Friday, November 18, 2011

Blame It On The Railroads...!

First, let me say that I appreciate all the comments from yesterday when I took the day off.

I probably have some of the most considerate readers online...without a doubt!

Now, about today's little slice of history! I think that most of us have often wondered about how the different time zones came into being. I know that I wondered about it myself and to be honest...I didn't have a clue!

Thanks to the fine folks at, I found the answer! At least, as good an answer as any! That's what I wanted to share with you today!

Nov 18, 1883:
Railroads create the first time zones

At exactly noon on this day, American and Canadian railroads begin using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times. The bold move was emblematic of the power shared by the railroad companies.

The need for continental time zones stemmed directly from the problems of moving passengers and freight over the thousands of miles of rail line that covered North America by the 1880s. Since human beings had first begun keeping track of time, they set their clocks to the local movement of the sun. Even as late as the 1880s, most towns in the U.S. had their own local time, generally based on "high noon," or the time when the sun was at its highest point in the sky. As railroads began to shrink the travel time between cities from days or months to mere hours, however, these local times became a scheduling nightmare. Railroad timetables in major cities listed dozens of different arrival and departure times for the same train, each linked to a different local time zone.

Efficient rail transportation demanded a more uniform time-keeping system. Rather than turning to the federal governments of the United States and Canada to create a North American system of time zones, the powerful railroad companies took it upon themselves to create a new time code system. The companies agreed to divide the continent into four time zones; the dividing lines adopted were very close to the ones we still use today.

Most Americans and Canadians quickly embraced their new time zones, since railroads were often their lifeblood and main link with the rest of the world. However, it was not until 1918 that Congress officially adopted the railroad time zones and put them under the supervision of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Just another case of not waiting on big government to handle the problem. Of course, this time the changes were made by folks that probably had a lot more power than the government wanted to butt heads with! Come to think about it, this is a lot like how it is today. Big money boys can pretty much do what they want and tell the government folks to "like it or lump it!"

Thanks again for keeping an eye on things for me yesterday. I really appreciate it!

Anyone want some fresh coffee out on the patio? I sure could use the company!


Unknown said...

"Coffee with the Hermit" has been included in this weeks Sites To See. I hope this helps to attract many new visitors here.

HermitJim said...

Hey FishHawk...
I certainly appreciate that! Thank you!

You have a great day, and thanks for coming by today!

Unknown said...

You are most welcome, and thanks for being so considerate!!!

Rae said...

Interesting info. Thanks for the lesson.

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Missed 'ya.
Yours is the first blog I read in the morning! You always have a good tidbit of interesting info for us!
Hope all is well. I made fresh apple pie yesterday .. that will go great with your coffee! Kind of chilly this morning; its only 32 outside.

Modern Day Redneck said...

Thanks for stopping by Modern Day Redneck. I am now a daily reader of your blog. This weekend I hope to have the time to go back and get caught up on your posts.
Thanks again.

Momlady said...

Hope you had a good day off. Looks like you'll be having company next week if what I hear from K is correct. Enjoy the quiet time while you can! Coffee sounds great and a slice of pie to go with it would be great.

Ben in Texas said...

I had no idea the railroad was involved with our time zones. Amazing. Sadly only thing they involved with now is losing money.

Again Professor Jim comes through.

linda m said...

Very interesting story, thanks. Coffee sounds good to me as here in WI it is 25 degrees outside with very windy conditions.

JoJo said...

Good info I never new that's how time zones came about. When I worked we had to know them so we could set up call in meetings, it could drive you crazy if they added international.
I'm happy now to just sit and have coffee with you in the mornings and not worry about the time. :)
Have a great day my Friend. Hope yesterday was pleasant.

Dizzy-Dick said...

I am like Ben, I had no idea that the railroads had anything to do with the time zones. It does, however, make a lot of sense. Glad to have you back.

TROUBLEnTX said...

Just for ur info, i never wondered how the time zones came to be...lololol,,but now i know.
Keep up the good work.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rae...
It sure is good to see you again, my friend! Been too long!

Glad you found the information interesting and I thank you for coming by today!

Hey Phyllis...
Fresh apple pie is just what the doctored to go with the coffee!

Thanks for your concern and for being there first thing in the morning!

I appreciate you dropping in today!

Hey Redneck...
I sure did enjoy the time I spent reading your blog yesterday! I'm gonna suggest all my readers go over and check it out!

My friend, I really thank you for coming over this morning!

Hey Momlady...
Yep, I think that B is coming over next week from North Carolina! It would be nice to have both sisters at Mom's for Thanksgiving!

Hope things are going good for you, and I thank you for coming by this morning!

Hey Ben...
I didn't know this either! Always seem to find out some interesting stuff about our early history!

My friend, I sure do appreciate you coming by for a visit this morning!

Hey Linda...
Now that's getting a lot colder than I can handle!

It feels chilly here in Houston and it's only 58 or so! Sounds like a heat wave compared to your temps!

Glad you could come over this morning!

Hey DD...
I guess that since the railroads were the driving force in early America, they got away with a lot that most of us wouldn't want to think of trying!

I can certainly see how having a set time to schedule the trains by would make sense!

Whatever the reason, guess we are pretty much stuck with it and I'm good with that!

Thanks, buddy, for dropping in today! Hope that all went well with the wife's trip to the doctor!

Hey Trouble...
See? Even if you don't want one, you get a free history lesson when you come over for a visit!

Good thing you get some apple pie to go with it! Makes the lesson go down better!

Thanks, girl, for coming over today!

Phelan said...

Just the other day I was wondering who to curse for time zones ;)

I love coming over here. You got some of the greatest trivia.