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Jack the Baboon employed as a Railroad Signalman and Never Once Made a Mistake

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posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 09:20 AM
Found some trouble finding where to put this. "General Chit Chat" didn't seem to do this story justice, and although he wasn't a person, he is a "Figure" so to speak, so I thought the "People" forum might be appropriate.

This is a fantastic story about Jack, a baboon who was employed (yes, he was even paid) as a Railroad Signalman in the late 1800s.

The story begins in Cape Town South Africa, with a man names James "Jumper" Wide, who worked for the Port Elizabeth Railway Service. "Jumper" was notorious for jumping from car to car, even while the trains were moving. This nickname would stick with him for the rest of his life. In a tragic accident one day, Jumper made a mistake during one of his jumps, and as a result had both of his legs severed at the knee. Because of this, he wound up with two peg legs, and this prevented him from being able to complete some of his job responsibilities.

But one day, Jumper saw a baboon who was leading an ox wagon:

During a visit to a market in the town, Jumper spotted a baboon leading an ox wagon, and was impressed with his intelligence. The owner was reluctant to give up his well-trained pet, but took pity on Jumper, and accepted money for him.

Jumper was now Jack’s owner. The pair struck up a friendship, living in a cottage just under a kilometre from the railroad station. Jack learned to push Jumper to work on the trolley, including up and down hills.

Initially while at work, Jumper operated the signals as normal while Jack watched, but Jack was a fast learner. Four blasts from a train whistle meant that a key was needed by a train engineer to the railway’s coal sheds. Jumper would usually make his way out slowly to give the key on his crutches. Jack learned, after just a few days, that the key was needed by a driver. Jumper only had to give the key to Jack, who knew what to do next.

Jack soon learned to operate the railways signals while under supervision. Jumper trained Jack by holding up one or two fingers, and Jack would then pull the corresponding lever. Jack learned the wider nature of his job, and in the end needed no instructions.

“A baboon working the tracks?!”
While many people came to see Jack at work – a baboon operating train signals is entertainment in any day and age – not everyone was impressed.

A concerned member of the public notified the higher railroad authorities about the baboon working on signals. While Jumper working with an assistant was known to management, it was not apparent that Jack was actually a monkey.

A track manager and other staff visited the station, and Jumper and Jack were fired. Jumper pleaded for their jobs, offering that the system manager test Jack’s competency. The manager instructed an engineer to sound his train’s whistle, requiring Jack to make signal changes. Jack made all the changes without fail, and was said to be carefully looking in the direction of the engineer’s train to make sure of his work. The railroad system manager was so impressed with Jack passing all of the tests that he gave Jumper his job back.

Furthermore Jack was officially hired, becoming the only baboon in history to work for the railroad [he was paid 20 cents a week, plus half a bottle of beer].

The story goes that in nine years on the job, Jack never made a mistake. Jack passed away from tuberculosis but his skull is still on display in the Albany Museum in Grahamstown.

Jack the baboon working the tracks Jack the baboon working the tracks while Jumper watches The story of Jack is best documented in Michael Williams’ book Stranger than Fiction: The Lincoln Curse.

This thread was inspired by the article found in the "Techly" link below, written by Low Lai Chow

Secondary Source:

edit on 30-10-2015 by FamCore because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 09:31 AM
That's awesome, idk what else to say other then I wish I had a baboon friend like that someof the people I work around just suck lol

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 09:34 AM
Good read

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 09:42 AM
a reply to: Brotherman

At first I had the idea in my head that this baboon was more like a service dog, helping James go about the day with his disabilities, but Jack the Baboon was more productive in life than some People!!!

I can't imagine what "Jumper" would have done without his noble baboon Jack. A dynamic duo. Maybe Hollywood should stop re-hashing old movies and make one about this, with Tom Hanks as Jumper

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 10:10 AM
a reply to: FamCore

Its official, Planet of the Apes is now a documentary.
edit on 30-10-2015 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 10:23 AM
I wonder, what did Jack spend his wages on? Or were they taken by Jumper? Fascinating story.

