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Title: Letters from an Old Railway Official - To his Son, a Division Superintendent
Author: Hine, Charles DeLano
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_To the railway officials and employes of America:_

_Their intelligence is an inspiration; their steadfastness, a


A Word of Congratulation                                        1

Helping the Train Dispatchers                                   6

Handling a Yard                                                13

Distant Signals on Chief Clerks                                18

Safety of Trains in Yards                                      26

Standardizing Administration                                   31

The New Trainmaster and Civil Service                          36

Education of Several Kinds                                     43

Correspondence and Telegrams                                   49

The Bayonet Precedes the Gospel                                56

Preventing Wrecks Before They Happen                           63

The Self-Made Man Who Worships His Maker                       70

The Friend-Mile as a Unit of Measure                           79

The Management that Breeds from Its Own Herd                   89

More on Civil Service                                          97

The Supply Train                                              104

What the Big Engine Has Cost                                  114

Be a Superintendent--Not a Nurse                              121

The Rack of the Comparative Statement                         130

Handling the Pay-Roll                                         137

Military Organization                                         145

Wrecks and Block Signals                                      153

Unionism                                                      161

The Round-Up                                                  169

By Frank H. Spearman                                          177

Letters From A Railway Official



March 20, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--The circular announcing your appointment as division
superintendent has just been received, and it brings up a flood of
thoughts of former years. I felt that you had made a mistake in
leaving us to go with the new system, but it has turned out all right.
I can appreciate the fact that you would rather work away from me, so
as to make people believe that you can go up the official hill without
having a pusher behind you.

This should be one of the proudest periods of your life. You are now
in a position to do good to your company, to your fellow man, and
incidentally to yourself. No matter how highly organized a road may
be, the importance of the office of division superintendent is in
direct proportion to the ability and earnestness of the incumbent. The
position is little or big, restricted or untrammeled, just as you make
it. Many a superintendent has had to double the hill of a swelled
knob, and run as a last section into the next promotion terminal. You
have too much of your mother's good sense ever to cause anybody else
to put up signals for you on this account. Therefore do not lose your
democratic manner. Keep your heart warm and regard the wider field as
an opportunity to get more friends on your staff. Try to call every
employe in your territory by name, as Cæsar did his soldiers; for all
the traffic of goodwill must run in a direction toward you if you want
maximum results, as they call efficiency nowadays. Good old rule 121
of the standard code says: "When in doubt take the safe course and run
no risks," which, in the case of acquaintance, means if uncertain
whether you know a man or not, speak to him and give him the glad hand
anyway. You will have to discipline men, but that can be done without
parting company with your good manners. Remember that the much-abused
word "discipline" comes from the same root as the word "disciple," a
pupil, a learner, a follower. It is always easier to lead men than to
drive them.

When you go over the division do not try to see how many telegrams you
can send, but how few. It is usually a pretty safe rule after writing
a telegram on the hind end of a train to carry it by two or three
stations to see if you would rather not take it back to the office
yourself. The dispatchers used to tell your old dad that they couldn't
have told he was out on the line as far as his messages were an
indication. Another thing, do not try to plug your whistle and muffle
your bell. Let everybody know you are coming. The "Old Sleuth" stunt
is for criminals, not for honest employes. Be on hand so frequently
that your coming is taken as a matter of course. Never hunt quail with
a brass band, but bear in mind that men, unlike quail, rather like to
perch on a band wagon. If you are tempted to wait behind box cars to
see if the men on a night pony have gone in the hay, do not yield, but
get out, see that the switches are lined up, and count the ties in
front of the headlight until somebody gives her steam; just as
Napoleon walked post for the sleeping sentinel. Then, if you
administer a polite jacking up it will be twice as effective, even if
the delay to the work that one time has continued. Remember that
things are not as they should be, and it is probably your own fault
if, under normal conditions, a particular movement depends upon your
personal efforts. Any routine action that you take should be
calculated to help many trains, or one train many times; or to help
many men, not merely the trains or men in question. It is all right,
in emergencies, to jump in and do the work of a conductor, of an
engineman, of a switch tender, or of any other employe. The great
trouble is in discriminating between an emergency and a defect which
can better be remedied in some other way. The smaller the caliber of
the official the more numerous the emergencies to his mind.

You should try to arrange your work so as to stay up all night at
least once a week, either in the office, or better, on the road or in
the yards. You will keep better in touch with the men and the things
for which you, asleep or awake, are always responsible. You remember
when your sister Lucy was little how we asked her why she said her
prayers at night but usually omitted them in the morning. Her answer
which so tickled you was, "I ask God to take care of me at night, but
I can take care of myself in the daytime." It is much the same way
with a railroad. From your point of view it will take pretty fair care
of itself as a daylight job, but at night that proposition loses its
rights. The youngest dispatcher, by virtue of being the senior
representative awake, is to a certain extent general manager. The
least experienced men are in the yards and roundhouses. The
ever-faithful sectionmen are off the right of way. The car inspector's
light and the engineman's torch are poor substitutes for the sun in
locating defects. The most active brains are dulled by the darkness
just before dawn. Then it is that a brief hour may side-track or
derail the good work of many days. It is this responsibility, this
struggle with nature, this helping God to work out the good in men,
that makes our profession noble and develops qualities of greatness in
its members.

Next time I shall try to tell you something about helping your train

With a father's blessing, ever your own,

D. A. D.



March 27, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I promised in my last to say something about helping
your train dispatchers. The way to help any man is first to encourage
him and by showing that you appreciate his good qualities give him
confidence in himself. When you come in off the road tell the
dispatcher, if such be the case, "Nice meeting point you made
yesterday for 15 and 16; I was there and they both kept moving almost
like double track." If your division has been badly handled, the
dispatcher, unaccustomed to such appreciation, will at first think
this is a sarcastic prelude to having the harpoon thrown into him; but
your sincerity will soon disabuse his mind of such a notion. Sarcasm
in official intercourse or toward one's subordinates should never be
tolerated. It is an expensive kind of extra that should never be run.
When you praise a man it will add to his good feeling if some one else
happens to be present. If you have to censure anyone, whether directly
or through the channels, do it privately and spare the recipient all
unnecessary humiliation. The official who remembers to mention good
work will find his rebukes and criticisms much more effective in
remedying poor work than the official whose theory and practice are to
take up failures and to let successes be taken for granted.

Another way to help a man is to lead him away from the pitfalls that
are peculiar to his path of work. The official who is an old
dispatcher has to fight in himself the temptation to be the whole
cheese. He has to learn to trust subordinates with details. Every
position entails some inherent temptations. The absolute, unquestioned
authority given a dispatcher in train movements breeds a temptation to
be autocratic and unreasonable, to put out too many orders, to give
too many instructions. Therefore, try to get your dispatchers in touch
with your crews. If the former are in a skyscraper uptown, get
authority to build an office for them at the terminal where most of
the crews live. Personal contact is much better than long-distance
communication by wire. There is enough of the latter from the very
nature of the business without causing an unnecessary amount by
artificial conditions.

The temptation of a legislator is to make too many laws; of a doctor
to prescribe too much medicine; of an old man to give too much advice;
and of a train dispatcher, once more, to put out too many orders. It
used to be thought by some that the best dispatcher was the one who
put out the most orders. The later and better idea is that, generally
speaking, the best dispatcher puts out the fewest orders. It is always
easier to give orders of any kind than it is to execute them. It is a
far cry from an O.S. on a train sheet to getting a heavy drag into a
sidetrack and out again. It often takes longer to stop a train and get
an order signed and completed than the additional time given in the
order amounts to. Even a judicious use of the beneficent nineteen
order involves more or less delay. One of the lessons a dispatcher has
to learn is to know when he is up against it; when he has figured
badly; and when not to make a bad matter worse by vainly trying to
retrieve a hopeless delay. A good dispatcher will know without being
told that he has made a poor meeting point. Educate him to consider
that as an error to be avoided under like conditions in the future;
not as a mistake to be made worse by putting out more orders that may
fail to help the stabbed train enough, and may result in having every
fellow on the road delayed. If any train must be delayed, let it be
one that is already late rather than one that is on time. Above all
get the confidence of your dispatchers so that they will not try to
cover up their own mistakes or those of others. Teach them that, in
the doubtful event of its becoming necessary, the superintendent is
able to do the covering up act for the whole division.

Every superintendent and higher official should remember that if the
same train order is given every day there must be something radically
wrong with the time table. All over this broad land, day after day,
hundreds of unnecessary train orders are being sent because many time
tables are constructed on the models of forty years ago. At that time,
in fact as in name, there were two classes of trains, passenger and
freight. To-day there are in reality at least two distinct classes of
passenger trains and two classes of freights, or at least four in all.
On most of the roads in the country passenger trains of whatever
nature or importance are all shown in one class, the first. As a
result every limited train in the inferior direction on single track
has to be given right by train order over opposing local passenger
trains in the superior direction. In other words, the working time
table, by definition a general law, has no more practical value, as
between such trains, than an advertising folder. A train order by its
very nature is an exception to the general law, the time table. When
the exception becomes the rule it is high time to head in or to put
out a thinking flag. Some years ago your old dad after much persuasion
induced his superiors to let him make four classes of trains on a
pretty warm piece of single track. The result directly and indirectly
was to reduce the number of train orders by twenty or twenty-five per
day. Every train order given increases the possibility of mistake and
disaster; the fewer the orders the safer the operation. The change was
made without even an approach to a mistake or the semblance of
disaster. The dispatchers being less occupied were able to give more
attention to local freights, and the general efficiency of the train
service was greatly increased. The wires could go down and the most
important trains would keep moving. It has stood the test of years and
if the old method were resumed a grievance committee would probably
wait on the management.

Successful politicians and public speakers have long since learned not
to disgust their hearers by trying to talk in language ridiculously
simple and uncultured. For us to say that the intelligent employes of
to-day cannot keep in mind four or even five classes of trains is to
confuse them with the comparatively illiterate men of a bygone
generation. The public school and the daily newspaper have made a part
of our problem easier. We are paying higher wages than ever before,
but is it not partly our own fault if we fail to get full value

Therefore, see if your time tables appeal to tradition or to reason;
if they belong to a period when women wore hoopskirts, or to a time
when women ride wheels and play golf. In brief, before you take the
stylus to remove the dirt ballast from the dispatcher's eye, be sure
that there are no brakebeams stuck in your own headlight.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



April 3, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--You have asked me to give you some pointers on handling
a yard. You will find that nearly all situations in a yard hark back
to one simple rule, which is: When you get hold of a car move it as
far as possible toward its final destination before you let go of it.

The training of a switchman is usually such that, if let alone, he
will stick the car in the first convenient track and wait to make a
delivery until he can pull every track in the yard and put with it all
other cars with the same cards or marks. By this time some other
fellow with a similar honesty of purpose but differently applied will
come along and bury the car or block the first man in so that one
engine has to stand idle. A yardmaster has to learn to keep his
engines scattered and to hold each foreman responsible for the work of
an engine. A good yardmaster knows instinctively where to be at a
certain time to minimize the delay incident to engines bunching. The
old switchman who becomes a yardmaster often proves a failure because
he cannot overcome his inclination to follow one engine and take a
hand in the switching himself. By so doing he may perhaps increase the
work accomplished by that one engine, possibly five per cent; but in
the meantime the other engines, for want of comprehensive, intelligent
instructions, are getting in each other's way and the efficiency of
the day's service is decreased maybe twenty per cent.

Good yardmasters are even harder to discover or develop than good
train dispatchers. The exposure, the irregular hours for the
yardmaster's meals in even the best regulated yards make a good
conductor leery about giving up a comfortable run to assume the
increased responsibility of a yard. The pay of a yardmaster is little
more than that of a conductor and is sometimes less. Right here is a
chance for some deep administrative thought. It is so much easier to
get good conductors than good yardmasters, should we not make the
latter position more attractive? Some roads have done this by making
it one of the positions from which to promote trainmasters, and seldom
have such appointees fallen down. However, there are hardly enough
promotion loaves and fishes to go around. Men get tired of living on
skimmed milk on earth for the sake of promised cream in heaven. Every
switch engine worked costs the company several hundred dollars per
month, and the yardmaster whose good figuring can save working even
one engine is more than earning his salary.

The closer you can get your yardmasters to your official family the
better your administration. Pick up a yardmaster occasionally and take
him to headquarters with you so that he will keep acquainted with the
dispatchers. This will hold down friction and save the company's good
money. A dispatcher naturally wants to get all the trains he can into
a terminal, while a yardmaster is doing his level best to get trains
out. With such radically different points of professional view there
is a big opportunity for the superintendent and the trainmaster to do
the harmonizing act, to keep pleasantly before employes the fact that
all are working for the same company, that all do business with the
same paymaster. Blessed are the peacemakers doesn't mean necessarily
there must first be trouble. Peace carried in stock is better than
that manufactured on hurry-up shop orders.

If you are looking for talent to run a yard, consider some ambitious
dispatcher. Too few dispatchers have become yardmasters. The same cool
head, the same quick judgment, the same executive ability are needed
in both positions. The man who has successfully filled both is usually
equipped to go against almost any old official job, without having to
back up and take a run for the hill. The curse of modern civilization
is over-specialization. The world grows better and produces stronger,
better men all the while. Perhaps this is in spite of rather than on
account of highly specialized organization. No industry can afford to
be without the old-fashioned all around man who is good anywhere you
put him.

The work of the yardmaster is more spectacular than that of the
dispatcher. To come down to a congested yard among a lot of
discouraged men blocked in without room to sidetrack a handcar is like
sitting down to a train sheet with most of the trains tied up for
orders. In either case let the right man take hold and in a few
minutes the men involved will tell you who it is has assumed charge.
Without realizing it and without knowing why, they redouble their
efforts; things begin to move, and the incident goes down in the
legends of the division to be the talk of the caboose and the
roundhouse for years to come. To the man whose cool head and
earnestness are bringing it all about comes the almost unconscious
exhilaration that there is in leading reinforcements to the firing
line. He feels with the Count of Monte Cristo, "The world is mine," I
have the switches set to head it in.

Get out of your head the young brakeman's idea that yard jobs are for
old women and hasbeens.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



April 10, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--You write me that you have been kept very much in your
office of late because the general superintendent has taken your chief
clerk for the same position in his own office. You hope that your
friend, the auditor, may be able to furnish you a good man who has
such a thorough knowledge of accounts that you will be able to give
less attention to such matters and therefore be out on the road that
much more. You will pardon a father's severity, but you are running on
bad track, and my interest prompts me to put out a slow order for you.
You have had the division a short time, it is true, but that is only a
partial excuse for not having better organization than your letter
unwittingly admits. You have been there long enough to have sized up
the men on the division, and you should know where to put your hand on
a man for practically any position. A good organizer does not wait for
a vacancy to occur or even come in sight before thinking of the next
incumbent. He is always into clear on such a proposition. He has
thought it all out beforehand. He has in mind two or three available
men for every possible vacancy that can occur, for every job on the
pike, including his own. Wherever possible by judicious changing of
men he not only has a man in mind, but he has given him some
preliminary training for, perhaps some actual experience in, the
position to be permanently filled.

The tone of your letter is half complaining because the general
superintendent has taken your good chief clerk. Away with such a
feeling; it is unworthy. You should feel flattered that your division
had a chance to fill the vacancy. You should rejoice in the
advancement of your faithful subordinate. Some divisions, like some
officials, are known the country over as developers of talent.

Youth is proverbially quick, and I think sometimes that you youngsters
are quicker at getting into a rut than are we old fogies. Why for a
chief clerk must you necessarily have a man with office experience?
Does it not occur to you that your office will be in better touch with
its responsibilities if it is in charge of a man who has worked
outside along the road? Why not look among your trainmen, your
yardmen, your dispatchers, your agents, your operators, or even among
your section foremen? Experience is a great teacher, but it can never
entirely supply the place of native ability, of natural adaptability.
Brains and tact are the essentials and each is comparatively useless
without the other. Both must be developed by training, but such
training does not necessarily have to take the same course for all
men. Railroading as a business is only seventy-five years old, and as
a profession is much younger than that. It is too early in the game to
lay down iron-clad rules as to the best channels for training and
advancement. Common sense demands that such avenues be broad and more
or less definite. The danger is that they will be only paths and so
narrow that they will wear into ruts.

Do not delude yourself into thinking that by going out on the road you
can get away from the accounts. They are a flagman that is never left
behind to come in on a following section. You can never get beyond
watching the company's dollars and cents any more than a successful
musician can omit practice. Some officials think that the way to
examine a payroll or a voucher is to see that all the extensions are
accurately made, that the columns are correctly added. This mechanical
clerical work is about the last thing an official should have to do.
He should know how, but his examination should be from a different
viewpoint. Primarily he must look to see if the company is getting
value received for money expended. He must know that the rolls and
vouchers are honestly made up, that agreements involved, if any, are
carried out to the letter. The agreements may not be to his personal
liking, may not accord with his ideas of justice, but the
responsibility for that part is his superior's, not his own. There is
a proper channel for him to follow in attempting to protect the
company's interests, but that channel is not the one of a petty ruling
on a minor question involved in a voucher or a payroll. Overtime, for
example, is not a spook but a business proposition. If earned
according to the schedule it should be allowed unhesitatingly. Before
you jack up a yard-master for having so much overtime, see if the
cutting out of that overtime will mean the greater expense of working
another engine. The constant thought of every official is how to
reduce expenses, how to cut down payrolls. This habit of mind,
commendable as it is, has its dangers. In any business we must spend
money to get money. The auditor's statements do not tell us why we
lost certain traffic through relatively poor service. Their silence is
not eloquent upon the subject of the business we failed to get.
Figures must be fought with figures and many a good operating official
has had to lie down in the face of the auditor's fire because, from
lack of intelligent study of statistics on his own part, he had no
ammunition with which to reload. Do not feel that if you happen to
advocate an increase of expense you are necessarily a discredit to the
profession, a dishonor to the cloth.

