I know the highest paid jobs in the country in the 1860-1870 time frame:
Riverboat (steam) captain: up to $2000 a month, which dropped off to $500 when the railroads got to going good.
Crack express train engineer in the 1870-1880: $200-$400 a month
Fireman to the highest paid engineer: up to $80.00
Brakeman on frieght train: $15.00-$20.00 per week. However, if he messed up and put a flat spot on a wheel, they deducted $15.00 per wheel out of his pay- very hazardous work in the time before air brakes!
Barney Fife: "Nip it, nip it, nip it!"
Andy Griffith:"Oh now Barn'...."