Railroad Time and Distance Indicator, 1862
Chicago Tribune, September 18, 1870
Chicago Astronomical Society.
A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Astronomical Society was held on Saturday afternoon in the office of Hon. Thomas Hoyne, the Secretary, Hon. J. Y. Scammon, the President of the society, occupied the chair.
Mr. E. Colbert was elected Assistant Director of the Dearborn Observatory.
The subject of the proposed electrical connection of the observatory with the Court House, for the purpose of ensuring a correct marking of the city time, was then introduced. It was stated that good process was being made in securing the subscriptions necessary to purchase the clocks, etc., needed in the work, and it was conceded to be desirable that the original plan to strike the hours correctly should be improved upon to the extent of furnishing a register for the eye as well as for the ear. The list of subscriptions was not presented for publication, not being yet completed. The list will be kept open a few days longer, and it is hoped that the required amount will be raised without difficulty.
The Secretary was directed to communicate with the Board of Public Works, stating that the society is prepared to undertake the contract to furnish the city time, in accordance with a resolution of the Common Council, passed some months ago.
Professor Stafford and Mr. Colbert were appointed a committee to carry out the above work, subject to concurrence of the President and Secretary, and were further authorized to obtain subscriptions and make collections of such moneys as are necessary thereto.
Messrs. W. H. Wells, T. H. Safford, and E. Colbert ere appointed a committee, with power to act, in reference to awakening a more popular interest in the observatory and its work, and the obtaining of additional members.
The committee adjourned for four weeks.
By the terms of the constitution, the payment of $100 secures a life membership in the society, and the payment of $500 constitutes the donor a Life Director. The society is small in numbers. It has done nobly in securing a fine building and the largest refracting telescope in the world, but is sadly in lack of funds to enable nit to increase its working force, and to obtain other instruments needed in the prosecution of the work of scouting the heavens in search of celestial news. The city time an accomplished fact, the society will then endeavor to increase its membership and its funds, and make arrangements for enabling its members and their friends to visit the observatory, without interfering with the investigations being made by the astronomers.
A. J. Johnson’s New Illustrated Family Atlas Of The World, 1874
Engraved color diagram illustrating the pre-time zone era when times were continually different. Times based on distance from Washington D.C., and adjusted locally when the sun is at “high noon.”
Inter Ocean, November 26, 1881
Time, which is the most precious of all things, and which, when once lost, can never be regained, ought to be a subject of interest to all people—to the idler, because he knows nothing of it; to the industripus man, because it regulates his doings. Time once was, and that not many years ago, when Chicago had no time worth speaking of. Even now a large part of it which has most to do with time has it only approximately. Chicago gets its time, one sort or another, from two centers—one, the observatory at Allegheny City, the other at the Dearborn Observatory. The former is always correct, not because its observatory is any better than the Dearborn Observatory, but because it pays its time-keeper, Professor Langley, enough to devote all his hours, minutes, and seconds to keep it on the tick of time. The Dearborn Observatory is off several several seconds in the exceedingly short period of a week, but because Professor Hough, who is its guardian, has also several other wards to attend to. Before the Dearborn Observatory was, and before that at Allegheny City was called upon to lead its wisdom, Chicago depended upon Potter’s time—and a very good time it was, undoubtedly, being obtained by means of a transit on the top of the building above Mr. Potter’s store.
Mr. Potter Interviewed.
Mr. Potter’s oral observations on the subject will be as valuable now as were once his visual ones. Mr. Potter, speaking of how he gets his time now, says:
- We get it from Allegheny City, and the reason why we get it from Allegheny City is that it could not be got here satisfactorily, as they do not furnish the time here with absolute correctness. Take my clock—my chronometer there—as it is now kept by the Allegheny City Observatory, and it has not varied two seconds during the last four months. Professor Langley keeps the time at that institution, and devotes his whole time to it. The Western Union Telegraph Company corrects their clock by the time he telegraphs, which is done between 9 and 12 every morning. And they telegraph it here through a separate wire to that instrument there, called a clicker or ticker, so that we are connected directly with the Western Union, and indirectly with Allegheny City.