There are few roads that would not save money in the long run by
allowing each division say one hundred dollars per month for
developing talent. The expense distributed to oil for administrative
machinery would express the idea. It would then be up to the
superintendent to work out original methods for spending this money to
the best advantage. A bright young fellow with the ear marks of a
coming official could be given training in various positions. While he
is acting in a certain position, the regular incumbent could be sent
to observe methods elsewhere or be given training in some other
department. For example, while your candidate is running a yard, the
yardmaster could be an understudy for a supervisor. A station agent
could take the place of a section foreman, an operator the place of
a chief clerk, and so on indefinitely. Do not understand me as
advocating a wholesale shakeup or the doing away with permanency of
tenure. The limitations of the majority of men are such that they
are better left in one fixed groove. We grow to be narrow in our
methods because men are narrow. What I want is for us to be broad
enough in method to keep from dwarfing the exceptions in the ranks,
and at the same time keep the parts of our administrative machine
interchangeable. The original entry into the service is more or less a
matter of accident as to department entered. Let us not leave a good
man the creature of accident all his days. The company is the loser as
well as the man. We complain because the trades unions advocate a
closed shop, a restricted output, a limited number of apprentices. Is
not their attitude a logical development of the example we have set?
Like master, like man.

Let your new chief clerk understand that he is never to use your
signature or initials to censure or reprimand any employe, either
directly or by implication. That is a prerogative you cannot afford to
delegate. It is all right if a complaint comes in for the chief clerk
to investigate by writing in your name and saying: "Kindly advise
concerning alleged failure to do so and so;" or, "We have a complaint
that such and such happened and would like to have your statement;"
but he should stop right there. It is all wrong for him or for you to
add, "We are astonished at your ignorance of the rules;" or, "You must
understand that such conduct will not be tolerated." Wait until both
sides of the case are heard. Then you alone must act. The division
will not go to pieces while such matters await your personal
attention. While you are learning that even a brakeman's unpaid board
bill may be satisfactorily explained, the brakemen are learning that
even a superintendent can find the time to be fair and just. A lack of
development of the judicial quality in chief clerks and their
superiors has cost the railroad stockholders of this country many a

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



April 17, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I have yours saying that my letter on yard work omits
mention of the most important feature, the safety of trains in yards;
that the letter is much like a cup of lunch-counter coffee--very good,
what there is of it, and plenty of it, such as it is.

I admit that you have caught me not only foul of the main, but outside
the switches. I appreciate your consideration in so politely pulling
the whistle cord for me, when you would have been justified in setting
the air. We all like to be with good company and pull the president's
special, and in this case I seem to have with me no less distinguished
companions than the American Railway Association. That able body has
been detoured too long around this important matter of rules governing
trains in yards. Before I leave their varnished cars and climb into
the gangway of a switch engine to run into the yards, I want the
conductor to throw off a register slip setting forth my admiration for
the great work already done by that brainy organization. I take off my
hat to the American Railway Association. When I take off said hat,
especially to a lady, I always keep both eyes open. Adoration should
not be too blind or one may overlook some other meeting points and
land clear off the right of way.

Long ago some bright minds, whose identity is lost in the rush of the
years, hit upon the happy expedient of dividing trains into two kinds,
regular and extra; just as early theology divided mankind into the two
convenient classes of saints and sinners. This designation of trains,
doubtless like all innovations opposed at first, soon acquired the
sacredness that time brings to all things. At that period when we got
a car over the road and into the terminal we felt that its troubles
were about ended, as did the contemporary novelist whose terminal was
always a betrothal scene. Under modern conditions a car reaching a
terminal, like a couple leaving the altar, finds that its problems
have only fairly begun. Less romance, more progress.

Did you ever try to explain to an intelligent traveling man just what
a train is? Did he not ask you some questions that kept you guessing
for a week? Did he not remind you that outsiders usually make the
inventions that revolutionize operation? Radical changes in methods of
warfare are seldom necessitated by the inventions of military men. A
druggist invented the automatic coupler. Railroad men did not patent
the air brake or devise the sleeping car. All this is natural, because
in any profession where one attains excellence in a given method his
mental vision may become contracted; he may reason in a circle.

Every once in a while we are appalled by a terrible collision in a
terminal, the result perhaps of some poor devil of an employe not
appreciating fully the meaning of "all trains." To the innocent
bystander the switch engine and cars are just as much a train as the
Pullman flyer with its two little green markers on the last car. After
such accidents, for a brief period, we hear a great deal about act of
Providence, presumptuousness of man, fallibility of the human mind,
surprise checking, discipline of employes, company spirit,
governmental supervision and a lot of other more or less unrelated
subjects. Are we not to blame for not having met the issue squarely?
Is it not time that we legislated to recognize the scores of engines
chasing through our terminals, from freighthouse to yard, from engine
house to station? Are they outcasts? Do the millions of dollars of
investment they represent come through a different treasury?

To the human mind an engine or a motor is a train, while a cut of cars
without motive power is only a piece of a train, and goes to the brain
as an idea of something incomplete. All the artificial definitions of
the standard code cannot alter this state of facts. What do you think
of the following proposed designations and tentative definitions?

Train.--An engine (or motor) in service, with or without cars. Two or
more engines (or motors) may be combined as one train.

Regular Train.--A train represented on the time table. It may consist
of sections. A section derives its running existence from a train
order requiring a regular train or the proper section thereof, to
display prescribed signals.

Extra Train.--A train not represented on the time table, but deriving
its running existence from train order.

Yard Train.--A train neither represented on the time table nor created
by train order, but deriving its running existence from rules
governing movements within prescribed limits.

You will find if you work these definitions through the standard code
the changes will be slight, but the results comprehensive and
satisfactory. This will do as a starter, but you will live to see
trains handled on single track without train orders as we now
understand the term.

If this answers your signal, suppose we call in that flag we whistled
out when we stopped to talk it over.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



April 24, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--While backing in on a branch idea I bumped into a load
consigned to the American Railway Association which, with your
permission, I wish to bring in behind the caboose to save a switch.
Yes, I have tied a green flag on the rear grabiron for a marker. When
the hind man has dropped off to shut the switch and has given the
eagle eye a high sign, I shall make a note on the wheel report to the
effect that there is not a much better daylight marker than the
caboose itself. Some people doubt the necessity for green flags on
freight trains or work trains unless the caboose does not happen to be
the last car. Night markers are unquestionably necessary, but are not
a source of additional expense, as the same oil answers for both the
rear red signal and the marker.

The idea in question is that the American Railway Association might
well afford to pay salaries to more of its officials and let certain
ones give their entire time to committee work and the general welfare.
It is too much to expect that men, probably already overworked on
their own roads, can find the broadest solution of problems in the
very limited time allowed. It might be possible to work out a plan
whereby election to certain positions in the association would mean
that the individual elected was to be loaned to the association for
his term of office, say two years, and then return to service with his
own company. A permanent body of officials in such an organization
would be undesirable, save of course the able secretary, for the
reason that too long a separation from active service would beget an
indifference to practical operating conditions. Under such a plan
officials would have to be elected by name to prevent a company from
unloading any old rail on the association. You know that some
statistician has figured out that the average official life of a
railroad man in any one position is only about two years.
Rearrangement of the staff on the return of an official from such
broadening special duty should not be a difficult matter. But, as a
man once said to me, "You will not bring all these reforms about until
the old fogies die off, and by that time you will be an old fogy
yourself and it will not make any difference."

There is almost no limit to the number of matters in railway
administration that can be made standard and uniform for all roads. A
great deal has been done, but to a coming generation the present stage
of accomplishment will seem to have been only a fair beginning. The
hopeful feature is that roads now meet each other in a much broader
spirit than ever before. The fortress that parleys is half taken, and
when negotiations looking to uniformity are once begun a long stride
forward has been taken. Take the wage agreements of a dozen roads at a
large terminal. All twelve are intended to mean practically the same
thing, yet the wording of no two will be found alike. This probably is
not due so much to a disinclination to get together as to a lack of
time for working out uniform details.

Some roads are noticeable for the clearness, conciseness and brevity
of their instructions. Others employ a lot of surplus words which are
as expensive and annoying in operation as dead cars in a yard. On
every road there are a few men in the official family who have a
faculty of expression, either inborn or acquired. Some day when we
more fully overcome the prejudice against sending officials to school
we shall utilize the services of such valuable men as instructors in
style. When this is done, especially in the traffic and legal
departments, we shall materially reduce our telegraph expenses. The
mere thought of the thousands of unnecessary words flying over the
railroad wires every day is enough to give one telegrapher's cramp.
Some roads occasionally censor telegrams with a view to reducing their
number and their length. These efforts, like municipal reform, are apt
to be too spasmodic to prove of lasting value. Success in anything
depends upon keeping most everlastingly at it. You notice that I do
not confine this remark to our own profession. Carry a flag for me
against the man who always says: "In railroading you have to do thus
and so, for it's not like other business." All must admit that
conditions in railroading are intense; that, except in an army in time
of war, there is no profession that is more strenuous or calls for
better staying qualities. These facts, however, do not put us in a
class by ourselves, a little lower than the angels, a few car lengths
ahead of perfection. As Oliver Cromwell said, some things are
fundamental. One of them is that good organization and administration
depend upon certain basic principles which hold true for any industry.
Whatever one's religious views, he must find that the Bible is one of
the best books of rules ever written, one of the best standard codes
on organization that has been devised. Men were organizers on a large
scale centuries before railroads were built.

When, after months of deliberation, the convention had finally agreed
upon the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, the
document was referred for revision to a committee on style and
expression. The result has been the admiration of the English speaking
race. The caller's book does not show that the American Railway
Association has ordered a run for such a committee. Should a claim of
that sort be made it would hardly be advisable to file the last
standard code as an exhibit.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



May 1, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I have your letter telling about your new trainmaster.
You feel that a man from another division has been forced on you by
the general superintendent; that you have suffered a personal affront
because the promotion you recommended on your own division has not
been approved. I am sorry to rule against you, but from your own story
if anybody deserves six months twice a year, it is you and not the
general superintendent. The latter may have been lacking in tact; he
may have been unduly inconsiderate for your personal feelings, but in
making the appointment, which you admit is a good one, he has
doubtless been actuated by a conscientious sense of duty. Remember
that a fundamental principle of highly organized bodies is that a
superior cannot expect to select his own lieutenants. The next higher
is always consulted and generally the latter's superiors also. The
theory is that they are in a position to have a broader view, to size
up more talent, to draw from the system at large, and to accentuate
principles and policies in promotions and appointments. This theory is
supported by practice, which goes even further. On most roads
circulars signed by the superintendent and approved by the general
superintendent announce the appointment of a trainmaster. Do not let
this delude you into thinking the general manager has not been
consulted. In fact, if you could drop a nickel in the slot and get a
phonographic report of conferences on the appointment, you might
happen to recognize the voice of the president himself before the
machine shut off. All of which should convince you that the
stockholders and directors have strewn other official pebbles besides
yourself along the organization beach. You say that the relation of
superintendent and trainmaster should be that of elder brother and
younger brother. Very true, but do any of us ever select our brothers?

In a primitive state of civilization, when force is law, the military
chieftain rules. He makes and breaks his lieutenants at pleasure. The
oldest form of organization we have is the military, for armies are
older than governments. Every nation has its birth in the throes of
battle. Time passes and the chieftain finds his lieutenants insisting
on permanency of tenure. Gradually they secure it, and channels of
promotion and appointment are defined. These reach the lower grades
and the general finds that he has not even the authority to discuss a
private soldier from the service until the latter has been convicted
by a court-martial of an offense covered by enactment of the
legislative body of the nation. In every civilized country officers
are commissioned by the executive head of the nation and by no one
else. The general-in-chief may recommend, but he cannot appoint even a
second lieutenant. Consider now a commercial organization. Do you
think the high-salaried captain of an ocean liner can select his first
and second officers without consulting his superiors? Does he select
his own crew? Really, now, do you think the general superintendent
should perfunctorily approve your recommendation for trainmaster?

Men have been organizing armies and have been going down to the sea in
ships for thousands of years. Let the railroads, which have been in
existence only seventy-five years, draw another leaf from the lesson
of the ages. The time is fast coming when an official cannot discharge
a skilled laborer from the service without the approval of at least
one higher official. We may not like it; we may say that such policies
will put the road in the hands of a receiver. That is just what the
conductors said when we took away from them the privilege of hiring
their own brakemen. It will come just the same. We may as well look
pleasant and see the bright side. Where employment is made a lifetime
business, where admission thereto is restricted to the lower grades
and to younger men, public sentiment will not stand for letting the
question of a man's livelihood be decided by any one official, however
fair and just he may be. Safety and good administration may demand the
man's summary suspension from duty by the immediate official or
employe in charge. If the man has been in the service a prescribed
probationary period his permanent discharge will have to be approved
by higher authority. Men will not care to risk having a recommendation
for discharge disapproved. They will learn that the more carefully a
discharge has been considered the less readily will a reinstatement be

Some people think you cannot have military methods and organization on
a railroad because it has no guardhouse. This is a mistake. Your old
dad, after trying both, finds that railroads, in some respects, have a
more powerful discipline than the army. A discipline based on bread
and butter, shoes for the baby, love of home, and pride of family,
which is the bulwark of the state, has in itself all necessary
elements for maximum practical effectiveness.

Reinstatements, unless based on new evidence, are demoralizing to
discipline, for the reason that the unworthy employe bumps back to a
lower grade some deserving man, whose good service is then reckoned at
a discount. Some passenger conductors become so color blind they
cannot tell the company's money from their own. They keep down the
wrong lead until the auditor derails them at the spotter's switch. The
ex-conductor gets hungry, the sympathetic grievance committee, not
knowing what is for its own best interests, intercedes. The
management, dreaming of loyalty in coming strikes, reinstates the
offender. Some young conductor, who, on the strength of his promotion,
has married or bought a home, is set back to braking. This causes some
brakeman to carry the mail to the extra list. He quits in disgust and
another road, less sympathetic, gets the benefit of his training.
Other reinstatements follow and more of the younger men quit. Years go
on, a rush of business comes. The management look in vain for
promotion material and wonder at the seeming ingratitude in quitting
of so many good young men whom it was fully intended to promote--in
the sweet by and by. This is not the experience of one road, but of
many. Let us be just before we are generous.

Speaking of discharged employes, did you ever happen to be in a
general office with an ex-passenger conductor, discharged for
"unsatisfactory services," but seeking immediate reinstatement; and
have an ex-official, who left the service in first-class standing,
come in and ask for the next official vacancy? The conductor might
succeed, but the official would fall a sacrifice on the shrine of
civil service, a fetich because, in its true meaning, so little

I shall string a civil service limited for you on some other time

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



May 8, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I happened to meet your general manager the other day,
and the way he spoke of the good work you are doing warmed the cockles
of my old heart. He said that you couldn't rest easy until you knew
more about the division than any other man. This, of course, is as it
should be, but it is astonishing how many division superintendents are
satisfied to grope along in the dark. Then some fine day the general
officials come along on an inspection trip and unintentionally make
the superintendent look like thirty cents by the sincere questions
they ask about the division which he is unable to answer. If one's
memory has not been trained by education it is a good thing to
condense information and have it in a notebook in the vest pocket.
Some wise man has said that all education after we are twenty-five
years old consists in knowing where to look for things.

Another help that school education gives to an official is to broaden
him so that he can use different methods on different properties.
There are three main reasons why officials without much early
education have succeeded and will continue to succeed. The first is
native ability, which remains comparatively undeveloped without the
second, which is opportunity. The third is the good luck to work under
organizers and developers of talent. Training under the right sort of
leaders is an education in itself. The danger of relying on such
training alone is that one may copy too blindly the methods of his
master without being broad enough to realize that the same master
under other conditions of territory would adopt radically different
methods. This is the reason why there are so many failures when a new
man takes a crowd of his followers to reorganize a property. If all
succeed, very well, but if one fails the most of the bunch go tumbling
down like a row of blocks.

Again, the educated man from his knowledge of history is less likely
to forget that what may go in fifteen-year-old Oklahoma will receive
the icy mitt and the marble heart in three-hundred-year-old Virginia.
Triples that are O.K. in cavalier South Carolina may be too quick
acting in puritan Massachusetts. Commercialism, like patriotism, rests
on certain fundamental principles. The application of these principles
may be as uniform as a train of system cars; it may be as diverse as
the cars in a train of a connecting line. Orthodoxy is usually my

The rough and ready efficiency of the West, which has developed a vast
domain, has won the praise of the world. Our rough and ready brethren
are finding that, as society rapidly becomes more highly organized,
this old-time efficiency must be supplemented with technical
education. So you find your self-made magnate giving his sons college
educations. The only regrettable part is that to make it easy the old
man raises the low joints for the boys and they do not always get
bumpings enough to test their equipment thoroughly. Time will correct
this, and more college men, more presidents' sons, will fire, will
switch, will brake, will become men behind cars as well as men behind
desks. It is not only what you know, but what you make people believe
you know, that counts in this little game of life. The American people
never go back on a man who puts aside birth or education and stakes
his all upon his manhood; who is willing to share the dangers and the
hardships of his calling. Our military men have long since learned
this lesson, and the son of the general must do the same guard duty,
make the same marches, dig the same trenches, and face the same
bullets as his fellows. His father knows that for it to be otherwise
would be to handicap the son by the contempt of his comrades. Like the
Spartan mother, he says: "My son, return with your shield or upon it."

