply heads you in on the main
platform, where you must work out your own
salvation. I fancy this rule does not apply at
all stations, but it certainly does at the Gare de
1 Est, with a very bad result.
The train which I was preparing to board
this bleak November night consisted of a
smart-looking locomotive and five cars. Next
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE
the engine there was a sort of combination ex
press, baggage, and commissary car, where the
stores were kept. Then came the dining-car,
one-third of which was made into a beautiful
smoking saloon, with great easy-chairs put up
in dark leather. Back of the diner there were
three sleeping-cars, Mann boudoirs, and run
ning along under the roof, above the tops of
the high windows, in bold gold letters, was the
name of the company unabridged, " The Inter
national Bed- Wagons Company and the Grand
European Express ; " only it was in French, and
ran like this : " Compagnie Internationale des
Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Europeans."
The outward appearance of this company s
trains is similar to the trains run on the Ameri
can continent. The cars are long, and rest on
eight wheels. You enter the car at or near the
end, and pass through a narrow corridor, from
which you enter the compartments. A com
partment holds two or four people, and often,
with the judicious expenditure of a few francs,
the voyager can secure a small compartment all
to himself, and he is quite as secluded and com
fortable as he would be in the state-room of a
128 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Pullman or Wagner. There are certainly many
advantages in a compartment sleeper. A man
travelling with his wife has only to provide him
self with two tickets and secure a compartment
all to themselves. Two ladies travelling together
would have the same advantage.
There is no rush or excitement, no one ap
pears to be in any hurry. Three or four por
ters come along, leisurely rolling a little iron
car containing a small canvas travelling-bag.
Other porters not in uniform come with
hot-water cans, long flat cans which they
slide into the compartments of ordinary Euro
pean coaches; but the Orient is heated by
steam. Now comes a truck with a great many
mail- bags, which are put into the rear car. The
mails are an important item to the railways, and
as this train leaves Paris but twice a week, they
are usually heavy. In half an hour the splendid
train is trembling away in the night. It is
seven o clock, and the dining-car is filled with
people, men and women from every corner
of the earth. If a Russian speaks to an Italian,
or a German to a Spaniard, it is almost invaria
bly in French.
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 129
All the reading matter belonging to the train
is printed in three languages ; but only French
is spoken, save when another language is abso
lutely necessary. The cards posted in the cars
have these headings: "AVIS," " NOTIZ,"
The dining-car service is equal to the best in
any country, and the rates are reasonable. The
first-breakfast is the regulation European bill,
bread, butter, and coffee, with fruit if you want \ 1 -
it, for i/. 75/ (is. 5//., or 35 cents).
At eleven o clock they serve a good dejeuner
for five francs, a dollar, and at evening a
splendid dinner for six francs; so you have
three good meals for $2.55, which in America,
in the average dining-car, would cost three
When dinner is over, the men lounge in the
smoking-room for a couple of hours, and then
go to their boudoirs.
In a few hours we were rolling away toward
the selvage of France over a smooth track.
Shortly after midnight I was awakened by a
commotion at my door, opened my eyes, and
beheld an officer in the corridor. He was
130 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
grand beyond description. With every move
ment of the train he flashed back to me the
flickering light that went out of my compart
ment to his plated person. In addition to the
cord on his cap and his brilliant buttons, he
wore festooned about his breast enough gold
cable to rope a steer; and I knew then that
we were in Germany. This awe-inspiring indi
vidual stood without, while his assistant, a less
imposing personage, inspected my ticket and
We left Paris at 6.50 p. M., and at noon the
next day we were at Munich. Half-way between
noon and night we were rolling along the banks
of a beautiful river, near the edge of Austria.
It was a clear, sparkling stream such as run
rapidly down from the hills, and far to the
south we could see the mountains wearing
their first white robe of winter, and stabbing
the blue sky with their polished peaks.
When the train stops at a station of any
importance, an officer with a large book, fol
lowed by two or three assistants, goes to the
locomotive, secures the autograph of the engi
neer, and gives him a lot of vocal instructions.
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 131
They all talk at once, " kracking " their s till
one is reminded of a skating party breaking
through the ice. Finally peace is declared,
they all salute, and the train moves on. Every
thing has a military air about it. The old
woman sweeping a crossing brings her broom
to her shoulder, and the one-legged watchman
comes to the proper position, with a red flag
for a musket, as the train goes by.
Twenty-four hours takes the traveller to
Vienna, 1,402 kilometres, over 800 miles,
which is very good speed.
The locomotives used in Austria are more
like American machines than those of England
and France, and the day-cars are the best I
have seen on the Continent. They are heavier
than the ordinary European railway carriage,
and rest on eight large wheels. First-class
carriages are heavily padded with beautiful
Russian leather, clean, cool, and comfortable.
You enter these cars, not at the side nor at
the end, but at the corner; the compartments
open into a corridor.
Leaving Vienna, you pass through a great
valley, or prairie, where farmers follow bull-
132 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
teams down the dark furrows that seem never
to end, but disappear at the edge of the horizon.
The vastness of the fields, and the houses so far
apart, give the land an air of desolation.
At midnight we were at Budapest, the beau
tiful capital of Hungary, with a splendid king s
palace on the Danube ; but there is no king
there : the king is the Emperor of Austria, and
lives at Vienna. Here are more strange-looking
people, and the signs and notices are printed
in four tongues. Twenty minutes for another
Dropping down the Danube for six or seven
hours, we see the sun rise in Servia, and the
first stop on the following day is at Belgrade.
Farther to the south, it is warmer here ; the
earth is dry, and the sky clear. Here the
voyager begins to feel that he is in a new world,
with strange people. Here are evidences of
dress reform. The pantaloon is merging into
the gown, or the gown into the pantaloon, per
haps, as it is in America. Each succeeding
hour takes the traveller farther into this desolate
country, so old and yet so new, with so little
of what are now regarded as signs of civilization.
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 133
Here prosperity and poverty appear to meet
and pass. A wild-looking shepherd, in his coat
of wool, gazing at the train, reminds me of the
lone wolf as I have seen him stand in my native
land, watching the train with nothing near him
but solitude and God.
In the low, stone-fenced corrals are stacks of
fine oak-brush, cut from the gentle hills, evi
dently in summer when the leaves were green ;
and this brush is to be given to the frail horses,
cows, and donkeys for hay. These stacks of
bushes tell more than enough of the poverty of
the country. When we have travelled through
it, we wonder how the International Sleeping-
Car Company can afford to run a train even
twice a week through such a land.
At noon we met and passed the west-bound
train. It may be that we had passed other
trains ; but this was the first passenger train I
had seen for forty hours.
I carried with me a permit to ride on the
locomotive of the Orient Express when I wished
to do so, and now I slipped into my engine
clothes and mounted the machine. The engi
neer was a native j and about all we could say to
each other was " Yes " and " No " in French.
TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Nearly, if not all, the railroads here are oper
ated by the Governments of the various countries
through which they pass. The Orient express,
however, is operated solely By the Sleeping-Car
Company. This company s conductor, who goes
all the way from Paris to Constantinople, is the
captain of the train ; only the Government in
spectors of the different countries come aboard
to inspect baggage and look after the interest
of the Government. The railway fare from Paris
to Constantinople by the Orient Express, a train
de luxe, is sixty-nine dollars ; the sleeping-car
ticket is eighteen dollars.
The track was only fair, but the locomotive
was in good condition. The time is slow, not
more than twenty or thirty miles an hour.
At the first road crossing outside the town
we found a long line of wagons drawn by small
cattle, waiting at the closed gate. Behind these
wagons, reaching far out to the hills, miles
away, were strings of pack animals loaded with
corn on the stalk. Evidently this was an im
portant market for the surrounding country.
It was a beautiful afternoon, soft as Septem
ber in Paris or New York. The road here ran
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 135
up a broad vale, which, however, grew narrower
as we ascended the waterless stream. On either
side the wash, the country grew rough ; the hills
in the distance would be called mountains in
the Holy Land. The wagon road lay parallel
with the railway, and in half an hour we passed
hundreds of ox teams bringing wood down from
the hills. Some women and children were
driving a flock of turkeys, a man was leading a
sheep, and others were carrying jars of some
thing honey perhaps on their heads.
All at once the air grew still ; an oppressive
silence seemed to hang on vale and hill, and
all the people stopped short. It seemed to me
that we had run into a bad piece of track, or
that our train had suddenly quickened its pace.
I saw a Servian woman, with a little child
on her arm, stagger, stop, take the water-jug
from her head, and hug her frightened babe to
her naked breast. Hundreds of yoked cattle
were lowing, burros were braying, and whole
flocks of sheep were crying on the distant
downs. Meantime the curves seemed to in
crease ; and although we were not making more
than forty miles an hour, we appeared to fairly
136 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
fly. Men stood still and stared at the heavens.
A Mohammedan slid down from a pack-mule,
spread his prayer-rug, set his face toward Mecca,
and prayed. Christians crossed themselves, and
as often as I stole a glance at the driver I found
him looking at me. Till now, I had attributed
the action of these wild people to childish
wonder at seeing the train sweep by ; but when
I looked at the almost pale face of the sun-
browned driver, I was bewildered. The things
I beheld were all so unnatural that I felt my
head swimming. Glancing ahead, I saw the
straight track take on curves and shake them
out again, resembling a running snake. The
valley had become a narrow gulch, and from
the near hills arose great clouds of smoke, as
from a quarry when the shots go off. The fire
man, who had been busy at the furnace-door,
stood up now and gazed at the driver, who
pressed his left hand hard over his eyes, then
took it off and tried to see, but made no attempt
to check the speed of the flying train. As a
drunken cowboy dashing down a straight street
sways in his saddle, as a wounded bird reels
through the air, did this mad monster of a
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 137
locomotive swing and swim o er the writhing
Suddenly a great curve appeared in front of
us. This time the stoker, who had left off
firing, saw it, and made the sign of the cross.
Again the driver hid his eyes, and again I felt
my brain grow dizzy trying to understand. We
could hear and feel the engine wheels rise and
fall on the twisting rail with a deafening sound.
At last she settled down, and began to glide
away as a boat glides down a running stream.
" What is it? " I asked of the French fireman.
