Another posting, "Caboose", reminded me of misspent? youth hanging out at a RR station and watching train orders passed up by a wooden hoop with a handle, which receiver quickly tossed back from train.  Another style of "hoop" was a forked stick like a divining rod, but held by the long end, with a string fastened in a triangle around the fork;  string with orders attached caught in elbow of trainman, and "hoop" retained by stationmaster.  Anybody model order passers? I need to remember to model that...sounds like an "accessory" station where a guy runs out to a passing train as tripped by a contact.

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

Original Post
colorado hirailer posted:

Another posting, "Caboose", reminded me of misspent? youth hanging out at a RR station and watching train orders passed up by a wooden hoop with a handle, which receiver quickly tossed back from train.  Another style of "hoop" was a forked stick like a divining rod, but held by the long end, with a string fastened in a triangle around the fork;  string with orders attached caught in elbow of trainman, and "hoop" retained by stationmaster.  Anybody model order passers? I need to remember to model that...sounds like an "accessory" station where a guy runs out to a passing train as tripped by a contact.

Artista offers a man holding the "fork style" train order holder, positioned for "hooping up" a train order to an engine crew on the move.

My Granddad gave up railroading after the cylinder head of the passing locomotive "brushed" his shoulder while he was holding up an order fork for the fireman. It took more than a year for him to fully regain use of that shoulder. It was (of course) at night and he was standing just a bit too close.

This was him at his telegrapher's desk at Enslie Tower several years earlier:

       IMG_0954

It looks like the last digit in the calendar year is a zero which would make it 1910.

Lew

 

All photos are mine unless specifically noted otherwise.

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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We have a couple of the fork style hoops at the JRM Museum here in Springdale.  You'd be surprised how many visitors wonder "why there's a divining rod up there on the wall"...   

Mitch 

It's crackers to give a rozzer the dropsy in snide!

 

Remember, SCROUNGE!

Where order forks were used, the Operator took advantage of any slack time between trains to tie up some slip-knot string loops, in order to have a ready supply, in case the trains started coming in fleets.

The orders were placed inside the slip knot and it was tightened around them.  Then the string loop was stretched over the nail on each side of the fork.  It was important to take note of, and remember, which direction the nails were angled.  The nails were angled so that, if pointed properly, the string loop would slip off when the employee's arm passed through it.  If the fork was presented "backward", the wooden fork sticks would break off and go with the string.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Last edited by Number 90

Ah, passing up orders: "Classic railroading". 

Spent many a' night chatting with depot agent Buddy Stedman at the Frisco's Van Buren depot. Somewhere I have a blurry pic of Buddy passing up an order to a passing Frisco freight.

I so miss those years of railroading. That was the railroading that tugged at me so badly. However, the plan for my life didn't include full time railroading until much later.

Found that old pic and scanned it. Here it is:

BuddyStedman_VanBurenAR_Oct25_1975

 

Andre

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Unless I'm totally losing it, the Long Island Rail Road was doing this on a daily basis, up until somewhat recently....I think? I'm pretty sure I remember seeing it, I just don't remember where other than it would have to be the Montauk branch...

Coincidentally, I was watching a Milwaukee Road video yesterday, and one of the scenes showed orders being passed to the crew from fixed forks on a pole. There were two forks, one mounted above the other. When the engine went by, the engineer grabbed the orders from the top fork, and when the bay window caboose went by, the conductor - through the bay window - snagged the lower set of orders.

laming posted:

Spent many a' night chatting with depot agent Buddy Stedman at the Frisco's Van Buren depot. Somewhere I have a blurry pic of Buddy passing up an order to a passing Frisco freight.

Found that old pic and scanned it. Here it is:

BuddyStedman_VanBurenAR_Oct25_1975 

Andre

That's interesting. I went through Van Buren years ago, but didn't have a chance to ride the Missouri and Arkansas RR scenic train (it's also a working railroad) that operates out of Van Buren. Passengers board at the depot - still there, of course. The scenic railroad uses Alcos, I believe. I remember a RS-3 when I was there, and I think there's a C-420 also.

