Interesting facts and notes in old railroad magazines

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I am going through old Trains magazines starting with issue 1 that is dated November 1940. I am clearly not reading every word but I am skimming the issues in PDF format and finding interesting facts and figures and such. I spend about 10 minutes on each issue.

March 1941 has a great article on Cincinnati Union Terminal. One fact that stood out was this writing "between 18,000 and 20,000 persons pass through the waiting room every week day." (Page 16-17) That likely includes non passengers but that is still a large number of people likely getting on/off trains. Looking at the numbers from the RPA fact sheets there were almost 9,000 passengers in all of 2022 using CUT.

In 12 hours in 1940, CUT had potentially more passengers in all of 2022. There is a lot wrapped up in those numbers from Cincinnati changing population
(declining) and clearly going from dozens of trains a day to some days having no Amtrak trains stop at CUT due to the schedule of the Cardinal.

More interesting facts (at least to me) to follow with May 1941 up next. Please add your own posts and it can include other magazines. I recently picked up Trains magazine after a few years of not subscribing and I am now taking advantage of the digital archive. The digital archive may not have existed the last time I subscribed.
 
There is a lot wrapped up in those numbers from Cincinnati changing population
(declining)
And despite that, KCVG serves 7.5 million passengers, down from a whopping 22 million in 2005. You can't really draw a relationship between a transport hub passenger load and the population of the location.
 
March 1941 has a great article on Cincinnati Union Terminal. One fact that stood out was this writing "between 18,000 and 20,000 persons pass through the waiting room every week day." (Page 16-17) That likely includes non passengers but that is still a large number of people likely getting on/off trains.
I would say most of those are train passenger's, owing to the fact that CUT is not 'downtown', but out quite a ways...
 
And despite that, KCVG serves 7.5 million passengers, down from a whopping 22 million in 2005. You can't really draw a relationship between a transport hub passenger load and the population of the location.
It's important to remember CVG's downgrade from a hub, which started during Delta's 2005 bankruptcy and continued in the ensuing years.
 
And despite that, KCVG serves 7.5 million passengers, down from a whopping 22 million in 2005. You can't really draw a relationship between a transport hub passenger load and the population of the location.
And a train station and airport are both serving more than just the city limits. The greater metro area around Cincinnati has about doubled in population since 1940. But that then makes the drop even more dramatic for Amtrak.

I will say this; in NC the population of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro of the central city are ranked in that order. That is the order of Amtrak ridership and somewhat proportional to the ratio of Amtrak passengers to population the last time I checked. Though that does not account for all factors and Charlotte is a one station country and Greensboro and Raleigh also have High Point and Cary in the same county.
 
There was a hurricane on 11-12 August 1940 that found its way to western NC. There was much flooding. It took out large parts of the East Tennessee and Western NC RR. This included the Linville River Railway (owned by ET&WNC) that found its way to Boone, NC. The flood ended the Linville River RW. The roadbed is now NC-105 heading into Boone and Boone still has a Depot St.

In the May 1941 issue of Trains there is mention of the Linville River and ET&WNC. The article is about "Railroad Vacations" and starts on page 5. The paragraph on the Linville River is on page 8. The last sentence of the paragraph mentions "At the time of this writing the Linville River is not operating due to washouts on the line." I am sure the article was writeen a few months before the May issue went to press and the May issue may have been on the newstands in April. But it is interesting that this narrow gauge that was pretty much wiped out from the floods was still not confirmed to be gone and done 9 months out. I was always under the impression the decision to not rebuild was obvious and made soon after the flooding occured. There was passenger rail to Boone until the flood for those curious of the passenger rail angle.

The East Tennessee RW still exists in Johnson City, TN with 7 miles, though from my understanding it does not do much more than some work very near their yard. I am not sure how famous Tweetsie is beyond NC and the SE US but it is a small railroad-themed amusement park between Boone and Blowing Rock, NC. They use some of the old steam engines from the ET&WNC that opened in 1957. Tweetsie was also the nickname of the ET&WNC.
 
I need to pick your brain about this. My mom is pretty sure she attended Tweetsie the year it opened which was a huge deal as she grew up pretty much dirt poor.
I was too young to take the trip but have several mementos including ash tray and seveeral page folder with pictures with the one picture of the track going thru a house that was built over the track at one time. Unfortunately is lost in too much paper work.
 
