Home Open Account Help 259 users online

Nostalgia & History > Daylight Savings Time 1959


Date: 12/06/09 19:04
Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: DavidP

Thumbing through my prized May 1959 edition of the Official Guide I found the following note under "Editorial Comments"

"As in past seasons, railroads in New England show daylight savings figures in their public folders and in their timetables in the OFFICIAL GUIDE; also roads in the Eastern section of the country, including Central Railroad of New Jersey, Delaware and Hudson Railroad, Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, Erie Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, New York and Long Branch Railroad, New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad, Nickel Plate Road, and Reading Railway System, publish daylight figures.

"The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Chesapeake and Ohio Railway continue to show their schedule figures in Standard time. The New York Central Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad and many airlines show their schedules in 'prevailing local time' which is the time observed locally in each community at which stops are made.

"In gateway cities where 'Daylight Saving' time is observed and connection is made with roads which show Standard Time, the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads show departure and arrivals in both 'Daylight Saving' and 'Standard' time."

Confused? I can only imagine what tickets agents and reservationists must have gone through. To make matters worse, in 1959 some parts of the country ended daylight savings on September 27th, and others on October 25th. And there's more - in certain states such as Ohio, Kentucky and Minnesota, larger cities observed daylight savings while the rest of the state did not!

So when a railroad listed it's trains in standard time, but people's watches and clocks showed daylight savings, what would have been the result? Standard Time-observant Southern Pacific lists train 51, the westbound San Joaquin Daylight as leaving LA at the ungodly hour of 5:40am - but isn't that really the somewhat more palatable hour of 6:40 (PDT)? A February 1960 timetable for the same train seems to confirm this, listing departure as 6:40am. The listed times for the Coast Daylight similarly shift by an hour, but other trains, such as the Cascade, keep the same times listed throughout the year. Does this mean the Cascade actually ran an hour later during summer than in winter, relative to the commonly observed time?

Curiosities crop up everywhere. Times for the joint B&M/CP Red Wing show an hour earlier in standard time-observing CP's schedules than in daylight-savings observing B&M's schedules. To further confuse Canadians, while CP refused to move the clock, rival CN published their schedules showing daylight savings. And this was between two road that operated an extensive system of pooled services in Quebec and Ontario.

While some roads are clear which side they fall on, there's a large group that don't address the issue at all in their timetables, including the Santa Fe, Burlington and GN. Time zone changes are noted, but no specific mention is made of observing either daylight savings or standard time. Northern Pacific's timetable contains a small footnote stating "Mountain standard time is used by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company between Mandan and the North Dakota-Montana State Line. Central Standard time (which is one hour in advance of Mountain Standard Time) is the time adopted for use by the State of North Dakota between the same points". In other words, it doesn't matter what your clock says - it's noon in Dickinson when WE say its noon in Dickinson! Yet the issue isn't addressed for the rest of the system.

Can anyone shed more light on common practice at the time? Did depots keep dual time clocks showing local and "railroad" time? Was it common for mainline trains to operate an hour later in summers? Where connections broken, only to be re-established when the clocks fell back? Its hard to believe not all that long ago we had such diverging practice in observing time.

Dave



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/09 19:48 by DavidP.



Date: 12/06/09 20:09
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: aehouse

Reminds me of my heavy Amtrak traveling years (1978-92). Indiana didn't observe daylight saving time, so half the year it was running on the equivalent of Eastern Time and half the year on the equivalent of Central Time. I thus always had some sort of mental block trying to figure out what the heck time it was while traveling through Indiana, and finally simply gave up. Luckily for me, my Amtrak travels took me THROUGH Indiana but never to or from the state.

If I'd had to board a train there I would have likely either shown up an hour early or missed it by an hour.

Art House



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/06/09 20:12 by aehouse.



Date: 12/06/09 20:36
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: timz2

> Does this mean
> the Cascade actually ran an hour later during
> summer than in winter, relative to the commonly
> observed time?

As did most (all?) long-distance trains.