Mr. Summers’ Time.
Mr. Summers, at Room 32, Western Union Block, in whose room the clock is, was next seen. The room belongs to the Western Union Telegraph Company, but the Western Electrical Telegraph Company asked leave to place their clock—a Howard electrical regulator or clock—in this room, as the most central and otherwise convenient place for it. The clock, which, by the way, only looks like a clock in the general outline or casing; instead of resting on the floor and being subject to its vibrations, is fastened solidly into the brick wall against which it rests, and which is built up solidly from the ground, without intervening passage or doorway beneath.
In response to questions, Mr. Summers said:
- The time, according to this method, is furnished to those who take it by the wires of the Western Electrical Manufacturing Company, who furnished the clickers. There are two time lines extending through the city, one on the South Side and one on the West Side, and both of these lead from this clock in the Western Union Building, which sends out a beat for every second of time. These time lines are connected with the principle jewelry stores in the city, and also with most of the railroad depots, through clickers by which their own clocks are regulated. This office is also connected with the Dearborn Observatory by a direct wire, from which we make a comparison with that we get from the time we get every morning from the observatory at Allegheny City may prevent observations from being at one or the other observatories. Moreover, they act as a check on each other. The Western Union for the transmission of the time signals, and the regulator (the Howard electrical clock) sends out the second-beats.
Other Time Lines.
“What do you know about other time lines?”
“What is called, I believe, the city time line, pays several hundred—I think $1,000—a year for the time which they could get from this clock at less than one-fourth that amount.”
“What are the peculiar features of this Howard electrical regulator?”
“It—the beater—stops its beats five seconds before the end of every minute, so that by watching for the first tick or beat, the exact moment of the commencement of another minute can be told. It also stops twenty seconds before the end of every five minutes, by the circuit opening, and the circuit closing again it closes on the even five minutes, which enables us to get at the time by the beats of the instrument.”
N. Matson & Co.
The setter of the time at N. Matson & Co.’s store was next seen, and the interview with him resulted as follows:
- We get our time from the Western Electrical Manufacturing Company. We used to get it at the Dearborn Observatory direct. But their clock connects with a wire that runs around the city, and when there was a break so much trouble resulted that we changed it, and are now connected with the regulator belonging to the Western Electrical Company, in room 32, Western Union Building. The clicker pin beats every other second, and then breaks at fifty seconds and stops, and commences again with the even minute, or sixty seconds. It connects with the clock through the wheel which is placed on the pivot that usually carries the “second” hand, and which is made with thirty teeth, but four of these teeth have been cut out, which makes the break between the fifty-second and the sixtieth second of every minute, and then, at the end of each five minutes of time, and commences again at the end of the sixtieth second, or the first second of the next five minutes.
J. B. Mayo & Co.
Mr. J. B. Mayo, of Mayo & Co., was next seen. From him it was ascertained that this firm gets its time from the Dearborn Observatory through the City Hall, being brought to the store by electricity. They keep the time of several of the railroads, and have done so for over sixteen years.
Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1883
The New Standard Time to Be Adopted by the Time-Table Convention in This City Oct. 11.
Mr. P. P. Wright, Chairman of the General Time Convention of Railroad Managers, in his call for the fall meeting to be held at the Grand Pacific Hotel, in this city, Thursday, Oct. 11, says:
- The system of uniform standard time recommended for adoption at the meeting of this convention and of the Southern Railway Time Convention held last April, has been submitted to the several companies by the Secretary. The managers of about 60,000 miles of road have already voted in the affirmative on both questions submitted. There are practically no negative votes. It is proposed that final action on this subject shall be taken at this meeting.
The proposition is to divide the whole country into five divisions:
- The Intercolonial, 60 degrees from Greenwich
The Eastern, 75 degrees from Greenwich
The Central, 90 degrees from Greenwich
The Mountain, 105 degrees from Greenwich
The Pacific, 120 degrees from Greenwich
Each division, it will be observed, is fifteen degrees apart, which makes just one hour in time. At present there are fifty different standards of times in use on the various roads in this country, which causes much annoyance and trouble. By the new arrangement there will be but five standards, each one hour apart, which will greatly simplify matters if adopted.
