He Invents a Better Switch

[A short preface by the Collector: Shortly after the transcontinental railroad opened, a pair of trains ran head on due to a switchman's faulty timepiece. Ambrose Bierce discovered a notice which read thusly:
Hereafter, when two trains moving in opposite directions are approaching each other on separate tracks, conductors and engineers will be required to bring their respective trains to a dead halt before the point of meeting, and will be very careful not to proceed until each train has passed the other.
Norton claimed to have invented a switch which would work itself.

The Emperor desires that there should be a thoroughly practical and mechanical Switch, and his ideas improved upon so that Europe will be glad to pay America for the patent.

October 1869