Michael P. Palmer began his career with the New York, Ontario & Western Railway on March 17, 1907. Because he was under age, he was not allowed to handle the duties of telegraph operator. Therefore, he was made agent at the tiny, southern division station of Hortons. This small station between Cook's Falls and Trout Brook along the Delaware, was a sleepy little office whose main livelihood was the acid factory business which was thriving in this area.
Michael Palmer was not idle at his first post, however. He was busy learning all he could about station duties and polishing his telegraphy skills. This effort came in handy a short time later. On March 30, 1907, train No. 1, the northbound Ontario Express, derailed nearby and tied up both tracks for some time. Mike was pressed into service on the key and, due to the emergency, took his first Form 3l train order that day. (A Form 31 order requires the train to stop and the conductor to sign for the order rather than pick it up on the fly.)
Undoubtedly due in part to the fine job he did during these special movements, he was promoted to telegrapher and clerk at Ellenville on September 2, 1907. This was a very busy station half way up the Kingston Branch with much freight and passenger business.
On April l5, 1918, Mike Palmer and his family moved eleven miles further up the line to Accord. At this busy station, Mike and his wife Anna lived upstairs in the depot until they found a home across the street. Agents living above the station was a common practice at small stations where only one telegrapher was employed. With the agent-operator living upstairs, he could be expected to hear his call any time of the day or night in case of emergency. With the telephone becoming a common, household fixture, this practice became less necessary.
As with most stations in the Catskills, there were several resorts in the area and each had their name and location or telephone number painted on a large sign attached to one end of the depot. The photo below shows Mike and his father-in-law, Arthur Constant, resting on a baggage wagon at the south end of the station in 1940. The station board shows many of the resorts near this little community.
Mike Palmer was the agent and telegrapher at this station and had various helpers through the years. It was not unusual to ship 750 crates of eggs by express each week. Though it was a lot or hard work loading the wooden crates from wagons or trucks onto baggage carts and then into the express car of the next train, the commissions were very good. Carts of egg crates wait for loading at Accord in these 1920's views.
Helper Cyrus Depuy, agent Mike Palmer, Harry Ford on cart, 1920.
In addition to loading express and lcl cargo, and the usual station work, Mike also sent and delivered Western Union telegrams and handled the US Mail to and from the post office.
Mike Palmer retired from railroad service on January 27, 1948, after nearly forty-nine years of service. During that time, in addition to his railroad work, he also was the General Secretary and Treasurer of the Order of Railroad Telegraphers, Division 20, NYO&W Ry. He was a delegate to the ORT conventions in Kansas City in 1942, and Columbus in 1946.