The Inter Ocean, October 12, 1883
Standard Railway Time.
Adoption of the New System.
The General Railway Time Convention was held at the Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday morning at 11 o’clock. Mr. P. P. Wright, General Superintendent of the Lake Shore Road, presided and W. F. Allen of the Travelers’ Official Guide, acted as Secretary.
About thirty railroad companies were represented, with a mileage of 78,000 miles of road.
The important topic of the day was the discussion of the feasibility of adopting the following proposition:
- The System.
1. That all roads now using Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Hamilton, or Washington time as standard, based upon meridians east of these points or adjacent thereto, shall be governed by the seventy-fifth meridian or Eastern timne (four minutes slower than New York time). This includes roads run by Portland, Providence, New London, Montreal, Albany, Richnond, and Charleston time in addition to those specifically named above.
2. That all roads now using Columbus, Atlanta, Savanah, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis, Chicago, Jefferson City, St. Paul, or Kansas City time, or standards based upon meridian time, to be called Central time, one hour slower than Eastern time, and nine minutes slower than Chicago time.
3. That west of the aboved named section the roads shall be run by the 105th and 120th meridian times respectively two and three hours slower than Eastern time.
4. That all changes from one hour standard to another shall be made at the termini of roads or at the ends of divisions.
This system is similar to the one adopted in England thirty years ago, and which has worked so well.
The New Time Zones
Chicago & Alton Railroad
Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1883
A good many people have long been of the opinion that the story about Joshua commanding the sun to stand still was something of a myth, but the railroads of this country demonstrated yesterday that the hand of time can be moved backward about as easily as Columbus demonstrated that an egg can be made to stand on end. They showed that all that was necessary to accomplish the feat was to find out how to do it.
At 12 o’clock noon yesterday, or rather at nine minutes thirty-two second after 12 o’clock, Chicago time, the railroads put into effect the new Central Standard or ninetieth-meridian time, which is nine minutes thirty-two seconds slower than Chicago time. Of the railroads centering in this city all made the change except the Northwestern, Milwaukee & St. Paul, Illinois Central, and Michigan Central. The three first-named roads will make the change next Sunday. The Michigan Central has not yet determined what it will do, but it is quite certain that since all other roads have decided to make the change, it will take an isolated stand in case it holds out. The reason the Michigan Centra; is so reluctant to make the change is because it necessitates a complete revision of its time-tables. This road has heretofore been running all its trains on Detroit time, which is twenty-seven minutes forty-eight seconds slower than Central standard time, or nineteen minutes sixteen seconds faster than Chicago time. As Detroit is the dividing line between Central and Eastern standard time, the change will compel the Michigan Central to run its trains in Canada on Eastern time, one hour slower than Central time, by which it would have to run its trains in the States. Still, all other roads connecting and intersecting its lines, both in the States and Canada, have already made or soon will make the change, the Michigan Central will no doubt also adopt the new standard.