Did you ever consider how uncertain a quantity is opportunity, as
inscrutable as the ways of Providence? In all ages and in all callings
it has been one of the numerous mysteries that make life so
attractive. There is many a veteran conductor, many a gray-haired
station agent, who, if he could have had the chance to start, would
have become a general manager. Some men have to go to another road to
be fully appreciated. When a man is young he is criticized if he
changes roads. When he is older his services are sought because of his
varied experience with different roads. Human nature is prone to limit
the length of everybody's train to the capacity of its own sidetracks.

In the spring of 1861 there went from his tannery at Galena to the
capital of Illinois an ex-officer, a professional soldier, whose
gallantry and efficiency had stood the tests of the war with Mexico.
Springfield was filled with commission seekers, natives of the State,
and Illinois, like some railroads, did not wish to go off her own
rails for talent. She needed trained clerks to make out muster rolls,
to book wheel reports in the yard office, as it were. This humble
employment the silent soldier accepted with better grace than has
characterized some former railway officials under similar
circumstances. The opportunity came in the shape of a mutinous
regiment, which, like a mountain division, was hard to handle. Three
years later the clerk had run around all the officers, was commanding
all the armies of the Union, and the world rang with the military fame
of Ulysses S. Grant. Strange indeed is opportunity. Some successful
railroad men owe their official start to the seeming bad luck of being
let out as an employe.

Your general manager said that he had read some of my letters to you;
threw me a warm jolly by remarking that you are a credit to such
teaching. Then he confessed that he had asked the son if the old man
always practices what he preaches. I am pleased to know from his own
lips that you uncovered his headlight on that point.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



May 15, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--You have asked me to say something more on the subject
of correspondence and telegrams. In these days of push the button for
the stenographer, letters and telegrams are longer than when the
officials themselves wrote out communications in long-hand. It
therefore usually remains for employes like yardmasters, conductors
and operators to preserve the good old terse style of the past. Some
of them send messages that are models of comprehensiveness and
brevity. When you run across a man who is an artist in that sort of
thing keep an eye on him. The chances are that he uses the same good
judgment in all of his work; that he accomplishes the greatest
possible amount with the least possible effort; that he takes
advantage of the easiest and best way; that he has the prime
requisites of a coming official, namely, a cool head and horse sense.

Of course, the matter of terseness can be run into the ground.
Clearness should not be sacrificed to brevity. There is a happy medium
between the off agin, on agin, gone agin, Finnegan, of the Irish
section foreman and the regretsky to reportsky of the Russian general.
The point to be gained is to avoid repetition and unnecessary words.
When wiring your office that you will go east on Number Two, the word
east is superfluous for the reason that on your road Number Two can
not possibly run west. For years in our train orders we used the
phrase, right of track. Then somebody was bright enough to think that
as Stonewall Jackson is no longer hauling locomotives from one line to
another over the Valley turnpike in Virginia, the words "of track"
might be cut out. Similar amputations have been made in the morning
delay reports of many roads.

Human nature is so prone to grasp at the shadow rather than the
substance that men cling to words rather than to ideas. When you have
written a bulletin directing something to be done, do not discount
your faith in its effect by the introduction of our good old friend,
"Be Governed Accordingly." We get in the habit of doing a thing simply
because we have always seen it done and know no other way. We paint on
the sides of our cars such unnecessary words as baggage, chair,
dining, parlor, furniture, stock, etc., etc., just as though these
cars were never used for anything else; just as though the words
really served some useful purpose. The people who do not know the
different kinds of cars are beyond the reach of instruction through
such information. You have heard of the man who entered the dining car
by mistake and asked, "Is this the smoking car?" Whereupon a waiter
grinned and replied, "No, suh, this is the chewin' cah." The Pullman
people years ago discontinued the use of the words "sleeping car" on
their equipment. It is not of record that the voices of the car
inspectors and the switchmen on the outside have awakened any more
passengers than usual on account of such omission.

We borrowed from the army and the navy the idea of uniforms for
employes, brass buttons, gold lace and all. Lately soldiers and
sailors are wearing plainer, simpler service uniforms. We, however,
have not taken a tumble, perhaps because no one has hit us with a
club, or run into our switch shanty and knocked it off the right of
way. The cap is the essential feature of a trainman's uniform. He
doesn't exactly talk through it, but its badge and ornaments identify
his responsibilities and proclaim his authority. Add to the cap a
plain blue uniform suit with the detachable black buttons the tailor
furnishes, and you have a very satisfactory result. The cap then
becomes the only difference between the costume for the road and that
for the street. Where tried, it has been found that men wore their
best suits on duty and on the street, and kept their worn and shabby
suits to wear around home. At present on nearly all roads, as the
uniform is too conspicuous to be worn off duty, the men are tempted to
defer buying a new uniform until the old becomes very shabby. It has
been found that freight crews are easily induced to take advantage of
the contract price to buy such plain uniforms for street wear. Such
freight crews can be provided with extra caps from the office in
emergencies and be utilized to advantage; sometimes reducing the
amount of deadhead mileage in making special one-way passenger
movements. The street railway of at least one large city has tried
this system of plain uniforms with excellent results. Why should the
most of us be so timid that we must have a precedent before we can
endorse a proposed plan? Like a successful after-dinner speaker, I am
responding to the toast on expression by talking about other things.

In writing important letters or instructions it often pays to take the
time to sit down and make a rough draft with a lead pencil. If you
have the dictation habit so firmly fixed that this is irksome, revise
the first draft made by the stenographer. Except when writing in the
familiar style, the third person should be used rather than the first
or second. The use of the second person should be carefully avoided in
formulating general instructions; its use in special instructions to a
few individuals is sometimes, but rarely, permissible. In writing or
dictating telegrams figure roughly what the message would cost the
company for transmission at commercial rates, and its probable
reduction if the price per extra word came out of your own pocket. As
far as possible avoid letting your initials become cheap by being used
by too many people. If the management do not disapprove, encourage your
subordinates to do routine business over their own initials or over
symbols, as S. for superintendent (G.S. for general superintendent,
and so on), so that when your initials come over the wire they will
indicate personal attention and final action. This, too, has been
tried successfully in contravention of the fallacy that unquestioning
obedience must be rendered even when it is known that the official's
initials have been signed by the office boy. It may be remarked in
passing, that appreciation and fame await the individual who will be
able to coin some short and expressive words to replace such awkward
and cumbrous designations as superintendent of motive power, engineer
maintenance of way, assistant to the first vice-president, etc., etc.

Did you ever think how desirable and practicable it would be to adopt
the Government method of addressing the office instead of the
incumbent by name? We do this with train orders, and usually in
addressing station agents. We should also address "The Superintendent,
Getthere Division, Suchtown, Somestate," and not use his name unless
it is intended as personal and to be opened by him alone.

In all correspondence remember that a reprimand, expressed or implied,
may be taken in a very different sense by the recipient from that
intended by the sender. Your old dad has maintained satisfactory
discipline among quite a bunch of men on more than one trunk line
without ever writing a letter of reprimand or sending a hot message
over the wire. The advice of the famous politician to walk ten miles
to see a man rather than write him a letter is paraphrased for our
business to mean rawhide yourself fifty or a hundred miles over the
road to jack up a man rather than play him a tune on the typewriter.
Another useful injunction is that of a famous soldier and diplomat,
"Never underrate yourself in action; never overrate yourself in a

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



May 22, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--The evolution of the relative importance of the several
departments in railroad work is an interesting study. The early
railroads were short and usually had for president the most important
man of affairs in the community, a banker, a lawyer, a publicist, a
what-not. Frequently this man could not give his whole time to the
road and he leaned heavily upon his superintendent, who, perhaps, had
been the engineer in charge of construction. The superintendent of the
early days was general manager on a small scale, and with limited
facilities had to be a man fertile in resources. The superintendent of
to-day is a better man, because the race improves all the time, but he
performs duties of a decidedly different nature. It is idle to
speculate as to just what he would do under primitive conditions. A
return to such circumstances is impossible. We know that in a pinch
our railway officials and employes, as a class, are never found
wanting. They will measure up to standard in the future as they have
in the past. One fact they must never forget is that, like soldiers
and sailors, their faculties must be so alert, their grasp so
comprehensive, that they will not get lost when the fortunes of the
service bring them into strange territory. The pace is too swift to
admit of standing still to get one's bearings.

There were few officials and the conductors were very important
personages. When the superintendent needed an assistant it was natural
to take a conductor who helped around the office, ran the pay car and
specials, and made himself generally useful. Later on, train
dispatching developed splendid tests of executive ability and the
official staff was recruited by promotions from dispatchers. Still
later, the growing importance of terminal problems gave yardmasters a
chance for recognition and advancement.

As West Point was the nursery of the early constructing engineers,
many of the early roads were built and operated by military men, whose
impress in railway methods has survived to this day. When the civil
war was over the railroads gained for their service thousands of men
whose ability had stood the stern test of camp and battle, men who
could meet unexpected conditions. These men bore the brunt in the
wonderful railroad development that secured forever the commercial
greatness of our country. The value of military methods was
appreciated by them and almost unconsciously such methods were copied
in organization, in discipline, in correspondence. One reason the
great Pennsylvania organization is so strong and successful is the
training some of its embryo high officials received in the military
railway bureau of the War Department during the great conflict. The
bayonet always precedes the gospel. When the military have cleared the
wilderness of the savage foe the railroad brings a permanent
civilization. Witness the marvelous growth of the great West during
the last forty years.

A majority of the railroads in the country at some time or other
passed through a receivership. Here came a chance for legal men, and
after reorganizations lawyer presidents have not been uncommon. At the
next stage of development many railroads had been built and systems
were growing larger. The civil engineer, who in earlier years would
have become the president or chief operating official, was now taken
care of in a newly necessitated department, that of maintenance and
construction, sufficiently important to attract his talents. Following
this period competition was keen; it was a struggle for existence. The
man who could get the business was IT. The traffic man had his inning
and, if not president, dictated policies and the amount of his own
salary and perquisites. With the growth of the community of interest
idea the traffic man is just as important; but he is no longer
wreckmaster, and the transportation man is up under the lime light
near the derrick car. Between the different dynasties of departments
the transportation man, like the rock of ages, is always the standby
and always will be. The other departments come and go in relative
importance, but the transportation never shuts off, and is there with
the sand when the others unload from the gangway.

The revolution in standards of power and equipment incident to recent
years of tractive units and ton-mile costs has brought the mechanical
man prominently in front of the headlight. Fortunately for himself and
for the service in general he has not dodged the rays when anyone
cared to read figures, and the way to higher executive positions has
not been left dark for him. The pendulum is already coming back toward
the transportation man. Whether the next swing will be toward the
signal engineer or toward the electrician it is hard to say.

The lesson a superintendent should learn from all this is that he has
more and more superiors to please, more and more fads to follow, more
and more improvements to develop, more and more different points of
view to reconcile. He must merge his own importance, his likes and
dislikes in the great corporation with which he has cast his lot. If
his superiors spell traveler with two l's or labor with a u, let him
do likewise. By so yielding he is not losing any manhood. He is
winning a victory over the crotchety part of his individuality and
leaving room for its development along broader lines. He that ruleth
his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city. As no man can take a
city or do any great work unaided he must learn first to rule his own
spirit in order that he may rule others and gain their heartiest
co-operation. The superintendent who is habitually calm and polite,
however great the provocation to speak angrily, will soon find that if
he is firm and just his men are worrying even more than he lest things
go wrong on the division.

In the matter of discipline there has been a great change in sentiment
and in method. Whether or not it is all advisable is very much of a
question. There are too many collisions in proportion to the
improvement in material and personnel. In the old days the crew at
fault, whether they actually got together or not, were discharged and
forever barred off the road. Nowadays we are apt to give them another
trial on the theory that we are immune from future mistakes on their
part. This may or may not be so, but how about the effect on others in
the service? How about the men who are thereby entitled to promotion?
Is not a failure to make an example of such offenders holding life and
property too cheap? We may pity the unfortunate blunderers, just as we
may pity a drunkard or a thief, but their usefulness to us should be
over. They may start in again, but it must be on some other road. Our
duty to the public and to our stockholders demands that the safety of
a train should be sacred. One of the most absurd conclusions is to
measure the punishment by the amount of damage, according to how
straight the track happened to be, according to how hard they happened
to hit. Some railroad sins can be forgiven, but drunkenness, chronic
or periodic; stealing, money or property; and collisions, actual or
constructive, should be unpardonable on any road, however thoroughly
they may be blotted out elsewhere. Less sentiment and more discharges
will mean fewer collisions.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



May 29, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--An able and successful general manager--not all able men
and not all general managers are successful--recently called attention
to a most important distinction in the training and practice of
superintendents. He says that too much stress is laid upon the
development of ability to locate responsibility after a wreck occurs,
and not enough upon the quality of controlling circumstances, of
cultivating precautionary habits that will prevent disaster. As he
aptly puts it, the superintendent should be a doctor, a health
officer, rather than a coroner; his staff a sanitary commission, a
board of health to prevent disease rather than a jury to determine its
causes and effects. Some superintendents pride themselves on their
legal acumen, their ability to cross-examine, and on the way they can
catch a crew trying to lie out of a mix-up. This is all very well if
it does not obscure the main object, namely, to minimize disaster in
the future. The investigation serves, perhaps, to determine what men
to discipline and discharge as an example to others in the service. It
should also serve as a lesson in official methods. However thorough
and searching, it cannot restore life or return property. The damage
has been done. All the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put
Humpty-Dumpty together again.

Some of your men every day will give you the old hot air, "As long as
there are railroads there will be wrecks." To which you should hand
back the stereotyped reply, "Very true, but let's figure on letting
the other fellow have them." A discreet remark or suggestion that will
put a man to thinking for himself is one of the secrets of success in
handling men. Never miss an opportunity to make the point that wrecks
seldom occur from the neglect of any one man. It is when two or more
forget at the same time or fall down together that trouble results.
Impress on the brakeman the fact that the very stop he neglects to
flag is the time when the operator is most likely to let two trains in
the same block. Remind your conductor that when he fails to read the
orders to the engineman in person and sends them forward by the porter
or the head brakeman, that is the very trip the orders get torn or
smeared so that a fatal mistake results. When a passenger train breaks
in two the air usually sets on both portions. It fails to do so when
bums or misplaced safety chains have turned the angle cocks; and that
is the time there should be a trainman riding in the rear car. Men
will tell you so and so cannot happen, but next week it does happen
just the same. The whistle hose and the brake hose cannot be coupled
together because the connections are purposely made of a different
pattern. A green apprentice coupling an engine to a tender at a
roundhouse managed to pound together the couplings of the wrong pairs
of hose, which the engine inspector had failed to notice were badly
worn. That was the day the car inspectors neglected to try the signal
and the air before the train left the terminal. By a strange fatality
the conductor trusted the car men for the station test. The engineman
was too busy to make a running test. They all got wise when the air
wouldn't work at the first railroad crossing. Watch the inspectors to
see that they do not form the lazy habit of giving the signal to try
the air from the next to the last car, of walking only half the length
of the train to see the pistons and the brakeshoes. Never wink at an
irregularity of that sort. It will come back to plague you a
hundredfold. Go right after it quietly, but promptly and effectually.
Do not wait for disaster or for investigation by your superiors to
tell you that a loose practice prevails. Get such information with
your own senses or from observations of your staff.

It is vigilance, eternal vigilance, that is the price of safety. Teach
your men that a hundred successes do not justify an avoidable failure,
that twenty years of faithful service cannot condone criminal
carelessness. A fundamental is that when backing up there should
always be a man on the rear end. Educate your men to feel that neglect
of this wise precaution is just as mortifying as to appear in public
without clothes. In shoving long cuts of cars without using air, get
your brakemen and switchmen to feel a pride in setting a hand brake on
the end car to take the slack and save the jerk on the drawbars. Work
for the old-time feeling of chagrin that came to the calloused-armed
passenger brakeman, in the days of Armstrong brakes, when he did not
go after them soon enough and let his train run by the station. The
men are not to blame for this loss of pride and interest. We, the
officials, are at fault. We have not kept ahead of the game. We have
been coroners, not sanitary inspectors.

If an engine is waiting at a hand derail or at a crossover for a
train, neither switch should be thrown until the train has passed.
Then, if the throttle happens to fly open at just the wrong moment,
the train will not be sideswiped. If not trained, your switchmen will
throw every switch possible beforehand so as to be ready. They may
think such precautions are old womanish, but the time will come when
your wisdom will be vindicated. If a train is waiting for a
connection, with a siding switch in rear, the facing point switch
should be opened, so that if the incoming man loses his air or
misjudges distances the train will not be hit. Similarly a flagman
going back to protect a train between switches should open the siding
switch as he passes it. The switch is more effectual than a torpedo,
and if a following train happens to get by him and his torpedoes his
own train will not be hit. He should flag just the same, because a
train entering the open switch too fast might turn over. It is better
to take a chance on a derailment than on a collision. It is better
still to have such training, vigilance and discipline that there will
be little chance of either disaster.

Train your men to do things because they are right, because it is
manly to do good railroading. Then, when you hold an investigation you
will not find at the moment the accident happened that the engineman
was priming his injector, the fireman putting in a fire, the head
brakeman shoveling down coal, the conductor sorting his bills, and the
hind man starting to boil coffee for supper.