"Tremblement de terre," he said, shaking
himself violently, and pointing to the ground ;
and then I understood that we had been riding
over an earthquake. The driver was either too
proud and brave to stop, or too frightened to
be able to shut off steam ; I don t know which.
Passing out of Servia, we clip off a corner of
Bulgaria, calling at the capital, Sofia.
The next place of importance is Adrianople,
the old capital of the Turks. It was here that
young Mohammed caused the great cannon to
be cast with which he battered the walls of
Constantinople, and conquered Constantine, the
138 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
last Christian emperor of Byzantium, while the
fat priests plotted against each other, and
the poor ignorant Christians laid down their
arms to cross themselves.
It is Wednesday morning, and we are rolling
slowly along over a dreary, desolate-looking
country. All things European are rapidly dis
appearing. The old familiar battle-cry of the
beggars of France, "pourboire," is changed to
Instead of section men with picks and shovels,
we see by the side of the track dark Turks in
bicycle trousers, carrying rusty muskets on their
Here and there, far apart, we find bands of
dusky, sooty laborers burning oak-brush, from
the sticks of which they make charcoal.
While we are at dejeuner, the train toils up
a long grade, and finally reaches the summit of
a sort of tableland from which we look down
into the quiet Sea of Marmora, sleeping silently
between Europe and Asia. It looks more like
a great lake than a sea, with its sloping shores
and marshy margin, fringed with flags and
OVER AN EARTHQUAKE 139
Now we are entering a city that seems very
old. The train rolls along among the houses
behind a rain-stained wall ; and when we stop,
we find the platform crowded with red caps,
the cabmen are having a spirited argument,
hotel-runners, guides and dragomans are push
ing each other, a long line of hammels t or
porters, are waiting at the customs office, and
beyond them a line of miserable beggars, and
this is Constantinople.
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES
/CONSTANTINOPLE may be considered as
^"^ the end of the railway system of the earth.
Here, if you wish to see more of the Orient,
you must take to the sea. There is, to be
sure, a projected railway out of the Sultan s
city into the interior, but only completed to
Angora, three hundred and sixty-five miles.
The intention of the projectors was to con
tinue the road on down to Bagdad, on the River
Tigris, through which they could reach the
I had arranged to go to Angora, but found
a ten days quarantine five miles out of Con
stantinople, and backed into town. I then
made an effort to secure from the office of
the titled German who stands for the railway
company some idea of the road, its pros
pects, probable cost, and estimated earnings ;
but my letters returned without a line.
144 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
To show that I was acting in good faith and
willing to pay for what I got, I went with
Vincent the guide, the only good guide I ever
knew, and asked them for some printed
matter, or photographs, or anything that would
throw a little light along the line of their
plague-stricken railway ; but they still refused
No wonder it has taken these dreamers ten \
years to build three hundred and sixty miles
of very cheap railroad !
It was my misfortune to fall into a little old
Austrian- Lloyd steamer, called the Daphne.
Before we lifted anchor in the Golden Horn,
I learned that her boilers had not been over
hauled for ten years ; and before we reached
the Dardanelles, I concluded that the sand had
not been changed in the pillows for a quarter
of a century. I have slept in the American
desert for a period of thirty nights, between the
earth and the heavens, and found a better bed
than was made by the ossified mattress and
petrified pillows of the Daphne.
It was bad enough to breathe the foul air that
came up from the camping pilgrims on the
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 145
main deck; but the first day out we learned
that these ugly ^Armenians, greasy Greeks, |
and filthy Bedouins would be allowed to come
upon the promenade deck and mingle with
those who had paid for first-class passage.
Poorly clad, half-starved, poverty-stricken
people headed for the Holy Land came and
rubbed elbows with American and European
women and children. Of course, one sympa
thizes with these poor miserable people ; but
one does not want their secrets. These facts
are not put here to injure the steamship
company, but that other voyagers may fight
shy of these little old rattle-traps of coast
steamers, that ought to be run up a canal for
the sea-birds to rest on. This company has
many excellent steamers, and ought to be
ashamed to put first-class passengers into a
cattle-ship and charge first-class rates.
We left the Bosphorus at twilight, crossed
the Sea of Marmora during the night, and the
next morning were at Gallipoli, where the bird
seeds come from.
The day broke beautifully, and the little sea
was as calm as a summer lake. By ten o clock
146 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
we were drifting down the Dardanelles, which
resembles a great river j for the land is always
near on either side.
The ship s doctor, who was my guide at
every landing-place, kindly pointed out the
many places of interest.
"Those pyramids over there," he would say,
" were erected by the Turks to commemorate
a victory. Here is where Byron swam the sea
from Europe to Asia ; and over there is where
King Midas lived, whose touch turned piastres
to napoleons, and flounders to gold fish. Here,
to the left, on that little hill, stood ancient
All things seemed to work together to make
the day a most enjoyable one, and just at night
fall the doctor came to me and said,
" See that island over there ? That was the
home of Sappho."
And there she sang,
" T was like unto the hyacinth
That purpled on the hills,
That the careless shepherd, passing,
Tramples underfoot and kills."
An hour later, we anchored in a little natural
harbor, and five of us went ashore.
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 147
Beside the ship s doctor, whose uniform
was a sufficient passport for all, there were
in our party a Pole and a Frenchman (both
inspectors of revenue for the Turkish Govern
ment, and splendid fellows) , a Belgian, and the
writer. We entered a cafe"-concert, where one
man and five or six girls sat in a sort of balcony
at one end of the building and played at
" fiddle." The main hall was filled with small
tables, at which were Greeks, Catholics, Arme
nians, Turks, and negroes as black as a hole
in the night. Between acts, the girls were
expected to come down, distribute themselves
about, and help consume beer and other fluid
at the expense of the frequenters.
The girls were nearly all Germans, plain,
honest, tired-looking creatures, who seemed
half embarrassed at seeing what they call
" Europeans." One very pretty girl, with
peachy cheeks, who, as we learned, had for
several evenings been in the habit of drinking
beer with a Greek, sat, this evening, with a
dark Egyptian, almost jet black. The Greek
a hollow-chested, long-haired loafer came
in ; and the moment he saw the girl with the
148 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
chalk- eyed man, turned red, then white, and
then, whipping out a gun, levelled it at the girl.
Nearly all the lights went out, and the girl
dropped from the chair. When the smoke
and excitement cleared away, it was found that
the bullet had only parted the girl s hair, and
she was able to take her fiddle and beer when
time was called.
At midnight we were rowed back to the boat,
with all the poetry knocked out of the isle
of Sappho, hoisted anchor, and steamed away.
On the whole, however, the day had been a
most delightful one. To me there are no fairer
stretches of water for a glorious day s sail than
When we dropped anchor again, ten hours
later, it was at Smyrna, the garden of Asia
Minor. Here I went ashore with my faithful
guide, the doctor, and found a real railway.
The Ottoman Railway, whose headquarters
are at Smyrna, was the first in Asia Minor,
and was begun by the English company, which
continues to do business, thirty-six years ago.
Mr. William Shotton, the Locomotive Superin
tendent, showed us through the shops and build-
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 149
ings. One does not need to be told that this
propertyTs managed t^ttn English company,
I saw here the neatest shops and yards
that I have ever seen in any country. There
were in the car-shops some carriages just com
pleted, designed and built by native workmen
who had learned the business with the company ;
and I have not seen such artistic cars in Eng
land or in France.
Mr. Shotton explained to me that they found
it necessary to ask an applicant his religion
before employing him, so as to keep the Greeks
and Catholics about equally divided ; otherwise
the faction in the majority would lord it over
the weaker band, to the detriment of the
service. An occasional Mohammedan made
no difference ; but the Greeks and Catholics
have it in for each other, as they do at Beth
lehem, just as they had in the dark days of
the gentle Constantine, and just as they will
have till the end of the chapter.
The Ottoman Railway Company has three
hundred and fifty miles of good railroad, and
Tibpe s some day to be able to continue across to
Bagdad, though it is hinted by people not
150 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
interested that the Sultan s Government favors
the sleepy German Company, to the embarrass
ment of the Smyrna people, who have done so
much for the development of this marvellously
We spent a pleasant day at Smyrna, with its
water-melons, Turkish coffee, and camels ; and
twenty-four hours later we were at the Isle of
Rhodes, where the great Colossus was. It was
a dark, dreary, windy night, and the Turks
fought hard for the ship s ladder. We had
on board a wise old priest from Paris, with a
string of six or eight young priests, who were to
unload at Rhodes. Despite the cold, raw wind
and rain, men came aboard with canes, beads,
and slippers made of native wood, for there
is a prison here, and offered them for sale at
very low prices.
For the next forty-eight hours our little old
ship was wallopped about in a boisterous sea,
and when we stopped again it was at Mersina,
where a little railroad runs up to Tarsus, where
Saul used to live. As we arrived at this place
after sunset, which ends the Turkish day,
we were obliged to lie here twenty-four hours,
to get landing.
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 151
On the morning of the second day, after our
arrival at this struggling little port, our anchor
touched bottom in the beautiful Bay of Alex-
andretta. Here they show you the quiet nook
where the whale shook Jonas. That was a sad
and lasting lesson for the whale ; for not one of
his kind has been seen in the Mediterranean
since. All day we watched them hoist crying
sheep and mild-eyed cattle, with a derrick from
row-boats, up over the deck and drop them
down into the ship, just as carelessly as a
boy would drop a string of squirrels from his
hand to the ground.
The next morning we rode into the only har
bor on the Syrian coast, and anchored in front
of the beautiful city of " Bayroot," I believe
that is the correct spelling ; it is the only way
it has not been spelled !
It would take too long to describe this place,
even if I had the power, to tell of the road to
Damascus, the drives to the hills of Lebanon,
through the silk- farms, the genial and obliging
American Consul, the American College : but
here, after nine days and nights, we said good-by
to the obliging crew of the poor old Daphne.
