THE ORIGIN OF IRONHORSE
There is something refreshingly traditional about taking a train, especially if you are on a long route. Let’s turn back the hands of time and consider ourselves in a by gone day. With ticket in hand you ease into the passenger car and take in the scenery. You move along toward your destination at a steady pace. Even the brief stops along the way are advantageous and offer moments of reassurance as you check your course and note that the rail staff is doing the same.
The powerful locomotive pulls both passenger car and cargo along the track toward the destination. Travelers on this journey may have once ridden horse back, by stage coach or wagon. The new iron horse makes for a more pleasant trip west toward the American dream.
Our arrival is in the hands of a few competent men. The engineer tasked with making steady forward progress, the conductor responsible for passenger comfort, and the brakeman who is charged with the safety of goods and travelers. And, while the former two roles are the most celebrated it is the latter that plays the unsung hero in our story.
During these early days of railroading, box cars and passenger cabins were made of wood. The brakeman’s job was to monitor the train’s performance for safety. He in particular, was to keep the cars from catching fire often caused by poor wheel to rail traction and the subsequent sparks thrown from irregular friction. His dutiful walk across the top of the moving train cars to tune the wheel and brake were not so much daredevil feats as they were necessary chores. He worked out a set of signals between himself and the engineer to call for more caution in the train’s progress or to affirm his speed toward the goal.
So it is now. As the iron horse carries the financial goals of the investor toward its destination, the engineer charges forward and the brakeman diligently works to see sure arrival of all concerned.