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 Post subject: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:04 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
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Last night I was reading a book about railroads, and it occurred to me that I have never seen a photo of a female engineer or fireman during the steam era. I know there may have been a few photo ops where models posed for advertisements during that era. But I have never heard or seen any photos of actual female engineers or fireman during the steam era. Do any photos exist? Was there any female engineers?


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:42 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:30 am
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I've heard of women motormen on streetcars during WWII, but never steam era engineers and firemen. There were female switchmen, tower operators, and station agents though.

I believe in the United States, you'd have to go to the early to mid 1970's for this.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:25 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:12 am
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Location: Pasadena, CA
I've wondered about this too. Also, along a similar line, I've wondered if there were any non-white locomotive engineers or conductors in the United States before the second half of the 20th century.

I have a picture in a book of two women in the cab of a steam locomotive on one of the Nevada shortlines. I believe it's the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad. The caption identifies them as hostlers. Perhaps the word "hostler" just means "attendant," or perhaps they were trained to move the locomotive around the engine terminal.

If there were any female engine crews, I would guess that they would probably be on some shortline or industrial railroad in a very remote part of the country, where institutional prejudices and societal norms would be weaker.

I'm curious, LeoA, by switchmen, do you mean switchtenders or brakemen involved in conducting switching of cars in a yard?

These topics of gender and race are becoming more and more important for railroad museums to present to the public. The history of railroading in the US has some chapters we'd rather forget.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:59 am 

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There are many color photos of female engine cleaners during WW2 in the CNW. They pop up occassionally in the popular media.

I think most women would have been classified into the same lower level jobs as African Americans.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:08 am 

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Location: Ipswich, UK
Dare I suggest the USSR....
https://www.rbth.com/history/331329-wom ... vers-metro
I'm sure I've seen a photo online of a female Russian steam crew during WW2 somewhere in the past, but can't find it now.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:03 am 
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The availability of suitable sanitary facilities in the times probably had considerable influence on what jobs women were allowed to do. In the 1940s USA, many industrial and military activities had facilities that were only for men.

PC

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:52 am 

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PCook wrote:
The availability of suitable sanitary facilities in the times probably had considerable influence on what jobs women were allowed to do. In the 1940s USA, many industrial and military activities had facilities that were only for men.

PC


Or virtually none at all out on the road in a steam locomotive.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:52 pm 

Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:30 am
Posts: 230
6-ET wrote:
I'm curious, LeoA, by switchmen, do you mean switchtenders or brakemen involved in conducting switching of cars in a yard?


Brakemen working in a yard.

My reference to this is an early 1980's article in Trains Magazine titled "A Lady Named Kate" that I reread just a few weeks back, which was about the history and then current status of women in the American railroad workforce.

Not many jobs were without some female representation during WWII on American railroads according to the article.

Edit: Brought up the article again and saw something of interest about the employment of women during WWII.

"In the operating ranks, Southern Pacific had a lady throttle artist who had fired many an engine prior to moving across the cab, and the 2-mile Augusta Railroad in Arkansas had a woman engineer".

So apparently there were some examples during the steam era.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
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Location: Southern California
LeoA wrote:
I've heard of women motormen on streetcars during WWII, but never steam era engineers and firemen. There were female switchmen, tower operators, and station agents though.
There were woman streetcar operators during the "Great War" (WW1) and various shop crafts and even track maintenance crews during that period. The Pacific Electric had woman working in the motor rewinding shop -- and I have heard that the foreman said the women were better than the men at that craft.

After both wars very few women continued in these jobs as the men returned and the expected social norms returned. But, apparently some woman motormen were still employed by the Baltimore streetcar system in the late 1930s as there is a published PR photo of three women motormen standing next to a new PCC. I have heard that in Los Angeles one of the WWII women was still operating streetcars when the system shut down in 1963; she then went driving buses and even became an instructor.