152 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
It was Christmas Eve when we learned that
the sea had quieted sufficiently to allow ships
to land at Jaffa ; and as early as 3 p. M. Cook s
comedian came and hustled us aboard. The
ship did not leave until 7.30, and we had to
pay a dollar each for our dinners. For nearly a
week the steamers had been passing Jaffa with
out landing, and the result was that Beyroot and
Port Said were filled with passengers and pil
grims for the Holy Land. All day the Russian
steamer which we were to take had been load
ing with deck or steerage passengers, poorer
and sicker and hungrier, if possible, than those
on the Daphne were. It was dark when they
had finished, and when we steamed out of
the harbor we had seven hundred patches of
poverty piled up on the deck. It began to
rain shortly, that cold damp rain that seems
to go with a rough sea, just as naturally as red
liquor goes with crime. For a week or more,
these miserable, misguided beggars had been
carried by Jaffa, from Beyroot to Port Said, then
from Port Said to Beyroot, unable to land. And
this was Christmas Eve. Not a passenger nor
a pilgrim in all that vast shipload but had hoped
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 153
and prayed and planned to be at Bethlehem
to-night. The good captain caused a canvas to
be stretched over the shivering, suffering mob
that covered the deck; but the pitiless rain
beat in, and the wind moaned in the rigging,
and the ship rolled and pitched and ploughed
through the black sea, and the poor pilgrims
regretted the trip in each other s laps. All
night and till nearly noon the next day they
lay there, more dead than alive ; and the hard
est part of their pilgrimage was yet before them.
If you have ever seen a flock of hungry gulls
round a floating biscuit, you can form a very
faint idea of a mob of native boatmen storming
a ship at Jaffa. Of course the ladders are filled
first ; then those who have missed the ladders
drive bang against the ship, grab a rope, or
cable, or anything they can grasp, and run up
the iron, slippery side of the ship, as a squirrel
runs up a tree.
From the top of the ship they began to fire
the bags, bundles, and boxes of the deck pas
sengers down into the broad boats that lie so
thick at the ship s side as to hide the sea
entirely. When they had thrown everything
154 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
overboard that was loose at one end, they
began on the poor pilgrims.
Women, old and young, who were scarcely
able to stand up were dragged to the ladders
and down to the last step. Here they were
supposed to "lay" for the boat into which the
Arabs were preparing to pitch them ; for the
sea was still very rough. Now the bottom step
of the ladder was in the water, now six feet
above ; but what did these poor ignorant Rus
sians know about gymnastics? When the roll
ing sea brought the row-boats up, the pilgrims
usually hesitated, while the bare-armed and
bare-legged boatmen yelled and wrenched their
hands from the chain. By the time the Moham
medans had shaken a woman loose, and the
victim had crossed herself, the ladder was six or
eight feet from the small boat ; but it was too
late to stay her now, even if the Arabs had
wished to, but they did not. When she
made the sign of the cross, that decided them,
and they let her drop. Some waiting Turks
made a feeble attempt to catch the sprawling
woman, but not much. Sometimes, before one
could rise, another woman for they were
THROUGH THE DARDANELLES 155
nearly all women would drop on to her bent
back. Sometimes, when the first boat was filled,
an Arab would catch the pilgrim on his neck,
and she could then be seen riding him away as
a woman rides a bicycle. From one boat to
another he would leap, with his helpless victim,
and finally pitch her forward over his own head
into an empty boat, where she would lie limp
and helpless, and regret it some more.
I saw one poor girl, with great heavy boots
on her feet, with hobnails in the heels, fall
into the bottom of a boat ; and before she could
get up, three large women were dropped into
her lap. Just then the boat, being full, pulled
off, and I saw her faint, and her head fall back ;
and her death-like face showed how she had
suffered. It was rare sport for the Moham
"Jump ! " they would say to the Christians.
"Don t be afraid ; Christ will save you ! "
It was 4 P. M. when the last of these miserable
people, who ought to have been at home hoe
ing potatoes, left the ship. An hour later, a
long dark line of smoke was stretching out
across the plain of Sharon, behind a locomotive
156 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
drawing a train of stock cars. These cars held
the seven hundred pilgrims bound for Jerusa
lem. It will be midnight when they arrive at
the Holy City, and they will have no money
and no place to sleep in. Ah, I forgot ; they
will go to the Russian Hospice, where they will
find free board and lodging. It is kind and
thoughtful in the Russian Church people to
care for these poor pilgrims, now that they are
here ; but it is not right nor kind to encourage
them to come. It will be strangely interest
ing to them at first; but when they hava
seen it all, there will be nothing for them but
idleness ; nothing to do but walk, walk, up
the Valley of Jehosaphat, and down the road
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM
JAFFA was the home of Simon the Tanner,
whose house still stands, and is now for
rent. It was the shipping station of Jonas ; the
port where Solomon landed the cedars of Leba
non, with which he built his extravagant harem ;
and out of the wreck-strewn reef that frowns in
front of the custom-house, rises the rock of
Andromeda. It was here the poor lady was
chained; but it was not the sea monster she
feared, but a change in the wind. If the wind
had blown from shore, and brought to her the
faintest whiff of Jaffa, she could not have lived
to tell her tale. When you land here, which
you can accomplish only when the sea is calm,
you find yourself in a narrow, mean, muddy
street, filled with freighted camels, hamals, and
burros, through which you are marched for a
quarter of a mile before you come to a road
160 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
wide enough to hold a carriage ; then you look
across the street, see Howard s Hotel, dismiss
the carriage for which you have paid a tourist
agency a dollar, and walk to your stopping
We landed at 10.30, and by 10.45 we had
become tired of the sights and scent of the
city. Securing a guide, I waited upon the chief
of the Jaffa and Jerusalem Railway.
It was Saturday; the manager whom I
could not see said he was very busy, but if I
would come in to-morrow, he would be glad to
give me any information I desired. I went
straight to the station, caught the 12.15 express,
-and entered the only first-class carriage in the
train, with a ticket for Jerusalem. The road is
a three-foot gauge, the cars are narrow, and
only half of one little pine coach is set apart
for first-class passengers. This space is cut by
a partition making two boxes, six by seven feet,
/ The train is made up of all kinds of cars.
The grass is green between the ties, and the
scale that is crumbling from the sandstone
cornice of the station is allowed to remain
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM l6l
where it falls, to be crushed under the feet
of the travellers. The management is French,
with a strong Turkish flavor^ The pompous, .al
most military-looking manager, and the brightly
umfoTmetr^chef de gare," or station-master,
seem strangely out of place, when you glance at
the wretchedness that surrounds them. Here
is a queer mixture of the frivolity of France
with the filth of the Orient. From the time
you get the first glimpse of the Jaffa gare till
you reach Jerusalem, the whole show has about
it an air of neglect like a widow s farm. They
^ appear to know as much about railroading as
tKe^average Arab knows about the Young Men s
--, Christian Association.
The time was up, and we were fifteen minutes
over-due to leave, when I asked Howard, the
hotel man, what the matter was.
"Waiting for le directeur de la compagnie"
said he, with a smile ; for he knew how absurd
it was to hold the only daily train the road runs
for the General Manager.
Another quarter of an hour went by, and still
Suddenly there was a bustling among the
162 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
station-hands, the bell jingled, the whistle the
deep-voiced North American Baldwin whistle
sounded, and we moved away. At the last
moment I saw the handsome station-master
hurry a well-dressed gentleman to our car, put
him in, and then swing gracefully into the
second-class carriage immediately behind ours.
A couple of officers of an English war-ship
which was anchored off Jaffa occupied one of
the first-class compartments, and now the new
comer came in where I was.
The train started slowly, and seemed to be
running over a track made of short pieces of
rails; but I soon found that the one wheel at
my corner had three flat spots on it, and that
the"two rear wheels had but one. This gave
the car an uncertain sort of movement, two
short hops and a long one. I looked at my
companion and tried to look pleased. He
frowned. I raised the window and tried to see
what made the car caper about so, and my
travelling companion burnt a cigarette.
"Little rough," I said as a feeler; and my
friend blew such a fog into my face that I was
obliged to take to the window again.
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 163
"Window too cool for you? " I asked, ven
turing another flyer at the Frenchman, and he
Growing accustomed to the pounding and
bucking of the carriage, I began to looITaf the
strange~sc"enes along the line. On one side
there was an orange orchard, whose trees were
laden with golden fruit. On the other was an
olive orchard, and here and there tall date-palms
flung their banners to the breeze. In a field
near by, a native was ploughing with two little
thin-legged blond cows, followed by another
team which was a strange combination, a
burro and a bull ; and just behind that a tall
camel came swimming slowly through the peace
ful air, drawing a wooden plough which had but
one handle. This is a beautiful valley, called
the Plain of Sharon ; and if it was farmed as
France or England is farmed, it would be a
veritable garden. Forty-five minutes out we
stopped at Lydda, twenty kilometres from Jaffa.
Here my friend got out, walked up towards the
engine, scowled, and returned to the car. The
red-fezzed station-master from Jaffa came from
his carriage, just as the station-master of Lydda
1 64 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
came out of the station. Their eyes met ; they
stopped, clasped their hands, and you could see
in a minute that they belonged to the same
lodge. The Lyddian tilted his head slightly,
as a hen does when she sees a hawk high above
her; then they unplatted their fingers, and
rushed into each other s arms. When they had
embraced, the chef from Jaffa held the Lyddian
off at arm s length, and looked calmly into his
eyes, as if to say : " Hast thou been faithful to
thy trust ? Lie not ; for behold the breath of
the high chef des gares is upon thee and will
wither thee if thou speakest not the truth."
The Lyddian nodded his head three times
very slowly, and the chef kissed him on the
right and then on the left cheek. Another deep
blast from the Philadelphia whistle, and my car
riage began to scamper away like a wounded
hare in the stubble. Another quarter of an
hour brought us to Ramleh old Arimathsea.
One hour from Jaffa, and this Syrian cyclone,
this Jerusalem jerk- water, has covered nearly
eighteen miles. I dropped off as the train was
coming in, and made a picture of the pretty
little station. Ramleh is an old town, in fact,
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 165
everything is old here. The railway, which was
opened only two years ago, is old, and only a
few people came to see the train go by. It has
always been a place of importance, for here the
old caravan road from Damascus to Egypt
crosses the trail trod by the Crusaders from Jaffa
to Jerusalem. At Lydda I fancied I smelt a hot-
box ; then I laughed at the idea, a hot-box
at eighteen miles an hour ! It was only the
odor of the Orient, I reasoned, and forgot. But
now, as the train stopped at Ramleh, two clouds
of beautiful blue smoke came up from a coal
car near the locomotive, and floated away across
the rolling plain. The doctor of the battle-ship
and his friend the lieutenant were contemplating
one of these boxes, when I came up and offered
to bet a B. & S. that my side would blaze first.
