Head-End Brakemen On Passenger Trains

Discussion in 'Passenger Operations' started by yardmaster, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    See Gordon's message from earlier:


    The question I pose to Gordon or others: in which car did the head-end brakeman typically ride?

    I'm curious to know, so that my Northern Division passenger trains can get the scale brakeman as close to the switchstand as possible.

    Best Regards,
  2. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    Sorry, I didn't see that you had initiated a new thread on this subject, so I just posted the following on the 2-8-2 thread.

    "I will certainly invite anyone to correct me, but one place he could frequently be found was the baggage car, especially a train that did not carry a dedicated baggageman, from where he was expected to help with the loading and unloading of baggage and express at station stops. You are correct that only USPS employees were allowed in the mail apartment of an RPO car, so he would never have been found there.

    Others please chime in as I don't want to go too far down the wrong path with this."

  3. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    Here's a shot of the the head end brakemen in the doghouse on the tender of SLSF 4024 near Allenton, MO with either the local or the Pacific Switcher in 1943.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2024
  4. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    Sure looks like a switcher or local, but why do you suppose the locomotive is carrying flags?

  5. FriscoGeorge

    FriscoGeorge Frisco Employee

    It is probably carrying flags because it is an "extra" which is a "trick" not regularly scheduled on the roster.

    Just a thought.

    Frisco George
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2024
  6. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    It's likely the Pacific Switcher, which was an unscheduled train that ran daily and switched gravel pits and industry around Pacific/Eureka/Allenton.

    It usually left late morning/early afternoon and returned that evening late. My Dad used to catch it almost every summer for about three years.

    Got to run my first steam engine, the 4146, when I spent the afternoon riding around with Dad in Pacific.

    Didn't sleep for a week!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2024
  7. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    Neat photo, Don; many thanks.

    The brakeman sure looks cozy. As a kid, I remember an outhouse on my great-grandfather's farm that seemed spacious by comparison.

    And thanks, Gordon, for the insight. That will help my Prieser or W.S. figures know where to go. Not much time for them to waste when using a fast clock.


    It possibly begs for another question, but it sounds like the Pacific switcher had to run as an extra, assuming that yard limits weren't in place?

    Thanks for pardoning my shaky knowledge of the Rules of the Transportation Department book and the employee timetable for this area.

    Best Regards,
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2024
  8. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    I wonder if the brakie had to pay the extra Parlor Car fee to ride up there? ;););)

  9. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    Perhaps this is a trick question. There may not have been such a thing as a “Passenger Head-End Brakeman”.

    I first searched several of the reports in the digital ICC Historical Records collection. These reports of railroad accidents are good at pinpointing the location and job title of the witnesses, which includes the enginemen and trainmen.

    My investigation of this source is incomplete, because my employer scrutinizes our web surfing, and the spousal unit has the home computer tied-up with her dissertation work. I note three things. I have yet to see anyone described as a “Head-End Brakeman”, each passenger train has a Flagman, and in some cases, mention is also made of a Passenger Porter. More investigation in these records is required

    I also looked through a couple of Trainmen’s Schedules, which are booklet summaries of the agreement that the union(s) have with the railroad.

    The March 15, 1920 Schedule covers the following jobs:

    Article 2

    Baggagemen handling both express and Dynamo,
    Baggagemen handling express*,
    Baggagemen operating Dynamo,
    Flagmen and Brakemen,
    Flagmen or Brakemen handling express,
    Flagmen or Brakemen handling baggage,
    Flagmen or Brakemen handling express and baggage

    *Baggagemen handling express are in the employ of the railroad, and [they] shall be paid exclusively by the railroad.

    I believe there are several articles that provide clues with regard to the Passenger Head-End Brakeman question. They are:

    Article 3
    Passenger Train Tabulation

    “…Note-The following mixed branch runs shall be classified in passenger seniority as applied to Conductors:
    Chadwick Branch
    St Paul Branch
    Scullin Branch
    Enid and Avard Branch…”

    Does this imply that brakemen on these runs come from the freight seniority pool?

    The digital Frisco Employee Magazine contains an article on the Chadwick Branch. The article states that business is so good on the branch that additional brakemen have been added to handle the additional switching.

    Article 5, Section J
    Passenger Trainmen drawing Supplies

    “Passenger trainmen will not be required to couple or uncouple air or steam hose where Carmen are employed, neither will they be required to draw supplies, handle train boxes, or clean lamps where porters are employed. This, however, will not relieve the passenger brakeman of the responsibility of knowing he has supplies and flagging material, lamps and markers in proper condition.”

    Although Porters are not covered in the Trainmen’s Schedule, Section J provides some insight into their duties as well as the notion that Passenger Porters were not used on all passenger trains. I infer from Section J that Porters did not have duties related to train operation.

    Article 5, Section L
    Full Crew

    “Passenger train crews shall consist of not less than one Conductor and one Brakeman. Additional Brakemen will be added when conditions and work justify.”

    There is no similar citation that specifies what constitutes a “Full Freight Crew”.

    At the time of this “Schedule”, the Aurora Branch hosted a daily passenger train between Greenfield and Aurora. This train may have been one case in which a minimum crew was used, i.e., engineer, fireman, conductor, and a sole brakeman handling baggage and express.

    Article 5, Section M
    Duties-Passenger Flagmen

    “Passenger Flagmen shall ride the rear car of all moving (italics are mine,-keb-) passenger trains except when private cars are on the rear of the train, he may ride on the first car ahead of [the] private car. When the train comes to a stop he shall appear at the rear of the train with proper flagging material prepared to fully protect the rear of his train as required by the rules.”

    Section M is the only section that specifically describes the duties of the passenger trainman and the location where he will perform those duties.

    Article 23
    Seat on Engines for Trainmen

    “All engines in Freight service will be equipped with comfortable seat or cupola house (read doghouse –keb)”

    There is no similar citation for a Passenger Trainman.

    Given the cursory review of the ICC Historical Records and the 1920 Trainmen’s Schedule, I am inclined to believe that on Frisco Passenger Trains there was no position called a “Head-End Brakeman”.

    The Flagman, if present, protected the rear of the train, the other brakeman handled the head-end protection, and these brakemen may have been located anywhere in the train.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2024
  10. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    Didn't realize the Pacific Switcher ran as an extra. That certainly explains the flags.


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