History of All Kinds

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Bruette

Well-Known Member
Why did so many of historic railroad stations have the tall clock towers? Was the purpose of the towers so that the arriving passengers could see the accurate time from a distance and know when to get ready to depart on their journey? I know the Milwaukee Road station in Milwaukee had a tower.

Greg
Your answer sounds good to me.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Why did so many of historic railroad stations have the tall clock towers? Was the purpose of the towers so that the arriving passengers could see the accurate time from a distance and know when to get ready to depart on their journey? I know the Milwaukee Road station in Milwaukee had a tower.
Before the railroads, each town had their own "time" set by sun dials and the like. The railroads came along and had to have the same time everywhere so they could run trains on a schedule. They developed time zones and "Railroad Standard Time". They synchronized time between all stations via telegraph, so their clocks were always accurate. The clock on stations and towers were as you guessed so anyone using the railroad would know what time it was. Remember in the late 1800s clear into the 1940s if it moved long distance it move by rail so freight schedules were just as important. The side effect was that the towns/cities started synchronizing their time to the railroads. It became a thing. We still use those time zones and "Standard Time" today. We just dropped the "Railroad" part of it officially in 1964.

this and the other ways that railroads changed the United States society and culture is documented in book called "Passage to Union" by Sarah Gordon. Find it on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Passage-Union-Railroads-Transformed-1829-1929/dp/1566632188/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=passage+to+union&qid=1598409859&s=books&sr=1-1
 
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