The Freight-Train Brakeman


March 10, 1877.

[From a Drawing by O. V. Schubert.]

The position of a freight-train brakeman is one of peculiar hardship and peril, especially in winter, when he must stand, without shelter, exposed to wind, rain, or snow, ready to obey the sharp warning of the engineer's whistle. For this duty young men of hardy frame, strong nerve, and steady habits are selected; for it requires all these qualities to perform the duties of the post. No one whose nerves are unstrung by drinking could be trusted where a slip of hand or foot, or unsteadiness of sight, might plunge him headlong to destruction. Our sketch, true to life, gives a graphic idea of what he must endure on a stormy winter night, when the brake handles chill through his heavy gloves, and the steps and car roofs are as slippery as the surface of a skating rink.