" Taken ! " said the game doctor ; and while
we were amusing ourselves thus, my French
friend came forward, saw the hot-box, and made
a bee-line for the station.
The next moment he was out again with the
conductor. You could see that the box was
not the only thing hot on the J. & J. The
distinguished traveller was beating his hands
I 66 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
together, pushing his nose sideways with his
front finger, and telling the conductor things
that would burn the paper if we printed them.
When he stopped to breathe, the station-master
of Ramleh, who had already been hugged
and kissed by the station-master from Jaffa,
pulled the bell, and the train started. My trav
elling companion then turned on the poor
station-master for having started the train while
he was busy roasting the conductor. He raised
both hands above his head and rolled off a
succotash of French and Arabic for a whole
minute ; and when he turned, the rear end of
the train was just disappearing over a little hill
beyond the switch, and the General Manager
le directeur de la compagnie was left
I believe he must have been glad of it, for
he knew enough English to know that English
officers were making jokes of his railroad, and
that I was not over-pleased with the flat wheels.
The land was still beautiful. A little way
to the south was the broad valley of Ajalon,
where Pharaoh conquered a king, and gave
the ranch to Solomon, together with his
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 167
daughter ; for it was plain to Pharaoh that
Solomon was wasting a fortune trying to create
a boom on Mount Moriah, which is in Jerusa
lem, the only place where they suffer from
drought and mosquitos at the same time.
" Sun, stand thou still on Gibeon, and thou,
moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun
stood still, and the moon stayed, and there was
no day like that before it or after it." So it is
written of the valley of Ajalon; and now the
sound of a locomotive whistle floats o er the
plain, and echoes in the hills of Judaea.
"I win ! " said the Doctor, presently, pulling
his head in from the open window. " Mine s
Leaving the plain, we enter a canon about
six hundred feet above the sea, .up which we
toil at a snail s pace. The country grows more
desolate, the hills are barren wastes of gray
rock, with not enough vegetation to pasture a
tarantula. When we had arrived at Beir Aban,
thirty-one miles out, time two hours and fifteen
minutes, and the station-master from Jaffa had
embraced and kissed the station-master at Beir
Aban, first on the right cheek, and then on the
1 68 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
left, the cloud of smoke that arose from the
two hot boxes hid the locomotive entirely. For
a half-hour the train crew carried water from
the tank and flooded the hot boxes. The same
was repeated at Bittir, even to the kissing
and embracing, and we were off on the home
stretch for Jerusalem, which is twenty-six hun
dred feet above the Mediterranean. The canon
grows narrower as we ascend, and still there is
no earth in sight, nothing but rock, rock,
everywhere. Sometimes we can see on the
sides of the terraced hills a few rows of olive-
trees, which, like the scrub cedars in the moun
tains of America, seem to spring from the very
The conductor the slouchy, careless, polite
conductor came through the car for the last
time, and every one was glad we were nearing
the Holy City. The train-men are all French,
and, like most French people one is compelled
to rub up against in the churches, theatres, and
shops of the Republic, especially in Paris,
they appear never to use water, except the little
they put in their claret. There are more foun
tains than bath-tubs in Paris. French people
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 169
in the lower walks of life remind one of the
Mohammedan making a pilgrimage to Mecca,
who obstinately refuses to bathe until he gets
there, only these people seem never to get
there ! There s the sea at Jaffa ; but these
fellows never think of using it, any more than
the natives do.
The conductor is in keeping, however, with
other things pertaining to the road. Their
" cabinets de toilet," supposed to be built for
the use of the public, are absolutely unapproach
able. They are as far below those of France in
the way of cleanliness as the latter are below
those found in England. I have never seen
such inexcusable filthiness in any country.
Even the Arabs notice it.
The distance from Jaffa to Jerusalem, accord
ing to Howard s " Guide to Palestine," is thirty-
two miles as the raven makes it, and thirty-six
by wagon -road. No guide-book has been per
petrated since the opening of the railway ; but
none is necessary, as the time is about the
same. In fact, " White Sheik " Howard s
Arabian steed beats the train as often as he
is ridden down from Jerusalem.
170 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
The distance by rail is eighty-seven kilo
metres (about fifty-four miles), according to
the time-card ; and the same makes the running
time four hours and ten minutes : but we lost
an hour to-day.
The fare, first-class, is $3.00, second-class
$2.00, and third-class $1.25. The road has
never earned operating expenses, I am told,
and never will, I am led to believe. The loco
motives are the best mountain locomotives
made ; and that is about the only thing they
have to speak of.
I think there must be something in the
Brotherhood of Station-Masters prohibiting the
sweeping of floors in stations, as they are all
covered with sand, dirt, and scraps of paper,
I travelled over a little lumber road in Texas
once, whose initials were T. & S., and the train
men called it the " Trouble and Sorrow," and
sometimes " Timber and Sand." I rode on
the locomotive, for it was the first wood-burner
I had ever seen. The train was carded at
twelve miles an hour, and we were losing time ;
but it was the only time I was ever frightened
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM I 7 I
on an engine. The road was so rough, and the
engine rolled so, that the hazel-splitter hogs
would scamper out of the ditches beside the
track. In places the track was so sunken that
the ties hung to the underside of the rail ; and
when the engine struck a place like that, and
drove the ties down, the mud and water would
shoot out over the face of the earth, and fresco
everything inside the right of way. The pas
sengers, if they had not been too frightened,
could have picked flowers from the windows of
the rolling coaches almost. Till now, the
T. & S. has been to me the rockiest road on
earth ; but now it s all changed.
Now the whistle sounds deep and long, the
train has reached the top of the canon, the end
of the gulch, and here before us, nestled in the
very top of a group of little mountains, is Jeru
salem. The sun is just going down in the hills
through which we came, and away to the east,
beyond the Dead Sea, the hills of Moab are
taking on the wonderful tints they wear at
sunset. They are unlike any other mountains,
in that the crest-line is as straight as the line of
the horizon on a level plain.
172 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
How strange it all seems ! There is nothing
but rocks, and scrubby olive-trees, and dead-
looking grape-vines, and not many of them.
The people are strange, too. On the way to
the hotel, we pass all kinds of people of the
Orient, Bedouins on high horses, with their
knees cocked up; plains-men on thin-legged
Arabian steeds ; all manner of men on donkeys
and on foot, beggars, and even lepers, and
poor Jews ; Jews with cork-screw curls hanging
down in front of their ears, and idle pilgrims
who do nothing on earth but walk, walk up the
valley of Jehosaphat and down the road to
The moment you have seen it all, Jerusalem
becomes to you the most melancholy locality
on the face of the earth. It was so with us, I
know; and when the time came to leave, not
one of our party missed the train.
When the Syrian cyclone begins to descend
from Mount Zion to the sea, you are led to
believe that you will reach Jaffa in about an
hour ; but when the train has gone a quarter of
a mile the careful driver reverses the engine,
opens the cylinder- cocks, and you think by the
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 173
swish, swish, of the escaping steam that there is
an open switch just ahead ; but you are always
wrong. The truth is, they have no air-brakes,
and the driver is obliged to hold the train with
the engine in the back motion until it is brought
down to a reasonable pace. When you have
nearly stopped you go ahead again, just as you
did before, and go on repeating the perform
ance to the bottom of the hill, twenty-five miles,
and two thousand feet below Jerusalem. The
balance of the journey over the Plain of Sharon
is^less hazardous. The engine-driver is a
Frenchman, and extremely careful and compe
tent. He never allowed the train to get beyond
his control foFa^smgle moment, and he riavon
the whole, about as difficult a run as there is
east of Pike s Peak.
At Jaffa, as at Constantinople, you must take
to the sea again, for there are no more railroads
After the Jaffa and Jerusalem, the P. and I.
is good to look upon. This little railway
runs from Port Said to Isma ilia, less than a
hundred miles. The gauge is not even three
feet, which seems to be a sort of standard
174 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
for narrow-gauged railways everywhere. It is
only thirty inches. The locomotives are like
toy engines, but good ones, and the carriages
are beautiful, perfect little palaces. < They
are not only neatly designed and artistically
constructed, but scrupulously clean and very
comfortable. They are narrow, of course, but
ample room is given to each passenger. They
are so arranged that the whole car may be
opened up, allowing one to pass through it
from end to end. I had no time to inform
myself regarding the road s history, but I was
told that it had been built and was being ope
rated by a French company. I hope so, for
the J. & J. has rather disgraced France. The
rail, which rests on metallic cross-ties, looks to
be about thirty pounds to the yard. The road
runs, for the greater part, along the Suez Canal,
with the sea on the other side ; and the ride
from Port Sai d, if the sand is not blowing, is an
In the shallow sea to the right are myriads of
sea-birds of every conceivable kind, and farther
out, hundreds of sleepy-looking little ships with
one sail, whose masts lean back like a slender
JAFFA TO JERUSALEM 175
palm in a steady wind. To the left is the
canal, upon whose narrow waters one sees the
flag of almost every civilized country, save per
haps the Stars and Stripes, which, somehow,
one seldom sees at the Orient, or anywhere
else, for that matter. Even at Constantinople
the flag at the embassy flies only on high days
and holidays, and not very high then.
With all their enterprise, this company make
one serious mistake. They refuse to " paste "
baggage through from Port Said to Cairo, and
at Ismailia the traveller must hunt out his lug
gage, and have it re-weighed and re -registered.
The P. & O. s beautiful new steamer Caledonia,
bound for India, had unloaded an English
excursion party the day I went down, and it
took nearly two hours that night to re-weigh the
baggage where we left the smart little railway
and boarded the Egyptian line.
TJhe Egyptian state railways are not bad, nor
very good, but they answer the purpose. Their
locomotives are fair, their cars are of the usual
European style, short and light. They make
very good time, too, for such a slow country ;
but one must travel first-class always in Egypt,
176 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
to avoid smoke, filth, and dirt of every kind,
tfeejELuick and the dead !
