Local Time Zone

Time accuracy has improved since our area was settled. Initially, accuracy within a day of the month was sufficient. Population growth required coordination between multiple people.

Primitive sundials could be achieved by driving a stick into the ground and observing the shadow it cast. Noon was when the shadow cast was shortest. This “sun time” system is only useful on sunny days.

Human nature dictates that many arguments would arise over exactly when the shortest shadow occurred. This controversy was sometimes solved by having one person determine Noon, and then ring a bell so others would know the time of day. Today with our GPS clocks, we would worry about the time required for the sound waves to move out from the bell. When the world traveled at walking speed (approximately 4 miles an hour), a bell could easily communicate a point in time.

As more people wanted to work together, the need for “standard” time became apparent. While a bell worried for a small farm or village, it did not scale to larger areas.

One solution was to purchase an accurate timepiece (necessary so that time could be maintained even between the sunny days that allowed Noon to be checked). Then everyone in that area would take that as the area’s standard time.

Wikipedia article on Time Zones

This worked until railroads allowed movement over a larger area. Early railroads were often single track. Trains would need to pull into a siding to allow another train to pass. Both trains had to agree on when Noon occurred. Besides, Noon occurred at a different time at the opposite ends of an East-West railroad. Railroads each soon adopted one “time” for the entire railroad. Railroads had so much economic influence on the areas they served that those areas soon conformed to the railroad’s clock.

Each time two railroads crossed paths, they needed to agree on how to set their clocks.

Farmers wanted to stay as close to “sun time” as possible because they often could not do fieldwork until the sun burned off the overnight dew. However, larger time zones simplified a railroad’s scheduling.

1890 Time Zones

As railroads and their power grew, they drove the adoption of the USA’s lower forty-eight states’ division into four time zones Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific. By this time, the telegraph allowed time synchronization over these four large area.

1918 Time Zones

In the twentieth century, farmers lost economic clout. Simultaneously, modern communications, electric lighting, and more national enterprises increased pressure for the Eastern time zone to expand west into the central time zone.

2020 Time Zones

The newspaper articles below chronicle Maysville-Mason County’s move from Sun time, to Central time to Eastern time to Easter daylight Savings time.


Pittsburgh moves clock 17 minutes to switch from Sun to Standard time


Dayton adopts “Standard” time


C&O adopts Central Standard time from Clifton Forge to Cincinnati


Maysville Commission adopts “Standard” time over “Sun” time




Insurance hinges on Solar vs Standard time


Daylight Savings Time






Eastern Standard Time




Eastern Daylight Time