There is hardly a conductor or an engineman of any length of service
who has not at some time overlooked an order or a train. When he has
forgotten, his partner has remembered. The trouble has come, bad luck,
they call it, when they both forgot. Many a $50 operator has saved the
job of a $150 engineman. Keep your men keyed up to the idea that this
is too uncertain; that each must watch his own job, that in so doing
he may keep his comrade out of the hole, that by conscientious
vigilance he becomes a better man and more of a credit to his calling.
No man wilfully courts danger to life and property. His failures are
an accompaniment, a concomitant they call it in logic, of officials
being better coroners than they are doctors.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



June 5, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I once heard General Sheridan, my old commander, say
that when he was a lieutenant he made up his mind to be the best
lieutenant in his regiment; that in every grade to which promotion
brought him he strove to be the best; that he attributed his high rank
to this consistent effort. Right here is a moral that many a railroad
man should apply to himself. Although Sheridan's comrades at West
Point and in the service knew his efficiency, the powers that were in
1861 found no higher position for him than that of captain and
assistant quartermaster. During the first year of the civil war, while
politicians were called colonels and lawyers tried to be generals,
this trained soldier was inspecting horses and mules in the Southwest,
a veterinary's work. Some men, disheartened by such apparent
inappreciation, would have lost interest, would have let the
contractor palm off inferior animals on the government. Not so with
the future commander of the army. He tried all the harder and his work
was efficient, clean and honest. In the spring of 1862 a Michigan
cavalry regiment needed a colonel and the officer hailing from Ohio,
who had bought horses so well, had a chance to drill both horses and
men. A year and a half later he was commanding a division of infantry,
and six months after that as major general a corps of cavalry. Popular
opinion pictures Sheridan as a dashing fighter, executing the plans of
some one else. Never was there a more incomplete conception. No matter
how hard had been the fighting, how wearing the march, it was Sheridan
who rose in the night to see that the sleeping camp or bivouac did not
suffer from laxity in guard duty, that all was ready for the plans of
the morrow. The general manager did not have to tell him that the
switch lamps on his division were not burning. The general
superintendent did not have to wire him that his water cranes were out
of order. The superintendent of motive power did not have to complain
that his enginemen were not kept in line. The traffic manager did not
lose freight because his night terminals became congested.

There is many a railroad man who has lost heart and lessened his
usefulness because an honest but inappreciative management has
promoted the wrong man. Then is the time to come out strong, to try
harder than before to be appreciated. The world has little use for
soreheads. The more strenuous the conditions the less sympathy for the
sulker in the tent. Be game and do not kick for rest. The sleeve is no
place to wear a wounded heart. Do not put up a squeal about nepotism.
As long as man loves woman and that woman's children the relatives of
the management will always be the easiest for the promotion call-boy
to find. Remember that though they be marked up first out, there are
other runs to be filled; that sooner or later there are chances for
more crews to get out. If you find flaws in the reasons announced for
certain appointments, forget them in the thought that honesty of
purpose is a distinguishing characteristic of operating management.
Not only look pleasant but head off the efforts of foolish friends to
form a volunteer grievance committee in your behalf.

Assuming that you are trying to be the best division superintendent,
remember that in the final roundup it is not your own ideas of success
that must prevail. You may know that you are stronger and better than
the official who gets the preferred run. You may know that it would be
best for the company to have you run around him. All the men on the
division may unconsciously feel your superior ability. They may all
swear by you and make your name almost sacred around the lunch counter
and the caboose track. All this will not count for full value if you
do not please your superiors. When the general manager comes on your
division you must be ready for any kind of a statistical run. He has
not time to wait for you to oil around. His every hour is valuable and
like all busy men he forms his opinions in a hurry. Remember that
until we know men intimately we judge them by standards more or less
artificial, but usually pretty accurate in the aggregate. Thus a man
who is careless and untidy in his dress is apt to overlook little
essentials in the management of men and affairs. The dandy is almost
never a coward; for, if physical courage be lacking, his pride
supplies its place. The superintendent whose desk is in confusion
probably has untidy stations and dirty coaches. The man who slouches
coatless into his superior's office and sprawls into a chair before
being invited to sit down is likely to be equally inconsiderate of the
public his company serves. The tobacco lover who cannot refrain from
smoking or chewing the few minutes he is close to the throne will
probably not inherit much of the kingdom of advancement. The man who
clings to the George Washington habit of eating with his knife and the
Thomas Jefferson custom of drinking from his saucer has the burden of
proof on him to show that he is not unobservant of progress in other
things and is not generally behind the times. The self-made man in so
many cases worships his maker that he forgets the divinity that doth
hedge a king. The man above may be no better, perhaps not as good,
morally, mentally, physically and socially, but officially he is the
superior in fact as well as in name. Familiarity breeds contempt and
the more respect you show your superior the more dignity you are
conferring upon yourself, the less likely are your own subordinates to
forget the respect that is due your position. Self-restraint and
mental poise cultivate an unconscious dignity of character that is of
immeasurable value in the handling of men. Abraham Lincoln and Robert
E. Lee, men of radically different types but alike in being idolized
by their people, were popular heroes, although neither was addressed,
even by his intimates, by his first name. The highest compliment you
can pay an associate or a subordinate is to address him in private by
his first name. It shows either that you have known him a long time or
that you think enough of him to separate him from his payroll

One of the amiable failings of human nature is to be self-satisfied, a
condition that in our profession is probably intensified. We railroad
men have to think and act in such a hurry that we become very cocksure
of ourselves. We have so little time for introspection that we often
regard the science of railroading as putting it on the other fellow.
When disaster occurs, no matter how defective may have been our
equipment, how parsimonious our policy, how lax our discipline, we cry
out long and loud at the untrustworthiness of employes, at the
decadence of company spirit, at the growing evils of the labor unions.
An intelligent public usually gets on to us, however, and we pay for
such mental and vocal pyrotechnics with compound interest. It will
profit us to do a little more self-examination, to copy the publican
rather than the pharisee. The conductor who burns off journals will
assure us of his distinguished concern and of his constant injunctions
to his brakemen to watch for hot boxes. The superintendent who
rawhides his men will tell you with tears in his voice how necessary
it is to be considerate of the boys on the road. The general
superintendent who sends long and unnecessary telegrams will deplore
with you the tendency of the traffic department to burden the wires.
All these are good men and true, but they have not formed the habit of
healthy, honest self-criticism. Strong, indeed, is the man who can
stand up and say, like Lee at Gettysburg, "I was in command and
responsible. If anyone is to blame I am the man."

The greatest of executives are those who can make men think for
themselves, who can work men and have them believe they are playing,
who can suggest a new thought to a man and leave him with the idea
that he originated it himself. A great deal of effort is lost, a vast
amount of mental force is wasted in trying to convince people that you
alone originated an idea or a movement. Bury such a thought in the
results produced, for it is results we are after. Get your
satisfaction in said results and your amusement in the honest
self-glorification of some unconscious borrower who has utilized your
idea. It doesn't pay to be too much of an originator. If you have
advanced ideas, keep yourself in the background or you may kill the
ideas. Men find the old alignment so familiar that they are slow to
want curves replaced by tangents. If you are too ubiquitous with
suggestions they will become leery of your good judgment and will
unconsciously set the fish tail when you whistle into town. If you
will run past the distant signal and find your superior at the home,
some of the best stops for the suggestion derail are: "You doubtless
have considered the advisability of thus and so;" or, "I assume you
are not quite ready to decide the question of hit or miss;" or, "As
you were saying the other day, we are losing money by deadheading
crews;" or, "I hope you will be able to carry out your idea of
introducing train staffs;" or, "On further consideration, do you care
to recommend adopting lap sidings for the new extension?" etc. Of
course this kind of a sand valve must not be opened too wide or too
often or some of the soft soap will get on the detector bar and
violate the interlocking rules.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



June 12, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--Your chief dispatcher blew through here the other day on
his vacation and dropped in to pay his respects. He rather apologized
for so doing, as he seemed to think it might be considered an
intrusion to call on a stranger. I took it as a compliment to myself
and as a mark of his loyalty to you. It is so easy for us old fellows
to forget that we were once junior officials ourselves that I rather
like to keep in touch with those who are to come after and maintain
the time-honored standards of the profession. I never like to say very
much about my desire to acquire information from everyone I meet, for
experience has made me a little leery of the man who whistles too long
for that station. He is apt to toot his own horn so much that he
doesn't hear the other fellow's signals. So I tried not to do all the
talking, and did not tell my guest of the great improvements I had
made since I came to this position. I preferred to let him hear that
from someone else. If one should take too literally the talk of the
officials on whom he calls he would wonder how the road ever ran
before each held down his particular job; how there can possibly be
any improvement made by those who come after. No, I do not advocate
hiding one's light under a bucket in the cab all the time--only when

The world is getting to place more and more confidence in the man who
thinks out loud. It trusts him because he is not doubtful of himself.
The stunt of looking wise and not expressing an opinion when a
suggestion is made is no longer popular. A non-committal promise to
look into the matter may be construed as a mask for ignorance or
timidity. The more a man knows the more frankly he acknowledges that a
certain idea is new to him. Men to whom talking and writing do not
come easy sometimes say beware of the windy man, but there are some
mighty efficient railroaders who act and perform all the better for
being able to handle words. Hot air is all right if properly
compressed. The idle breeze dries the ground and runs windmills. Sand
bites the rail in more economical quantities when fed down by the
pneumatic attachment. Every division has its Windy Bill, its
Chattering Charlie, its Gasbag George; but some way, when they are on
the road you always feel safe. They may work a con game on some of the
agents and dispatchers, but they get over the road with the local. You
feel good when you meet them. The man you want to run from is Calamity
Jake, who always has a tale of woe as long as a gravel train. His
caboose rides rough; its stove smokes; the caller doesn't give him
time enough for his wife to cook breakfast; the yardmaster saves all
the shop cripples for his train; he can't trust the ignorant
engineers; the brakemen are all farmers, and the signal oil won't
burn. If you tell him that's all right, that you will try and correct
all these things when the car accountant's office stops kicking on his
wheel reports, he will look at you in sympathetic sadness and bewail
the modern tendency to make clerks of conductors.

Your chief dispatcher is a fine fellow and understands the art of
getting away. He didn't wear out his welcome but broke away while
making a good impression. You have to unlock the switch for some men
before they can couple their crossings and get out of town. The
dispatcher has to send the operator outside with a clearance.
Acquaintance is one of a young man's most valuable assets, and a two
minutes' interview may grade the way for a lifelong run. Before the
world was as good as it is now, men rather prided themselves on the
number of enemies they had made. Nowadays the friend mile is a more
desirable unit of measure.

Washington Irving puts it very prettily where he says, "for who is
there among us who does not like now and then to play the sage?" So I
felt rather flattered when your chief dispatcher asked me for advice
as to what to study in order to get on in the railway world. I told
him first of all to read every bit of company literature that he could
get hold of; not to skim through a part of the pamphlet on
refrigerator cars and guess at the rest. A table of freight rates may
become interesting if properly approached. Do not try to memorize data
and statistics, but rather plod through them at least once with a view
to trying to master the principles that govern. Life is very full in
this twentieth century, but, broadly speaking, it is still possible to
know something of everything as well as everything of something. The
day is coming when we will not entrust a man with the important duties
and the great responsibilities of a division superintendent until we
have given him a brief course in every department. We examine a man
before we let him run an engine, but how about the man who runs him? A
superintendent should know enough about an engine to handle the
enginemen just as he does the trainmen. When we have men successfully
running engines who can barely read and write, it is a mistake to
claim that a locomotive is such a sacred mystery that only the
mechanical department can judge whether or not it is properly handled.
Enginemen are transportation men, and the time that master mechanics
put in assigning crews, keeping an age book, and otherwise duplicating
the superintendent's work might a great deal better be given to the
back shop. The yardmaster has one caller and the roundhouse foreman
another. The two callers go up the same street, sometimes together,
and call men in adjoining houses, an expensive duplication of work.
The trainmaster rides in the caboose and the traveling engineer--road
foreman is the modern term--in the engine, but neither dares presume
to know the business of the other. Every trainmaster should be a
traveling engineer and every traveling engineer should be a
trainmaster. That will be the case when we train officials along more
definite lines. Honey bees feed their future queen a special food. No,
I would not decrease the number of officials, if anything I would
increase it. I would not, however, let every official created have a
chief clerk and a stenographer. I would make it impossible for him to
yield to the temptation to add a bureau of records to the amount of
useless information already on file. I wouldn't lose my nerve if now
and then a set of ancient papers got lost, for with less red tape
quicker action would result and little would get away. The first time
the trainmaster had to wait an hour or two before he could dictate a
letter in the superintendent's office, or could use a stenographer in
his own office, he would beef for a separate establishment. If more
help should be needed, which would be very doubtful, put it on, but do
not limit its usefulness to any one official. With a proper,
responsible head it is entirely feasible to carry the community of
interest idea into office organization. If the division engineer is
under the superintendent, why, in sending papers into the next room to
him, write a letter and burden your files with the carbon of the
stereotyped, "Kindly note next attached and take necessary action?" Is
not his office a part of the superintendent's? Have you not the same
right to papers there that you have to those in the office of the
chief dispatcher? Why not go even further and have one chief clerk and
one set of records for the whole outfit, just as an assistant
superintendent can handle a part of the work without having a separate
force? If you ever rearrange an office building, fix it so that the
casual visitor waiting to see the boss will not learn state secrets by
hearing the chief clerk dictate letters.

A number of roads have tried the experiment of putting the enginemen
and the roundhousemen solely under the superintendent, and of
confining the master mechanic to his proper function of running the
shops. It has usually failed; not on account of inherent weakness as a
system, but because the superintendent didn't superintend, and found
it too convenient to try to shift the responsibility to the mechanical
department. Reform has to begin at the top, and if the division is to
be the unit the superintendent must be something more than a
high-class chief dispatcher finding flaws in train sheets. It is not
enough for him to be a star division engineer, a boss yardmaster. He
must remember that his holding of any of these positions is ancient
history, not to be forgotten, because valuable and instructive, but
nevertheless a thing of the past. As the yardmaster and the dispatcher
must scatter their trains, so the superintendent must keep his staff
doing different things. He must avoid having two men doing the same
thing. If it is better to call the roundhouse foreman a master
mechanic and invent a title for the man behind the back shop, let us
do so; but by all means avoid working the master mechanic at present
as foreman, head caller, road timekeeper and roundhouse clerk. The
superintendent can boss all these jobs, and transportation, including
its operating attributes, must focus at his office. It is not the
superintendent who works the most hours who is the most successful. It
is he who puts in the best licks at the right time, night or day, and
with the right man or men.

I told your chief dispatcher that a knowledge of law is as important
to a real superintendent as a knowledge of telegraphy. I advised him
to give himself the pleasure of reading Cooky's edition of Blackstone,
which, if taken in homeopathic doses, is one of the clearest things in
the language. Every superintendent gets to be more or less of a
lawyer. It should not be necessary to refer every little fire or stock
claim to the legal department for some of its students to render a
profound opinion upon a matter of common sense. It is so easy to
follow the line of least resistance that we too often evade
responsibility by throwing up our hands and saying that such and such
is a legal question, a mechanical matter, or a traffic problem. We
gracefully pass it up to the other fellow, and think we are in to
clear when an investigation happens to come. By and by, oblivious of
the relation between cause and effect, we deplore the curtailment of
our authority and inveigh against centralization.

I had some other ideas to set out for you, but we have drifted so near
the switch that there is not room enough to make a drop of the
caboose. So I shall either pull the whole train into the yard or get
permission from the yardmaster to cut off on the main, and like an
orthodox conductor, leave them for the night men to switch out. We
conductors feel that, as a switch engine lies around the most of the
time, it can always do at least one more job, besides having time to
shove us out of the yard and over the hill.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



June 19, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--History repeats itself, and railroad history is made so
fast that we repeat ourselves very often. Mankind absorbs a certain
amount from the experience of others. In spite of the much good that
comes, the same old fallacies are followed, the same old blunders are
made. Within the last fifty years every road in the country, at some
time or other, has undergone at least one reorganization and a
corresponding radical change in personnel. Always, after several new
camels get their heads under the tent, comes a newspaper
pronunciamento that thereafter the management will breed from its own
herd. This inbreeding invariably leads ultimately to narrowness if not
to deterioration. The cousins intermarry too often and ere long the
road is breeding its own scrubs.

Within the last five years every road in the country has gone outside
its own ranks for official talent. The oldest roads have had only a
few Leonard Woods and Fred Funstons, a president here, a
vice-president there. Other roads have changed officials so fast that
one is reminded of the traveler sojourning in Paris during the French
Revolution. He instructed his servant to tell him every morning what
the weather was, that he might know how to dress himself, and what the
government was, that he might know how to conduct himself. What then
of our boasted civil service; of the wonderful administrative machines
we build up and find wanting? Is the principle wrong or is its
application faulty? The earnest efforts of able men, crowned by many
partial successes, are sufficient guarantee of honesty of purpose, of
the necessity for something of the sort that has been attempted. He
who criticises, be he ever so honest, must suggest a practical remedy
or he soon descends from the level of the critic to that of the
demagogue or the common scold.