Hi Breeze:

C-420's: Yup.

RS-3: Must have been another engine type (The RS-1 at Springdale, perhaps?)

I'm somewhat familiar with the A&M.

Andre

laming posted:

Found that old pic and scanned it. Here it is:

 

Wouldn't be surprised if that same hoop wound up at the Springdale museum!   

Mitch 

It's crackers to give a rozzer the dropsy in snide!

 

Remember, SCROUNGE!

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

breezinup posted:

Coincidentally, I was watching a Milwaukee Road video yesterday, and one of the scenes showed orders being passed to the crew from fixed forks on a pole. There were two forks, one mounted above the other. When the engine went by, the engineer grabbed the orders from the top fork, and when the bay window caboose went by, the conductor - through the bay window - snagged the lower set of orders.

For passenger trains, there were three forks and three sets of orders (or messages) -- the engine crew got the top one; the Conductor, in the train, got the middle one; the Flagman got the bottom one, from the rear vestibule.

For freight trains, there were only two forks and two sets of orders (or messages) -- the engine crew got the top one, and the rear end crew, form the caboose, got the bottom one.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

laming posted:

Hi Breeze:

C-420's: Yup.

RS-3: Must have been another engine type (The RS-1 at Springdale, perhaps?)

I'm somewhat familiar with the A&M.

Andre

Hi Andre - Yes, it was a while back - could very well have been an RS-1, and, based on your comment, I'm sure it was. Nice to see the old Alcos still working the rails.

Jimmy T posted:

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

See my response above. 

Lew

 

All photos are mine unless specifically noted otherwise.

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

I remember when I was a kid, 14-15 the 3rd trick operator at Prospect Junction ( train order station 1 mile from Denver Union Station) would let me 'hoop up' train orders from a 'butterfly' to freight trains and the California Zephyr. And the train dispatcher would call the stations along the line by radio to type up train orders for the next 8 hours. The operator then read them back while he let me type them on a 'flimsy'. He showed me how to tie the string and mount it on the train order hoop with the orders. They always started with 'To C&E' xxx.  Big time fun 'working' on the railroad when you're a teenager!  And the operator got a kid to do some of the work!

Jimmy T posted:

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

I knew that someone would eventually chime in with the, “Oh my God! That’s not safe!” mantra. This IS railroading. It is how it’s done. It was done this way for over 150 years. 

We are becoming a society of wusses.

Rich Melvin

  Campers: Mother Nature's way of feeding mosquitoes...  

Last edited by Rich Melvin
Rich Melvin posted:
Jimmy T posted:

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

I knew that someone would eventually chime in with the, “Oh my God! That’s not safe!” mantra. This IS railroading. It is how it’s done. It was done this way for over 150 years. 

We are becoming a society of wusses.

....and this is nothing compared to picking up mail on the fly!

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

Rich Melvin posted:
Jimmy T posted:

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

I knew that someone would eventually chime in with the, “Oh my God! That’s not safe!” mantra. This IS railroading. It is how it’s done. It was done this way for over 150 years. 

We are becoming a society of wusses.

Well, there's no question that much of railroad-related activity is not done the same way as it was in past years. Railroads were at one time notoriously dangerous places to work. Institutionalization of safety, and investment in better training and equipment by railroads over the years, have made a large difference in worker safety. Safety has become of paramount importance and concern, and rightly so, not only in the operation of railroads, but most aspects of everyday life.

It now is realized that accidents result in a cost to society that is unacceptable, and raising concerns about safety is obviously an integral part of the effort to combat the occurrence of accidents. Thought about this has radically changed over the past 150 years.

So, for example, why are there laws that make us wear seatbelts? Well, if only wusses wear seatbelts, I guess I is one!  

laming posted:

T'wasn't a hoop. Paleface used forked stick.

