Hagerstown - The Telegraph Call Jungle

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Jun 10 16:10:37 EDT 2019

See below the 1884 CVRR station at Hagerstown, shared with the N&W, and
long ago demolished.

J. Kelling

On Sat, Jun 8, 2019 at 10:32 AM NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>

> At Hagerstown, between the N&W and the PRR, there seem to have been at
> least 9 Telegraph Offices over the years.  (The B&O probably had a couple
> of its own, and there was a Western Union office, too.)  Interestingly, N&W
> telegraph offices seem to get mentioned in PRR publications, and PRR
> telegraph offices get mentioned in N&W publications, so it is sometimes
> hard to figure out the players.  After all, it was, for most of its years,
> a "joint facility" covered by a joint facility contract.
> First, I will list the telegraph offices I am certain about, then I will
> list the ones for which I need better information and locations.
> NC - North Crossing, a jointly operated tower where the Western Maryland
> crosses the PRR, later (in the weenie era) called "Town."   It was a PRR
> facility.  WM paid part of the expenses and WM men owned one shift of the
> operator's job. Closed Dec 19, 1986 -- I was there that day.
> UD - The original Shenandoah Valley RR Train Dispatcher's office in the
> Hagerstown Union Depot.  Moved to Roanoke's own Union Depot not long after
> the SV RR was completed. (See N&W Magazine, vol. 4, no. 6, June 1926, page
> 439, interview with telegraph operator W.J. Feiser who was a telegraph
> operator at Loch Laird when the telegraph wire was completed to Roanoke,
> May 31, 1882.)
> HN - Telegraph office in passenger station, in service at least as late as
> 1930.  (See N&W Magazine, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan 1930, page 64, mentioning
> telegraph operator O. F. Dorman.  Also, information in Telegrapher magazine
> confirms that HN was in the Hagerstown depot.)  My guess is that early on
> HN handled Train Orders, Clearance Cards for departing N&W trains and
> blocked with the next station to the south, St James.  But after the PRR
> built Vardo yard office and paid to put a telegraph operator there,
> southward N&W got their Train Orders and Clearance Card from the PRR
> operator at Vardo.  Southward N&W passenger trains picked up their Train
> Orders and Clearance Card at PRR HJ (later "Hager") tower, about
> three-quarters of a mile south of the depot.
> DX - Hagerstown Transfer.  ("Transfer" is an old name for a freight
> station where LCL freight was transferred between railroads, or broken down
> for re-distribution on local freight trains.)  I  >>think<<  Hagerstown
> Transfer may have been just northwest of the Western Maryland/N&W/PRR
> diamond at HJ Tower (called "Hager" in the age of weenie-speak.)
> HJ - Interlocking Tower where the N&W and the Cumberland Valley RR (PRR)
> crossed, and where Western Maryland came in.  There is record of an
> interlocking having been at this location as early as 1883.  In the age of
> weenie-speak, this tower was called "Hager."  Closed January 3, 1983 -- I
> was there that day.
> V - PRR telegraph office at Vardo.  V Office, in Vardo yard office,
> handled general administrative communications associated with any yard:
> wheel reports, train consists, messages to the superintendent, etc.  It
> also handled Train Orders and Clearance Cards for southward N&W trains.
> Northward PRR trains heading up the Cumberland Valley RR for Harrisburg got
> their Train Orders and Clearance Cards at NC Tower.
> NEXT, I move to the telegraph offices I do not understand:  HM, G and AU
> The snippet image of a 1903 Shenandoah Div Time Table from 1903 shows G and
> AU telegraph offices.  Where were they, and what kind of work did they
> handle?
> My suspicion, unconfirmed by empirical evidence, is that the passenger
> depot at one time had, in addition to HN office, an office called HM.  My
> guess is that HN handled the train work (Train Orders, Train Register,
> Clearance Cards, blocking, etc) and that HM handled the message work.
> Perhaps HM was the message office associated with the Shenandoah Valley RR
> Train Dispatcher's Office, UD, in which case it was most likely on the
> second floor.)
> That leaves the matter of  G and AU.  The way they are bracketed in the
> 1903 T.T., they seem to be at, or in the vicinity of, Hagerstown Jct.  What
> were they, and what business did they handle?  I do not know.
> In addition to the snippet of the 1903 Shenandoah Div T.T., I will also
> attach the Cumberland Valley's 1928 Hagerstown property map.  I have posted
> it to the List before, but it is a jewel and deserves re-posting.  I found
> it decades ago in a baggage car which was being used for old records
> storage at Harrisburg.  And while I am at it, I will throw in my work on
> Shenandoah Division Telegraph Calls.
> I have wrestled with these problems of Hagerstown telegraph calls for
> years.  Any enlightenment from the cognoscendi and wizards will be ye
> much'ly appreciated by this old country bumpkin.
> -- abram burnett,
> reformed brakezman, now turnip baron
> ===========================================
>                   Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
> Successor to the MAGNETIC TELEGRAPH LINE of 1844
> ===========================================
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