This Y-shaped stick was used to deliver messages between the station agent, the engineer and the caboose on the train. (Photo submitted)

This Y-shaped stick was used to deliver messages between the station agent, the engineer and the caboose on the train. (Photo submitted)

Message from the train

North Thompson Museum and Archives

Communication between people has come a long way.

How did people communicate prior to cell phones, radio phones or telephones? Have you ever wondered how the engineer in the engine of a train communicated with the station agent?

This long-handled Y-shaped stick, about two metres long with elastic stretched across at the forks was used for communication between the station agent, the engineer and the caboose on the train. Messages would be telegraphed to the station agent. The message was then written on a piece of paper by the station agent. The paper with the message on it was rolled up and attached to the elastic between the two arms of the stick.

The station agent would stand on the platform holding up the stick. The engineer would then hook his arm through the Y, take the message off and then throw the Y-shaped stick to the ground. All this happened while the train was moving. It would slow down but did not stop.

A shorter Y-shaped stick with a message attached was also given to the caboose. There was no communication device between the caboose and the engine. Both got the same message so that the front and back of the train stayed on the same track (each knew what was going on).

The North Thompson Museum & Archives is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come and view the history of the valley.


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