Railroading Has Its Own Lexicon
Railroading has its own lexicon or jargon.
Here are samples compiled by the Parks and Wildlife Department's Texas Railroad Park publicists.
Under the letter "A" we have "Angel seat." That is the cupola of a caboose on a freight train.
Under "B" there's a galaxy of terms.
"Baggage smasher or wrestler" is a worker who loads baggage. Smashers of old took pride in the number of bags they could load. Of little Jake Riter it was said, "He was the best baggage handler in town, and could chuck a Saratoga trunk into a car with more force and greater damage than any other baggage wrestler in the city."
When a switch is thrown, that's "bending the rails." We all know that a "blind siding" is a station without a telegraph -- like those on the Texas State Railroad.
"Binder" is a hand brake; "Boll Weevil" a raw railroad recruit. "Boomer -- that's an itinerant railroader who travels light, skipping from one road to another at short notice. Casey Jones, memorialized in song, had ridden all the roads "but the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe." before his untimely end. The boomer's heyday was the period of national expansion after the Civil War.
"Bulls" are railroad detectives; and "Butch" was a tender youth, as was Tom Edison, who went through the train with refreshments and newspapers.
"Car toads" were men who repaired railroad cars, a derogatory term once given such workers by men of higher rank. "Cooning the buggy" meant climbing the ladder on the side of a freight car to set the brake on top. Coal-breaking was "cracking diamonds in the tank." "Deepo" was the phonetic spelling of depot. "Dope pullers" extracted dope -- woolen waste soaked in grease packed inside journal boxes to lubricate car axles.
"Foreman" -- conductor.
"Freezing a hot hub" -- cooling a journal or hotbox.
"Frog" -- rail sections constructed to allow wheels on one rail of a track to cross another rail of an intersecting track.
"Gandy dancer" -- A laborer in a section gang. The term was derived from the now- defunct Gandy Manufacturing Company, makers of tools used by railroad laborers.
"Greasing the pig" -- oiling the engine.
"Home guards" -- company men.
"Hogger" -- engineer.
"Lizard scorcher" -- cook on a train. "Monkeys" -- bridge workers.
"Pie card" -- meal ticket, a boomer's most valuable possession.
"Pike" -- short railroad line such as the Texas State.
"Pulled the pin" -- resigned.
"Sidedoor pullman" -- boxcar, name given to that mode of travel by hoboes.
"Swing man" -- middle brakeman.
"The kitchen" -- fireman's shelter, grimly named for the number of firemen roasted alive there in collisions.
"Tallow pot" -- fireman.
"Track torpedo" -- small exploding device which is detonated by a locomotive wheel. They were set out on tracks by brakemen on foggy nights to prevent rearend collisions.
State Railroad Map
This map, prepared by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department before the Palestine Terminal Park development began in the mid 1970s, shows the Texas Park Railroad's 26-mile course between the two terminals.