Trains 1941 June Issue page 10 "The Passenger Train" goes into detail about how a Pullman car room was reserved at Grand Central Station. The article mentions the ticket agent calling over the phone to a Pullman office. I assume these are around the larger stations all around the country. Would a small station is a small town of a few hundred residents or less have a phone in 1941 to call out to the nearest Pullman office. I assume they would have a telegraph but not sure about a phone.
Did those small stations just not offer Pullman service and the expectation was to get to a larger station nearby? Did Pullman leave a few rooms open for stations down the line that may have a hard time communicating with the Pullman offices that were organizing the Pullman services.

I know not every passenger route had Pullman (I am not really sure what percentage did) so maybe all these stations I see in old timetables did not see Pullman service as they were not on these routes and even if the Pullman cars were on the route not every station was stopped for every train either and the Pullman trains may be skipping more stops than I realize.

The real interesting fact is that on page 14 there is a mention of the average passenger trip being 37 miles. That wold be essentially one, maybe two counties over for my state of NC given our county sizes. This both surprising and not surprising. Did the average blue collar family have money to travel? I can't speak for northern areas but all the textile and furniture workers in the non-union south was pretty much too poor to travel. At least that would have been my family history. And even of my parents generation all my non-union aunts and uncles never took trips to my knowledge in the 1970s and 80s even. My dad had a union job and we did take car vacations around the SE US. I assume a county over would be quite the adventure for many back then. Clearly some could travel and travel longer distances. But for all of those that could afford travel there would be a lot of travel from Friendship to Greensboro or McLeansville to Greensboro, when all three had stations and Friendship and McLeansville are about 7-8 miles from Greensboro. In fact both are now part of the incorporated city of Greensboro. Then Jamestown and High Point and Gibsonville had passenger stops as well based on some timetables I have looked at from past decades. All in Guilford County, NC.
 
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I'll answer what I know of.

BY the 1940's it was rare for a station not to have telephone service. Often, they would be the first business in town to get a telephone. The agent could book Pullman service by phone or telegraph. In the excellent book Traveling Black, Professor Mia Bay identifies that as the weak point in the Pullman Company's service for Black customers -- the local agent employed by the railway could sit on a reservation request or otherwise interfere with it.

The average trip statistic looks short because commuter service was included, and there were a lot of local trains. New England and the mid-Atlantic states were blanketed with a network of rail lines, already excessive by the 1930's.

In the 1930's a number of steps were taken to lower the cost of rail travel. One of the aspects of the streamliner era was the introduction of daylight coach trains on runs of more than 400 miles (usually with a parlor car for First Class travel, too). Amtrak's Palmetto is the closest contemporary equivalent. On some major routes, overnight coach trains were introduced, equipped with economical meals in the diner. These targeted bus competition and auto trips.

There were also group fares and family plan fares. The groups often included union events, veterans' reunions, newsboy sales contest winners, etc., so blue collar workers might travel to a once a year event.

Here are some fast 1944 trains appealing to the average blue-collar family (or middle-income travelers on personal trips) with reserved coach seats:

Pacemaker -- New York Central -- Chicago<>New York City overnight.
Empire State Express -- New York Central -- Cleveland and Detroit <> New York City daylight.
Jeffersonian -- Pennsylvania -- St. Louis to New York City and Washington, DC overnight.
Trail Blazer -- Pennsylvania -- Chicago to New York City and Washington, DC overnight.
Southerner -- Pennsylvania and Southern -- New Orleans to New York City overnight.
Columbian -- Baltimore & Ohio -- Chicago to New York City overnight.
Dixie Flagler -- Louisville & Nashville and others -- Chicago to Miami overnight.
South Wind -- Louisville & Nashville and others -- Chicago to Miami overnight.
East Coast Champion All Coach Section -- Atlantic Coast Line and others -- New York City to Miami.
San Francsico Challenger -- Union Pacific and others -- also carried economy sleepers -- Chicago to San Francisco and Portland three nights.
Los Angeles Challenger -- Union Pacific and Chicago & North Western -- also carried economy sleepers -- Chicago to Los Angeles three nights.
Beaver -- Southern Pacific -- also carried economy sleepers -- Portland to San Francisco overnight.
Coaster -- Southern Pacific -- also carried economy sleepers -- Los Angeles to San Francisco overnight.
Morning Daylight -- Southern Pacific - Los Angeles to San Francisco daylight.
San Joaquin Daylight -- Southern Pacific - Los Angeles to San Francisco daylight.
El Capitan -- Santa Fe -- Chicago to Loa Angeles -- two nights. Extra fare, but economy dining.
And, of course, the Chicago<>Twin Cities and Chicago<>Omaha daylight streamliners.