If the reader has ever ridden on the rear-
end of an American railroad train, and is of an
observing turn, he has noticed that the moment
the train passes a gang of section-men, they all
fall to as vigorously as though they were repair
ing a wash-out, and were holding the President s
special. " Poor fellows," says the sympathetic
traveller, " how they work ! " He does not
observe that every Irish son of them has one
eye on the track, and the other on the rear-car
looking for the roadmaster. Well, they do that
here, and the Arabs did it on the Jaffa and
Jerusalem, just as the Chinamen do in Cali
fornia, and the negroes in Texas. Human
nature is much the same the world over.
delations? of tlje C3;mplo^ee to
RELATIONS OF THE EMPLOYEE TO
A S the shifting sands in the bed of a river
are constantly changing the channel, so
are the conditions of the country constantly
changing the relations of the railroad employee
to the railroad.
When the country is prosperous, and all the
railroads are running full-handed, employees
are apt to air their grievances and ask for a
raise in wages as often as a dividend is declared.
^^ ^^*~~*^^^s***~** 1 **^ __^ -^^^ ^^
When times are hard and hundreds of idle men
are abroad in the land, and locomotives are
rusting in the round-houses, railway managers
are "apt to ask the employees to submit to a
reduction in wages as often as a fresh batch of
men are discharged and sent adrift. These
facts may not be very complimentary to either
side, but they are facts, I fancy, all the same.
I So TALES OF AN ENGINEER
The railroad company proper is regarded by
the average employee as a mythical soulless
something, ever invisible and always out of
reach. "The struggle is really between the men
and the management, the employees and the
officials ; and as they are all employees, from
the president to the tie-tamper; from the mas
ter-mechanic to the poorly-paid wiper, we
must have a division to begin with. Out of
this great body we must find the fighting forces
for two armies, absurdly arrayed, one under
the flag of " Capital," the other bearing the
banner of " Labor."
This condition of things is all the more incon
sistent when we remember that the real fighters
are all laborers ; only, one side has succeeded,
the other is struggling to succeed. And how
1ire~we to know them? When does the "em
ployee " become an official? Ah, that s the
easiest thing in the world. For example, this
change in the life of a locomotive-engineer
comes the day he is promoted to be travelling
engineer or round-house foreman. It comes
to the conductor when he is made superintend
ent of a division ; to the telegrapher when he
RELATIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD l8l
becomes a despatcher or train-master. The
other employees come in awkwardly, congratu
late the new official, and then go back to the
boarding-house and lock their trunks. Here is
a parting of ways. From this day the new
official walks on the other side of the street,
regarding the promotion (for which all are striv
ing) almost a misfortune. At the end of a
week his room-mate leaves him, and he goes
also, to live in a better place. At the end
of a fortnight he finds that he has, almost un
consciously, changed his mode of living and
He sits no longer in the councils of em
ployees, for he stands for the company, for
Capital. In many cases he pays up his dues
and takes an honorary membership, or with
draws finally from the Brotherhood. He is so
different in his new place that sometimes he is
accused of being " stuck on himself." I put it
that way, for it is precisely as the " other fel
lows " will put it ; and I have dwelt upon this
point to show that there is no mistaking an em
ployee for the " company," which is simply the
management. It would not be just to say that
1 82 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
the new-made officer deserves all the bad things
said of him, nor would it be right to say that
the unpromoted employees are wholly to blame.
They have simply all dropped down the wrong
leg of the " Y," and nobody has taken the
trouble to back them up and set them right.
Then |t is always so much easier to convince a
working-man that he is getting the worst of it
than to show him that he is prosperous and
ought to be happy. That s why the professional
agitator has such smooth sailing. Man is a
scrappy animal at best, and I think that the
constant strain under which the railroad em
ployee works tends to make him especially
irritable, as the constant watchfulness of his
nature tends to make him suspicious of signals
which are not perfectly plain to him.
The railroad manager at his office, dictating
letters, directing business, and hearing griev
ances, is a different man altogether when seen
attlre club, at the races, in Sunday-school, or
at home ; but the less-experienced employee is
always the same on and off duty. He has not
yet learned how to forget his work, to put it
aside, and rest his weary brain. He railroads,
RELA TIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD 183
not only earnestly, but all the time : on the rail,
in the round-house, the barber-shop, and the
boarding-house. When he wants his plate
changed, he tells the waiter to " switch out the
empty, and throw in a load."
The little jealousies and animosities just
described exist among the employees as well as
between the man and the managers. For years
the bitterest hatred existed between the Brother
hood of Locomotive Engineers and the Brother
hood of Locomotive Firemen. Until lately a
member of the latter organization was not eligi
ble to membership in the former. In the West,
where promotion comes quick and easy, where
the fireman of to-day is the engineer of to-mor
row, where the world seems wider and ideas
broaden, these narrow views found little favor.
Indeed, it was the Western delegates in the
convention who caused these restrictions to
There existed for years the bitterest hatred
between the members of the Order of Railway
Conductors and the Engineers Brotherhood.
So cordially did they hate each other that it
was almost impossible to get good service.
184 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Railway managers made no frantic effort to
bring about a reconciliation between these im
portant branches of the train service. On the
contrary, I am afraid some of them rejoiced in
the strife, knowing well that so long as labor
warred with labor, capital would have smooth
When the Knights of Labor were in their
glory, many railroad employees turned to that
organization as the coming Moses. This led
up to a struggle between the Knights and the
When Debs often wrong, but always honest
an<f earnest, I believe - conceived the idea of
bringmg"air railroad employees together in one
colossal Brotherhood, he found himself opposed
by all the older organizations, including the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, for whose
advancement he had spent the best years of his
life. Just as the different nations of the earth
train their cannons on the other shore, so do
the various labor organizations of the United
States "lay" for one another.
Happily, thoughtful men are beginning to
regard all this as quite unnecessary, as a great
RELATIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD 185
waste of energy; and a change is coming.
Lopking back over the fields where labor and j
capital have fought, we see only waste, want,
desolation, and death. In struggles of this kind
capital gains nothing, and the_be_st labor can
get is the worst of it. The great strikes of the
past twenty years, including "the last bitter strug
gle ..of 1894, must prove plainly to the thought
ful, working- man that he must rely mainly upon
his own ability to make a place for himself in
the world and to hold it.
The struggle between the American Railway
Union and Mr. Pullman in the beginning, the
railway companies of the country in the end,
has proven two facts : to capital, that it is just
as well to treat fairly and deal honestly with
labor; to labor, that the country is not ready
for anarchy. Few people believe that the acts
of lawlessness committed at Chicago were the
doings of working-men. These outrages were
committed mainly by idle loafers and criminals , f
of every cast and irom every country, g oreigfa hAj-^^
working-men, at best, appear to bring all their > - -
grievances, all their disrespect for law, in ^ Qk( jj^
short, all they possess that is un-American, Jf)*^
1 86 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
tg^America. In nearly all the labor disturb
ances the finger-marks of the foreigner are V
plainly visible. The long and lawless struggle
at Cripple Creek was organized and officered
wholly by foreigners, and their energies were
directed mainly against one American, self-
made as far as his fortune is concerned, who,
in the panicky winter of 1893-4, advanced
nearly $100,000 to build a railroad to the great
gold camp, thereby providing work for hundreds
of men who were actually hungry. I find no
fault with a man because he is a foreigner ; only,
if he cares to live in the United States, he ought
to respect the laws of the country. But when
an American journal, or news-gathering associa
tion, will interview an Anarchist upon the mur
der of the president of a republic, allowing him
to rejoice in cold type over the death of a dis
tinguished citizen of another country; then,
when Americans allow such a man (a murderer
at heart) to live in the land, Uncle Sam becomes
an accessory, and by his tolerance encourages
I have seen their emblems. Here, in Paris,
not more than a mile from where I write, there
RELATIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD 187
is a corner in the graveyard set apart for these
miserable people. The walls are all ablaze
with red rings, a sort of bloody funeral harness,
and on their shields, red with rust, are engraved
the knife, the pistol, and the torch. It is not
good for the young republic of France, with a
new-made grave of a murdered president, to
allow these things to hang here, with their
breath of danger and hints of death.
It is not difficult for one, even slightly ac
quainted with the history of the railroads of the
United States, to pick out those that have been
most prosperous ; and it is gratifying to note
that those roads enjoying the greatest prosperity
are generally at peace with their employees.
We "Have seen the unpleasant side of the
employee, how, in the past, peace seemed to
trouble his mind, and now we shall see the
He is not only capable of appreciating hu
mane treatment, but is as loyal to the company
employing him, when properly handled, as the
highest officer can possibly be. Cross him,
and ~"h~eT will fight for his manager. Ask his
opinion, and he will show you how far the
1 88 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
"Thunder-bird" of his line is ahead of the
wretched and rickety old " Night-hawk " run by
the opposition road. The enthusiasm of the
earnest and industrious passenger-agent and his
army of assistants seems to find its way down
the line to the humblest employee.
I don t pretend to say that such is always the
case. A great deal nearly everything, in
fact depends upon the character of the higher
officials. A railway manager, the fingers of
whose phone run down to the pool-rooms and
the gilded palaces of painted women, will have
a demoralizing influence upon the employees of
the road. Turning restlessly in his office-chair,
ever gazing out at the window to fields which
he fancies elysium, ever impatient and anxious
to get away from work, to return to play, he
cuts everything short, and you will find his sub
ordinates following in his footsteps.
Take the manager who is thoroughly in ear
nest, honest and loyal to the company, and his
influence will be felt. It is not difficult for a
manager to win and hold the respect of the
employees of a railway. If he but takes the
trouble, and has the happy faculty of imparting
RELA TIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD 189
a little human kindness to every employee with
whom he comes in contact, he will soon win
the respect of all his subordinates. In doing
this he makes his own labors lighter, and at the
same time adds to the happiness of the em
ployees and the revenue of the road. The
best service can be had only when all work har
moniously and with a will. Railway employees
know when they are treated decently. They
know, too, that an impartial judge, commonly
known as " public opinion," will pass upon
their cause, and they are learning rapidly that
it is not good to kick unless they have a " kick
comin , as they express it. The best of them
are not great readers, but they manage to
acquire more knowledge of things in general,
and railroads in particular, than the average cit
izen does. Go and mingle with a band of yard
men who are loafing round a switch-engine, and
in a half hour you will get a good bit of the his
tory of American railroads, and much of the
personal history of the leading railway officials
of the country. You will find, too, that, if they
" roast " some of them vigorously, they praise
others enthusiastically. It is always pleasant to
190 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
say nice things of other people. It is pleasant
to try to pick out the good things in the life of
a man whom the public has regarded as bad.
