Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by wjohnston11
I'm doing some research for my family that generally lived around Pittsburgh, PA. One of my relatives listed that he worked on the PRR Coneraugh (sp) Division as a Fireman on his 1918 Army Draft Registration. Can anyone tell me about this Division of the PRR? Where did it run, what type of traffic? Am I correct that a Fireman works with the Engineer? What type of engines were the PRR using on this line? I live in FL now so going to one of the PRR research museums is going to be a real trip. Any suggestions on how to research an individual PRR employee would be greatly appreciated.
  by PARailWiz
One thing to help you get started, the correct spelling is "Conemaugh" Division. Here is a link to a 1941 map of the division: http://prrths-ne.org/maps/Conemaugh_Division.pdf

Other people can tell you more, but the division certainly hosted freight and passenger trains in 1918.

A fireman is the person on a steam locomotive responsible for keeping the fires burning. Exact responsibilities depended on the type of steam locomotive.
  by ExCon90
Further to the duties of a fireman, in 1918 the Pennsylvania Railroad mostly had hand-fired engines, requiring the fireman to perform the backbreaking task of shoveling several tons of coal from the tender into the firebox, one scoop at a time, with sufficient accuracy not only to avoid hitting the edge of the scoop on the side of the opening, scattering coal all over the deck of the cab, but accurately placing each shovelful in just the right place within the firebox (he could tell by looking at the fire which areas of the firebox needed more coal), all of this while standing on the bucking, plunging deck of the cab. He shared with the engineer the duty of making sure the level of water in the boiler was where it needed to be. (Neglect of the water level in the boiler could lead to a boiler explosion, almost always lethal to both engineer and fireman.) The fireman's seat was on the left side of the cab, across from the engineer, but he didn't get to sit in it for very long, at least when the train was moving. I don't know how they did it. In later years, some of the larger locomotives were equipped with mechanical stokers, which conveyed the coal by means of a screw inside a pipe from the tender directly into the firebox, but I don't think there was much of that in 1918. The next step up for a fireman, if he had enough years of service, was to be promoted to engineer (engineman, on the PRR); being a fireman was part of the training for becoming an engineman. If you can find a copy, there is a book called Set Up Running (I can't think of the author's name) by a PRR engineer who worked on steam engines in eastern Pennsylvania, not on the Conemaugh Division, but his experiences as an engineman and fireman would have been very similar to those elsewhere on the PRR. If you're able to make a trip to Pennsylvania, try to hit the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania at Strasburg.