The closest Amtrak came to an overnight train in this category was the original Pioneer between Seattle and Salt Lake City. All it needed was a Slumbercoach instead of a 10-6 sleeper and it would have fit into the economy train category. The Three Rivers had some of the characteristics, too.
 
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The average trip statistic looks short because commuter service was included, and there were a lot of local trains. New England and the mid-Atlantic states were blanketed with a network of rail lines, already excessive by the 1930's.
Definitely including all of these short-distance commuter runs would lower the average trip length to 37 miles. Without them the figure would likely rise significantly -- I'd guess to maybe 150 miles or more. Also figure that at that time, a much larger proportion of the nation's population was concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, where travel distances were shorter, and there were a lot more rail travel corridors of 150-400 miles with frequent service in this region -- Cleveland-Cincinnati, St. Louis-Indianapolis-Detroit/Cleveland, Chicago-Cincinnati, Boston-Troy, New York-Scranton-Binghamton, to name a few -- along with those that still exist but had much more service then, such as Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, Albany-Buffalo, Boston-Albany, Chicago-Detroit, Chicago-St. Louis and so on. So the sheer volume of people being transported by rail in this region would lower the average trip length for the whole country. It doesn't mean the average person taking the Union Pacific or Santa Fe was going 37 miles -- or even 150.
 
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I can't imagine how Pullman porters made up all the 32 beds in a 16-section car or the 27 in those countless 12-section plus drawing room cars. With their coats, ties, and caps and no air conditioning (at least for initial decades) plus long hours must have been very taxing (Googling "Pullman porters facts" yields data such as a 400-hours/month schedule). They had no "porter's roomette" or any other dedicated space for staff (I guess unless some spaces lacked customers), and nights included lots of shoe-shining as well as dealing with stops. How & where they ate anything was another mystery. Linens, blankets, and mattresses (the lower berths' stayed inside the uppers during the daytime) were top-quality and not the thin or "lite" kind.
 
I'll answer what I know of.

BY the 1940's it was rare for a station not to have telephone service. Often, they would be the first business in town to get a telephone. The agent could book Pullman service by phone or telegraph. In the excellent book Traveling Black, Professor Mia Bay identifies that as the weak point in the Pullman Company's service for Black customers -- the local agent employed by the railway could sit on a reservation request or otherwise interfere with it.

The average trip statistic looks short because commuter service was included, and there were a lot of local trains. New England and the mid-Atlantic states were blanketed with a network of rail lines, already excessive by the 1930's.

In the 1930's a number of steps were taken to lower the cost of rail travel. One of the aspects of the streamliner era was the introduction of daylight coach trains on runs of more than 400 miles (usually with a parlor car for First Class travel, too). Amtrak's Palmetto is the closest contemporary equivalent. On some major routes, overnight coach trains were introduced, equipped with economical meals in the diner. These targeted bus competition and auto trips.

There were also group fares and family plan fares. The groups often included union events, veterans' reunions, newsboy sales contest winners, etc., so blue collar workers might travel to a once a year event.

Here are some fast 1944 trains appealing to the average blue-collar family (or middle-income travelers on personal trips) with reserved coach seats:

Pacemaker -- New York Central -- Chicago<>New York City overnight.
Empire State Express -- New York Central -- Cleveland and Detroit <> New York City daylight.
Jeffersonian -- Pennsylvania -- St. Louis to New York City and Washington, DC overnight.
Trail Blazer -- Pennsylvania -- Chicago to New York City and Washington, DC overnight.
Southerner -- Pennsylvania and Southern -- New Orleans to New York City overnight.
Columbian -- Baltimore & Ohio -- Chicago to New York City overnight.
Dixie Flagler -- Louisville & Nashville and others -- Chicago to Miami overnight.
South Wind -- Louisville & Nashville and others -- Chicago to Miami overnight.
East Coast Champion All Coach Section -- Atlantic Coast Line and others -- New York City to Miami.
San Francsico Challenger -- Union Pacific and others -- also carried economy sleepers -- Chicago to San Francisco and Portland three nights.
Los Angeles Challenger -- Union Pacific and Chicago & North Western -- also carried economy sleepers -- Chicago to Los Angeles three nights.
Beaver -- Southern Pacific -- also carried economy sleepers -- Portland to San Francisco overnight.
Coaster -- Southern Pacific -- also carried economy sleepers -- Los Angeles to San Francisco overnight.
Morning Daylight -- Southern Pacific - Los Angeles to San Francisco daylight.
San Joaquin Daylight -- Southern Pacific - Los Angeles to San Francisco daylight.
El Capitan -- Santa Fe -- Chicago to Loa Angeles -- two nights. Extra fare, but economy dining.
And, of course, the Chicago<>Twin Cities and Chicago<>Omaha daylight streamliners.

The closest Amtrak came to an overnight train in this category was the original Pioneer between Seattle and Salt Lake City. All it needed was a Slumbercoach instead of a 10-6 sleeper and it would have fit into the economy train category. The Three Rivers had some of the characteristics, too.
I come here for this type of content. Thanks for posting.

It would be interesting to see the origin station for the trains through the south, such as the Southern, which likely ran through my hometown of Greensboro, or the Miami bound trains. Were the passengers starting in the north and the passengers boarding in the south just folks from the north making their return trip home? Or were some of the passengers heading north on the first leg? I bet it was more of the former.

Amtrak is going to know the address of their customers that have AGR at least and maybe others. I can't imagine that information about addresses being collected in that era.

Knowing the condition of the average textile worker in NC at that time I am just not convinced they were traveling all that much. Not just the money but would they even have the time off from work?
 
Amtrak is going to know the address of their customers that have AGR at least and maybe others. I can't imagine that information about addresses being collected in that era.
I think that if people booked their journey as a round trip, they would buy the round-trip ticket at their home station so this would give some indication of where they were at home. Not entirely fool proof of course, but a rough indicator in the absence of any better data.

From my understanding of history, many people from the south would have gone north to look for work, especially during the Great Depression and especially blacks. So people going home to visit family etc might have been an important contributor to ridership on such trains.
 
I think that if people booked their journey as a round trip, they would buy the round-trip ticket at their home station so this would give some indication of where they were at home. Not entirely fool proof of course, but a rough indicator in the absence of any better data.

From my understanding of history, many people from the south would have gone north to look for work, especially during the Great Depression and especially blacks. So people going home to visit family etc might have been an important contributor to ridership on such trains.
Round-trip data would have been collected because the originating railway received an extra share of the revenue. How much of this was used is a question, because all the analysis was in memos and paper spreadsheets. Another source of information in those days was newspaper obituaries that listed the residences of relatives. Newspaper circulation territories were also available for regional travel information, as was the Rand McNally Commercial Atlas.

The NRHS journal had an interesting article back in the '80's by a Black railfan who grew up in Michigan and visited relatives in the South. Reservations were controlled by the bureau in the station where the train started (or nearby). Thus, his coach trip was integrated southbound and segregated northbound.

Our U.S. Army Berlin trains used reservations controlled from trains' starting points when I worked in our station in 1969. We had to make extra efforts to explain that to customers who thought that because their ticket and travel authorization were round-trip that their booking was round-trip. We just had the car diagrams for trains leaving.
 
Trains November 1941 Page 21. The article is on the Empire State Express. From New York City to East Buffalo, 436 miles in 7 hours and 6 minutes. The fastest I could find on Amtrak currently was 8 hours 1 minute from NYP to Buffalo-Depew Station. That 7 hour rain was not the regular timing it would seem, but still.

What would have been the fastest NYC to Buffalo trip in the early 1940s?

Same issue page 50. Mention is made of moving off daylight savings time on September 28.

Trains January 1942. Page 50. A short note that contained the fact that Pennsy would have 2162 air conditioned cars to handle passenger for summer of 1942. Just for that one railroad. (The last sentence is a quote from the magazine so even they were impressed with that number.)
 