Jay Gould, for example. The employees of
railroads commonly known as the " Gould
Systems " were always sure of three things,
good wages, decent treatment, and a good
check for their money the moment they earned
it. This respectful consideration for his em
ployees, which was one of the noble traits in
Mt. Gould s character, has been imparted to
his assistants, and is distinguishable to this day.
Not long ago, during an inquiry by the Govern
ment into the matter of wages of employees,
the president of one of these roads was called
to the stand to testify. Wheri the venerable
railroader took his place and raised his hand to
be^sworn, his white hair falling like a halo about
his head, the United States judge looked at
him for a moment, and said : " You need n t
swear." Perhaps the judge remembered that
in that same city then a wild outpost of civ
ilization on the Western plains this man
had begun his railroad career as a Eurrible
empIoyee7~aTid that in all these years his
RELATIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD 191
honesty had never been questioned, and that
Perhaps it was not much to take his testi
mony without swearing him, but to me it seems
a delicate and touching compliment to this
great good man. I know it is customary to
preserve these little flowers for the grave, but I
prefer to put this one here. It may serve as a
"marker" to those who follow in his footsteps,
a something to strive for, " a consummation
devoutly to be wished."
I never knew Tom Potter, never saw him,
but I know he lived and died. I remember
that for a year after his death it was impossible
to open one of the many trade magazines,
printed and supported by railway employees,
without reading a line like this : " Send some
thing to the Potter Monument Fund." I do
not know that he ever got the monument, but
I know he got its equivalent, a monument of
devotion which can only be built on the foun
dation prepared for it in life. It proves that
in the average railroad employee there is a pay-
streak of gratitude ; and that ought to make up
for a multitude of short-comings. But it is not
192 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
necessary to die in order to receive his respect.
During the hard times in the West, caused
mainly by the closing of the silver mines, a
very conscientious general manager called a
number of employees together to discuss the
matter of a reduction of wages. There were
present representatives from the various brother
hoods and labor organizations who had been
sent to head-quarters instructed to submit to
no reduction of wages. The manager made his
case so clear showing the delegates the utter
impossibility of keeping all the trains then on
the time-card running, and the folly of sup
posing that the owners of the road would retain
him as manager unless he made some effort to
reduce operating expenses to fit in a measure
the decrease and still decreasing earnings
that he at once won the respect of the dele
gation. When these poor fellows returned to
their several homes and made the result of
their deliberations known, there was a great
row. Some of the more ignorant and unscru
pulous employees openly accused the delegates
of selling their constituency to the railroad.
The manager heard all this in due time, and,
RE LA TIONS OF EMPL O YEE TO RAILROAD 193
having faith in the justice of his cause and
the humanity of man, he submitted the ques
tion to a vote of all employees, with the
promise that wages should be restored at the
beginning of the following year. The men
voted to submit to the proposed reduction ; but
few of them ever knew what want and misery
they saved by so doing, for, if the manager
had been beaten, the force was to have been
reduced, and thus many of them would have
been thrown out of work entirely at the begin
ning of a hard winter, when all the railroads in
the country were discharging men.
A less thoughtful, a less humane manager,
would have ordered the reduction in wages
which circumstances certainly made necessary,
and created a strike, won in the end, at the
expense both of the employees and of the stock
holders. It is well to observe these things and
the way they work. They all show that a
straightforward, open, and honest policy will
often save money for the people who have been
enterprising enough to build railroads, and pre
vent the less-learned employees the fretful
children of the rail from running blindly into
I _*- 3
194 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
I happened to be in San Francisco when Mr.
Stanford died, and I want to say a word for
him. If you ask me how he managed to save
twenty millions in twenty years, I cannot an
swer ; but there was something good and gentle
in his nature. Poor Mr. Stanford ! Surrounded
as he was with his miserable millions, with all his
wretched riches, his going away was as peaceful
and pathetic as the death of a nun. He knew,
it seems, that he was going, and had selected
his pall-bearers. They were the six oldest loco
motive-engineers in the employ of the company.
Many times he had placed his life in their
hands, and now at the end he wanted these
strong, brave fellows to " handle his train " on
the last sad run. As usual, they did their work
well, walking upright with a firm step. Their
eyes were tearless, their faces calm ; but if you
looked closely, you would see them trying to
swallow something. It was that hurt in the
throat that comes to men unfortunate men
who are not weak enough to weep.
At the other end of the procession another
band of employees walked, with bowed heads
and tear-wet eyes, yellow men, whose homes
RELATIONS OF EMPLOYEE TO RAILROAD 195
and gods were at the other end of the earth,
who found the paths at the Occident slippery
ways; but they had taken something of the
tenderness of their gentle master, and so walked
in his wake and wept.
jfrom tty Comffela to tty Cab
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB
T^VERY boy, arrived at a certain age, wishes
to take part in the work of the world
which he sees going on about him. Many
desire to become locomotive-engineers, but few
of these understand how hard and long is the
way to gratification of that ambition. My ex
perience is like the experience of many a man
who has worked his way from the corn-field to
the cab of a locomotive.
My first railroading was in the humble capa
city of a water-carrier for the graders on the
Vandalia road, in Illinois, where my father had
a small contract. Finally, the grade was com
pleted, and the construction train came along
behind the first locomotive I had ever seen.
Of course I was deeply impressed with its
grandeur. Every boy gazes at a locomotive
with rapture, partly compounded of fear. If
20O TALES OF AN ENGINEER
boys playing football hear the whistle of an
engine, they will stop and look. A boy swim
ming, who is supposed to forget everything,
will turn and swim on his back and watch the
train go by.
Our farm lay near the railroad, just at the
end of a hard pull. From the field where I
worked during my youthful years I could see
the fireman at his furnace, while the great black
steed toiled slowly up the hill with a half a mile
of cars behind her. I never looked with envy
at the engineer. If I could be a fireman,
I thought, my cup of happiness would be
It is not an easy matter, without influential
friends, to get employment on a railroad, espe
cially if the applicant happens to have hayseed
in his hair, or milk on his shoes. When the
brakeman, who is the paid elocutionist of the
train crew, wishes to humiliate a feiiow-work-
man, he invariably calls him a farmer. No
greater insult can be offered to a brakeman.
I had lived a quarter of a century, and failed
in half a dozen business ventures, when I de
cided to go railroading, being prepared to
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB 2OI
accept the humblest position, so long as it was
in the path that led to the throttle.
I presented some strong letters to the Master
Mechanic of the Denver and Rio Grande at
Salida, Colorado ; a clerk wrote my name and
address in a large book, saying that he would
call me when I was wanted. I began to think
I should not be wanted ; for I had waited a
month or more when the caller came one
evening and told me to report to the night
First I joined the wipers, a gang of half a
dozen men, whose business it is to clean the
engines up when they come in from the road.
This gang is made up of three classes, old men
who are not strong enough to perform heavier
work ; young and delicate youths ; strong young
men who expect to become firemen when their
names are reached.
The wiper s work is not arduous, except for the
long and dreary hours, from six in the even
ing to six in the morning. But it is disagree
able work. You have to get down in the pit
under the locomotive reeking with oil, and wipe
the machinery clean and dry with bunches of
2O2 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
waste. All this time you are obliged to inhale
the awful fumes of the torch you carry.
If you are faithful and patient, you may be
promoted to the day shift in six months. Here
you perform the same work, but without the
torch, and you sleep of nights. By and by you
are promoted again to the position of engine
There are from twenty to fifty locomotives in
the round-house, and it is the watchman s duty
to keep water in the boilers, and enough steam
up to move the engines in case one is wanted
in a hurry. Before long the foreman, if he
thinks you deserve to be encouraged, will put
you on a yard- engine as fireman. This will
take you back to night-work, but it is one step
forward, and the work is light.
When there is a vacancy you will be given a
day engine, and again you feel thankful : you
see the sunlight ; it gives you courage ; you are
glad to be free of night-work. I do not know
of anything that will embitter a man s life and
sour his disposition so swiftly and surely as
working week after week through the hours of
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB 203
From the day yard- engine you go out on the
road, and now you are a real fireman. You
are assigned a regular locomotive, and you are
expected to keep everything clean and in order ;
that is, everything above the running-board,
that board which you will see on all locomotives,
extending from the cab along the side of the
boiler to the front end.
On mountain roads, ten years ago, wipers,
watchmen, and all round-house helpers were
paid one dollar and seventy-five cents a day,
firemen on yard- engines two dollars, and engi
neers three. Firemen on road engines received
two dollars and forty cents a day, and engineers
four dollars; but Eastern roads do not pay
nearly so well. I know of a half-dozen railroad
presidents who began at less than fifty cents a
Another great advantage the men of the West
had at that time was that they served, as a rule,
less than three years as firemen, though now on
Eastern roads men commonly fire from five to
ten years. But the West was- then developing
rapidly, and new roads were being built every
204 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
At the end, say, of three years, the fireman
may be promoted to be hostler. The hostler
takes the engines from the coal-track, side
track, or wherever the engineers leave them.
He has them coaled up, the fire cleaned, and
then runs them into the stalls in the round
house. In this work he becomes familiar with
each and every engine on the division, and if
he be observing, he will retain this knowledge
and use it when he becomes an engineer.
The next promotion takes the hostler back
to the night yard-engine : this time as engineer.
His pay is now three dollars a day, or ninety
dollars a month; but he was making over a
hundred dollars a month at two dollars and
forty cents a day as fireman.
Road engine-men are paid by the mile,
forty-four mountain miles or eighty-five valley
miles being a day s work. Thus, when busi
ness is good, the engine crew make forty and
fifty, and once in a while sixty, days in a month,
The man on the night yard-engine goes
through the same stages of promotion that the
fireman went through, until at last he finds him
self at the throttle of a road engine, with another
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB 205
increase in pay and a corresponding increase in
responsibility, but with less real hard work to
On some roads a man must, I believe, serve
a time in the shops as helper and machinist
before he can hope to be promoted to the posi
tion of engineer. This is not absolutely neces
sary, for the reason that the engineer is not
required to keep the engine in repair. Most
master mechanics will tell you that the machin
ist is not always the best " runner."
