--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "A. Premo" <armprem@...> wrote:
often were placed on a car by a connecting or other foreign road ;whichme that
this might cause some confusion for switch crews.Armand premo
Chalking track numbers did lead to confusion; that's the reason for
the printed routing cards.
The impression I get from talking to old timers is that these were
many times unique personal marks that had no meaning to anyone else.
Scrawl your initials or a doodle in a consistent way, and you have a
personal mark that you'll recognize when you see it, that isn't likely
to be confused with anything else on the car.
These were used like bookmarks, or folded page corners in a book. When
a crew reported for duty, they'd look over the consist, then walk
their train. On this particular day, the first 21 cars get set out to
the J interchange, and an additional thirty go to the B&OCT, with
everything else going through. As the head brakeman walked the train,
he'd go back 21 cars and make his mark by the cut lever; thirty more
and make his mark again. Later, out on the road, standing by the J
switch in the rain and howling wind, he didn't have to look at a list
to see what cars went to the J, he'd just let them go by until he saw
the mark he made earlier, stop them, and make the cut. Same with his
second cut later in the run.
That's the reason these marks seldom make any sense; they only had to
make sense to the man who had just made them hours before. The only
information the mark really had to convey was, "I was here before,
this is the place I make the cut".