IR&N Jobs

Agent, Clerk & Ticket Sales:

The three positions associated with a depot are agent, clerk, and ticket sales. These likely overlapped at times, or a number of depots may have had only one person performing all three tasks. The agent was in charge of the depot, and the business of the railroad. He would be responsible for maintaining tariffs, collecting waybills, and billing shippers. He would also be the person a shipper would contact if he wanted to do business with the railroad, ordering cars, and setting up movements to accommodate shipments. The Chief Clerk was at the Ilwaco Depot, and was likely responsible for keeping the books, time-keeper, and payroll. The ticket seller likely helped with other tasks on busy days, and would probably help in the office after the train left.


The brakeman was responsible for setting the brakes on the train. If a train was on a downhill grade and speed could not be controlled by the locomotive alone, the engineer would whistle for brakes, and the brakeman would jump from car to car tying the individual hand brakes on each car. This was a dangerous job on a moving train. Eventually, all of the rolling stock was equipped with air brakes. The brakeman would ride the train with the conductor in the coaches or caboose, and assist the conductor collecting tickets, opening doors, and putting down the step-boxes at station stops to assist passengers on or off the train.


The conductor is in charge of the train, he is the boss. He is responsible for getting train orders, and knowing what work must be done. He goes over all the orders, and instructions with the engineer, so that they are in agreement, because they cannot talk to each other once the train is under way.

The conductor will be on the train or in the caboose, and thus depends on the engineer to see what is ahead. He will be responsible for collection of passenger tickets, waybills for freight and express shipments, writing reports and keeping record of the progress of each trip, including actual timing, and wheel reports of cars in the train. He may be assisted by the brakema(e)n.


The engineer was in charge of the locomotive. He must also be responsible for the operation and adherence to train orders and rules shared with the conductor, with whom he cannot communicate while the train was in motion. The engineer, also commonly known as the “hoghead”, controls the train using the throttle and air brake.

His primary means of communication was the locomotive whistle, using a code of long and short blasts for several different situations. The engineer was responsible for insuring his locomotive was in top running condition, and at stops could usually be found with a long spouted oil can oiling the locomotive’s moving parts.


The fireman’s sole job was to tend to the locomotive firebox and boiler, and keep steam pressure up, as well as insuring that there was enough water in the boiler, which was measured with sight glasses and cocks. He was usually the one who took water in the tender from spouts at trackside water tanks. A fireman could eventually aspire to becoming an engineer.

Section Crew:

The road master was responsible for all the physical layout of the railroad. The section crew maintained the track, roadbed, and adjoining areas, including station and station platforms. They would replace ties or rails and drive spikes by hand to fasten the rails to the ties, and level the track. The section crew was under the watchful eye of the section foreman.


The BOSS was the superintendent! He was responsible for everything on the railroad, including train and engine crews, section crews, and shop maintenance crews. He had to approve everything that was done. He was most likely stationed in Ilwaco during the IR&N years. After the Union Pacific took over, they brought in Edward Budd, who dismissed this new charge as the “Clamshell Railroad” (surviving as a nickname), and the informal operations of the IR&N began to comply with the operational standards of the Union Pacific. With 23 years at the “Clamshell Railroad”, Edward Budd was the longest serving superintendent here.

Railroad Superintendents:

R. V. Egbert (1888-1895)
Wallace Glover (1895-1897)
J. R. Goulter (1897-1903)
Dorsey B. Smith (1903-1905)
Edward Budd (1905-1928)
Cal E. Stewart (1928-1930)