There is a book called the work-book, where
the engineer whose engine needs repair writes
its number, what he wants done, and his name.
If he is not quite sure about the disease, he
may make a report like this : " Examine right
steam-chest." The foreman will set a machinist
to work, who, nine times out of ten, will locate
the trouble in a very short time.
Even where promotion comes rapidly, it takes
from four to six years to work from the wiping
tHesTyears, are jiot wasted .
and every hour you become more
and more acquainted with the various parts of
the great iron horse, till at last the knowledge
206 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
picked up in these years of toil serves to make
up the sum of your education as a locomotive
engineer. The years seem surprisingly short,
for there is always the hope that springs eternal
to lure you on.
The life of an engineer is fascinating, espe
cially where the road lies along the banks of a
beautiful stream, or over grand mountains.
Here at every curve a new picture is spread
To reach the summit of some high mountain
at sunrise ; to look down the winding trail
which he must travel, and see the blue-jay
cloud lying across the track ; to dash through
the cloud and out into the glad sunlight again,
the verdant valley stretching away below, the
high hills lifting their hoary crests above, is
apt to impress one with the awful grandeur of
God s world, so that he will carry that impres
sion through life.
A very small percentage of locomotive-en
gineers become railway officials. If promotion
comes to the engineer, he is usually promoted
to the office of travelling engineer^ The duty
of this officer is to go about over the road to
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB 207
see that the engines are made to work to their
full capacity, and to see that the engine-men do
not abuse the engines or waste the supplies.
The travelling engineer usually recommends
firemen for promotion. While railway rules
permit the promotion of firemen in accordance
with the length of time they have served in that
capacity, the rule is not always applied ; and it
should not be. One man will learn as much in
a year as another will in ten, and all men do
not make good engineers. Then, again, if a
man is given to dissipation, he is not, and
should not, be promoted in his turn.
There is a vast improvement from year to
year in railway employees as a class, morally
and intellectually. It is no longer considered
necessary for a man to be " real tough "to be
a good train or engine man. As a class, the
men who now enter the railway service are
more intelligent than those who sought such
employment fifteen or twenty years ago.
The travelling engineer is often promoted to
the position of master mechanic ; from that
place to superintendent of motive power ; and
sometimes he becomes superintendent of the
road, or general manager.
208 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Among the boys who read this, there may be
some who desire to become locomotive-engi
neers. To such I would offer one bit of advice,
do whatever you are assigned to do cheer
fully ; and do it well.
Never leave a piece of work half done. Try
to be the best wiper in the gang ; the best fire
man on the road ; but do not say you are so.
The officials will find it out, if you are really
deserving of recognition.
Do not rely upon a grievance committee to
hold your job ; take care of that yourself.
Remember that it is easy to "kick" yourself
out of a good place, but never into a better
one. The official who promotes you is in a
measure responsible for you ; see that he does
not have to apologize to his superior for your
The moment you become dissatisfied with
your position, quit. Think it over first, and see
whether you can better your condition ; but do
not drag others into your troubles ; learn to rely
If you succeed in reaching the right-hand
side of a locomotive, you will then be in a posi-
FROM THE CORNFIELD TO THE CAB 2 09
tion to show your fellow-workmen that a man
may be a smooth runner without the excessive
use of tobacco, liquor, or profanity.
By pursuing this course, you may be regarded
as a curiosity by some of the fraternity, but you
will be respected by the men and the manage
ment, you will live longer, and you will be hap
pier while you live.
of rtje Hail
a tjje General passenger Igente
/ dedicate these simple lays
To the jolly, joyous G. P. A?s
Of America, whose "paper-talk"
Has saved me many a weary walk.
THE FLIGHT OF THE FLYER
TVT EAR where the hill-girt Hudson lay,
Up the steel track the engineer
Reined his swift steed at close of day,
As, leaping like a frightened deer,
At each wild surge she seemed to say :
Away ! Away ! Away ! Away !
The slow team toiling up the hill,
The light boat drifting with the breeze,
The swiftest trains seemed standing still ;
Red vines were twining round the trees,
Whose leaves, made golden by the frost,
Gained more of lustre than they lost.
The trackman, tamping up the rail,
Felt the perfume of dying flowers ;
The shadows lengthened in the vale,
And watchmen watched from out the towers
The little cloud of dust behind,
As we went whistling down the wind.
214 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Night s curtain falls ; and here and there
The housewife lights the evening lamp ;
And where the fields are cold and bare,
His fire is kindled by the tramp.
Down throught the midnight, dark and deep,
The world goes by us, fast asleep.
Up through the morning, on and on !
The red sun, rising from the sea,
As we go quivering through the dawn,
Lights up the earth, reveals to me
In the first ruddy flush of morn,
The golden pumpkins in the corn.
From east to west, from shore to shore,
The black steed trembles through the night,
And with a mighty rush and roar
Breaks through the dawn ; and in their flight,
Wild birds, bewildered by the train,
Dash dead against the window pane.
"Be swift," I cried, "oh, matchless steed;
The world is watching, do your best ! "
With quick and ever-quickening speed,
The hot fire burning in her breast,
With flowing mane and proud neck bent,
She laughed across the continent.
FROM BUDAPEST TO BELGRADE
"DOUND for the Orient, I strayed
Down by the Danube near Belgrade,
The Servian capital.
For guide that day, a Servian lad,
A rider ; but you d never guess
He rode the Orient Express
From Budapest to Belgrade, then,
From Belgrade back to Buda gain.
He had the softest, sunny hair !
His eyes were like the Danube, blue ;
And, looking on him, one would swear
Whatever tale he told was true.
So young and fair, you d never guess
He rode the Orient Express
From Budapest to Belgrade, then,
From Belgrade back to Buda gain.
2l6 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
His story was not new to me,
For strange things happen on the rail,
And we have heard a wilder tale,
Of sea-men rising from the sea
Who had been dead a week, whom men
Had not a hope to see again.
" See there, where treads the watchman s trail,"
Said he. " One night, as I came down,
Just while I whistled for the town,
The head-light shimmered o er the rail
And showed a woman running there
Like some wild wingless bird of night,
And, rippling o er her robe of white,
A sable cataract of hair :
I thought a ghost was running there.
" She turned I saw her < God, Clairette !
I gasped, reversed and set the air,
With naught of time nor space to spare.
I saw her death-white face, and let
The sand fall, threw the throttle wide,
And cried, O Heaven ! how I cried
" We stopped ; I saw her fall
Beneath the wheels. And when she fell
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 2l*J
I sprang to rescue her, and well
She disappeared ; I tried to call
" Three times I called her name
And listened ; but no answer came,
Although I stood just where she fell.
" Remembering that her father s cot,
Beyond the bridge, was near the track,
I turned, and hurried toward the spot,
And saw the river running black
Just where I stopped and trembled on
The brink, for lo, the bridge was gone !
" The Angel slept ; but love had found
A way to warn me in her sleep,
God bless her.
At another bound
I must have gone down in the deep
Dark Danube ; in that awful flood
Whose mere remembrance chills my blood."
The same man rides the night express ;
The self same man who rode it then,
Rides twice a week to Budapest,
From Budapest to Belgrade, then,
From Belgrade back to Buda gain.
AT THE ENGINEER S GRAVE
T T OW often, at night, when I m rocked o er
^ the rail,
When the little stars shine overhead,
My mind wanders back over memory s trail,
And I think of the days that are dead.
The red locomotives we had for our toys,
The coaches so gaudy and gay,
How we played together, Bill, when we were
And again I can hear you say :
" Chu-chu, chu-chu, here comes the railroad,
" You 11 be the brakeman and open the bars."
Big bell a-ringing, somebody singing,
" Chu-chu, chu-chu, here come the cars."
And now, where your sleep is so dreamless and
In this silent city I stroll ;
Oh, send me some signal, or speak to me, Bill ;
How is it, old friend, with the soul ?
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 219
How is it up there on your heavenly railroad?
The moon for a headlight, for white lights
the stars ;
Glad bells a-ringing, angels a-singing,
" Chu-chu, chu-chu, here come the cars."
THE FREIGHT TRAIN
T T OW I love to watch the local winding up
around the hill,
In the sunrise of the morning, when the autumn
air is still,
And the smoke, like loosened tresses, floats away
above her back,
And to listen to the measured Choo-ka, Choo-ka,
of the stack.
The man who rides these mountains, whose
fiery steed of steel
Drinks of Nature s flowing fountains, must inev
A divine and peerless painter spread the scenes
along the track
As he listens to the Choo-ka, Choo-ka, Choo-ka,
of the stack.
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 221
111 the peaceful hush of midnight, when his
pilot ploughs the gloom,
From a hundred hills wild- roses send their subtle
To the wary, weary watcher, whose lamps light
up the track,
And a hundred hills give back the Choo-ka,
Choo-ka, of the stack.
Ah, how I miss the music of the whistle and
And the breathing of the air-pump, more than
any tongue can tell ;
And the mighty, massive Mogul seems to try to
call me back,
With her Choo-ka, Choo-ka, Choo-ka, Choo-ka,
Choo-ka of the stack.
"\7t 7 HEN Uncompahgre 1 s vale I view,
From mountains high and hoary,
I seem to dream love s dream anew,
And hear the old, old story.
Chipeta, blest queen of my breast,
When here mine eyes first saw you,
The Poncho perfumed wind caressed
Your sun-kissed Wahatoya.
O er Alamos a hills we strolled,
Whose shadows seemed to beg us
Pause where gentle Lomas rolled,
Above the Verdi Vegas.
The soft wind shook the Arboles,
And song-birds in La Jara
Make music dulce on the breeze
From Elko to Cuchara.
1 Italics are names of stations on the Denver and
Rio Grande Railway.
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 22 3
Oft in these Cimarron ranges grand,
The walks of Escalante,
Have I caressed your sun-browned hand
With kisses Caliente.
Dear, good Alcalde, bring her back ;
No monte is Bonifa,
O er whose rough Piedras there s no track
Made by my lost Chip eta.
Or take me to Thee, Manitou,
My Santa Fe will guide me,
And some day I shall be with you,
And walk with her beside me
Upon that blest Hermosa shore,
So sunny zn&florida,
Mine anima shall mourn no more,
I see the soul s Salida.
