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Cap, Railroad Conductor's
Catalog #: 334,516, Accession #: 309,861
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Standard conductor or brakeman's hat, black cloth with patent leather visor, winter type, size 7. Silver and elastic braid intended for front is inside crown.
Physical Description
Fabric and faux leather. 8" W x 10" L x 5" H
Date Made:
ca. 1920s-60s
Dates Used:
1870s - Used today
Style used on many railroads, all regions

A recognized symbol of the passenger-train conductor, the North American style conductor's cap was a variation on the military "kepi." The railroad style, with very minor variations, was common to almost all US and Canadian railroads from the 1870s through the 20th century. On all trains (freight and passenger), the conductor was the supervising officer of the train and of the entire train crew. On passenger trains, the conductor's assistants - the trainmen (called brakemen on a freight train) - wore the same style cap. A cap badge on the front of the hat indicated "Conductor" or "Trainman."

Other trades wore similar styles. On many railroads, the passenger agents, freight agents, porters, and redcaps wore the style. All were generally black, except for the redcap's distinctive scarlet. Conductors and operators on trolley cars and interurban cars usually wore the same style (in black), from the late 19th century up to the mid-20th.

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