Friday, June 25, 2010
C&O Phone Box
Until as recent as the 1970's, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway communicated along the James River Subdivision by means of lineside, hand crank telephones housed in wood boxes! That is when I was given this phone box which was used at the west end of Gladstone Yard. Radio communication to locomotives and crews had been in the future for the C&O. Today the phone box is beside the Abert Watchman's Shanty and an oak platform which had been made for railroad workers to stand on when using it. Inside is a 1950's vintage C&O Stromberg - Carlson hand crank phone. Stewart Shannon, a retired communications man on C&O, Chessie and CSX describes how these lineside phones were used: "The crank phones did not have a plug box; there was only a 'message line' available for the train crews (conductors) to use, at least in Virginia and West Virginia where I worked. They would crank a ring code to reach the desired or nearest station operator who in turn would relay a message to the dispatcher and his reply back to the train conductor. Even train orders were copied and relayed this way! It was an involved process!"