Hope everyone remembered to change their clocks Sunday morning at the end of daylight savings time.
While the railroads were not directly responsible for Daylight Savings Time, the railroads did promote the idea of time zones in the US.
In the beginning, local time in each community was established locally. Railroads would set their timetables by a clock located either in their headquarters city or a city of a major terminal. Thus the railroad’s time and the local time could be quite different. This made the accurate following of time tables and making connections by travelers, and the scheduling of trains by the railroads, exceeding complicated.
The railroads finally established standard time for their operations in 1883, but its local adoption by the public at large was slow to follow. (Standard Time Zones based on those first established by the railroads were not, in fact, finally established by Federal law until 1918.)
On November 18, 1883, the railroads finally solved this problem for themselves when they adopted “Standard Railway Time” and established four time zones for their operations in North America — Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. In his Report to the Secretary of the Interior for 1883, U.S. Commissioner of Railroads William H. Armstrong gave the following account of the new time system:
“The question of uniform time standards for railways of the United States has long attracted the attention of railway managers, but Mr. W. F. Allen, editor of the Traveler’s Official Guide, and secretary of the time conventions, is entitled to the credit of having perfected the admirable system which was adopted by the General Time Convention of Railway Managers, held at Chicago, October 11, 1883, and ratified by the Southern Railway Time Convention, held at New York, October 17, 1883. As this is a subject of great interest to the entire country, a brief synopsis of the general principles governing the proposed plan is deemed appropriate in this report.
“Under the present system each railway is operated independently on the local time of some principal point or points on said road, but this plan was found to be highly objectionable, owing to the fact that some fifty standards, intersecting and interlacing each other, were in use throughout the country. By the plan which has been adopted this number will be reduced to four, the difference in time being one hour between each, viz, the 75th, 90th, 105th, and 120th degrees of longitude west from Greenwich. The adoption of these standards will not cause a difference of more than thirty minutes from the local time at any point which is now used as a standard.
“The new arrangement goes into effect November 18, 1883, and all changes of time are to occur at the termini of roads, or at the ends of divisions. The seventy-fifth meridian being almost precisely the central meridian for the system of roads now using standards based upon the time of the Eastern cities, and the ninetieth meridian being equally central for roads now running by the time of Western cities, the time of these meridians has been adopted for the territory which includes 90 per cent. of the whole railway system of the country. Nearly all of the larger cities have abolished local time and adopted that of the nearest standard meridian in use by the railways.”
Travelers should be happy that the railroads came up with the idea of standard time as it makes travel between cities much easier than the old system of locally set times
Daylight savings time was established during World War I to allow for additional hours of daylight for production. States are not required to adopt Daylight Savings Time, but if they do, they have to follow the Federal guidelines which set the dates for changing the clocks.