Shortly before the new time was put into effect yesterday a Tribune representative called at the office of the Train Dispatchers of the Pennsylvania Company, Burlington, Pan-Handle, and Alton Railroads, at the West-Side Union Depot, to witness the ceremonies attending the change. The Division Superintendents, Train Dispatchers, Depotmasters, and telegraph operators were all at their desks. All looked unusually solemn, and their faces showed that something of an extraordinary nature was about to happen. At about a quarter to 12 o’clock, Chicago time, the conductors, engineers, and other train-men dropped in one by one, each having his timer-piece in his hand and watching closely the hands on the dials. Depot-Master Cropsy had his chronometer under a powerful magnifying glass to be sure that he made no mistake. When the clock on the wall in the office, by which the running of the trains in the depot is regulated, stood at 12, it was stopped. The telegraph instruments were then connected with the pendulum of the clock in the observatory at Allegheny, Pa., from which the Fort Wayne and Pan-Handle receive their time. Each move made by the pendulum of the Allegheny Observatory clock was faithfully repeated on the telegraph instruments, and at precisely nine minutes thirty-two seconds after 12, Chicago time, the movement of the pendulum stopped, indicating that it was exactly 12 o’clock, and the timepieces in the hands of the large assemblage were simultaneously set to that figure, nd the clock on the wall, which had been stopped at 12 o’clock Chicago time, was again set agoing. The Fort Wayne and Pan-Handle then set their watches back twenty-eight minutes having heretofore been keeping Columbus time, by which their trains were run, The Burlington and Alton set their timepieces back nine minutes, having heretofore kept Chicago time, by which their trains were run. The feat successfully accomplished, general murmur of satisfaction ran through the room, and everybody, with the exception of the operators, departed with a sigh of relief.
At the Lake Shore-Rock Island Depot the same procedure was carried out. The Lake Shore, like the Fort Wayne and Pan-Handle, has also been running on Columbus time and received correct time from the Allegheny Observatory, while the Rock Island, like the Alton and Burlington, had been running on Chicago time. Consequently the Lake Shore men had to set their watches back twenty-eight mninutes and the Rock Island men nine minutes.
All the other roads centering in the city pursued about the same course in accomplishing the change. The roads which did not get their time from the Allegheny Observatory received it from local jewelers, principally Potter and the Western Electric Company, who also received their time from the Allegheny Observatory. Time was sent again at 2 o’clock from the observatory to local offices as an additional check.
All conductors and engine-men were required before starting on their runs yesterday to see that their watches were correct with Columbus, Chicago, or whatever time time then in use on their respective lines, and wherever they were at 12:09 Chicago time, or 12:28 Columbus time, to set their watches to 12 o’clock, and also to verify their time a the first telegraph office they reached after changing the time on their watches. All agents and others who could not have access to the telegraph offices yesterday had to compare watches with conductors the day before, and at noon yesterday had to set back their watches to make them correspond with standard time, and today will have to compare them again with conductors to see that they are right.
At sharp noon yesterday the Western Electric Manufacturing Company changed its chronometer and began to furnish its subscribers with the new standard time. All of the subscribers had been instructed how to act, and at noon the clock and chronometers were turned back nine minutes. All of the leading jewelers had men in their places to make this change, and as soon as it was made cards bearing the inscription ‘The New Central Time” were placed in the window chronometers. These cards met the eyes of the passersby, and from noon there were groups in front of the jewelers’ windows almost constantly engaged in changing their watches. The corporations and companies who depend upon the jewelers for their time made the change as soon as it was announced, and the indications are that the change will become universally adopted much sooner than was expected. The general greeting on the street yesterday was “Have you the new time?” And if there was a negative answer the questioner would kindly furnish it.
The Western Union clocks were changed at noon, and a number of people referred to them in changing their watches. In almost all of the down-town places which were open yesterday the new time was observed. Some of the jewelers put up cards in their windows bearing the legend:
- Set back nine minutes.
and the command was pretty generally observed.
1882 Travelers’ Official Guide of the Railway and Steam Navigation Lines
1883 Travelers’ Official Guide of the Railway and Steam Navigation Lines
Indianapolis Sentinel, 21 November 1883
Railroad time is to the time of the future. The Sun is no longer to boss the job. People—all 55,000,000 of them—must eat, sleep and work as well as travel by railroad time. It is a revolt, a rebellion. The sun will be requested to rise and set by railroad time. The planets must, in the future, make their circuits by such timetables as railroad magnates arrange. People will have to marry by railroad time, and die by railroad time. Ministers will be required to preach by railroad time – banks will open and close by railroad time – in fact, the Railroad Convention has taken charge of the time business, and the people may as well set about adjusting their affairs in accordance with its decree. … We presume the sun, moon and stars will make an attempt to ignore the orders of the Railroad Convention, but they, too, will have to give in at last.
Chicago Tribune, November 18, 1883