Some History




Railway and Railwaymen

Paul Weinland was promoted on November 1, 1867 to the 'first class stoker' position with wages of 120 francs and a commuting bonus included. Louis Berné was also promoted on November 1, 1868 to the same position with the same wages. This is what I know about the job of two of my ancestors who lived at the time of creation of the railway network in Lorraine. At this time they worked for the 'Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Est' (Railway Company of the East of France) and they lived in Montigny-lès-Metz.

Paul Weinland, my great-great-grandfather, is the root ancestor of four generations of stokers and engine drivers of this railway company which was merged later to other regional companies in order to create the 'Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer' (National Railway Company of France).

In the early years of the Railway history, you did not need to be very bright to become a railwayman. The companies engaged their workers after a selection based on physical and moral ability. Strong men were needed to serve in the railway. It was clearly defined by the instructions they used to recruit their staff: "in the class of valid men under 35, so that they can quickly endure the strain of their tasks and stay active in their job until they retire".

Stokers and drivers often were promoted workers who came from the engine sheds or from the repair sheds. Usually they ended their career as an engineer or engineer in chief.

Some landmarks

  • In 1832, Thiers created a commission for the conception of the railway network to be developped. On July 7 1833, the deputies of the East of France obtained from the commission the creation of the Paris-Strasbourg railroad via Nancy. In 1833, a travel from Paris to Nancy by stage coach was a 48 hours journey and by mail coach it lasted 36 hours.
  • March 1844: creation of the Company for the Paris-Strasbourg Railway, due to the initiative of the deputies of the East of France.
  • April 1853: the Company of Strasbourg obtained from the French State the concessions for the Paris-Mulhouse, the Nancy-Epinal railroads and for a junction to Besançon. In May 1853, the company purchased the Montereau-Troyes line.
  • January 21 1854: creation of the Railway Company of the East of France, by adding the concessions for the Paris-Mulhouse and Nancy-Gray railroads to the Company for the Paris-Strasbourg Railway.
  • September 17, 1871: as a consequence of the Treaty of Frankfort and of the dismemberment of the territory, 835 kilometers of railroad (738 of which were under operation) went to Germany (Alsace-Lorraine railway network).
  • 1873: A new heating system of the carriages was used by the Company of the East. It worked as a hot water circulation system combined with fixed bottles.
  • 1875: A first type of sleeping cars appeared at the Company of the East of France.
  • In 1877, the railway journey from Paris to Nancy took 9 hours and 6 minutes.


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