Questions about N&W's ORDER 19 in Operating Rules during 1920s, etc.

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon May 9 07:29:39 EDT 2011

AFAIK, "Form 19" is just that; a form.  It was(is) largely filled in by hand by the operator from orders given by the dispatcher.  From what I recall of the few I've seen, there is a line for the date to be written in, "Form 19" is printed on the paper, and there is a "To" with a line after that.  Most of the form is blank and the operator would write the instructions.

The "wording" that you are interested in should(might) be contained in the ICC report; perhaps someone has a Form 19 that could be scanned and posted to the NWHS web site.

Jim Brewer

Glenwood MD

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From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
To: nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Sunday, May 8, 2011 4:54:28 PM
Subject: Re: Questions about N&W's ORDER 19 in Operating Rules during 1920s,        etc.

Gordon ~
    Is the N&W Rule Book you refer to the same thing (just an earlier version) as my pocketbook size N&W Operating Rules book?
    Mine has a section, entitled, " FORMS OF TRAIN ORDERS ," beginning on page 50.  Part A is entitled, " Fixed Meeting Points " and has nothing numbered "19" or "31" listed anywhere.
    The next section, starting on page 65, is entitled " Rules Governing the Movement of Trains and Engines in the Same Direction by Block Signals ."  Each paragraph in this section is numbered, starting with 251.  
    I'd sure like to read the exact wording of Form 19 as mentioned in the ICC accident report.
                                                                                                                    ~ Don

In a message dated 5/6/2011 19:24:06 Eastern Daylight Time, nw-mailing-list at writes:


I'll venture some info that others can correct or expand.

In regards to your Question 1, the N&W Rule Book effective Nov. 18, 1951 (that I happen to have in front of me), includes instructions on both "19" and "31" orders.  The basic difference is that engineer and conductor must sign for a 31 order, meaning that the train must stop to pick up the order.  The crew does not have to sign for a 19 order, meaning that the train does not normally have to stop (an exception to not stopping would be when a 19 order is issued restricting the superiority of a train, etc.).

In the collision at Rural Retreat, eastbound First Class train No. 14 was superior by direction to westbound First Class train No. 37 and should have held the main line at Rural Retreat in the absence of any instructions to the contrary from the dispatcher.  If the dispatcher had intended No. 14 to take the siding at Rural Retreat he would have so stated in the order, as he did for No. 14 at to meet an inferior-by-direction First Class train at Crockett (No. 41).  Apparently the rear end of No. 37 fouling the main line at Rural Retreat caused signal B-3502 to show a stop aspect, and the engineer of No. 14 erroneously thought that No. 37 was occupying  the main line at Rural Retreat and that he should take the siding.

Gordon Hamilton  

----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Friday, May 06, 2011 3:38 PM
Subject: Questions about N&W's ORDER 19 in Operating Rules during 1920s, etc.

For the purpose of framing my questions, the following language has been excerpted from an ICC report, dated November 6, 1920.  The entire report can be read at:

TREAT, VA., ON OCTOBER 20, 1920.

     Westbound local passenger train No. 37, enroute from Roanoke. Va. To Bristol, Tenn… received 19 train order No. 56 reading:
                        "No, 14, engine 102, meet No. 37, engine 558 at Rural Retreat
                         and No. 41, engine 107 at Crockett, No. 14 take siding at Crockett."
    [Arriving at Rural Retreat at 8:40 a, m.], the east switch of the passing siding having been opened, the train pulled in, stopping before the entire train was clear to unload passengers and express.  After it had completed its work the train departed and had proceeded a distance of about 2000 feet when, while running at a speed estimated to have been from 10 to 12 miles per hour, it collided with train No. 14, also on the passing siding.
     Eastbound train No. 14, enroute from Bristol, Tenn., to Roanoke, Va...received a copy of 19 train order 56…Approaching the west switch of the passing siding at Rural Retreat, automatic signal B-3502, located about 50 feet west of the west switch, was found in the stop position.  This indicated that the main track was occupied between that point and the station.  The train was brought to a stop and then proceeded, stopping again just clear of the switch.  The switch was opened and the train took the siding [at about 8:40 a.m.).  It had proceeded about 1600 feet and, while running at a speed estimated to have been between 18 and 20 miles per hour, it collided with train No. 37 at about 8:43 a.m.

QUESTION 1. I have a copy of an N&W Operating Rules handbook issued to employees January 1, 1967.  Am I right to assume that what appears to be a commonly used "19 train order" in 1920 must was defined somewhere else, or no longer in effect in 1967?.
QUESTION 2. Can someone provide me with the actual language of 19 train order as it would have read in 1920 and explain how and when it was routinely applied?
QUESTION 3. Would the tail end of No. 37 being still out on the main track ,east of the east switch, have caused signal B-3502 to automatically go into the STOP position?
QUESTION 4. Can someone let me know how to pull up a copy of Tom Dressler’s article on this head-on collision that was published in the Arrow – perhaps the Jan/Feb 1996 issue?  I already have an excellent photo and would like to read the text of his report.

Don Jackson
NWinNscale at
(540) 972-3138

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