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Rail Lore

For a century and a half American railroad workers have created folklore--songs, stories, styles--to cloak their lives. These on-the-job expressions by hoggers, snakes, and tallowpots as well as by baggage smashers, brass pounders, and car knockers were natural extensions of work, much like greasy overalls or telegrapher's green eyeshades. In the most direct sense, a spikedriver's chant or a fireman's elegy to his dead engineer was a verbal or musical form which helped members of a distinct occupational group define their social and economic roles.

Rail craftsmen see locomotives, cabooses, roundhouses, or track-sections as other mechanics ...

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