 

You win the comments. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Mitch 

It's crackers to give a rozzer the dropsy in snide!

 

Remember, SCROUNGE!

breezinup posted:
Rich Melvin posted:
Jimmy T posted:

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

I knew that someone would eventually chime in with the, “Oh my God! That’s not safe!” mantra. This IS railroading. It is how it’s done. It was done this way for over 150 years. 

We are becoming a society of wusses.

Well, there's no question that much of railroad-related activity is not done the same way as it was in past years. Railroads were at one time notoriously dangerous places to work. Institutionalization of safety, and investment in better training and equipment by railroads over the years, have made a large difference in worker safety. Safety has become of paramount importance and concern, and rightly so, not only in the operation of railroads, but most aspects of everyday life.

It now is realized that accidents result in a cost to society that is unacceptable, and raising concerns about safety is obviously an integral part of the effort to combat the occurrence of accidents. Thought about this has radically changed over the past 150 years.

So, for example, why are there laws that make us wear seatbelts? Well, if only wusses wear seatbelts, I guess I is one!  

Agreed. Footboards were outlawed on locomotive pilots because slipping off meant getting run over. Ladders and roof walks were eliminated  for the same reason. Push-poles were outlawed for safety. Even the introduction of the knuckle-coupler was mostly a safety initiative. Lots of people lost fingers and hands holding the link in position for link&pin couplers to come together.   The conversion of all passenger cars to steam heat, electric lighting and steel bodies was mostly for safety (fire).  Most railroad work rules are and have been safety related. Safety improvement is and has been woven into the evolution of railroading from the beginning.

I am assuredly a wuss. Dad and I installed seat belts in our then-new 1957 Plymouth because his employer (Alcoa) had just installed them in all company cars after studies showed they saved lives. I'm so wussy I've never-ever driven a car without the seat belts/shoulder harness buckled.

Lew

 

All photos are mine unless specifically noted otherwise.

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

M. Mitchell Marmel posted:
laming posted:

T'wasn't a hoop. Paleface used forked stick.

 

You win the comments. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Mitch 

Glad you saw the humor in my silly comment.

Seriously, I don't recall what Buddy called the forked stick. (Only been 40+ years. Wow... that's sobering!)

I always thought (but have no experience with or exposure to) the rounded "tennis racket with no net" type train order passer-uppers were called "hoops". But could be that term covered both/any type of manual transmission of train orders?

I vaguely seem to recall Buddy saying he would need to "pass up orders" (or was it "hand up orders"?) We mainly talked fishing and hunting during one of my visits. We even fished together. Lost touch with Buddy after the Frisco closed the Van Buren agency. Hope he had a great life and is still enjoying retirement. ( think he would be in his late 70s or early 80s?)

Met so many great guys on the railroad and have so many good memories of railroading. When railroading is in you, it's in you and there's no ignoring it.

By the way, I'm seriously thinking about attending the Bentonville train meet on the 29th. If I do, and you recognize me, be sure to come over and say "howdy!".

Andre

Taking orders on the fly from both stationary and operator held order hoops or forks was still a common occurrence on when I started railroading in the '70's. There were several locations on the division where trains were required to receive orders (if nothing more than a Clearance Form A) by timetable special instructions. This continued until the late '80's when the Clearance Form A and Form 19  Orders were replaced by a computer generated Train Release Form and Train Bulletin

On one of my first student trips I was taught that when "hooping orders", you place your glove on your hand, then form a fist with your gloved hand and place your fist through the triangle shaped opening formed between the order twine and the confluence of the fork as you pass, thereby snagging the orders, twine and all in the crouch of your arm and elbow, bringing them into the cab. It was explained to me that if you attempted to grab at the orders with your open hand, not only did you risk injury, you also risked missing or dropping the orders, thereby needing to stop the train and walk back to retrieve the orders, not only delaying the train but bruising your ego also.