\7( 7 HEN we have scattered the flowers of May
Over the graves of the Blue and Gray,
Over the graves where the women weep,
Over the mounds where the heroes sleep,
Then let us turn to the graves of those
Who have lived and died in their over-clothes.
Are they not heroes? have they not died
Under their engines, side by side?
Have they not stood at the throttle and brake,
And gone down to death for their passengers
Calm, undisturbed, be the peaceful repose
Of the men who have died in their over-clothes.
I would not take from the soldier s grave
Not even the blades of grass that wave ;
Nor do I ask you to hand me down
A single star from the soldier s crown ;
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 22$
All honor to him : but forget not those
Who have lived and died in their over-clothes.
T would be sweet to know, when they re laid
With hands folded silently over their breast,
That a woman would come to their graves once
Bringing wreaths of flowers ; that a woman s tear
Would dampen the dust on the graves of those
Who have lived and died in their over-clothes.
THE TRAMP S LAST RIDE
E brakeman pulled his double-breasted
vest, and threw himself astride
The brake-wheel; then he said he guessed as
how the road warn t justified
In totin people on their gall
Who had no travellin card at all.
Then to the sunset, far away, the poor tramp
looked with tearful eyes ;
He viewed the distant dying day, turned to the
shack with some surprise :
"Then you won t tote me?" "No," he
" I 11 never tote you, less you re dead."
The tramp was bound to have a ride ; and from
his torn and tattered coat
A flask of Leadville-suicide he pulled, and tipped
it down his throat ;
Then, to the brakeman turned, and said :
" Git ready, pard, I 11 soon be dead."
THE NELLIE BLY
A MAIDEN to Chicago bound,
*^ Cried, " Bissell, do not tarry,
And I 11 give thee a golden crown
To fly me o er the prairie ! "
"And who be ye this trip would try,
And who s his jags, the flunkey? "
" Oh, I m the girdler, Nellie Ely,
And this, my Indian monkey."
" Then look well to thy wardrobe, lass,
There 11 be some lightning changes
From California s field of grass
To Raton s rocky ranges ;
From Glorietta s polished peaks
To th warm Arkansas valley,
We 11 do in days what once took weeks."
" I understand," said Nellie.
Then o er the track the special sped,
And o er the wire the warning ;
The mile-posts from her pathway fled,
Like dew-drops in the morning ;
228 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Across the hill and down the dell,
Past station after station,
The muffled music of the bell
Gave voice to each vibration.
Swift speeds the steed of steel and steam ;
And where the road lies level,
The train sweeps like a running stream,
Past palace and past hovel.
And o er the prairie, cold and gray,
There falls a flood of fire,
While orders flash for miles away :
"Take siding for the Flyer."
The engine seems to fairly float,
Her iron sinews quiver,
While swift, beneath her throbbing throat,
The rails rush like a river.
Upon the seat the engineer,
Who knows her speed and power,
Sits silently without a fear,
At sixty miles an hour.
XT OBODY knows when the song-birds sing,
In the first glad flush of the summer sun,
The want and the woe that time will bring,
When the season has changed, when the
summer is done ;
When the flowers and ferns sleep under the
What will the winter bring, nobody knows.
Nobody knows, when we say "good-by"
To our wives and our babies, and hurry away
O er the glistening rail, neath a sunny sky,
How we 11 return at the close of the day,
Hearty and hale, or shall we repose
Cold in a casket : nobody knows.
THE OPEN SWITCH
A LL the summer, early and late,
And in the autumn drear,
A maiden stood at the orchard gate
And waved at the engineer.
He liked to look at her face so fair,
And her homely country dress j
She liked to look at the man up there
At the front of the fast express.
There s only a flash of the maiden s eye,
As the engine rocks and reels ;
And then she hears in the distance die
The clinkety-clink of wheels.
Clinkety-clink, so far apart
That nothing she can hear,
Save the clink of her happy heart
To the heart of the engineer.
Over the river and down the dell,
Beside the running stream,
She hears the sound of the engine-bell,
And the whistle s madd ning scream.
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 231
Clinkety-clink ; there s an open switch,
Kind angels, hide her eyes !
Clinkety-clink : they re in the ditch,
Oh, hear the moans and cries !
Clinkety clink, and down the track
The train will dash to-day ;
But what are the ribbons of white and black
The engine wears away?
Clinkety-clink ! Oh, worlds apart,
The fireman hangs his head ;
There is no clink in the maiden s heart :
The engineer is dead.
THE ORIENT EXPRESS
A BOLD Bulgarian shepherd-boy, who looked
so like a sheep,
So gentle, yet so sportive in his showy shep
herd s dress,
Lay down upon the railroad track and played he
To fool the engine-driver on the Orient Ex
The driver, who disdained to slay the ram upon
Put on the brakes, reversed the wheels, and
turned his face away.
The stoker stood beside him, for it seemed his
heart would fail,
Whereat the shepherd-boy stood up, and
laughed, and ran away.
Then came the Irish section Boss, the day the
train came back,
And poured about a barrel o tar between the
ties that day ;
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 233
So, when the shepherd-boy lay down, the tar
upon the track
Trick d through the whiskers of his robe,
and held him where he lay.
The driver could not hear the cry that swept the
right of way,
The death-cry of the shepherd, and his
soul was filled with mirth.
He opened up the throttle-valve, and turned his
face away :
The train bore down upon the boy, and swept
him from he earth.
THE FELLOWS UP AHEAD
T7ORTY miles an hour when you re sailing
through the air,
When you read the daily papers in a soft reclin-
Forty miles an hour when you slumber in your
Do you ever give a thought to the poor fellows
When the road is rough and saggy, and the
snow, and sleet, and rain
Falls, and freezes on the headlight, while their
eager eyes they strain
Just to catch a little glimmer of the trail the
wheels must tread,
While the storm beats on the faces of the fellows
up ahead ;
When the lightning leaps and flashes through
the spires and splintered crags,
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 235
And the engine shrieks and dashes o er the hills
and through the sags,
When in secret with your conscience, your even
ing prayers you ve said,
Make a little requisition for the fellows up
AN OLD STORY
/ T S HIS morning I read an old story,
I d read it before, long ago ;
T was one of those painfully hoary,
But touching old chestnuts, you know.
I knew when I read the first stanza,
When the " mad train was dashing along,"
And the passengers " peered from the windows,"
I knew then that something was wrong.
When the mile-posts, a million a minute,
Were flitting and fluttering by,
I knew that our poet was in it,
I knew he was going to lie.
When the stoker said, " Stay at your post, Jack,"
And the sun sank away in the west ;
When "a grim face appeared on the pilot."
I anticipated the rest.
RHYMES OF THE RAIL 237
Then the glad mother rolled in the rag-weeds,
" Me boy, oh, me baby ! " she cried,
And the train went away in the twilight,
And the creative poet had lied.
" IpvEAD ! my queen," said the engineer,
^^^ And something stole silently over his
And left in its travels the trace of a tear.
" Dead ! " he said, bending over her bier ;
" Dead ! and the world is an empty place.
te Only this morning she bounded away,
Radiant, beautiful, tossing the snow,
Brushing the drifts from her path away ;
It seemed so selfish in me to stay,
And slumber and say that I could n t go.
" Dead ! and oh, such a little while
Ago so bright ; " and he bowed his head,
And his face wore a sort of a bitter smile,
As he leaned o er the wreck in the old scrap
And murmured : " My little McQueen is
dead ! "
THE COUNTRY EDITOR
"PHE dear good country editor sits in his
And writes of needed railroad laws for the ben
efit of men
Who owe six years subscription to his patent
Who shun the starving scribbler when they see
him on the street ;
Who sing their psalms in Sunday-school with
accent soft as silk,
Who mingle saw-dust with their bran, and water
with their milk ;
"What time s the 2.10 train depart," the edi
Remembering that on New Year s eve his annual
He dons his silken bell-top tile, and takes him
to the town ;
He tints the city for a while, and then he
240 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Among the great monopolies whose slaves op
press the poor,
And with a gall immaculate he pauses at the
His faith now seems to falter, there s moisture
in his eye ;
But with a conscience ballasted with the Rock
that s in the Rye,
He enters and announces, as chipper as a lass,
" I m Boils, the Blue Creek Blubber man,
just please renew my pass."
STANDING HIS HAND
A STEER stood on the railroad track,
** Whence all but him had fled ;
The flames from out the engine stack
Shone round his curly head.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
And held the right of way,
A beast of royal Durham blood,
A terra-cotta bay.
" Ring off, ring off," the driver cried,
" You offspring of a gun ; "
And but the bounding wheels replied,
And fast the train rolled on.
The train rolled on, he would not go
And join the common^erd ;
The farmer heard the steam-cars blow,
The while the steer demurred.
242 TALES OF AN ENGINEER
Then came the train at sixty miles.
The steer, oh, where s he gone ?
Ask of the section boss, who smiles,
And sips his beef bouillon.
THE OLD ENGINEER
T T 7 HEN years after years are gone and for
When soft silvery ringlets your temples adorn,
And fall round your forehead like fragments of
When the last breath of youth s scented sum
mer is gone,
Keep this unpretentious poetic epistle j
Twill bring back the mem ry of days that
Think of me kindly, then, list for my whistle,
And say, " Tis my friend the old engineer."
WHEN YOU ARE GONE
To S. T. S.
T T OW strange the place will seem
When you are gone ;
When, doubting my ability to hide
My sincere sorrow, gazing on
The face of your successor, I shall chide
Me for the little good I ve done,
When you are gone.
Think not that I engage
Your manly mind
With worthless words and idle flattery ;
I d only have you know you leave behind
A faithful friend, whose swerveless constancy,
Esteem and loyalty live on
When you are gone.
T T P near the mountain s craggy crest,
The mighty moguls, strong and proud,
The snow-drifts beating gainst their breast,
With pointed pilots pierce the cloud.
High mountains, seeming little hills,
Emboss the spreading plain below,
And rivers look like laughing rills
As down the distant vale they flow.
Here in a weird cold wintry grave,
Wrapped in a marble shroud of snow,
With not a ripple, not a wave,
Calmly sleeps Loch Ivanhoe.
But with the coming of the spring
The little flowers will bud and blow,
And gladsome songs the birds will sing
Along the banks of Ivanhoe.