Our trouble seems to be, not with civil service as an abstract
proposition, but with the type we have been getting. It is about Z-99
as compared with the real thing. It has too many flat wheels to run
smoothly. It must be jacked up high enough for new trucks and a
stronger kingbolt. True civil service presupposes maximum care in
original selection. It doesn't mean that we shall wait until the grain
and the coal begin to move before we figure on more crews. It rather
contemplates having available firemen in wipers, and willing brakemen
in clerks. Every superintendent believes that he is the best judge of
men on the pike. On every system are probably men who can give him
cards and spades, picked coal and treated water, and then outclass him
on such a run. If we leave the hiring to the different trainmasters,
master mechanics, or agents, we may have mostly the Irish on one
division, mostly the Dutch on another. If we are going into this civil
service business and are taking men, like Federal judges, for life or
during good behavior, let's have a long list of waiting eligibles
recruited for each division. Let's send around periodically a car with
an examining board from central headquarters to size up the talent
recommended by local officials. Put experienced officials, a surgeon
and an oculist on the committee. Show your trainmaster that men who
make it a business have more time than he to keep dudes and cigarette
smokers off the runboard and the payroll; that the former have broader
opportunities than he to develop a high standard of requirements. Let
the committee encourage men already employed to demonstrate their
fitness for transfer to other departments or to heavier divisions.
Let's change ends with our rail and put it where it will do the most
good. The employment bureau, the recruiting office, or the civil
service commission becomes a necessity to every large organization.
Some roads have made a start in this direction, but it is only a
start. To work out the problem will cost us money. Yes, but less than
we are being forced to pay by some of the labor contracts we have had
to sign. It is not only more graceful, it is less expensive, this
leading instead of being driven.

The great trouble seems to be in this matter of civil service that we
have tried to accomplish too much in too short a time. An industry
whose existence does not antedate the memory of men still living
cannot hope to have struck the best methods already. Yet it can be too
cautious in building Chinese walls around its organization. What we
have been striving for is to cultivate a company spirit, to improve
the efficiency of the service. We have felt that the way to do this is
to make our men feel secure in their positions, to have them convinced
that the shakeup made by our advent is the last they will ever
experience. Have we not chased this rainbow long enough? Should we not
back up and draw some of the spikes we have put in the connection
switches? It is one thing to sit in an office and figure that the
importation of this one man ought not to make anybody uneasy. It is
quite another to make the thousands of men along the road believe that
we can stick to the original package. Blood is thicker than water and
the new man will have his relatives and his followers or the followers
of his friends. If he is too thin-skinned, fear of criticism may
prevent his bringing in some new talent that would be of real benefit
to his road. He is blamed if he does and blamed if he doesn't.
Whichever course he pursues there remains, in greater or less degree,
that uncertainty which is so demoralizing. Remove this uncertainty,
let men know definitely what to expect, and you are over the hill and
closer to the terminal.

The old-fashioned rule of promote two and hire one worked mighty well
on some roads for conductors and enginemen. In these days of larger
systems the ratio might be changed to three or four or even five or
six to one. If it were definitely understood that every so often, say
every fifth vacancy in certain grades of officials and employes, a man
would certainly be selected from outside the service, I believe that
we could remove the feeling of uncertainty. We would in a large
measure attain the result we have thus far missed. We would build up
organizations with enough fresh blood to stand the test of time.

Brains and adaptability are not a natural monopoly. God Almighty
hasn't given any road a New Jersey charter broad enough for
incorporating a trust of the most efficient men. No, I am not a
populist or a socialist. I believe in trusts. They have come to stay
and ultimately to benefit the masses. Legislation will no more succeed
in destroying them than it did in preventing partnerships in England
where centuries ago it was thought for two men to unite as partners in
business was an unsafe combination of power. Education comes by hard
knocks and probably anti-merger decisions are worth the inconvenience
that they have caused. The sober sense of the American people will
tell them after a while that in attempting constitutional and
legislative interference they have not benefited themselves one
dollar. They will learn that forcing a change of methods does not
necessarily bring about a different result. They will learn that in
the long run they, the people, are the losers when good capital is
tied up; that they pay the price for unwise competition. The
railroads, the first great trusts, should be early to realize that
some conditions inherently forbid the elimination of competition. Our
prairies are too broad for an agricultural trust. The range of the
human mind is too great for any railroad to patent the ability of its

This trust freight seems to make you full tonnage without cleaning out
all the rush stuff in my yard. You may cut off ahead of the rest of
the civil service loads and I will have a pony set on your caboose
when you pull through the ladder. Yes, I will tell the operator at the
yard office to scratch them off your consist. I shall have to run
another section and fill out with some cars of company material which
the construction department is kicking about. Please put up--excuse
me, display--signals until the dispatcher can get hold of you at the
end of the double track. By the way, if instead of "will display
signals, etc.," his order should read, "will signal, etc.," would it
not be shorter and, including flags, lamps, whistle and voice, be more

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



June 26, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--We were speaking of railroad civil service, so called.
As I told you before, our civil service is so far from the genuine
article that I always feel like qualifying the term in some way for
fear of being called in on the carpet for failure to cut the proper
duplex. It is a great big subject, worthy of the most serious
consideration, because it concerns men, not machines. Furthermore, it
is a high type of man with whom we deal or should deal. We are all so
busy that we say we concern ourselves with results. We all butt in too
much on details, usually along the line of our early training. Yet,
withal, we overlook some pretty long shots because we flatter
ourselves we are too busy to place small bets.

Even after we have wasted so much of the building season that we give
the contractor a bonus to rush the new line to completion in time to
hold the charter, wouldn't it pay us to have a care as to the kind of
men we let him work on our right of way? Next year, when the grievance
committees come up from the new division, we make them feel that it
means something, it gives them a stamp of honor to work for our
system. Why not begin a little farther back? Why not hook up in the
beginning so that our different departments can get busy early in the
game? Let the people who are to settle the new country help build and
maintain the road. Let the immigration agent camp with the
reconnoitering engineer. When the latter comes back to locate or
retrace, let the former be interesting colonies. Let our own
organization follow the surveyor's flag. Let's be our own contractor
and get back more of the money he disburses. Why let a floating gang
of Dagoes take so big a bunch of it back to sunny Italy? Why not spend
it ourselves so that its recipients will use it to develop the country
and hurry the origination of traffic? Let's handle this coin both
going and coming and cut out some of the empty haul.

The political revolutions in continental Europe and the famine in
Ireland in 1848 brought to this country a high class of immigrants. We
gave them work and schools. They helped build the railroads. Some
continued on the roads after construction; others helped develop the
surrounding country. Our flag made them free, and when civil war came
they were among the bravest of its defenders. To-day their children
and their children's children, all Americans, rank high among railway
officials and employes. Perhaps all this is a happen so; perhaps much
of it is due to big, brainy men whose policies were not narrowed by
specialization in departments. We are now doing little new
construction. We should do it better than ever and in the full sense
of the word. Is it enough to pass it up to the construction

Did it ever strike you that there may be many good reasons why both
officials and employes may desire to transfer to another road? A young
man, feeling the home nest too full, the local demand for skilled
labor too light, has struck out for a newer country. He makes good. We
find him in after years running an engine, working a trick, or,
perchance, holding down an official job. Death occurs at the old home.
Marriage brings new interests in another country. An invalid member of
his family needs a change of climate. An unexpected development of a
chance investment in a remote locality demands occasional personal
attention. The orphaned children of a relative claim his protection.
Any one of a dozen praiseworthy motives may prompt him to make a
change, provided he can continue to derive his main support from the
calling to which he has found himself adapted.

Would he be able to transfer without beginning over again at the
bottom? Between the civil service of the companies and the seniority
of the brotherhoods he would find it like making a link and pin
coupling on the inside of a sharp curve. He would be lucky if he could
get a regular job on another division of the same system. Let him
persist in suggestions as to how the matter may be brought about, and
the average official, hidebound by precedent, will consider him nutty,
a candidate for the crazy house instead of for another run. Who is the
loser? Not only the man, but the company, which should have the
benefit of his wider experience, of his peculiar interest in its
territory, of the infusion of fresh blood which his advent would mean.

Suppose an official has resigned for any good personal reason, or
because he couldn't reduce the size of the engine nozzles fast enough
to suit a new management. When he starts out to hunt a job his
brethren of the profession receive him with sympathy. They promise to
help him out. Each begs him to understand how impossible it is for him
to catch the pay car on that particular line. Perhaps his informant
has been on that company's payroll only six months himself, but he
waxes eloquent on the benefits of civil service, on the desirability
of making their own men, of overcoming previous demoralization. This
would be amusing if it were not a serious business. Each seems to
flatter himself that he got aboard because of peculiar personal
fitness, and inferentially denies such attribute of genius in the man
on the outside. As a matter of fact, the recognition of outside talent
is usually a consequence of acquaintance, of happening to know the
right man at the right time, of having previously worked with the
appointing official. All this contains too much of the element of
chance. When we reserve certain vacancies for men outside of the
breastworks and select them in advance we shall get better results.

We have made our civil service frogs so stiff that our discipline has
climbed the rail. We know it is so hard for a conductor or an
engineman to get a job that we sometimes hesitate too long before we
make an example for the good of the service by discharging a flagrant
offender. If we knew that by and by he could hit on some road the
vacancy reserved for outsiders we would have the benefit of the
change. The man would learn a lesson, would not be debarred from his
occupation, and would give better service on another road. Talk with
your employes about this and you will be astonished to find how many
will fall in with this idea of leaving open a door of hope by filling
just so many vacancies with outside men.

Your official or your employe seeking a transfer or hunting a job will
be impressed with the fact that all assistance rendered will be with a
view to favoring him because he is a good, worthy fellow. He will not
hear it put on the ground that any company is fortunate to have his
services, that his future employers are being especially considered.
If he has known from boyhood the territory and civilization where he
desires to work, it will not be urged as a special qualification.
Right here is where the most of us fall down. We too seldom make our
subordinates feel that we are the gainers by having them in our
employ. We are too likely to make them feel they are lucky to have a
job. This may do for the indifferent men, but it puts no premium on
superior ability and loyalty. It renders a discharge, when made, less
effective as an example. You cannot treat all your men alike in all
things. In a few things, collisions, stealing, booze-fighting, for
example, you have to do so. In most things you must avoid destroying
individuality. You must build up personal pride in each. Even sister
engines of the same type do not steam or pull exactly alike. Man, made
in the image of Deity, has pride, brains and courage to make more
complex his disposition. Corporations have no souls. Railroad men have
souls and good red blood. Their intelligence is an inspiration; their
steadfastness, a psalm.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



July 3, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--Blacksmiths' horses and shoemakers' wives proverbially
go unshod. A railroad puts up its poorest sample of transportation in
the routine handling of its own material and supplies. Company stuff
is moved and handled last of all; and probably at maximum expense. For
example, if we wish to ship a car of wheels to division headquarters
we load them after we are lucky enough to get an available car. Then
after proper billing authority has been furnished we go through some
more red tape, so that the auditor may not confuse figs with thistles,
revenue producers with deadheads. When we happen to have a train with
such light tonnage that all excuses for moving the car have been
exhausted it reaches the yard nearest its destination. The master
mechanic's office in a day or two has pounded sufficiently at the
yardmaster to get the car set, usually several hours after it has been
promised. It is not of record just how much time and money have been
wasted by the mechanical department through not having the car when

If our administration is unusually smooth we may be able to load our
scrap wheels on this same car. Usually, however, we wait until the car
has been hauled down the line before some office away off somewhere
gives disposition for the wornout material. Or, having unloaded all
the wheels, we wait until next week before we order in another car,
and go through the same performance to ship a couple of pairs to some
junction point on the same division. I will not bore you with the
expensive details of getting a car of ties loaded and distributed, of
how much time the sectionmen are worked to poor advantage because the
car or material failed to show up when expected.

We, mounted on wheels, with transportation as our chief asset, let our
own business get it where the chicken felt the axe, where the sharp
flange caught the bum. It used to be more comfortable in the old days.
We could have the sectionmen do so many jobs without its seeming to
cost anything. The fact that we have learned better makes me rash
enough to believe that we may yet progress beyond thinking that some
of our own transportation costs little or nothing because we do it
with the local freight or a switch engine. We haul a car clear over
the division to pick up a few pounds of scrap paper; provided, of
course, the agents have not confused the day with that for loading
dairy line shipments. The weakness in handling company material
naturally leads to a distrust by other departments and a desire by
each to control the distribution of its own supplies.

Did you ever think in what a haphazard, hit or miss manner we handle
our traveling workers? The scale inspector is a very necessary
individual because freight revenue is a function of weight. He is so
valuable to us that, although the test car is a nuisance in trains and
yards, we haul him hundreds of miles to do a few minutes' or a few
hours' work. If he should try to do any other company business; if he
should repair furniture, solicit traffic, inspect ties or examine
interlocking plants, he would infringe on the prerogatives of other
men who earn salaries by riding much and working little. Yes, I know
we must have departments. Our great task is to work them to the best
advantage; to let them overlap a little when business is dull, or
where local conditions permit. We should switch our departments
together so that we can cut in the air on enough to hold the train
without going after expenses with a club.

The employe who does not receive supplies regularly, whose
requisitions for stationery are arbitrarily cut, will try to get
enough ahead to keep himself from running out. When you take an
inventory you must figure on removing the temptation for everyone to
hold back full returns for fear of not rendering good service in the
future. With a lot of money tied up in supplies at central or division
storehouses our service often suffers, even accidents occur for want
of a lantern globe, or a few gallons of oil. The average local freight
crew has no more compunctions in replenishing the caboose from a can
of oil consigned to a country agent than did the slave in taking
chickens. It all belongs to the company. Massa's chicken, massa's
niggah. Some roads are now distributing oil to sections and to small
stations from a box car fitted with inside tanks and self-registering
pumps, a very economical arrangement. This car runs on the local
freight at fixed times. The next step has been to put with it supply
cars, handled by the oil man, who issues supplies and tools to agents,
section foremen and pumpers. A stationery car comes next in the
outfit. This progressive development is hampered in most cases by
adherence to the time-honored requisition. It does not promote a good
company spirit in an agent to haul by him a car filled with supplies
and deny him a much-needed broom, a comfort-giving pane of glass,
simply because a requisition has not passed through the prescribed
number of chief clerks' office baskets. Issues are for the good of the
service, not for charity. The best way is to require a division
official to accompany the cars on his division, hold him responsible,
and make his check good on our traveling bank. Let the employe sign on
a line in a book for articles received, just as an agent receipts to
an express messenger, and let the official countersign once for all
the employes on a page. Then you have the economy and benefits of
centralization without the demoralizing interference with local

The supply cars are only a beginning. The evolution must be a supply
and inspection train run exclusively for company business, and to do
every practicable kind of company business. It should supply every
department and pick up the surplus and scrap in each. It should run
over as many divisions as feasible, giving it time to return and
restock so as to cover its territory at prescribed intervals, say
every thirty or sixty days. This train should be manned by monthly
company men, preferably of the semi-official class. The position of
fireman should be part of the course of a special apprentice. If no
special apprentice is available for engineman, use the man in mind for
the next vacancy as road foreman. Let the scale inspector be the
flagman. For conductor have a coming trainmaster, not afraid to pull
off his coat to help adjust a scale or to unload a keg of track
spikes. Have an ambitious brakeman for train clerk, whose records
would replace requisitions and waybilling. For pilot use the
superintendent, the trainmaster, the chief dispatcher, the master
mechanic, the road foreman, the division engineer, or the supervisor.
Have as many as possible of those last named accompany the train and
give the division a rigid inspection. Pretty soon you would find the
general superintendent frequently hitching his car to this train. Put
the contents of the train in charge of a high-class traveling
storekeeper. On the ground the employe would indicate his
requirements, the division official would recommend, and the traveling
storekeeper, closely in touch with the management and its policies,
would take final action. Whatever happened to be done, it would be
right up to date, and in accordance with existing needs. Arriving at a
roundhouse, the train itself would spot a car of wheels and a car of
oil, taking care to reload scrap wheels and empty oil barrels. In
general do not issue a new article unless an unserviceable one is
turned in. The recollections of those present will make fresher the
record of expendable articles issued on a previous trip. Long range
requisitions, approved by distant authority, may result in false
economy, in a lack of clearly defined responsibility. The essence of
good administration consists in dealing with men and things, in giving
them greater value than their paper symbols. If love for requisitions
should still linger in the official breast, the proprieties of such
chaste affection could be preserved by going through all the forms
until their absurdity is fully demonstrated.

The supply train should have a car fitted up as a workshop in which a
handy man could repair station trucks, office chairs, lanterns, switch
lamps, etc., etc., and save shipping many miles for a new part. Many
tools and utensils would last longer if, in some such way, they could
receive the stitch in time that saves nine. Prompt repair and
interchange among various points should diminish investment in reserve
supply. An article should not have to be returned to the place where
previously used. Under present methods the return journey may put it
in worse shape than when first sent in. When repaired it should be
issued wherever it will do the most good.

Another car in the supply train should be a laboratory in charge of
the superintendent of tests or his representative, whose office would
thus get more closely in touch with division officials and with
service conditions. The scrap car, with its broken side rods, its
worn-out shovels, its twisted drills, might mean a whole lot in
connection with arbitrary theoretical tests.

With the train, on stated trips, should be the employment bureau. Pick
up candidates, haul them over the division. Talk with them, note their
adaptability in strange surroundings, see of how promising a stretch
is the rubber in their necks. Give them transportation back home and,
if desired, tell them to report again next trip for further

When your supply train has to tie up away from a night roundhouse, let
the crew take short turns as watchmen. Incidentally the train might
serve as an object lesson as to the endurance and capacity of men, the
length of runs, and the care of an engine. If your labor contracts do
not permit you to man your own train, do the necessary toward an
amendment of such unwise schedules.

