Are you interested in seeing a glossary of railroad terminology or slang? In this article there are two glossaries of various railroad terms and a short history of the railroad.
Glossary of Railroad Terminology or Slang
The first glossary of railroad terminology or slang covers the equipment terms.
- All black: Signals an “all clear” meaning there are no defects that can be seen against the black running gear
- Anti-climber: Positioned at the front and rear of a locomotive to prevent debris from reaching the cab
- Blue flag: This can be a blue flag, sign, or light that indicates the car is being worked on
- Coupler: Also known as the knuckle-coupler, this locks cars and locomotives together
- Engine: The term for any kind of locomotive
- EOT device: End Of Train object that monitors the air brakes. Also known as FRED - Flashing Rear End Devices, it replaced the caboose in the 1980s.
- Flange: The small lip on the inside of rail wheels which guides and keeps the locomotive or car on the track
- Goat: Slang for yard engines
- Piggyback: This refers to the truck trailers that are being transported
- Sperry car: This car, used by Sperry Rail Services, looks for defects in the rail
- Yard goat: A term for a switch engine
- Yaw dampers: This is a spring that reduces the rocking motion of an engine or car
This next glossary of railroad terminology or slang covers railroading terms in general:
- COFC: Containers On Flatcar, when the train is hauling shipping containers
- Cog railroad: A cog train can travel on steep grades because of a toothed rack rail positioned between the rails of a cog railroad. The cog wheel on the train meshes with the rack rail.
- Conductor: The person responsible for the train, its crew, and cargo
- Crossbuck: The X shaped sign where the tracks cross a road
- Derail: When the train leaves the tracks
- Doubleheading: When there are two locomotives moving a train
- Double-stack: Stacking one container on top of another
- Drag: Slang for slow freight
- Eighth notch: The final notch in the throttle; the most powerful position
- Engineer: Person responsible for operating the engine, also called hog head, hogger, and hostler
- Fusee: A flare
- Highball: A signal to operate a train at full speed.
- Hotshot: A freight train given priority that is almost never held up and is usually given the main line
- In the hole: This is a word for the siding where a train waits for another to pass
- Meet: This occurs when one train passes another and one is in the siding
- On the ground: Term for a derailed train
- Pickup: Adding cars to a train
- Power: Another name for locomotives
- Roadmaster: The person responsible for railroad track maintenance
- Run 8: Running at notch 8 or full power
- Stack train: A slang term for a train that has the containers stacked two deep on each car
- TOFC: Trailer-On-Flatcar which means hauling highway truck trailers
- Varnish: A slang term that refers to passenger cars and equipment which originally referred to the wooden passenger cars that had glossy varnish on them
- Zombie: A slang term for reusing a locomotive's frame and trucks (wheel-axle-frame assembly)
The history of the railroad started in 1815 when Colonel John Stevens received the first railroad charter and soon built the New Jersey Railroad Company. By 1850, there was over 9000 miles of track east of the Mississippi River. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 spurred the westward movement of people which included building railroads.
The first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 when the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad met in Promontory Point, Utah. After World War II, traffic for both freight and passengers declined steadily. After deregulation in 1980, there was a slow recovery which gained speed into the 21st century.