> While some roads are clear which side they fall
> on, there's a large group that don't address the
> issue at all in their timetables, including the
> Santa Fe, Burlington and GN. Time zone changes
> are noted, but no specific mention is made of
> observing either daylight savings or standard
> time.

Look some more-- I'll bet they say Standard Time.

> Was it common for mainline trains to operate
> an hour later in summers?

It was common for them to run at the same
Standard Time, yes.

> Where connections broken, only to be
> re-established when the clocks fell back?

Must have been a few.



Date: 12/06/09 22:58
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: Railrev

In the west in the 1950's and 60's the railroads seemed to all operate on standard time. LA Union Station had a large sign on the tower clock that said "Pacific Standard Time" during the months the rest of the state was on Daylight Saving Time.

Not rr related, but an interesting story on time zones and clock changes. In 1967-70 I lived in Kentucky. When we first arrived the state observed "county option" for Daylight Saving Time. With the Central/Eastern time zone boundary in the middle of the state, it was hard for a newly arrived student to figure out what time it was. When the US went to "mandatory" daylight saving time, Kentucky was reluctant to adopt it and the State Legislature was arguing the issue as the weekend to "spring ahead" approached. We left the state that weekend for Illinois and when we drove across the Ohio River on Sunday Evening, we had no idea what time it was in Kentucky.

As an old indian once said, "Only the government would cut a foot off the bottom of a blanket, sew it on the top and call it "Saving."



Date: 12/07/09 00:39
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: DavidP

timz2 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> > Was it common for mainline trains to operate
> > an hour later in summers?
>
> It was common for them to run at the same
> Standard Time, yes.

Interesting (and somewhat surprising). If the Santa Fe figured that 6:30pm was the optimal Chicago departure time for the Super Chief, and 8:00am the right arrival time in LA, why not maintain that all year? Perhaps the answer is in the SP tables, where routes with well-used Daylight trains (Coast and San Joaquin) are shifted an hour to remain on the same schedule relative to locally observed time, while routes with predominately long distance overnighters (Overland, Sunset) typically aren't. Was it that an hour deviation wasn't seen as being that important to a customer who was taking an overnight train, but perhaps would have been to one traveling in daylight?

Dave



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/07/09 07:56 by DavidP.



Date: 12/07/09 13:45
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: timz2

Not an answer to your question, but you
did notice every stop the Super made
from Fort Madison thru Kingman was
at a Standard-Time-year-round city?



Date: 12/07/09 16:23
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: DavidP

timz2 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Not an answer to your question, but you
> did notice every stop the Super made
> from Fort Madison thru Kingman was
> at a Standard-Time-year-round city?


Good point - I hadn't realized until now how many states from the south through the plains and mountain states didn't observe daylight savings. Now the SP's schedules start to make more sense - intrastate routes in CA (Coast and San Joaquin) shift "railroad" time by an hour to keep their schedules aligned with PDT, while interstate routes into California don't change their standard time postings.

Dave



Date: 12/07/09 18:40
Re: Daylight Savings Time 1959
Author: CShaveRR

Michigan was another state that didn't observe Daylight Savings Time until the late 1960s. I lived in western Michigan, where the passenger service was provided by C&O trains between Chicago and Grand Rapids or Muskegon, two round trips daily. The overnight ones were primarily for mail service, and I never paid too much attention to differences in their schedules. However, the eastbound trains always departed Chicago (which observed Daylight Savings Time) at the same local time, which means that they arrived at Michigan destinations an hour earlier between April and October. The westbound trains, for some reason, only changed their Michigan schedules by half an hour, presumably altering their time in Chicago by the same 30 minutes.

After Michigan adopted DST, C&O kept the same schedules year-round on these trains--unfortunately, it was the earlier times for the westbounds and the later time for the eastbounds (hitting the larger Michigan cities near the end-points at pretty terrible hours). And eventually, probably also around this time, schedules were lengthened, further exacerbating this problem. (Toward the end, I was several times the only passenger riding these trains!)



[ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.4017 seconds