%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
People & Life Ways
Riches, Ranching & Railroads
(1850-1900)

Railroader Mary Norton Evans

Mary Norton Evans started a career in 1918 as a telegrapher for the Western Pacific Railroad.  She was one of the first women in Nevada to use this skill, and worked at Jungo station in Humboldt County.  Evans continued her job after her marriage in 1923, retiring with sixty years of service.

Women have been working on the railroad since the 1850s, first as telegraphers, like Evans, and as depot operators.  There weren't many women working for the railroad, but the types of jobs they did expanded.  The U.S. Census for 1900 listed women working in several types of railroad jobs: fireman, engineers, and boilermakers.

The job description didn't always indicate exactly the type of work a woman was doing for the railroad.  One woman working at the Sparks roundhouse during World War II drove the huge locomotives onto the turntable each evening, but officially her job was listed as a pipefitter.

Both world wars affected women working on the railroad, as they did with so many other types of jobs.  Men went off to fight in the wars, and women were needed to fill the labor gaps.  Women worked in factories, making ammunition and airplanes; but many of them also helped keep the railroads running.
 

Photo Credits:
1: Humboldt County Museum
2: Nevada Historical Society