The more you think of the increased efficiency of the service, of the
ultimate economy, of the smoother administration, the more you will
cuddle up to the notion of a company train. Experience will show the
wisdom or unwisdom of numerous details that will suggest themselves. I
have given you only an outline with a few samples of methods to be
pursued. I want you to think out the rest for yourself. It is theory
to-day, but the theory of to-day is the forerunner of practice a few
years hence.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



July 10, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--The progressive president of a rustling railroad has
recently gone on record as regretting the too rapid introduction of
big engines. To which from many an ancient office, from many a greasy
roundhouse comes a loud amen. The fad for big engines, the slavery to
the ton mile, the rack of the comparative statement, have cost the
granger roads a pile of good coin. Procrustes, the highwayman of the
ancients, fitted all his victims to stone beds, doubtless charging to
other expenses the stretching of an arm or the cutting off of a foot.
Nowadays we get our brains warped and our legs pulled just the same.
The methods are more subtle, the operations more graceful. Our
equanimity stands for almost any old thing, provided it is done in the
name of progress, or is called a process of analysis. Able men devote
their lives to the solution of problems of practical railroad
operation, to making maximum net earnings for their employers, only to
be discounted by the financial writers. Fools rush in where angels
fear to tread. The same writers who, to hear them tell it, can save
financial panics by sound advice to the country bankers, who can
instruct our Uncle Samuel how to handle his navy, who can hurry
Russian troops to Manchuria, can tell us just how to run our railroad,
just how many tons we should pull per train. Invention is the
handmaiden of progress. Inventors are usually laymen or outsiders.
Inventors and architects have to be held in check to prevent
development from becoming abnormal or one-sided. The man who invented
the air brake was not asked to come in and take charge of all
transportation. The men who design big engines should not be allowed
to forget conditions of track, territory and traffic.

Railroads are run to make money. A motion to manage them like golf
links is never in order. The track is built for running trains. To the
man with too much ton mile on the brain the running of a train, the
very object of the road's existence, becomes a bugaboo. He will
sacrifice business, incur risks of other losses, rather than run a
train. In some cases this is all right, in others it is all wrong.
There is a happy medium which all of us should be allowed to work out
for ourselves, to suit our own conditions. The trouble is that we are
denied a sliding scale. All roads look alike to the critic, the
reviewer and the broker.

Roads of dense traffic with much low-class freight, such as coal,
coke, ore, pig iron, etc., to move, found it more economical to have
large engines and heavy trains. The nature of the business demands a
considerable supply always on hand. This permits waiting for full
tonnage for every train. A few cars, more or less, at one end or the
other of the line make no great difference to the shipper. These roads
usually have more than one track and an old solid roadbed. This good
thing of economical transportation was pushed along to us of the
prairies. Here traffic is relatively thin, the track with dirt ballast
is less solid, hauls are many times longer, and single track is the
rule. Moreover, we frequently have merchandise, implements, machinery
and other high-class freight in one direction, and such perishable
stuff as live stock and dressed meats in the other. A dozen years ago
we had developed a combination freight and passenger engine, usually a
ten-wheeler with fairly high drivers, which handled such business
promptly and profitably. We could take out a Raymond excursion or a
theatrical special one way, and coming back make a fly run with
belated stock for a distant market. We may yet do the same with the
compound battleship, but it will first require alterations and a big
expenditure on track. When stock shows up you must get it moving. You
cannot hold it to club trains, as in the case of coal and pig iron.
You miss the market and there is a big claim to pay, to which the
financial gentleman in New York does not give sufficient weight when
he makes his wonderful analysis of our figures. It does not show up in
grate surface, tractive power, or weight on the drivers. It is not
complimentary to our wisdom that stock shippers have been compelled to
invoke State aid to force us to run stock trains regardless of full
tonnage, to do what our own best interests demanded. We should avoid
the necessity for even a just regulation of our affairs. It opens the
door to much that is unjust and undesirable.

The big engine has made us straighten curves, reduce grades, relay
rail, renew bridges, buy land, increase terminals, extend passing
tracks, abandon light equipment and increase wages. Its presence on
single-track roads has retarded traffic and has increased expenses. It
has torn up our track and increased the number of wrecks. Its long
hours and trying work have been an element of demoralization among our
men. The efficiency of our crews is limited to the endurance of the
fireman. This last condition must be remedied by an automatic
stoker--the most crying need of the present. Supply usually keeps
pretty close to demand and the automatic stoker should not be very
long in coming.

Yes, directly and indirectly, the big engine has cost us a lot of
dough. It is not an unmixed evil. It has its good points, to be sure.
Some of the new conditions it has forced would have come in time
anyway. Its advantages would be greater, its operation cheaper, if its
coming could have been broken to us more gently. It is now a
condition, not a theory, and we must do our best with it, regardless
of our personal predilections. Whether or not it has come to stay is
an open question. It probably has, but modified for higher speed, when
all conditions permit. We are not yet wise enough to know just what it
is costing us. Not even our own statisticians have had time to digest
fully the figures of increased equipment due to slower movement; of
increased cost of maintenance, both of track and equipment; of
unparalleled increase in freight claims; of higher wages; of
strengthened power of the labor organizations; of altered trade
conditions due to dissatisfaction with transportation; of changed
location of industrial plants; of the effect of reduced speed on water
competition; of the numerous conditions that go to make a railroad so
complex. In the language of the good old funeral hymn, some time we'll

We must make up our minds to prompter movement of freight, which may
mean increased speed. The people demand it and public opinion is king.
Here again the shipper steps in to help us out, for promptness
simplifies our terminal problems. The art of war has been defined as
getting the mostest men there the fustest. The art of railroading
comes to mean moving the mostest trains the soonest.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



July 17, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I am so sure that you will be a general manager some day
that I have been writing you a good deal of advice as to matters that
are above the control of a division superintendent. As a rule,
however, a man will fill any position better if he has a good
conception of the work that is beyond his own sphere. Some people do
not like to hire an ex-official for work subordinate to positions that
he may previously have held. They fear that the old superintendent who
gets aboard as yardmaster or dispatcher will be a nuisance, that he
will be all the time scheming for promotion, that he may try to
dictate to his superiors, that he will have too much dignity to climb
a side ladder, that he will be only temporary, that they will soon be
put to the trouble of breaking in another man. All of which is narrow
and shows in the aforesaid objectors a lack of confidence in
themselves and in their own organization. It all depends on the man
himself. If he is the right stuff he will take a broader view for
having been an official. He will appreciate the difficulties of his
superiors. His desire to make good should induce him to put forth
maximum effort. He may be able to get his men out of ruts of many
years' standing. It is so seldom that we get fresh blood we should be
thankful that circumstances permit us to get a three-hundred-dollar
man to work for one hundred. He may be only temporary for that
position, but if he makes us money we should be willing to be
incommoded later on. It is a selfish fear, this feeling that by and by
our royal selves may suffer the personal inconvenience of having to
look after a certain part of our machine that we thought was running
itself. Vain hope, this looking for any kind of perpetual motion. We
are paid official salaries to be big enough to tower over such lazy
feelings, over our own personal disinclination to exertion. Let me
repeat, once more, that for every position you should have an
understudy. Then if anybody drops out through promotion or otherwise
your task is a simple one.

A fact that none of us should overlook is that we all have superiors.
The president reports to the directors, and the latter to the
stockholders. The stockholder, big or little, is his or her majesty,
the citizen. Our superiors must know what we are doing. They will not
butt in and give us so many directions if we just keep them advised of
our progress. Your general superintendent is an able man, but neither
you nor he is a mental telegrapher. After you get the surgeons called,
the wreck train started, the general superintendent should be the next
man to have the wire. Tell him briefly what has happened, what you
have done, are doing and expect to do. If conditions are such that it
is wise for you to go to the wreck or the washout yourself, wire him
that you are on the ground. Don't think this is enough, but every half
hour or so tell him how you are getting along. He will feel better and
the officials above him will feel better. You will feel better
because, if they are wise, they will let you alone and not bother you
with instructions. Above all things do not try to pass responsibility
up higher by asking what to do. Tell the general superintendent what
trains you will detour, what equipment you will need from other
divisions for stub runs, what you have requested your neighbors to do.
War has been declared, the writs of the courts have ceased to run. You
are the general in the field and it is all up to you. From the moment
that you are wideawake enough to answer the telephone at the head of
your bed, your brain should be earning your company many dollars a
minute. As you slip into your clothes, think connectedly where all
available men and material are to be had. As you rush over to the
office, figure what the situation needs to protect the morning
suburban trains. When you see the train sheet, tell the dispatcher
what trains should be kept on time as long as possible, what trains
should be tied up to prevent a blockade. Don't sit down and take the
key, or act as call boy or for one second forget that you are the
superintendent, that the whole push looks to you. The cooler your
manner, the less hesitating your instructions, the greater the
confidence of your men in you and in themselves, the better their

Arriving at the scene of trouble, size up the situation, reassure the
panic-stricken passengers, organize everybody present, give politely
all the information you have, how many hours passengers will be
delayed, what train will come to take them forward, when their baggage
can be expected. Be cool but sympathetic; alert, but polite. In a few
minutes your presence for good will be felt. Tell the wreckmaster what
to do first, but do not try to handle his men. Resist the temptation
to use an axe or shovel yourself. Do not shrink from the sight of
blood. Lead the relief parties, but do not try to be surgeon or nurse.
Let the others do the lifting of the killed or injured. You do your
work with your brains and with your voice. Be a superintendent. Care
first for the injured and the dead. Then look to the comfort of the
other passengers. Next in importance comes the mails, then the express
and the baggage. Do not give any grand stand orders to burn cars or
roll heavy equipment down the bank. Think twice before you destroy
more property. The line must be opened, but conditions may be such
that an extra hour or two will not complicate the situation, and will
save the company thousands of dollars. Men often earn big salaries by
the things they avoid doing.

When the work has been organized, circulate among the gangs, give each
foreman a word of praise, tell them all that you have ordered coffee
and sandwiches, that the company also gives its men square meals at
wrecks. Arrange to feed your transferred passengers earlier rather
than later than usual. Do not hesitate to feed badly delayed
passengers at the company's expense. When everything is running
smoothly keep your mouth shut and your ears open. As the country
people come flocking in to see the wreck, as the roadmaster yells his
orders, you will hear some sweetheart ask her swain if that is the
superintendent who has such a big voice. When he shakes his head and
the wreckmaster roars to take a fresh hitch, she guesses again, only
to be told that the quiet man over there with apparently the least to
say is the boss of all. Soon many of the bystanders are pointing
admiringly at you as the master of the situation. When it is all over,
when, hours or days later, you lie down for a well-earned rest, you
will feel that you are a railroad man, that you are holding down a job
for which no old woman need apply. There is some self-satisfaction in
this world which outruns the pay car, which cannot be measured in
dollars and cents.

What I am telling you holds good for a trainmaster, a yardmaster or
whoever happens to be the senior representative present. Sometimes it
is better to send out the trainmaster and stay in yourself to handle
an already congested situation. Sometimes the trainmaster is at the
wrong end of the line and you must go yourself. Common sense is a
pretty safe guide as to one's course of action. The principle to be
remembered is to avoid interference with the man on the ground. If it
is a minor derailment which the conductor is handling, do not rattle
him with messages, with requests for reports. When you examine your
conductors on rules, include questions and explanations which outline
action expected in emergencies. Forbid your dispatcher sending a
stereotyped message to get written statements of all witnesses every
time a personal injury occurs. Have your conductors, your agents and
your section foremen so drilled that they will keep the office
informed and will depend on themselves, not on the dispatchers, for
such things. Your rules, your organization, the instructions on your
blanks will amount to little if they are continually discounted by
special messages. You had better lose a set of reports than tear your
organization to pieces. When somebody falls down, discipline him in
such a way that the others will keep in line.

It takes patience and persistence, forbearance and firmness to drill
men to a high state of discipline. Disobedience and indifference can
sometimes be traced to unwise orders. The impossible or the
unreasonable is expected. There are too many bulletins and too many
instructions. Do not think a thing is done, an abuse corrected, a
condition remedied simply because you have given an order to produce
the desired effect. It is up to you to follow the matter to a finish.
You must know by observation, by inspection, by the reports of your
staff, that your order is being obeyed. The way to enforce discipline
is not to keep repeating the order. Except in rare cases an order
should not be repeated or a bulletin reissued. Weak men try to
strengthen their discipline by extravagant language in their
instructions. Do not say that no excuse will be taken for failure to
turn in these reports or to comply with these instructions. You may be
made to appear ridiculous, even mendacious, by a cloudburst, by a
holdup, by an act of God or the public enemy, as the old law phrase
runs. Vitality in expression is a good thing. It is useless without
vigor in enforcement. The latter does not depend upon the kind of
breakfast food you order in the dining car, but upon the ginger in
your administration.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



July 24, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--You ask what I mean by the rack of the comparative
statement. I mean that, figuratively speaking, we are all pretty
securely fastened to the corresponding month of last year. What was
originally intended as a tavernkeeper's tab, as a rough check on
operation, has become a balanced ledger, a rigid standard of
efficiency. Time, even a short period, brings a sacredness to all
things. If we make a so-called better showing on paper than a
twelvemonth previous, we shake hands with ourselves and forget how
rotten we were considered just one short year ago. The ball team that
wins the championship and takes the big gate receipts is the one whose
members play for the side rather than for high individual averages.
The tendency is for our owners to expect us to make base hits rather
than send in runs which win games.

If in April and May we have a lot of ties on hand, we may not be
allowed to put them in the track because they will be charged out
before June 30, and make too heavy a showing of expenditure for the
fiscal year. So, with labor comparatively plentiful and the weather
comfortable, we wait until the new fiscal year comes in, until the sun
shines hottest on the track. Then, with farmers paying harvest wages
we have to offer more money. If we get the extra men the heat lessens
their efficiency. It is true we have probably had to pay the producer
for the ties, but if we fail to charge them to the final account, we
have a childlike confidence that they have not yet cost us anything.
The little matters of failure to utilize the full life of the tie, of
interest on the money invested, we dismiss with the thought that
trifling losses must be expected in the conduct of large affairs.

Maintenance of equipment as well as maintenance of way suffers from
too much comparative statement. Some new official pulls our power to
pieces to show us how they used to build up train-mile records on the
Far Eastern. The crowded rip tracks reflect the tractive power of the
big engines. Bad orders, the bane of a yardmaster's life, the teasers
of the traffic man's tracers, block our terminals. Our shopmen and our
car repairers, despairing of full time, move away. Yet withal we are
serene, for are not we operating just as cheaply as they did at this
time last year?

When I am in doubt, when I become mixed with the complexities of our
profession, I go back to my boyhood on the farm. From that gateway as
a basing point I can think out a rate sheet with fewer differentials.
The same common sense housekeeping which my mother practiced will fit
any railroad, however diversified its territory. The same
well-balanced management which enabled my father to pay off the
mortgage and extend his acres is suited to any railroad, however
complicated its financial obligations. The bigger the proposition, the
greater the need for sticking to homely basic principles. We learned
on the farm to expect about so much rainfall every year. Whether the
heaviest would come in one month or in another, the good Lord never
found time to tell us. We did the things that came to hand, sometimes
similarly, sometimes differently, from the corresponding month of the
previous year. If our crops were short we did not starve our work
horses. We sometimes found it paid, even with a poor crop in sight, to
go to the bank and borrow rather than neglect the ditching in a wet
field. If we made some surplus money we did not blow it all in for
tools and improvements. We knew that the inevitable lean years
preclude throwing the fat in the fire. If we ran behind some year, we
did some retrenching, to be sure, but we did not lose our nerve, did
not lose our faith in the future.

Some kinds of fertilizers on the farm are said to make rich fathers
and poor sons. The way some railroads have been run for a record you
would imagine that race suicide had reached a point where no further
generations were expected. One of the gravest of our mistakes has been
the application of the comparative statement, regardless of its effect
upon our men. The farmer finds it wise and economical to arrange work
for several monthly men in order to minimize the number of day hands
for his rush seasons. In the winter he may lay them off, but this is
for a period sufficiently long and sufficiently definite to enable the
farm hand to become something else, say a wood chopper or a lumberman.
Can we expect our car repairers, our sectionmen, to be loyal and
faithful if we lay them off with necessary work in sight, simply to
make our books look better? They know that later on we shall, at the
last minute, at the scratch of an indefinite somebody's pen, put on a
big force and with a hurrah, boys, rush it through. Is this fair? Is
it not better to keep twenty men steadily employed than to have forty
on half time? The unquestioned deterioration in the quality of our
labor, in the morale of our forces, cannot all be laid on the union's
doorstep. There is a responsibility here which we cannot shirk.

Cutting down expenses has been done in an unintelligent, cold-blooded
sort of a way. We go home at night feeling good at having cut down our
payrolls. We should be feeling sorry at the necessity for taking from
men the wherewithal to pay the unceasing rent and grocery bills. Our
methods give some room for the populists' plea to put the man above
the dollar. No, I do not expect ever to see an entire correction of
these conditions. In the play of economic forces the weak have to
suffer. I believe, though, that through minimizing such suffering we
can improve the service and earn bigger dividends for our
stockholders. Each of us can do a little; all of us together can do a
great deal toward making the problems easier. As the French say,
noblesse oblige--rank imposes obligation--every time. It is up to us,
the educated, powerful class, to take the lead and to do the most. We
cannot expect the poor, unlettered man to work out his own salvation
unaided. We cannot turn him loose to face an unequal struggle. If he
fails, if he has too much time for brooding, society at large has an
anarchist and we are the losers. Do not understand me as advocating
the employment or retention of unnecessary men. What I am kicking for
is a better balanced system. When we lay off our extra sectionman in
the fall, do we give him a pass and ask him to come to town and work
when we put on more unskilled winter labor in the shops and
roundhouses? No, he is in a different department. An official or a
foreman might be put to the inconvenience of waiting a few days, of
breaking in a new man. Next spring there might have to be a
readjustment when the work trains go on. Some big, strong railroad men
are coming to the front who will improve these conditions by working
from a broader viewpoint. We need more brainy men with nerve enough to
stand up and insist upon a consideration of the welfare of our
properties ten, twenty or fifty years hence. Because we need them they
will be developed.

