The San Jose Telegraph CTC panel, now on display at the Santa Clara CalTrain depot. (Ken Rattenne)
San Jose Telegraph was not really a tower in the
strict sense of the word, and in fact was housed in a wing of the Cahill
Street depot. The San Jose Telegraph operator was under the direct control
of the SP dispatcher in Roseville and manned a CTC Board machine that controlled
4.5 miles of single track mainline between the Cahill Street Depot and
Lick Siding on the Coast Line (MP 51.4). With the tower consolidation project
under way, San Jose Telegraph's functions were cut over to the SCO, taking
almost a year to be fully implemented.
Buying tickets at Cahill Street Depot. The author's mother purchases Amtrak Capitol tickets for a day-trip to Sacramento. (Don Rattenne Photo)
San Jose Telegraph was an interesting operation. Right up through the early 1980s train orders were attached to an order hoop next to the freight main at the west end of the coach yard. Orders were "hooped" by both the headend and rear crews on mainline and local freights right up until the advent of track warrents. But the most colorful operation had to be the delivery of train orders to Amtrak's Coast Starlight.
Each morning, when the southbound Starlight was about five minutes from the depot, the San Jose Telegraph operator would walk out of his office in the depot, hoop in hand, and stand on the platform. After chatting briefly with the Amtrak baggage crew on
|Amtrak's Coast Starlight has Cotton Belt 9404 on the point as the train brakes for its stop in San Jose. Behind the baggage cart is the San Jose Telegraph operator, handing up orders to the Starlight's fireman. Click the photo for an enlarged view. (Ken Rattenne Photo)|
As the headend approached, he'd hold the hoop up as high as he could, but without straining himself. As the lead unit trundled by the fireman would lean out his window, intent on nothing but the set of flimsies fluttering in the wind, and using his arm as a hook would grab the orders.
Of course the train would come to a complete stop only
a couple of hundred feet away, just beyond the platform. But by then the
San Jose Telegrapher would be well on his way back to his station office.
This was a daily occurrence until the closure of that office.
Cahill Street Portrait