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Railroad Slanguage Glossary

Lantern image from rrhistorical.comThe boomers spoke a language of there own, and many of the terms these imaginative and romantic travelers invented still remain in railway parlance. The following is an attempt to establish a glossary of the terms used. It is by no means complete.

This glossary first appeared in the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh employee magazine, Railway Life in 1931. Note that seven decades later, many of the terms are still part of our everyday"slanguage".


Employees
Any Railroad employee Rail
Boomer A railroader who restlessly changes jobs.
Brakeman Roughneck, Shack, Ground hog, Smokestack, Fielder, Car catcher, stinger
Car Inspector
Car whacker
Clerk
Paper weight, Pin head, Pencil pusher
Conductor Big O, The brains, The skipper, Bake head
Engineer Hog Head, Fog Eater, Hogger, Eagle eye, Speed gager, Throttle puller, Positive block
Enginehouse foreman Madhouse
Extra gang laborer
Gandy Dancer
Fireman
Diamond Pusher, Smoke Agent, Tallow pot, Fire boy, Coal heaver
General manager Whiskers
Master Mechanic Master maniac
Non-union employee Short tail
Railway Policeman
Gum shoe, Cinder dick
Section Foreman King Snipe
Section Laborer
Jerry, Snipe
Superintendent Old man
Switchman
Snake, Dolly Flapper
Telegraph Operator Lightning slinger, Brass pounder, Ham, Owls (3rd), Op.
Yard Clerk Number grabber
Yardmaster
Dinger, Switch hog

Rolling Equipment
Any car
Wagon, Buggy
Box car
Side door Pullman
Business car
Drone cage, Brain box
Caboose
Crumb box, Dog house, Hut, Crummery
Coal car
Gon, Hopper
Empty coach
Bull fighter
Locomotive Hog, Mill, Kettle, Lion, Teapot
Locomotive with large drivers
High boy
Locomotive with small drivers
Ground hog
Mallet Locomotive
Sacred ox
Observation car
Rubberneck
Passenger car
Varnish box
Pay car
Band wagon, Family disturber
Pullman Car
Snoozer
Refrigerator cars
Freezers, Reefers
Steel car
Whale belly
Switching locomotive
Goat
Switching locomotive with sloping tender
Bob tail
Tank car
Can
Trouble car
Dynamiter

Miscellaneous Equipment
Derail
Hop toad
Heated journal water car
Keeley
Impact register
Damn liar
Journal brass
Jewel
Lamp
Hayburner
Lantern
Shiner
Semaphore light
Red eye, Green eye
Semaphore signal
Paddle, Bug, Board
Switch
Gate
Telegraph instrument
Bug
Telegraph wires
Strings
Tool box under caboose
Possum belly
Torpedoes
Guns, caps
Train order
Flimsey, Tissue
Typewriter
Mill, Threshing machine

Trains
Emigrant train Zulu
Employees' Train Modoc
Extra fare train Due train
Fats freight train Hot shot, Red ball
Freight train Rattler
Relief train The hook
Slow freight train drag
Slow passenger train plug

General
Anyone riding on a pass Deadhead
Arrival Blow in
Boasting Blowing smoke
Commuter's train Jit
Crew working 16 hours Caught by the monkey
Emergency air application Big hole
L.C.L Less than carload freight
Making a good run Hitting the ball
Meal ticket Pie book
Miss a meal Fly light
Proceed signal Highball
Relieving a crew after 16 hours Dog-catching
Run without orders Run on smoke
Rush telegram Pink
Sixteen hour law Bear
Third trick Graveyard watch
Throw a switch Bend the iron
To be disciplined Called on the carpet
To cool a hotbox Freeze a hub
To die Join the birds
To leave the service Pull the pin
Trip pass Monkey money
Work train Mud hen
Yardmaster's office Knowledge box

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