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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Over the Hump: 1943

Over the Hump: 1943

April 1943. "Chicago & North Western RR, tank cars going over the hump at Proviso yard, Chicago." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

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When I see a sky

with such clouds, I'd rather be soaring.

Less airspace restrictions in those days, too. Although I don't know what wartime regulations and restrictions would have been for private flying.


Rail cars in a hump yard today would be plastered with graffiti.

I had one of those

I had that light tower for my Lionel train set when I was a kid. I also had one of those shacks that is by the track. A little guy with a bag of mail pops out when the train goes by.

Two "Humps"

In 1943 any mention of "over the hump" could also have referred to the flights over the Himalayas by the American USAAF engaged in deliveries of materiel from bases in India to the allied armies in China.

Nothing but blue skies do we see

Just as a photographic observation, it's interesting that Delano chose to shoot from that position. In doing so, he included that tall lighting tower instead of closing in on the rail cars and buildings. He must have liked that sky because it is 75% of the photo, and it's brightness would have overpowered the lower portion of cars and buildings causing them to be dark. There would have been some tricky work done with exposure in the camera or darkroom. Nonetheless, a well made photograph.

[Kodachrome processing didn't allow for any darkroom manipulation; however, Photoshop tools were used to bring up shadow detail for this presentation.]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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