"A11 aboard that's goin' aboard," the conductor calls as he walks through the crowd on
the stand. Railroaders like to leave on schedule, especially on passenger trains, and the "all aboard" call is a signal for passengers to get aboard and for visitors and well-wishers to get off the train. The engineer is waiting for the "highball" signal. The fireman (in the days of
steam) makes sure the old steam engine has a full head of steam, plenty of water in the boiler, and a good,hot fire. The train dispatcher has issued train orders to the operator at the station, and the conductor has picked them up and provided the engine crew with their copy. The crew in the diner have started preparing for the next meal. Porters have checked the sleeping cars and will prepare the berths when they are needed.
The engineer blows the old 'toot toot" of the whistle, releases the brake, eases back the throttle, and the train
departs, picking up speed rapidly. Trainmen assist the conductor in checking tickets, and the baggage man checks his baggage to ensure none will be carried beyond its destination. The mail crew sorts the mail bags
and get ready to drop off and pick up mail at the next station. After leaving St. John's on its 547-mile trip Port aux Basques, the train will cross four subdivisions. Engine crews will change at Clarenville, Bishop's
Falls, and Corner Brook. The train crew will change at Bishop's Falls. The cross-island run will take approximately twenty-four hours. The numerous hills and curves, along with the stations and servicing points, make it difficult to shorten this time.
Providing train passenger service required many workers. In addition to those mentioned, employees
of many different classifications were involved in ensuring trains ran safely. Carmen checked and tested wheel journals, brakes, knuckles, steam and air lines, and hoses. Mechanics kept the steam engines in good repair. Boilermakers ensured boilers and fireboxes were in top condition and received periodic inspections and tests. Hostlers prepared engines for the road, filling tenders with coal and tanks with water. Other workers cleaned and rebuilt the fires, and filled lubricators, tallow pots, and oil cans. Section foremen and
their crews kept their section of track in good shape by replacing bad ties and rails, servicing sets of points,
and generally maintaining the track in a safe condition. Bridge and building crews kept the trestles and
buildings up to par.
It takes an army of workers to run a railroad, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Rules Instructors regularly examined all employees involved with the movement of trains to ensure their
familiarization with rules for operatifig trains. Freight handlers loaded and unloaded all types of freight at
terminals and stations along the way. Clerical workers were employed in offices performing many different
tasks such as billing, payroll, and accounting. Supervisory personnel in all departments were responsible to
see that workers under their control performed the tasks assigned to them in an efficient and responsible
manner. Safety inspectors checked on all operations to ensure a safe environment was maintained. Crews
on steamships brought passengers and cargo to and from ports such as Port aux Basques, St. John's, and
Lewisporte. Winter operations required the services of plow operators, and engine, train, and section crews
were often tested to the limit of their endurance. Railroaders depended on each other, and indeed, train crews
relied on the integrity of mechanical, train car, and section crews to provide equipment and track in a safe
Operating a railroad anywhere requires the dedication and cooperation of many classifications of
employees. Operating the Newfoundland Railway and the many branch lines with its narrow gauge track and its many curves and grades, along with the winter conditions often experienced, was achieved by the dedication and toughness of the workers.
This book will attempt to illustrate for the reader how employees felt about their jobs, how they managed under adverse conditions, and the sense of satisfaction they got from keeping trains runriing.