1855 – An Appointment and Position Description for the Master Machinist with overall responsibility of the operation of the “Machine Shop and Motive Power” for the Norwich & Worcester Rail Road Company
[Norwich: Norwich & Worcestor Rail Road Company, 1855. Ribbon-bound.
This 8” x 10” six-page, ribbon-bound document, dated May 1st 1855, from Acting President of the Norwich & Worcestor Rail Road Company G. S. Perkins, appoints “Richard Coulburn” (sic Colburn) as the Master Machinist responsible for company’s Machine Shop and Motive Power.
It charges Colburn with supervision of the five men assigned to the “Machine and Smith Shops” as well as the railroads “Engine Drivers.” He is given the authority to hire employees, designate their duties, and if necessary, “discharge” them for cause. It also makes clear that Coulburn is authorized to act for the company president with regard to all measures regarding the “Locomotive department,” and
“1st To repair, and keep in repair, all the Locomotive and Tenders of the corporation. . ..
“2d To do this with the greatest possible economy and pumplitude.
“3d To take care of the building and machinery [and] see that the Engine drivers, Firemen, and workers . . . serve the interests of the Corporation to the best of their ability [while being] strictly temperate and cheerfully attentive to their duty and that they do not suffer themselves to waist or misapply and materials, or machines. . ..”
Perkins was especially interested in the moral fiber of the employees, insisting Colburn take disciplinary action for
“All intemperance . . . in any degree of the use of intoxicating liquors, shall be treaded as cause of discharge, also all gambling, at any time, or licentious or sensual habits , or low vulgarity.”. Very good. Item #010000
In 1837, the Boston, Norwich and New London Railroad company merged with the Worcestor and Norwich Railroad Company to form the Norwich and Worcester Rail Road. At the time of this letter, the primary company facilities, including those mentioned in this letter, were located along Railroad Avenue in downtown Norwich. By 1900 the company had been absorbed into New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad system.
Online genealogical records show that before Colburn was hired by the Norwich and Worcester, he worked for the Locks and Canals Company (later the Lowell Machine Shops), one of the first companies to manufacture locomotives in the United States, and around 1840 he was responsible for building one of the first “six-wheel” locomotives which was purchased by the Western Railroad (later the Boston and Albany Railroad, which became part of the New York Central system.) Colburn retired from the Norwich and Worcester in 1882 at the age of 67. He then manufactured croquet mallets until his death in 1901 at the age of 86.
A seldom seen position description detailing the duties of a superintendent of locomotive power for a mid-19th century railroad..