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Effective Sep. 24, 1944, Train 51, the Empire State Express, was scheduled for 8 hours even from NYG to Buffalo Central Station. To help the heavy, wartime traffic, Train 55, the Advance Empire State Express, preceded it to Syracuse. Both sections lapped Train 107, the Syracuse Local, in the Utica station. The 107, making numerous stops, pulled out of NYG 1:50 ahead of Train 51 and departed Utica to Syracuse 15 minutes behind them.

In that same time slot, eastbound trains, the Niagara and the Missourian also were lapping and the North Shore Limited was blasting through.

Imagine being a railfan (or an Axis spy) watching the operation in Utica:

1:01 pm = Train 58 arrives from Buffalo.
...58 likely picks up Mail and Express cars.
1:11 pm approx. = Train 40 runs through without stopping.
1:11 pm = Train 107 arrives from New York City.
...107 cuts out a Buffet-Coach and likely a switcher sets out Mail and Express cars.
1:16 pm = Train 55 arrives from New York City.
...55 cuts out daily coaches and a Parlor Car ex. Sundays to Lake Placid.
...55 cuts out coaches to Watertown.
1:21 pm = Train 55 departs to Syracuse.
1:32 pm = Train 51 arrives from New York City.
1:34 pm = Train 51 departs to Cleveland and Detroit.
1:38 pm = Train 38 arrives from St. Louis.
1:42 pm = Train 38 departs to New York City.
1:45 pm = Train 58 departs to Albany.
1:49 pm = Train 107 departs to Syracuse.

Carrying this off qualifies the railroaders at Utica for the "Greatest Generation" appellation.
 
Effective Sep. 24, 1944, Train 51, the Empire State Express, was scheduled for 8 hours even from NYG to Buffalo Central Station. To help the heavy, wartime traffic, Train 55, the Advance Empire State Express, preceded it to Syracuse. Both sections lapped Train 107, the Syracuse Local, in the Utica station. The 107, making numerous stops, pulled out of NYG 1:50 ahead of Train 51 and departed Utica to Syracuse 15 minutes behind them.

In that same time slot, eastbound trains, the Niagara and the Missourian also were lapping and the North Shore Limited was blasting through.

Imagine being a railfan (or an Axis spy) watching the operation in Utica:

1:01 pm = Train 58 arrives from Buffalo.
...58 likely picks up Mail and Express cars.
1:11 pm approx. = Train 40 runs through without stopping.
1:11 pm = Train 107 arrives from New York City.
...107 cuts out a Buffet-Coach and likely a switcher sets out Mail and Express cars.
1:16 pm = Train 55 arrives from New York City.
...55 cuts out daily coaches and a Parlor Car ex. Sundays to Lake Placid.
...55 cuts out coaches to Watertown.
1:21 pm = Train 55 departs to Syracuse.
1:32 pm = Train 51 arrives from New York City.
1:34 pm = Train 51 departs to Cleveland and Detroit.
1:38 pm = Train 38 arrives from St. Louis.
1:42 pm = Train 38 departs to New York City.
1:45 pm = Train 58 departs to Albany.
1:49 pm = Train 107 departs to Syracuse.

Carrying this off qualifies the railroaders at Utica for the "Greatest Generation" appellation.
It is amazing to me how much passenger traffic the New York Central moved throughout the '40s and most of the '50s -- and how much switching they did en route. Buffalo Central Terminal in particular must have had switching crews busy most of the night to shift sleepers between consists headed to/from various points west on the one hand and those headed to/from New York and Boston. Plus they had set-out sleepers that had to be picked up or dropped off at Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany.
 
I think that if people booked their journey as a round trip, they would buy the round-trip ticket at their home station so this would give some indication of where they were at home. Not entirely fool proof of course, but a rough indicator in the absence of any better data.

From my understanding of history, many people from the south would have gone north to look for work, especially during the Great Depression and especially blacks. So people going home to visit family etc might have been an important contributor to ridership on such trains.
I think that's true; anecdotal story here.... My mom had a friend from Mississippi (or Alabama, can't remember which, but I think Ms) who grew up in a small railroad town. The black children, when she was a kid, were where the white children got info on the bright lights of the big cities, Chicago and New Orleans, because they'd been there thanks to either family visits there or having access to rail travel through employee discounts.

