On November 18, 1883, precisely at noon, North American railroads switched to a new standard time system for rail operations, which they called Standard Railway Time (SRT). Almost immediately after being implemented, many American cities enacted ordinances, thus resulting in the creation of time “zones.” The four standard time zones adopted were eastern standard time, central daylight time, mountain standard time, and Pacific daylight time. Though tailored to the railroad companies’ train schedules, the new system was quickly adopted nationwide, forestalling federal intervention in civil time for more than thirty years, until 1918, when daylight saving time was introduced.
\Before clocks, people marked time by the sun and the phases of the moon. With the development of the railway and the invention of the telegraph, accurate time became more important. Prior to adopting SRT, trains traveling east or west between towns had a difficult time maintaining coherent schedules and smooth operations. The new time zones were each one-hour wide, simplifying train schedules and virtually everything else in increasingly industrialized America.
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