Locomotive cabs and cabooses often had quite a few pieces of order twine hanging on whatever was handy. The Feed Valve/Regulating Valve on locomotive control stands and coat hooks near the doors of cabooses were favorite places. I recall a laborer who operated the turntable at an engine servicing facility,  who gathered up all of that brown, rough, sisal twine and used it to mark his rows when planting his garden.   

As for the original post, Lionel cataloged an animated Train Orders Building 6-14166 around 2008 or so. Somewhat hokie, but I enjoy it.  

C.J.

Jimmy T posted:

Just curious but passing orders this way seems lie a disaster in the making. Any stories of people losing fingers, hands or worse.

No.

However, there were some skills which made the process work better, when using the old tool -- the cane hoop.  If the Operator, standing on the ground, would angle the pole of the hoop slightly toward the approaching train, and swing it as it was picked up, that would lower the speed of contact with the arm of the employee who received the hoop.  Also, some ergonomic movement on the part of the employee aboard the train helped.  Those cane hoops could sting and bruise sometimes, I was told by the old heads I worked with.  Probably, somewhere, at some time, somebody broke a knuckle or a finger from contact with a cane hoop, but it would have been rare, and I cannot imagine an amputation resulting from picking up a hoop on the fly.

After around 1950, many railroads switched entirely, or sometimes mainly, to the "high speed order fork", for handing up orders.  (And, just as information, that is the standard railroad term for the process.  Orders were handed up, not hand passed.)  Now, the high speed order fork only had a string and a set of orders or messages, and, if the fork was positioned in the proper direction, it did not sting when they were picked up on the fly.  At locations where authorized track speed was substantial, railroads often installed a base that would accept a telescoping aluminum mast, which, in turn, would accept order forks (just the head of the fork, not the handle).  That eliminated any danger to the Operator, as he or she did not have to stand next to the train to hand up orders.  The Operator could attach the uppermost fork at his level, then raise the telescoping mast to accept the lower fork(s), then raise the mast to its locking position at engine window/caboose platform height.  These were also often used at interlocking towers which issued train orders, so that the Operator could hang the orders, return to the tower, and take care of his other duties, such as lining trains through the limits of his interlocking plant.

Usually, it was not a great idea to pick up the orders at very high speed.  At 55-60 MPH, the orders could be picked up with relative ease, but at 80 or 90 MPH, there was more likelihood that turbulence from the passing train would cause the Train Crew's copies to be released from the fork and go heaven knows where.  This required stopping and backing up to retrieve the orders or messages.  So, a prudent practice was to slow the train to 60 MPH or less for picking up orders.  If they had to be picked up at a higher speed, I always used a flag stick instead of my arm.

On cab units such as EMD F7's, the normal practice was to open the side door of the cab, and lean down to snag the orders, especially if an employee was handing them up from ground level.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Last edited by Number 90
laming posted:

By the way, I'm seriously thinking about attending the Bentonville train meet on the 29th. If I do, and you recognize me, be sure to come over and say "howdy!".

Likewise!  I'll be towards the back with the gi-raffes!   

Mitch 

It's crackers to give a rozzer the dropsy in snide!

 

Remember, SCROUNGE!

Mitch:

One other question about the upcoming meet at Bentonville: Where is it? Got a link or address you can share with me to help me locate it?

Thanks.

Andre

The NWA Train Show is at the Benton Co. Fairgrounds.  West of Bentonville, Arkansas on Arkansas Hiway 12( exit 85 off of I49).  About 1 mile north of the NXA airport in Downtown Vaughn, Arkansas.  Saturday Feb 29th, hours are 9am to 4pm.

Club website www.sugarcreekrailroadclub.com

Keith Johnson

 

 

 

Keith Johnson

Also there was a way, an "art" with TO.  The way they were written.  But it has to be.  Lives were/on the line.  And I have heard the ink used to write the rules was the blood of those killed or injured.

