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IHC Life Member
Here is an interesting watch from Rhett Lucke's collection it is a 16 size Elgin B. W. Raymond, 19 jewels, Adjusted to 5 positions, Serial # 15422774, it was part of a 1000 watch run of Grade 372's manufactured in 1910, and was specially equipped with a 12 hour Arabic personalized dial marked with the initials "J.W.F." In red letters underneath the numeral 12, and beneath the initials is a multicolored logo of the "Switchmen's Union of North America" in green blue and red that looks like a serpentine figure "S." with a link and pin coupler near the tail of the S. This Logo is probably the reason members of SUNA had the nickname of "snakes or yard snakes" among other railroaders. Beneath the minute and hour hands is "No 217" in blue letters.
Around the secondhand is the logo of the Order of Railway Conductors" the tri-colored wheeled emblem showing the hand making a coupling with the red background, the arm of the freight conductor wrapped with a cable with the green background, and the crooked arm of the passenger conductor with lantern and ticket punch. Above this in red lettering is "DIV 257".
In my opinion "J.W.F." must have been a doubleheader, this was the term used by railroaders to describe members who pay dues to more than one labor organization. This happened a lot with the Firemen's and Engineers fraternities, in order to be a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen you were required to take out a life insurance policy and pay monthly premiums towards it. Later in their careers when firemen were promoted to engineers and joined the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers they were required to keep up their membership in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen in order to keep their insurance policy. The two organizations tried to merge on different occasions, but these attempts failed and was part of the reason why in 1906 of firemen's organization added Enginemen to their name so they could represent their members when they were promoted. So it is my guess that "J.W.F." was probably a member of the Switchmen's organization, and later joined the Order of Railway Conductors upon promotion later on in his career. While "J.W.F.'s" identity remains a mystery I was able to find the following information on the organizations he belonged to.
In the directory of my March 1943 Journal of the Switchmen's Union of North America it shows that:
Lodge No. 217 was located in Chickasha, Oklahoma and meets the 4th Sunday at 11:30 AM in the Yard Office of the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railway. The Lodges officers are
President, R. H. White, and Secretary Treasurer, J. J. Callaway
Chickasha is located 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and present population is about 15,000 and I found an interesting postcard showing the Geronimo Hotel and Railroad Depot.
I found the following information on Division #257 before the turn -of-the-century it was chartered in Herington Kansas, but later on the Division must have moved in as one of my Order of Railway Conductors directories from 1931 shows it relocated to El Reno, Oklahoma which is located 50 mi. north of Chickasaw and presently has the Union Pacific Railroad and the Oklahoma Kansas and Texas Railroad running through it.
I found the following information on El Reno on the towns web site:
The site of modern-day El Reno was originally 160 acre farm homesteaded by Major John A. Foreman, the Civil War veteran and former employee of the Rock Island Railroad. In the past, El Reno's lifeblood was the railroad. The quiet Rock Island Depot is now preserved as a museum, but in its prime it was as busy as Oklahoma City's Will Rogers Airport. Just about the time the railroads heyday started to wane and America fell in love with the lure of the open road, El Reno practically reinvented itself. In 1926, the government built a highway through the town that became a romantic ribbon of highway. It carried dreamers, vagabond's and tourists right through the heart of El Reno on the way west to the promise of Rhett better life. In time, the Mother Road became the most famous highway in the world -- Route 66.
Rock Island Railroad History
An act of Congress, approved on March 2, 1887, granted the charter the right to cross Indian Territory and pass through Texas to Galveston. Construction of the line south of Herington moved rapidly through the fall of 1887 and in December the first train pulled into Caldwell, "The last outpost of the white man's country" and gateway to the Indian domains of Oklahoma. The Railroad reached Pond Creek on July 15, 1888. The survey followed roughly along the old Chisholm Trail. El Reno was reached early in 1890.
The Rock Island Depot, recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, connected El Reno with all of the United States territory in the early 20th century, running from Los Angeles to Galveston, Texas to Chicago. World War I soldiers traveling through the United States, either leaving for Europe or just coming home, would stop at the Rock Island Depot to buy paper to write letters, coffee and medicine-from the Red Cross. It was one of the largest depots on Rock Island's rail line. The depot closed in the 1970s when the Railroad lost prominence in the transportation industry. The depot is now the Canadian County Historical Society's Museum, but the building still holds the memories of its heyday. The rail line is still used by the Union Pacific Railroad Company, but trains rarely stop now in El Reno.
I would like to thank Rhett for sharing this interesting pocket watch with us.
IHC Charter Member 28
IHC Life Member (L7)
Closeups of dial to left and right, full dial shown again in center...
Hotel and Rock Island Line Railway Depot in Chickasaw, Oklahoma...
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