Standard time - railroad time - local time
I am working on a new series for PBS and the BBC about big ideas, innovation and the interconnectivity of ideas. Over a series of 6 episodes we will look into different areas such as light, cold, sound and clean water to track the big innovations over time. We’re aiming to dispel the myth of the eureka moment and look into how ideas are really formed and the network of influences and technologies that bring them together.
Currently I’m working on an episode about time and have been struck sideways by the story of standardizing time in the States and the work of William F. Allen amongst others. I've been piecing together a railroad journey from San Francisco to New York, prior to Standard Railway Time, in 1870, using this [May 16, 1870] Union Pacific Time Table. I've got the route and the times, but I'm aware that there also local times right across America, as well as different railroad company times. This has left me a little confused, and I was wondering if someone might be able to help me out.
In the timetable above it states that the train from San Francisco will leave at 8am. Is this 8am local time, or 8am Union Pacific Time (which I believe based its time on Omaha, where its HQ were located)? Each time provided in the time table is Union Pacific time, and not local time - is that right?
Along the route, across all of the states, I know there are variants to the time, which left contemporary passengers really confused. What I would like to clarify is that these times were local time (depending on city/town), and then railroad company time, which would change at various points en route. For example, at Omaha the passenger would change from Union Pacific to Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (which I think based its time on Chicago - where the company was based). Am I right in thinking that? ...
—Imogen Middleton, Researcher, Big ideas, London, UK