Now do not hand me the old song and dance about business being
cold-blooded and devoid of sentiment. We spend money directly and
indirectly for advertising with a view to fostering public sentiment
in favor of our line. Business comes from an increase in population,
from development of resources, from the growing sentiments of the
human race. Life owes its origin to love, which originates in
sentiment. The family, directly traceable to sentiment, is the unit of
civilization. The way to have our heads rule our hearts is not to
forget that we have hearts.

Business is so attractive because it is chock full of sentiment which
can be made an asset.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



July 31, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--I have your letter about the supply train. Please do not
fail to consider that it is an inspection and administrative train as
well as a traveling storehouse. The term company train perhaps comes
the nearest to a comprehensive designation. As a tentative
proposition, to be modified by experience, I think I would distribute
one-half of the expense of the train to supply, the other half to
inspection and consider both halves as money well spent. With the
enormous growth of business, with the increasing expansion of systems,
we have had to leave more and more to departments. The result is that
each department becomes more and more forgetful of the others. It
isn't enough to have the heads at the general offices take lunch
together. We must begin farther down in our administration to keep our
departments in touch. Representatives of the traffic department should
accompany the train and distribute their own advertising matter.
Perhaps the best feature of all would be the improved feeling among
the country agents due to more intimate acquaintance with the
operating and traffic officials with whom they are doing business. We
can afford to compete with the organizers of the telegraphers and
clerks for this spirit. It will interest you to know that at least two
large systems are figuring on a company train. When it comes, as come
it will, we shall all wonder, as in the case of the telephone, how we
ever got along without it.

You ask if the pay car should be included in the outfit. Yes, if local
conditions permit. Before going into this very far, however, let us
consider our system of paying only once a month. Has it sufficient
merit to stand the test of time? It breaks down in some cases when we
wish additional cheap labor. Many of us have turned over to
contractors the unloading of company coal at fuel stations. The avowed
reason for so doing is that the shovelers being often recruited from
the hobo or the squalid class, we cannot hope to handle them as well
as a contractor who pays daily or weekly. Right down the track a
little way our agent is remitting company money which is not earning
any interest. Another reason given is that our officials are too far
away to give the coal wharves proper supervision. As a matter of fact
the official is on hand about as frequently as the contractor. This is
a sad commentary on the versatility and elasticity of our
organization. Before throwing money to the contractors why not give
our section foreman or our agent a bonus for supervising the coal
heavers? Let our men be a little interchangeable. If a man becomes
worn out from too much sun on the track, let the breeze blow through
his whiskers in the coal shed for a few weeks. No, I do not think the
track would suffer if the section foreman had to put the fear of the
Lord in another gang of men. The old-time section foreman had
ingenuity and originality enough to do many things. His prototype of
to-day may be dwarfed by over-specialization. When we treat our men
less like machines we can subdivide gangs and still get results.

Nearly every winter a bill is introduced in some legislature requiring
corporations to pay their men at least twice a month. Railroads at
once get busy and manage to be exempted from the provisions of these
measures. Such resistance is based on a variety of arguments, the
vastness of territory covered, the large number of men employed, the
necessity for careful auditing, etc. How long we can hold out against
the spirit of the age is a question. Why not keep ahead of the game
and lead public opinion? At such times we become very solicitous of
the thriftiness of our men. We claim that we are their benefactors;
that by paying them so much money at one time we are helping them to
save. As a matter of fact people who have studied such questions tell
us that when payments are frequent less stuff is bought on credit and
fewer bills are run. Savings banks find that, under certain
conditions, men who are paid daily or weekly will put by more money
than those who have a monthly pay day. It is an economic question,
dependent more upon sociological conditions than upon railroad policy.

It is usually pretty good business sense to take advantage of trade
discounts. Do you not think we could make better bargains with our men
if we did not wait to pay them until we are six weeks in arrears? We
pay them for only one month and are always in their debt. Every once
in a while we lose a good man from the service because he is hard
pressed and can raise money only by taking his time check.

The monthly payroll was adopted before bonding and surety companies
revolutionized business methods. The theory is that the roll must be
approved and audited before payment in order to insure accuracy and
prevent fraud. Did you ever hear of a payroll being disapproved as
such? No matter how unwise their employment, how injudicious the time
put in, the men must be paid. We are under moral and legal obligations
to pay for service performed. Did you ever hear of a padded payroll
being caught in the auditor's office? The man who stuffs the roll
alters the data against which the auditor checks. The few arithmetical
errors discovered do not justify the time consumed. Again, why should
you send your general superintendent a payroll of names any more than
you should send him copies of your train sheets? What difference
should it make to him just how much each particular man worked? He
should have a summary of results, totals, maxima, minima, averages,
etc., just as the morning report gives him a summary of the train
sheet. If he wants more detailed information, let him come to your
office and examine the time books, just as he should occasionally go
over your train sheets. He is furnished a car to travel for just such

Assuming the desirability for more frequent payments, the day, the
trip, the piece, would seem the best unit. Railroads have
comparatively few credit lists. The ability to force patrons to pay
cash is a business asset, and should give us the benefits of a cash
basis. Our present system of payments is slow and cumbrous. In our
desire to guard every avenue to fraud we have gone too far and
retarded administration. The bonding company gives us a check which
should enable us, under a proper system of inspection, to have the
timekeeper practically the paymaster. I confess that I have not yet
been able to work out all the details to my own satisfaction. I have
gone far enough, however, to be convinced that there are men in our
business bright enough to solve the problem. When given proper
attention it will be found that for the same or less expense we can
pay daily, improve the service and render a better account of our
stewardship to the stockholders.

An agent remits daily. Why not let him turn in as cash a receipt or a
deduction to cover his own pay? If he can do this, it is an easy step
to accept as cash the time slips of his force, of the operators and
sectionmen at his station. The time slips of shopmen, roundhousemen,
yardmen, trainmen, enginemen, etc., when countersigned by the proper
chief clerk, should become cash at a certain designated agency or
local bank. It might be found practicable to use a form of time slip
similar to a postal note or a street car transfer which could be
punched and then authenticated with a stamp. An advantage of this
would be that these original data would be available for tabulation in
electrical integrating machines in the auditor's office. The plan
followed in compiling statistics would be similar to that in use for
many years in the census office in Washington.

Such a system of payment presupposes fewer checking clerks but more
traveling auditors and inspectors. It does things first and talks
about them afterward. It is predicated upon the belief that checks and
balances must begin to work nearer the foundation, that true
centralization of results demands a full measure of local autonomy.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



August 7, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--While in Washington last week I dropped in to see some
old cronies at the War Department. The iconoclasts have been at work
there, too, with gratifying results. The military secretary's office
has superseded the former adjutant-general's department. Under the new
dispensation every letter must receive definite action, not a mere
acknowledgment, the very day of its receipt; every telegram must be
answered within two hours. An emergency request came in for some
equipment for a militia encampment. In three hours the Philadelphia
clothing depot acknowledged the order, reported loading and shipment,
and advised that bill of lading had been mailed. This means better
supply, less suffering, more effective movements when real war comes.
It means a saving in blood and treasure.

We of the railroads are inclined to scoff at the slowness of
government methods. Are we doing as well as the rejuvenated War
Department? Of course, when there is a wreck, a washout, a fire, we do
some great stunts. Day in and day out we are sadly lacking in
promptness with our telegrams and our letters. The pulse of business
is so quick that these delays cost us money. The remedy is simple. Get
the departments in line. A diplomatic censor with rank enough, say,
that of assistant to the president, should be able to show even the
highest officials where they are falling down, where they are
duplicating work, where their telegrams have no business on the
company's wires, where their letters are too lengthy, where their
offices are lame. The departments on a railroad correspond to the
bureaux of the War Department.

The Spanish war showed the weakness of the departmental system under
modern conditions. It has been corrected by the creation by Congress
of a general staff, with a chief of staff, usually a general officer
detailed from the line, who, as next in rank to the Secretary of War,
controls all departments, thus insuring unity of action. He has help
enough to enable the general staff to give attention to details. The
president of a railroad is often too busy and seldom has assistance
enough to hold his departments in check. They do not always maintain a
proper proportion to each other. If he appoints a committee to
consider a question, the tendency is for such committee to leave the
transportation part to its transportation man, the mechanical question
to the mechanical member and the traffic problem to the traffic
representative. The results of such work are likely to be narrow or
one-sided. Each member should consider every phase of the matter and
not minimize his own versatility. Remember that the layman may
discover a radical inconsistency in professional practice. Give each
man due weight in his specialty, but do not let him be absolute. A
minority report from a committee should always be welcome as affording
more information for the parent body or the appointing power. A little
careful consideration, a little lively debate on a committee report,
may be a healthy check.

While speaking of military organization, let me impress upon you that
in the army the line always commands the staff. A staff officer cannot
command troops except by express direction of the President. Enlisted
men and junior officers must show a staff officer the respect due his
rank, just as our conductor is respectful to the division freight
agent, but when it comes to taking orders, that is another question. A
lieutenant of the line, if he happens to be the senior present, may
have under his command a surgeon with the rank of major, a commissary
with the rank of captain, etc. Certain special work, such as the
construction of buildings, of a telegraph line, of a road, may be put
under a staff officer reporting directly to headquarters and exempted
from the orders of the local commander of troops. We do the same when
we put certain construction work under our engineers working
independently of the superintendent. In an emergency all officers, men
and material come under the control of the senior line officer
present. With us the line is the transportation department, to whose
senior representative, in time of trouble, usually the superintendent,
every official and employe of whatever department should yield
unquestioning obedience.

They have another feature in army administration which we would do
well to emulate. On the theory perhaps that a cat may look at a king,
the lowest may address the highest. The official ear and mouthpiece of
the War Department is the military secretary. He may be addressed by
the lowest man in the service, provided, that under the address is the
important phrase in parenthesis, "through the proper channels." Unless
the communication is grossly irrelevant or disrespectful it must be
forwarded through the channels, each officer indorsing his opinion,
pro or con. If it reaches an officer whose authority and views can
give favorable action, it need not go higher. Otherwise, it must keep
going. The reply comes back to the man through the same channels. All
this is worth the trouble it costs, for, even if unfavorable action is
taken, the man feels that he has been given consideration; that he is
not a mere machine; that there may be good, honest reasons for turning
him down. This strong effort to preserve individuality is the reason
that the American people never have cause to lose confidence in the
man behind the gun. Its short-sighted absence in railroad
administration is the prime cause of our loss of confidence in the
spirit of our men. The inauguration of such a feature might cause our
agitators to be annoying and importunate for a time. The greater the
consideration shown, the sooner would the agitators be laughed at and
discouraged by their comrades. It would break up the fashion of
ignoring the superintendent and running to the general manager with
every petty little grievance.

If your trainmaster sees fit to make a general recommendation, for
example, about a train rule, provided he does so through your office,
you should forward it, giving your own views. If you happen to
disapprove, do not try to kill the proposition by holding the letter.
Under the narrow practice of most roads the trainmaster would have no
redress and would be considered disloyal if he attempted to reach the
general superintendent.

In the handling of railroad papers there are a number of short cuts.
There are too many letters written just for the sake of having a
carbon to complete a file. If you must have a carbon, require offices
reporting to yours to make an extra copy on the typewriter of the
original letter. Stamp both copies with the office dater, and just
below use a one-line rubber stamp; for example, "To the General
Superintendent," adding in pen, if necessary, such words as
"recommended," "disapproved," etc. If no special action is taken, no
signature is necessary, the office stamp being sufficient
authentication. Forward one copy, keep the other, and in routine
correspondence your file is complete without the scratch of a pen or
the click of a typewriter in your office. Certain classes of papers
referred to your subordinates, for example, special itineraries,
claims, statistics, etc., can be kept track of by a number system in a
small book, without using any carbon. Master the file system of your
office. If someone happens to drop in for information, do not be put
to the mortification of explaining that your clerks do not come down
Sunday morning, or that they are all playing ball on the company nine.
Filing should be uniform on divisions and in departments, one general
plan for the whole road. Some roads have as many varieties as a pickle

It was nice of your friend, the chief dispatcher, to write so strong a
letter indorsing the sacredness of signatures. He is right; most
telegraphic instructions on a division should go out over the initials
of the chief dispatcher. Years ago your old dad, with the title of
trainmaster and the duties of an assistant superintendent, obtained
smooth results from the following bulletin:

"Instructions from this office governing the movements of trains,
engines and cars, and the temporary assignments of men, will be given
over the initials of the chief dispatcher. Messages concerning such
routine matters will be addressed to the chief dispatcher. The idea is
to limit the use of the trainmaster's initials to cases handled
personally by him."

The men caught right on. They saw that it was impossible for a man to
be issuing all the instructions over the wire when he spent most of
his time on the road.

I have long thought that a train order should be as individual as a
bank check and be signed by the dispatcher's own initials. I am
beginning to believe that no signature is necessary; that the
dispatcher's initials, given with the "complete," should be

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



August 14, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--You ask what we are going to do to prevent so many
wrecks. My various admonitions to you have been in vain if I have
failed to score some points looking to that end. We must get closer to
our men, improve their discipline, which means also their spirit. We
must have more official supervision. We must pay division officials
better salaries. The minimum pay of a division superintendent,
regardless of the price of wheat, should be $300 per month and
expenses, with such greater amount as the importance of the division
demands. Trainmasters cannot be expected to enforce discipline and set
an example in neatness if paid less than some of their conductors and
enginemen. Not a bad rough rule for fixing intermediate salaries is to
split the difference between the highest man in one grade and the
lowest in the next higher, and then add enough to make convenient even
money. Do not think you are saving money if you avoid raising the pay
of your officials when you raise that of employes.

Wrecks are a reflection of administration. Sometimes cause and effect
are years apart, so distant, in fact, as to be almost unrecognizable.
Adversity makes heroes and the more disorganized we find conditions
the more comprehensive and earnest should be our efforts to seek the
cure. Neither public opinion nor our own self-respect will stand for
shifting too much of the blame to our predecessors. Whatever safety
appliances we adopt we shall never be able to eliminate entirely the
element of human judgment, we shall never get beyond trusting
somebody. Therefore we must train our men to alertness. We must build
up a loyalty that pervades every rank. Those roads have the fewest
wrecks due to defective equipment which cater to the welfare of their
men. Such roads do not expect a man to live on air. When repair work
is slack they put their men to building cars and engines, taking
advantage of the low price of material. If we have to operate so
closely that we cannot make such wise investments in influence, we are
grading the way to disaster. We are preparing to pay out later in
wrecking, personal injuries, maintenance and renewal of equipment,
much more than the expense of anticipating future needs by keeping our
men employed and contented. No amount of engine and car inspection can
overcome inherent defects due to careless workmanship. Will the track
walker who knows not when he will be laid off prevent as many
disasters as he whom we find time to tell in advance what tenure to
expect? We can overdo this matter of running our railroad too strictly
in accordance with the auditor's statistical blue print. As surgery
the operation is a great success, but unfortunately the patient dies.

We have divided responsibility sufficiently when we furnish both the
conductor and the engineman a copy of the train order. If it is
desirable for the brakemen and the fireman to be informed, we should
furnish a copy to each man in the crew. What is everybody's business
becomes nobody's business. Even if it were practicable it is
undesirable, this idea of showing the orders to every member of the
crew. It would seem better to have three different standard signals
for an engineman whistling into town; one indicating a wait order or a
meeting point, either by time table or train order; another indicating
a passing point, and a third indicating no other trains to be
considered. The wrong signal sounded by the engineman should cause the
conductor to stop the train with the air before the switch is reached.
Some roads now have the engineman sound a prescribed signal, after the
station whistle, to indicate orders to be executed. The objection to
this is that valuable time may be lost by the conductor before being
sure whether or not he heard the signal. A condition should not be
indicated in a negative manner by the failure to do something. All
indications should be of a positive nature, that a positive
understanding may result and positive action be taken. It may be a
little hard to give up the good old long blast for stations, but
safety demands some such modification.

The fad for main track derails at interlocking plants seems nearly to
have ditched itself. We are realizing that it is not necessary to kill
an engineman who runs past a signal. The money that such unnecessary
derailments have cost might better have been spent in enforcing
discipline by increased official supervision. If main track derails
were proper for an interlocking plant, it would logically follow that
every block signal should be interlocked with a derail. Desirable as
they are on auxiliary low-speed routes, it is doubtful if derails have
any place in a main track, even at drawbridges. We are learning, too,
that a good derail can be installed without cutting the rail.

Public opinion is aroused on the subject of our failure to safeguard
human life in proportion to our progress in other matters. We must
cough up the money for more block signals. I say block signals, not
because they are the panacea for the evil that many people imagine,
but because they are the best safeguard yet devised. They are useless
without proper discipline and supervision. The vertical plane coupler
is not all that can be desired. Yet if modern equipment had to stand
the slack of the link and pin it would be in a bad way. The block
signal even with the train staff or the train tablet is far from
perfect. It is impolitic, however, for us to hesitate too long before
going down into our clothes for the coin. While waiting for the
perfect method to be developed the perfect man may be evolved and bump
the most of us out of our jobs.

