God Almighty Himself must have been
hilarious when human beings so mingled
iron and water and fire as to make a railroad train!
Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard 1987

Conway Yards, Pennsylvania RR

The yards That the Conway switching yards is the world leader in freight traffic for much of the 1940's is an indicator of the industrial capacity of the Pittsburgh area and its neighbors to the east and west. No rail freight or passenger is moved in or out of Ambridge without  some contact with these Pennsylvania Railroad yards.

Coal was a major commodity. It fueled the steam driven locomtives and filled rail cars.

Going home

Most of the work is outside. There is no automation. Individual cars are routed to make up strings for common destinations by the men. They ride on the tops of cars and control their speed by hand brakes. They sort cars by moving the track switches by hand. The work is dirty, dangerous,  demanding, and in the winter, cold.

When their shift is done, they wait at the side of the road for a public bus to take them home


Photo Credits: John Vachon, January 1941
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