Here's a portion of my latest blog entry I just posted at www.myvintagegeneration.com
The Erie Railroad was completed in 1851. At this time the Erie ran 123 locomotives, 68 passenger cars, and 1,373 freight and baggage cars. The average speed was between twenty-four up to twenty-nine miles per hour. There was 445 miles of track and the railroad employed 1,325 people.
Now most may think of conductors and engineers as the primary railroad positions, but there were so many other positions that needed to be filled. Perhaps the lowest position was the dangerous and thankless job of the brakeman (and this was before the introduction of the brakes!). Upon hearing the whistle, the brakeman would climb to the top of the caboose, turn a large cast-iron wheel, and slowly the train would come to a stop. Many brakeman lost their lives slipping on top of caboose as the train barreled along.
Another position was the firemen. They tended to the boiler on a coal-fired locomotives. They’d crouch for hours, scooping the coal for hours at a time.
Finally, there were various agents. There were general freight and passenger agents, safety agents, and station agents. I’m not sure what agent position J.E. Warner held, but we can assume it was a well paid, respectable job. After all, he had business cards to hand out!