Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Conductor

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

The word “conductor,” as defined by, is “one who conducts, especially, one who is in charge of a railroad train or one who directs an orchestra.”

The job of a music conductor is to direct a musical performance, using gestures and sometimes a baton. The job of a railroad conductor is not only to collect tickets, but also to ensure that the train operates safely, stays on schedule, and picks up and drops off cars and cargo properly. It is also the conductor’s job to guide the coupling and uncoupling of train cars.

A few days ago, I posted a story about some modern-day hobos riding the rails. As I was preparing the photos for that story, I came across several photos I took in February, 2014, of a train conductor at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

As I snapped these photos in 2014, the conductor was helping the engineer couple the engine to the first passenger car. He was motioning to the engineer as the engineer backed the engine toward the passenger car.

I didn’t notice anything unusual about this activity until I reviewed the photos in preparation for my hobo story. As I looked at these photos, I realized that, if you put a baton in the train conductor’s hand, he would look like he was directing an orchestra.

No wonder they call him a conductor. Now all we need is some music to complete the scene.

And, in case you think he has an easy job, take a look at how hard he works to make sure the connection of the engine and passenger car is successful.

If you live in Wisconsin and are interested in riding an old-fashioned passenger train, visit the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom.

Happy Shunpiking!


  1. How serendipitous… it is my Father's Birthday and he is coming for a visit this weekend. We have tickets for the tour on Sundays special tour of the Wooden Panel Cats at Mid-Continent. :) Great pictures as usual!

  2. Wow, he really does look like he is conducting an orchestra!