6-ET wrote:
I have a picture in a book of two women in the cab of a steam locomotive on one of the Nevada shortlines. I believe it's the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad. The caption identifies them as hostlers. Perhaps the word "hostler" just means "attendant," or perhaps they were trained to move the locomotive around the engine terminal.
Probably they were working as engine whippers as that seems to have been the case on other railroads. Or the photographer was flirting with the women and taking some fun photos for them.

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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:05 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:55 am
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softwerkslex wrote:
I think most women would have been classified into the same lower level jobs as African Americans.


You couldn't be more wrong. This has really nothing to do with discrimination.

In the pre-pill era, women were pregnant much more often, some people seem to forget nowadays. Thus, women were not attached to the hard and dangerous tasks because western society wanted to protect them instead of exploit them as in socialism.

In socialist propaganda women were officially celebrated doing hard work and low wages for all kept them off being housewives. The Russians just lowered the men's wages so much that their wifes had to go to work as well. In the free world, if given the choice, women usually tend not to do hard and dangerous work. Just check all the statistics for yourself, how many women today are working in steel works or in the military, even when they are given preferences in the hiring process.

Or just check the number of women on commercial 24/7/365 steam railroads as on the German narrow gauge systems. Tell me if you find one.

You also forget that even physically weak men were not allowed to become firemen, and no fireman - no locomotive engineer!

Apart from war events when human resources became scarce, women on steam locomotives only appear in the preservation era, where they are always warmly welcome, as being shown in the celebration of female only locomotive crews on "Plandampf"-events.

And yet - no steam locomotive being restored and/or financed mainly by women has ever come to my knowledge. Prove me wrong!


Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
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Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
Back in the "day" it was supposedly asking for bad luck to have a woman in the cab of a steam locomotive on the road. When I started being involved in the mid 1960's there were still some old time hoggers that were VERY uncomfortable having a female in the cab while under way.

Don't know why or how that old superstition started but it was definitely there.

Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:50 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:37 pm
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"...some old time hoggers that were VERY uncomfortable having a female in the cab while under way.

Don't know why or how that old superstition started but it was definitely there.

Ross Rowland"

Superstition.

Maybe it was because steam locomotives were "she's" and therefore might resent another woman being with her man and something bad resulting.

Not working on a ship, again because the sea was "female".

A similar fear was for a woman to go down into a mine. No way!


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 4:18 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:53 am
Posts: 75
Supposedly, then engineer of the Meadow River 1 was replaced by his wife when he entered the service during WWII. I know of no documentation of this.

Too the comment about facilities, #1 was the Rainelle mill switcher so that would have made that easier.

And like stated above, things returned to normal when the war was over.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:33 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 10:49 am
Posts: 698
6-ET wrote:
I've wondered about this too. Also, along a similar line, I've wondered if there were any non-white locomotive engineers or conductors in the United States before the second half of the 20th century.

I have a picture in a book of two women in the cab of a steam locomotive on one of the Nevada shortlines. I believe it's the Bullfrog Goldfield Railroad. The caption identifies them as hostlers. Perhaps the word "hostler" just means "attendant," or perhaps they were trained to move the locomotive around the engine terminal.

If there were any female engine crews, I would guess that they would probably be on some shortline or industrial railroad in a very remote part of the country, where institutional prejudices and societal norms would be weaker.

I'm curious, LeoA, by switchmen, do you mean switchtenders or brakemen involved in conducting switching of cars in a yard?

These topics of gender and race are becoming more and more important for railroad museums to present to the public. The history of railroading in the US has some chapters we'd rather forget.


I can tell you that my grandfather, an African American, was an engineer for Southwest Forest Industries in Arizona. I met another one in Louisana. I cannot recall his name at the moment, but there was no doubt he ran steam on a logging line in Louisana.


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 Post subject: Re: Female engineers and Firemen in the steam era.
PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5872
Location: southeastern USA
484Mike wrote:
The Russians just lowered the men's wages so much that their wifes had to go to work as well.
Mike


Much as the American capitalist system has done since the 1980s - few families can get by on one salary alone. Funny how much we all have in common, now if only people would stop trying to drive us apart.......

Dave

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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