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Why Daylight Savings Time?


Before the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, uniformity of time wasn’t a high priority. For horse drawn stagecoaches, fifty miles before sundown was about the limit. Scheduling was simple – West Bound Stage arrives Tuesday Evening-Departs Wednesday Morning.

A train crash in Kipton, Ohio in 1891 killed eleven people, due to a four-minute

error in time. A government commission was established to set guidelines and

standards for the railroads. Watchmakers made their time pieces railroad approved

and railroad time became the official time until 1918.

The first government legislation had a lofty title An Act to preserve daylight and

provide standard time for the United States was enacted March 19, 1918. It was so

unpopular that it was repealed the next year. President Franklin Roosevelt used

WWII as an excuse for year-round Daylight Savings Time (DST). After the war,

1945 until 1966 there was no DST.

The growing airline industry and television networks formed the ‘Committee for

Time Uniformity’ in the early 1960’s. Their lobbyist did a great job. The fact that

the world’s largest airline at the time, Braniff, was headquartered in President

Lyndon Johnson’s home state, the President’s family-owned radio and TV stations

didn’t hurt their legislative efforts. Lyndon Johnson signed the Time Act into law April 12, 1966. Standardization of time is needed, but it sure is a pain resetting my clocks.

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