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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE CITY OF RUINS AND ROSES, c. 1930

Mt. Tom Railway: 1908

Mt. Tom Railway: 1908

Holyoke, Massachusetts (vicinity), circa 1908. "An elevating car -- Mount Tom Railway." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Musical Conductors

I believe there are only two conductors, one driving and one at the back. They have the same type of hats (double braid). The other men in Nero collar jackets appear to be band members possibly arriving for the day's work at the top of the hill.

[I guess they'd be fiddlers, then. - Dave]

Self-Leveling

The gears and chain underneath the car enabled the car to "self-level" based on the underlying terrain such that passengers were always kept sitting upright relative to the slope of the incline, making the ride slightly more comfortable.

The brushes appear to be grounded

Perhaps they're there to discharge static electricity when they reach the platform to avoid shocks?

Uniform of the day

I count SIXTEEN people wearing uniforms, most seem to be conductors.

The brushes

look like they were a local modification, and they are outboard of the rail, so they're not there to clean it. They have a bonding wire running from them up into the car. So I'll make an educated guess and suggest that the car was prone to charging up, and the brushes were to intended to ground it at the carstops, to prevent the passengers from getting a jolt when they got on or off. More intriguing to me is the chain drive from the rear axle to the shaft at the centre of the truck - can't even begin to guess what that was for.

Excess

Want some tram with your conductors?

A clean track is a happy track

Anyone have any idea what the brushes are for at both ends of this car?

I Guess I Need to "Brush" up on Locomotion

I can't figure out what purpose the brushes might serve on the bottom of the streetcar. Were they used for electric pickups or were they just for dirty boots? The wires along the top of the rails are also a mystery.

[The lower conductors are telephone wires. - Dave]

Obedience

With the exception of the ghosty lady in the first row of seats, it appears that almost everybody else sat still, looked at the birdy and didn't smile.

The Place to Be

Once Holyoke was the place to be. It had an opera house, literary societies and stunning architecture. Indeed, some of New York's best architects from the early 20th century got their start there. And Mountain Park on Mt. Tom was a very fashionable summer retreat, even President Mckinley went there at least once. Holyoke's paper and silk based economy boomed until the end of the WWII.

Deindustrialization has hit Holyoke hard and the place now has a reputation of being a very rough town. But once it was really at the pinnacle of society in the Northeast.

NOTICE

Anyone smiling will be removed by the conductor(s) immediately.

More than enough

I'm hoping it didn't take eight people to run this wonderful machine up and down the Mount Tom run. And I'd move away from the fellow in the second to last row, he doesn't look too steady, if you get my drift.

Looks like fun

www.mounttom.com for more info on this railway.

 
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