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

Last edited by Rich Melvin

I assume the High Speed Delivery Fork Co. of Shelbyville, IN is no longer with us, but a former workmate was a junior agent back when. He told me if the pickup was flubbed, he'd fling the whole fork or hoop up onto the diesel catwalk.

Image result for high speed delivery fork co shelbyville in

Firewood

 

"Nice try, Lao Che!"

Dominic Mazoch posted:

Also there was a way, an "art" with TO.  The way they were written.  But it has to be.  Lives were/on the line. 

Yes, the form of the order had to be worded exactly the way it appeared in the book of rules.  Exactly.  No creative changes and no erasures, line-outs, or type-overs.  The carbon paper between copies was two sided for two reasons:

  1. Prevent any tampering with the order, and
  2. make the text easier to read by backlighting the flimsy paper against not-very-bright cab lighting or caboose oil lamps.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Last edited by Number 90
colorado hirailer posted:

Another posting, "Caboose", reminded me of misspent? youth hanging out at a RR station and watching train orders passed up by a wooden hoop with a handle, which receiver quickly tossed back from train.  Another style of "hoop" was a forked stick like a divining rod, but held by the long end, with a string fastened in a triangle around the fork;  string with orders attached caught in elbow of trainman, and "hoop" retained by stationmaster.  Anybody model order passers? I need to remember to model that...sounds like an "accessory" station where a guy runs out to a passing train as tripped by a contact.

It's been around a while but Railroaders has a nice scene of hooping up orders on the Canadian Pacific in the 1950s:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/railroaders/

 

Much like Espee's This is My Railroad and New Haven's A Great Railroad at Work, a throwback to the days of wooing men for a good job on the RR.

Rob M. ARHS # 3846 PRRT&HS # 8141 EPTC "Life Is Like A Mountain Railway, With An Engineer That's Brave..."

Being CTC, we didn't have "train orders", but, we still had to look out for work orders to be hooped up by the agent when stations were open.

An example of things other than train orders being hooped up:

On an eastbound road switcher we had a short car that would have required a drop to spot it.  We decided to set it out at the first station beyond its destination and let a west man pick it up and spot it.  The 'Powers That Be" learned our intentions and told us to do the drop.  Our conductor said he would do it as long as he had a typed message order to go along with his paperwork.  At the next open station a message for us was hooped up regarding this move.

P.S.  ditto Number 90 on the use of a flag stick.

Robert R Leese

And was there not a place in Arkansas where where they hooked up lunch for train crews.  I think I read it was an odd labor agreement.

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

Rob Leese posted:

An example of things other than train orders being hooped up:

On an eastbound road switcher we had a short car that would have required a drop to spot it.  We decided to set it out at the first station beyond its destination and let a west man pick it up and spot it.  The 'Powers That Be" learned our intentions and told us to do the drop.  Our conductor said he would do it as long as he had a typed message order to go along with his paperwork.  At the next open station a message for us was hooped up regarding this move.

P.S.  ditto Number 90 on the use of a flag stick.

We used to do that stuff every day and didn't need an ok from any one! That was when we had enough crew members to perform the job!
Then......well railroading hasn't been the same since!

One of the problems with my story telling is that I try to keep it too brief.  There is more to the story.

The spur I reference above was one where we did not like to do drops...it was fairly short from derail to wheel stops, and had a considerable plunge from the mainline grade.  I know you have seen that type of spur in your travels.  Back in the day when there was enough work to require a local turn to do all the switching which included this business, the crew would usually drop the spot car down the mainline and send the switcher into the spur (one locomotive).  Back to present day of the story, our east trains never had less than 3 engines which was too much length and weight to send into the spur.  The conductor requesting the message instructing a drop was simply securing a CYA policy in the event something went wrong.  After all, it was normally at his discretion as to how to spot the car, and he wanted to do it the safest way possible.

As to performing drops, we dropped five to seven empty hoppers and bulkhead flats into Acme Plaster company (Georgia Pacific) every weeknight on the QA&P switcher...it was routine to us.

Robert R Leese

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