One of the habitués of every station is the section-master, who looks after three, five, or ten miles of track and a gang of from five to twenty-five men who keep it in repair. He is not much seen, because he is out on the road most of the time; and his duties are not of a kind that the reader could study, on paper, to much advantage; but he deserves mention because his place is a really important one. Railroad tracks . . . must be constantly watched to see that they do not fall even a little below their highest standard. This care-taking can be intrusted only to one who has had long experience at the work. In violent rain-storms the trackman must be on duty night and day and patrol the whole length of his division to see that gravel is not washed over the track or out from under it. Though roughly dressed and sunburnt, he is an important personage in the eye of the engineer of a fast express train . . . .
aus: The American Railway (1897)