I was working on a study guide for A Little History of the United States and returned to an entertaining volume published by an English traveler, T. S. Hudson, A Scamper Through America or, Fifteen Thousand Miles of Ocean and Continent in Sixty Days. (Click here to read the whole thing on Google Books.) Hudson was traveling in 1882, when times were still calculated locally, noon being when the sun was highest in the sky. Hudson directly encountered the problems that this system entailed for railroads:
Hudson notes speculation that the nation might be divided into three time zones, with clocks set to New York, St. Louis and San Francisco’s local noon. In fact, only a year later the United States adopted its four zones, in November 1883.
These travel accounts are great fun to read, and British travelers of the era published more than a few. For additional information, see “The American West through British Eyes, 1865-1900.”
James West Davidson
Occasional thoughts on history, teaching, paddling and the outdoors