Timetable Index Page

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on September 2, 2020.

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About The Collection

In July 2017 I was given a large collection of Union Pacific employee and public timetables that had originally been collected by Jim Phelps, a long time Union Pacific employee. The person I got them from had been asked by a neighbor to come take a look at a friend's home where his father had a bunch of old train stuff. This was in 1990 when Jim Phelps' son Raymond was selling his father's house, six years after Jim's death. The "train stuff" was more than 20 boxes of railroad timetables, mostly Union Pacific but with a few other roads. There were also copies of magazines and just a few railroad calendars.

Jim Phelps had a large collection of UP employee timetables, from all of the railroad's divisions, as far back as the 1930s. But most were from the 1940s and later. It is a mostly complete collection from the 1946-1947 time period to the end of that type of timetable in the early 1970s. After extensive sorting efforts the final single-issue count was over 450 issues. These are individual issues, each with a different date. There were 33 Union Pacific public timetables from 1946 to 1967.

After some research in online newspapers, I have been able to learn some of Jim Phelps' history. He was Union Pacific livestock agent and traffic manager in Salt Lake City from 1936 until his retirement in 1968. Before starting with UP, he was traffic manager for Ogden Union Stockyards, and before that he was assistant traffic manager for Denver Union Stockyards. Jim left Denver and took the traffic manager's job at Ogden Union Stockyards in 1932. Then in 1936 he took the job of livetsock agent for Union Pacific, working from Salt Lake City. Jim lived in the same house on Texas Street in Sugar House, a Salt Lake City suburb, for 40 years. Jim was one of the founders of the local Promontory Chapter of National Railway Historical Society (NRHS) in 1965. Upon his retirement in 1968, at age 75, Jim claimed to have been in every county in all 50 states, except for Marion County, Oregon, where the state capital of Salem is located. In July 1968 he was planning to visit Salem to finish the task of visiting counties. James Henry Phelps was born in October 1892, and died in 1984 at age 92.

After his retirement in 1968, Jim Phelps became a source for timetables among the community of timetable collectors. Many have related stories in-person and via email of their activities buying and corresponding with Jim over the years. Among the boxes of items acquired in 2017 were several boxes of railroad trade publications, including various issues of Railway Age and Modern Railroads. These have all been reviewed and applicable information integrated with existing pages on the UtahRails.net web site.

There were excess copies of numerous issues among the timetable collection, with a large part of the collection being multiple copies of the same issue. The extra copies quantities ranged from less than 10 copies, to over 100 copies of single issues, in bundles of 25 copies each, all of the same issue. All extras and duplicates (11 boxes; about 12 cubic feet) were disposed of in late 2017, leaving an extensive set of single-issue and single-date timetables.

Public Timetables

PTT = Public Timetable

Public timetables were used by the railroads to document and present the accommodations available for the traveling public, including sleeping arrangements, coach and chair car seating arrangements, dining facilities, lounges, and baggage handling. The focus was on the specific equipment needed to provide those arrangements and facilities.

The earliest public timetables for Union Pacific were in the then-standard form of a large paper sheet that was folded down to a convenient four inches by nine inches, similar to road maps of the 20th century. In about 1889-1890, the mechanical stapler became available, which allowed timetables to be printed in a more convenient multiple page style. This style became known as the "Timetable" format, a 4 inches by 9 inches size that fit an envelope or standardized display rack for stations and hotels. The 4x9 format consists of multiple 16x9 collated sheets, folded and stapled along the center into a 8x9 booklet, and then folded again into the final 4x9 size.

Train schedule and other information was easier to find, and the folding, refolding and wear and tear at the folds was eliminated. But this format limited maps to the sheet size of 16x9 inches.

During the period of government control in 1918-1920, during World War I, all timetables were standardized as minimal styles. Following the war, and like most of the other railroads, Union Pacific returned to using the symbols of its company, such as its logos and other advertising graphics.

On Union Pacific, its public timetables showed all of its passenger trains along its system-wide routes (Omaha to Portland and Seattle; Omaha to Ogden and San Francisco; and Omaha to Los Angeles), along with regional trains. All of UP's branch lines with passenger service were also shown.

Kenton Forest produced an excellent 49-page summary and listing of Union Pacific public timetables, published in 2004 by the Colorado Railroad Museum. Unfortunately it is out of print and no longer available from the museum.

UP-PTT Directory Listing

List of public timetables available at UtahRails.net -- The PDF files in the directory are arranged by year (scroll to the bottom for the "UP-PTT" files).

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Employee Timetables

ETT = Employee Timetable

Employee timetables were used by the railroads to document the actual operation of both passenger and freight trains of all classes, and to provide guidance for employees as they went about their duties on a daily basis. The focus was on the safe operation of entire trains as they moved over the railroad.

Like public timetables, UP's employee timetables contained the schedules of regular trains. They also contain other important information necessary to work on a railroad, so an employee timetable must exist whether or not its territory had scheduled passenger trains. Major railroads like Union Pacific issued employee timetables for divisions and subdivisions.

UP's employee timetables showed all main lines and branch lines, listing the agency stations served, each station's milepost locations and hours of agency operation. The timetables also showed passing sidings and their length, and other facilities such as water tanks and wyes. They also included schedules of regular trains, if any. Employee timetables also showed types of train control, such as Automatic Block Signal (ABS), or Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). Types of operation would be specified, such as Track Warrant Control (TWC). Track diagrams have become common in modern timetables. A timetable will also contain special instructions. These may modify certain operating rules, train speed limits and tonnage ratings, as well as other detailed information.

The following comes from Railroadiana.org: "Employee Timetables. Railroads have always issued timetables for the exclusive use of their employees, a practice that continues to this day. Typically such timetables provide information on physical plant, tonnage ratings of locomotives, special conditions along the line, schedules of regular trains, and other information of vital interest to railroad operation. Probably no other single document gives such a telling picture of a railroad's operation in a particular time period. In appearance, employee timetables tend to be plain, no-nonsense booklets. Early examples were often large in size (roughly 8 inches by 14 inches), and these are sometimes referred to as 'horseblanket' style. Gradually railroads switched to the standard 'timetable size' variety (4 inches by 8 inches), although this transition did not occur all at once."

UP-ETT Directory Listing

List of employee timetables available at UtahRails.net -- The PDF files in the directory are arranged by year and UP's division.

More Information

UtahRails Timetables Directory Read Me File

Ed Gibson's web site (Wx4.org) with an extensive collection of timetables

Read more about the history of UP's Utah Division, through its timetables

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