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 10:42 AM
People had more time back then to work patiently with their animals/pets and that's why we see so many seemingly amazing stories, about officially recorded animal feats, from the late 1800's to the end of WWII. Today people simply do not have the time to properly raise their own children, let alone a pet baboon or dog. Animals can still do amazing things, but free time and slower pace of work has been taken away from the average person, so they will never get to experience, in thier lifetime, what Jumper and Jack got to experience.

Here is another:

Wojtek the soldier bear that was enlisted in remnants of the Polish Army during WWII

Private Wojtek (vɔjtɛk) 1942–1963
edit on 30-10-2015 by boohoo because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 10:54 AM
a reply to: boohoo
I love that bear. Some people don't like the idea of a working animal not keeping certain animals as pets. I personally see no issue so long as there's good treatment.

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 10:56 AM
What an amazing story. My BIL is a conductor, I'm going to have to share this with him.

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 11:50 AM
a reply to: boohoo

Great insights! The family structure is weaker nowadays, and the amount of quality time adults/parents get to spend with their children and pets has definitely decreased. Everything moves at a much faster pace and as a result we have lower quality relationships, everything must be "streamlined" and "time is money" so it's RUSH RUSH RUSH. It's unfortunate.

I hadn't heard of Wojtek the Polish Soldier Bear but this is another great story of animals participating in "people" roles. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and this information

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 12:10 PM
I would give up my lower legs for a Monkey sidekick.

Awesome story dude loved the read.

posted on Oct, 30 2015 @ 03:11 PM
Awesome read...
Who would have thought?

posted on Nov, 1 2015 @ 09:46 PM
a reply to: FamCore
Never heard of that story before. Now that is some story. Its bizzare in a way that he found Jack the baboon who was loading wagons for somebody else, so basically he already had a job before he got the job of railroad signalman or signalbaboon.

posted on Nov, 1 2015 @ 09:56 PM
So easy a monkey can do it; yet, people still think it's worthy of $15/hour.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:56 AM
There was also Wojtek, the bear who actually promoted to the rank of Corporal:
Wiki Wojtek

I intend (at some point) to do a children's book about Wojtek. The soldiers fed him beers and he begged for lit cigarettes. My mom says I can't put that in a children's book...but I don't like the idea of censorship. I mean, it's part of the story. Can't parents take the responsibility of telling their kids "Ok, even though this bear from a hundred years ago was doing it, smoking and drinking are bad for you so don't do it."

Back to the OP, I've read about this baboon too. It is funny that he was more productive than most humans!

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:59 AM
a reply to: boohoo

Dang it! Sorry boohoo, this darn thread is only one page and I still managed to miss the fact that you mentioned Wojtek first! Great minds think alike!

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 10:29 AM

originally posted by: GenerationGap
So easy a monkey can do it; yet, people still think it's worthy of $15/hour.

The "trainer" needed to get a "Monkey" ready to do the work and the day-to-day "handler" needed to supervise the "Monkey" and care for it would BOTH cost much more than $15 per hour.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:30 PM
In the third picture jack is peeing while operating the signal. You don't even have to pay him for a 5 min bathroom break he doesn't let that make him leave his post.

posted on Nov, 3 2015 @ 06:07 AM
a reply to: GenerationGap
Oh what the hell. Here I was looking for more stories like the baboon and the bear. And this is what I get!

What is it, seems even the bots are lost, slow and clueless here. You do realize your in the wrong section of this site, should you not be in the politics or other such forums? Were there are sheep there are sheepdogs to keep them all in line, and were there are sheaple there are sheapledogs, you know just to make sure they dont have any ideas suddentely on there minds that were not put there first.

Aren't you barking up the wrong tree? Does your programming allow you to understand that your in the wrong forum? Or are you all just attach to whatever verbiage is on your list?

Bizarre indeed no? Tell me, how much would a wood chuck, chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood? The answer is quite obviously 42 right? That or bi-partisan bickering? Right? or wrong? Or maybe even left is the answer that is right.
edit on 6amTuesdayam032015f2amTue, 03 Nov 2015 06:09:21 -0600 by galadofwarthethird because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 3 2015 @ 06:01 PM
That is an awesome story thanks for sharing

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