My mother grew up in the 30's/40's and I don't recall stories about them taking many trips, despite being middle class, it was a poor time of course and my grandfathers profession was lower paid, plus they had a large family, but I know they visited my grandfathers hometown and possibly grandmothers (they lived in East Tennessee and Kentucky - grandfather was from NW Pennsylvania and grandmother from Nebraska). One of my mothers cousins from Nebraska did take the train east to visit them with his mother (I think it was just the two of them - his dad would have needed to stay home to mind the farm) and he had stories about entertaining the dining car staff while his mother tut-tutted (she and my grandmother were sisters and straight-laced to say the least). Will have to ask my mom about travel mode - I know by the 50's she was a career gal in Chicago and had a car of her own and did some travel with that.
 
Trains February 1942.

"The Day of Two Noons" is an article about time zones.

There is a map on page 39. In 1883 western NC was in the Central time zone and all of Georgia. In 1942 parts of NC were still in the Central time zone, though it had moved a bit west and split Georgia down the middle. In 1883 a very small part of Pennsylvania was in the Central time zone, as was ALL of Ohio.

Nice article about Hotel Pullman starts on page 44. Pullman served 275 cities and 40,000 guests a night.

I might read these entire two articles.
 
I think that's true; anecdotal story here.... My mom had a friend from Mississippi (or Alabama, can't remember which, but I think Ms) who grew up in a small railroad town. The black children, when she was a kid, were where the white children got info on the bright lights of the big cities, Chicago and New Orleans, because they'd been there thanks to either family visits there or having access to rail travel through employee discounts.

My mother grew up in the 30's/40's and I don't recall stories about them taking many trips, despite being middle class, it was a poor time of course and my grandfathers profession was lower paid, plus they had a large family, but I know they visited my grandfathers hometown and possibly grandmothers (they lived in East Tennessee and Kentucky - grandfather was from NW Pennsylvania and grandmother from Nebraska). One of my mothers cousins from Nebraska did take the train east to visit them with his mother (I think it was just the two of them - his dad would have needed to stay home to mind the farm) and he had stories about entertaining the dining car staff while his mother tut-tutted (she and my grandmother were sisters and straight-laced to say the least). Will have to ask my mom about travel mode - I know by the 50's she was a career gal in Chicago and had a car of her own and did some travel with that.
Do ask your mom about travel stories. Each previous generation has some interesting stories that they thought no one was interested in or that kids shouldn't hear. When my dad was almost 100, he told me about an Oregonian carrier excursion from Portland to Los Angeles that I had never heard him tell before. He was a high schooler, so was in charge of some of the younger boys. Probably the reason he never told me the story before is because he almost caused his group to miss the onward train in San Francisco.
 
My late Father, who ended up making a Career out of the Military, told the story of how he and a friend hoboed on a freight on the Pickens RR ( owned by Southern) from Pickens to Greenville, SC during the Depression when applying to enlist in the Service.

This was because they didn't have the $ 1.25 Fare the Daily Passenger Train Charged!

Once they'd been accepted, the Army paid for their Train tickets back home, and when leaving for Basic Training @ Fort Jackson.
 
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Do ask your mom about travel stories. Each previous generation has some interesting stories that they thought no one was interested in or that kids shouldn't hear. When my dad was almost 100, he told me about an Oregonian carrier excursion from Portland to Los Angeles that I had never heard him tell before. He was a high schooler, so was in charge of some of the younger boys. Probably the reason he never told me the story before is because he almost caused his group to miss the onward train in San Francisco.
Well, my aunt had a Karmann Ghia and they travelled together....
 
Trains February 1942.

"The Day of Two Noons" is an article about time zones.

There is a map on page 39. In 1883 western NC was in the Central time zone and all of Georgia. In 1942 parts of NC were still in the Central time zone, though it had moved a bit west and split Georgia down the middle. In 1883 a very small part of Pennsylvania was in the Central time zone, as was ALL of Ohio.

Nice article about Hotel Pullman starts on page 44. Pullman served 275 cities and 40,000 guests a night.

I might read these entire two articles.
Some more time zone trivia…
One Atlantic state, and one Pacific state are only one hour apart….
FL and OR. 🙂
 
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