New Timekeepers Exhibit Opens at Duluth’s Depot

"Timekeepers" or Pocket Watches Were Used by the American Railroad Industry in the 1880s

DULUTH, Minn. – Time is now ticking in history at Duluth’s Lake Superior Railroad Museum.

The museum’s latest exhibit isn’t taking up much space in the collection, but had a huge purpose back in the 1880s.

Many Seventeen Jeweled Timekeepers were given out by the American Railroad Industry after they created the four standard time zones, which we still use today in the United States.

“The railroads were one of the first big industries in the United States, and as a result, they needed to create certain things for themselves [timekeepers] as it became apparent that they were needed,” said Tim Schandel, Curator at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.

The industry needed a way to keep trains and their schedules on track.

A 1905 Hamilton pocket watch, used back in the railroad days, will now be on display at the Depot, in a protected case provided by Security Jewelers of Duluth.

“Railroad watches had relatively specific criteria before they could be accepted. And then periodically, they had to be inspected to ensure they were operating correctly or if they needed repairs,” said Schandel.

Tune-ups for the watches happened at two Northland locations in the 1900s, including the Depot and Security Jewelers.

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