jerk water
  1. (US, railroads, apocryphal) To fill a steam locomotive water tank manually from natural water supplies (a hypothetical process whose use has been discredited).
    • 1954, Mari Sandoz, The Buffalo Hunters: The Story of the Hide Men, page 171
      The Santa Fe, called the Jerk Water route because they "jerked" water from ponds and wallows for the engine, still frayed out at the Kansas line.
    • 1975, Indiana Historical Society, Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 71, no. 1 (Mar. 1975), page 355
      […] by bailing from near streams with buckets, (the brake-man called this operation jerking water) and from this the road gets its name of jerkwater road.
  2. (US, railroads, dated) To scoop water from a track pan mounted on the tracks directly into a steam engine's tank without stopping.

jerk water

  1. (US, colloquial, pejorative) Of inhabited places, small, insignificant, isolated, backwards
    • c. 1920, Ring Lardner, The Real Dope
      But any way from the number of jerk water burgs we went through you would think we was on the Monon and the towns all looks so much like the other that […].

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