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W.W. Garrott – First Indiana Railroad Man

Today when someone rides the train the only people that they will see is probably the conductor and maybe the engineer, who is driving the train. However, when trains where first becoming popular there were many different people working on the train to make the experience enjoyable and comfortable for the passengers. One of these people was the train boy; whose job it was to bring food and water for the passengers to enjoy.

W. W. Garrott started out as a train boy in 1856 at the age of thirteen and became one of the first railroad men in Indiana. He happened to get the job just by chance, for the train crew found themselves without a train boy, so he was permitted to make the trip. It was with great reluctance that he was allowed on the trip due to the dangerous nature of the job. In the beginning the train cars where all different heights and coupled together with either one or three links of chain. This made it necessary to jump from one to the other. With Garrott being such a small boy it was feared that he would not be able to make the dangerous jump with the basket of fruits, buckets of water and papers that he had to carry from car to car. When put to the test, however, he won the admiration of the crew. The company was reluctant to hire him due to his age but with the help of the other crew members he was hired, and in a way became the mascot of the New Albany and Salem route.

He was steadily promoted and by the age of 20 found himself as a conductor, which makes him one of the youngest in the state to hold the position.

Source: Hargrave, Frank, A Pioneer Indiana Railroad :the origin and development of the Monon. Wm. B. Burford Printing Company, Indianapolis. (1932)