There will be fewer wrecks when executive and general officials have
better control of temper and judgment. Feeling in an indefinite way
the responsibility for an appalling wreck, the high official thinks he
must do something. He butts in with some ill-considered instructions
which breed distrust of the entire system of running trains, which
discount the whole organization. This action may result for a time in
an abnormal, unhealthy vigilance, which is certain to be followed by a
demoralizing reaction. When a condition, like a man, gets the drop on
you the only sane thing to do is to throw up your hands for the time
being. Wisdom consists in looking for the true prime cause of the
aforesaid drop. The frontal attack on a buzz saw is suicidal. Always
take it in flank.

When you get your block signals, consider the permissive block as an
abomination before the Lord. The only block to have is the positive
block in both directions. If there is trouble in a block, let the
dispatcher give the delayed train a message to flag over. Encourage
your men to flag over, block or no block, against any train on the
road when common sense dictates such a course. The object of all rules
is to run trains with safety, not to tie them up on technicalities.
Flagging means good flagging, signals as sure and unmistakable as
fixed signals. Some day we shall find time to instruct our flagmen
uniformly. They should all either put the red light on the end of a
tie and swing the white light across the track, or they should swing
both lights; not sometimes one way, sometimes the other. A red light
of itself means stop. If the flagman swings it he runs a big risk of
blowing it out. In matters of this sort there cannot be too much
uniformity for all roads. Where we run uniformity into the ground is
where we fail to recognize the radical differences in individual
characteristics of men of the Atlantic, the Pacific and the prairie

Realization, if not repentance, must precede salvation. We must save
ourselves. If not, the government doctrinaires will undertake a task
for which we are better qualified. We cannot stop killing people
to-day or to-morrow, this year or next. The problem is not as easy for
us as for the oft cited English railways. Their block signals are a
coincidence, not a prime cause of their safer operation. Much of our
mileage has only a speculator's or a promoter's excuse for existence.
Much of our traffic is so thin that English thoroughness would put a
part of our lines out of business, much to our relief, but much to the
intolerance of the public. Until our systems are sufficiently stable
to remove the tempting sign, "Please kick me," from the view of the
financial manipulator, we cannot keep out of the scrimmage, we cannot
build up as safe and conservative operating organizations as the
English. We can, however, do much better than we are doing. Automatic
devices will help, but they are only a check. The balance lies, my
boy, in developing the human interest of the men, high and low, who
work for the road.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



August 21, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--"What will you put in its place, Bob?" was perhaps the
hardest query that the brilliant Ingersoll had to answer in his
assaults on the Christian religion. Does not the same question
confront us in our attacks upon organized labor? We endeavor to tear
down, but do we build up? This subject, like the marriage relation,
cannot be entered into lightly. It is longer than a train of ore
jimmies, and broader than a box vestibule. It is a bridge too close to
the track for the telltales to sting your face in time to get off a
furniture car. Like the ostrich, believing itself hidden with its head
stuck in the sand, we feel that if we call them committees of our
employes we are not recognizing the union. Is this consistent? We
claim, and justly so, that a high principle is involved; that if we
recognize the union we practically force every man to join, regardless
of his own inclinations and of his freedom as an American citizen.
This is sound doctrine, but its application is very faulty. Our spirit
may be willing, but our flesh is damnably weak. Do we give the
non-union man a show for his white alley? Not as long as we fail to
question the credentials of committees. We know that all their names
appear on the payrolls, at least during the time they are not laying
off and using our transportation for organizing or grievance work. We
do not disturb ourselves to find if they were elected as employes. Did
the non-union men have any voice in their selection? Not much; they
were elected in the lodge room. We, in effect, say to the non-union
man that the way to the band wagon is through the lodge room door.
Then we are very much shocked to find that he, like ourselves, is
following the lines of least resistance. It is so much easier to run
with the current of traffic than to cross over; it takes so much less
nerve to open up for trailing points than to keep our hand off the air
valve when approaching facing points. When a move is made to run out a
non-union man, we are so afraid of being accused of holding somebody
up that we put on the man the whole burden of making good.

Unionism, like religion, and like love, is the outgrowth of certain
feelings and emotions in the human breast that strive to overcome the
limitations of mankind; that seek to make an eternity of time, an
ideal of an idea, a solid phalanx out of heterogeneous parts. You may
win the strike, down the union, hire your men as individuals; but
sooner or later, in the Lord's own good time, in obedience to natural
law, they will organize in some form, under some name or other. Only a
few will stand out; some from sheer contrariness; more from strong
individuality of temperament. The outsiders, from a lack of
organization, have little positive influence, simply a negative

Since these things are so, why not, to drop into familiar phrase, be
governed accordingly? Instead of letting the men organize the road,
why not have the road organize the men? The system of collective
bargaining, of labor contracts, has come to stay. It is merely a
question of how and with whom we shall deal. It is so easy to let out
work by contract, to call on the supply dealer to help us out, that
doubt as to our own powers of organization becomes habit of mind. We
farm out our rest rooms, our temperance encouraging resorts, to the
Railroad Y.M.C.A. Where comes in the company, whose existence makes
occupation possible, whose capital is invested, whose property is

Do you think we have made effort enough to let our men organize as
employes? Should not all our plans for terminals and headquarters
include the excellent investment of a club house and assembly hall?
When we have tried this plan and failed have we not been too easily
discouraged? Sometimes the cause of failure has been our own mistake
in selecting the wrong location, in deferring too much to the
convenience of our own land company, in attempting too much official
supervision, in allowing our local officials to butt in to ride their
pet hobbies. Let us try turning the building over to a committee of
our employes and inculcate a feeling of pride and responsibility. Our
employes are a high grade of men; many of them are nature's noblemen.
It is true they sometimes worship false gods, indulge in strikes,
commit violence, and require vigorous discipline. Although misguided
in all this, they are usually honest as individuals. When banded
together there results the same tendency that exists in political
parties, in churches and in societies, to mistake their own
organization for the only defender of the true faith. This same spirit
plans religious crusades, gains converts by the sword and destroys
freedom in the name of liberty. This spirit run mad breeds anarchy. It
may result in a condition, as with us in the strikes of 1894, when
cold lead and sharp steel are needed to cool hot blood, when the
innocent have to suffer with the guilty. This spirit is unreasonable,
but its existence cannot be ignored.

"Men," says Marcus Aurelius, "exist for one another; teach them then
or bear with them." It is up to us to do more of the teaching act. A
prime requisite of a teacher is honesty. Let us be honest. Let us
either recognize the unions outright, or else try to teach them that
they have not yet attained full age; that as yet they are lacking in
the ripe wisdom which permits of a larger participation in affairs.
Let us be fair and tell them wherein they are lacking. Capital, from
inherent differences in nature, can never surrender itself to the
absolute control of labor. Capital can, however, give labor, its poor
neighbor, the results of deeper study, of wider view, of larger
experience. It can point out the consequences of mistakes of past
centuries, as, for example, the shortsighted policies of the trade
guilds in England. We can teach the unions that much more than the
payment of dues should be essential to membership; that they are in a
position to demand high standards of conduct. The unions must learn
that if they would be powerful, they must be severe as well as just.
If they desire merely benevolent and comfortable care of their members
they must put away the ambition for recognition. To be respected they
must purge their ranks of the morally unfit. The union must expel the
thief and the drunkard, as well as the thug and the ruffian, if justly
discharged by the company, before it can hope to be trusted as a judge
of capacity. It must learn that the American people will never stand
for the closed shop, the restricted output, a limited number of

The failure of the A.R.U. strike in 1894 taught a much-needed lesson.
It put many a good man on the hog train, but it was a terrible warning
to would-be strikers. Did we maintain our advantage? Did we develop
more men and prepare for the great rush of business the years were
sure to bring? Perhaps we did the best we could; perhaps in the name
of economy we maintained too few officials. Perhaps our officials were
so overworked that they did not have time to watch the game. Perhaps
the situation got away from us because the unions increased their
official payrolls relatively faster than did the railroads. Perhaps
the union leaders made relatively greater progress than railway
officials in attracting the men with insurance or profit-sharing
features. The whole question is interlocked with so many side lines
that it is easy to overlook a dwarf signal or two. Be that as it may,
we lost our nerve and shut off too far back in the country when we got
a meeting order for the flush times of 1902. We were so afraid the
other fellow might make a dollar or two if we happened to tie up, that
we yielded the inch which has resulted in the ell of union domination.
A war, terrible as it is, may result in good. There are worse things
than strikes to contemplate. We chose peace at any price, and we are
paying the price. We blame our statesmen and politicians for not
resisting union influence, for being morally responsible for the
uncompromising attitude of union leaders. Why should they open our
firebox door for us as long as we fear to burn our own fingers? The
great comfort in the situation is that we are beginning to wake up. We
have walked long enough in our sleep. The slumbering giant, business
sense, is aroused. The worst is over if we but do our part. The unions
have come to stay. Their extermination, even if desirable, is as
impracticable as liquor prohibition. We cannot surrender supinely. The
solution lies in wise regulation, in education, in the inculcation of
true temperance of thought and action.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



August 28, 1904.

My Dear Boy:--When you have a conference of your staff, do not
overlook the storekeeper. Even if he reports to the general
storekeeper, he should be on your staff in somewhat the same relation
to you as is the master mechanic who reports to the superintendent of
motive power. If the management, in the last treaty of peace, has
awarded the storekeeper to some other sovereignty, be foxy enough to
invite him to be present for his own good. He will not decline to
come. Then, when you are discussing work trains; when the master
mechanic figures out the engines; the trainmaster, the crews; the
roadmaster, the men; the chief dispatcher, the working hours; the
whole arrangement will not fall down from lack of material which the
storekeeper did not know about in time. Invite the storekeeper out on
the road with you; drop in frequently at the storehouse and see if you
cannot help him out of his difficulties. We all have our troubles. Do
not proclaim your own inefficiency and narrowness by writing the
general superintendent that your failure has been due to the store
department falling down on material. Unless you have kept close to the
game, you may find that you were lame in not giving sufficient
warning; that the stuff was loaded in time but was delayed by the
transportation department waiting for full tonnage.

When you get to be general manager, do not forget the general
storekeeper. Keep close to him and take him out often. When you become
operating vice-president, do the same with the purchasing agent, whose
position, like that of the general storekeeper, is an evolution from a
clerkship in some general office. Not all of us have realized the
necessary elevation of these places to official status. They, too,
have come to stay. They will survive even the awkwardness of their own
titles. Would not "purchaser" or "buyer," and "supplyman" or
"supplier," be better terms?

Speaking of inviting people to ride in your car. From operating
vice-presidents down we do not avail ourselves sufficiently of the
company of representatives of the accounting department. They do not
and should not report to us. They, however, compile statistics from
data which we furnish. We want to have our data in such good shape
that they will not misinterpret. As they count our Australian ballots,
it is important for us to know how to put the cross opposite the eagle
or the rooster. On the other hand, the service will not suffer if we
have a chance, on the ground, to show the inconsistency of some
arbitrary requirements.

I carried by an idea in a recent letter. I asked the man on the
opposite run to take it back; but he, too, had a big switch list and a
time order. So it has been an over in the freight room until now I
bill it free astray. The thought is that our organization should
provide automatically, as in the army and the navy, for the next in
rank available to assume the duties of an absent or incapacitated
official. A superintendent has to be sick or absent for quite a long
time before we designate an acting superintendent. We let the chief
clerk sign for him, an absurd fiction if long continued. Why should
not the assistant superintendent, or, if none, the trainmaster, sign
as acting superintendent as a matter of course when the accidents of
the service take the superintendent off the division? An assistant is
really a deputy, although, with all our borrowing and mutilating of
titles, we have not utilized the comprehensive qualification of
"deputy." The time is soon coming when we shall welcome the
opportunity of making our organization elastic by giving understudies
the title of acting so and so. As we grow in liberality we shall feel
proud to lend one of our men to another road for a few months at a
time to do special work or to introduce some new idea that he has
developed. The other road will be glad to pay the man a good salary,
and he will return to us all the broader and more valuable because of
service elsewhere. We have been meantime training another man for any
vacancy in the grade that may occur. By the same token, we shall by
and by consider it a privilege to get back in our official family a
man whom we trained to our ways in youth, but who has been broadened
by service with different roads. We shall get over considering him as
having lost his rights, as an unpardonable offender against our sacred
civil service. There is never any affection stronger than our first
real love.

As you master the details of your profession, as you carry out loyally
the policies of your management, keep in mind the possibility of
radical changes. We shall not forever keep up the absurdity of a
Pullman conductor's snap and a train conductor's busy job. When we
each own at least the sleeping and parlor cars local to our own rails,
the conductor will run the train and perhaps work the sleepers, while
a collector will work the coaches and chair cars. When oil burners and
automatic stokers have revolutionized the fireman's duties, when train
orders are unknown, when the position or color of a signal is the only
instruction, we may transfer the command of the train to one of the
men in the engine. When we so protect our trains by block signals or
other devices that to send back a flag is an absurdity, our trainmen
will become starters, and perhaps collectors, with duties not
dissimilar to those of guards on elevated roads. When the much-needed
motor car for suburban and branch service is perfected, other changes
will come. You may not live to see electricity displace steam for
heavy motive power, but you had better not gamble all your life
insurance on such a proposition.

The tendency has been to limit all the utilities of a railroad to
transportation. Before long we shall, for a time at least, be going to
the opposite extreme. Some of us have entered the pension and life
insurance business, some own coal mines directly or indirectly. Should
we not manufacture our own ice at various points as needed and cut out
some haul? Should we not control the banks in the cities and towns
where we disburse so much money? Why not grain elevators and
industrial plants? Can we afford to manufacture relatively fewer of
our own appliances than that comprehensive organization, the Standard
Oil Company? These questions cannot be answered easily or by a simple
yes or no. They all depend upon time and circumstance. Our trouble has
been a fundamental error in reasoning, a dogmatic generalization from
too few particular cases. Stagnation is usually death to business. As
we cannot back up, it would seem wise to be ready to move forward in
power and influence. Ours is a high destiny. The railway officials of
the future will never be without knotty propositions to tackle. They
will not have to work as long hours as we, but their problems will be
more intense. The injector saves the drudgery of jacking up an engine
to pump her, but it does not warrant sitting down while waiting for
the steam derrick.

Through all the improvements, real or imaginary, through all the
changes that the years may bring, bear in mind the human element.
Although the race grows better all the time, the old Adam and Eve will
be ever present in all of us. High explosives, armor plate, modern
weapons, modify the conditions of war, but as the Japs and Russians
are teaching us to-day we can never do entirely without the individual
initiative, without the courage necessary for the hand-to-hand
conflict. Some may deplore this condition, but, in the words of the
Salvation Army lassie, I thank God for it.

For a period covering some thirty years, beginning and ending over a
hundred years ago, an English nobleman and statesman, the Earl of
Chesterfield, man of letters, wrote a series to his son. The morals
inculcated are hardly acceptable in this better age. The manners
taught, the art of pleasing so attractively set forth, have a value
to-day, have made the term Chesterfield a synonym for grace. Lord
Chesterfield's letters to his son were collected to the number of
nearly five hundred and published in book form. He has had many
imitators, and I confess to being one of them. Whether or not he
borrowed the idea from some ancient father I have never sent a tracer
to find out. Now that you and I are to be near enough for
heart-to-heart talks, my weekly letters will cease. Whether or not
they shall be preserved in book form it is up to you to say.

Affectionately, your own

D. A. D.



When a young army officer, a West Pointer, resigns his commission to
become a railroad man the unusual happens and observers naturally
follow the result with interest. Major Charles Hine was more than a
lieutenant of the Sixth United States Infantry when he threw up his
commission to become a freight brakeman on the Big Four. He was even
then, at twenty-eight, a graduate of the Cincinnati Law School, a
member of the bar and a practical civil engineer. When the country
needed her army men in 1898, Lieutenant Hine, then on the staff of a
Big Four superintendent in Cleveland, secured leave of absence,
volunteered and was commissioned a major of the First District of
Columbia Infantry. After Santiago, Major Hine promptly resumed his
work as a railroadman. He has served as brakeman, switchman,
yardmaster, conductor, chief clerk to the superintendent, trainmaster,
assistant superintendent and general superintendent. He is, by nature,
a student; no task is too onerous to dismay him if there is in it or
behind it something he can learn. Thus he has not only stored away
information, but he has learned how to impart it, and his fund of
shrewd observation and good common sense he has drawn on in writing a
railroad book entitled "Letters From an Old Railway Official to His
Son, a Division Superintendent."

The letters cover a breadth of ground in railway operation that is
really astonishing to any one who does not know the man behind them.
This is not all; loaded as they are with nuggets of hard, practical
sense in railroad practice, they have a form and finish that make them
doubly attractive. They are short, compact, of an easy and agreeable
style and both lively and humorous as well as instructive.

Major Hine has long since won his literary spurs as a contributor to
the Army and Navy Journal, The Railway Age and The Century Magazine.
His present book is bright, quick and gossipy, and it would interest a
man that did not know the difference between a puzzle switch and a
gravity yard, but its especial appeal is to the young railroad man of
to-day who understands that whether in the operating department, the
accounting department or the motive power, he must, to get ahead, know
all that he can, and the letters cover as many railroad subjects as
they bear numbers. They will take their place at once in railroad
libraries and in railroad literature. Major Hine--recently doing
special railroad work on the staff of the general manager of the Rock
Island system and at present on the staff of the second vice-president
of the Burlington, specially charged with the subject of company
supplies--may write longer and more pretentious books than this; but
hardly one of more real value to the ambitious young railroad man.

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