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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SUMMER IN ITALY, 1951

Midnight Special: 1943

Midnight Special: 1943

March 1943. Argentine, Kansas. "Freight train about to leave the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad yard for the West Coast." Medium-format nitrate negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

1 month old

March 1943: I would have been 1 month old. These Jack Delano railroad shots are fantastic moments in time. I can hear the hissing of steam, the smell of the exhaust and hot grease; the plaintive call of the steam whistle as I lay in my bed on a cold winter night. As a boy who spent his childhood summer days sitting by the tracks, these photos stir up a whole bunch of poignantly fond memories. I waved at the engineer who always waved back. As the caboose brought up the end of the train, they are now extinct, passed, the conductor would acknowledge my wave as he sat up in the cupola. If I were lucky, there was another engine coupled at the rear behind the caboose and another engineer to salute. I cherish the fact that I was born early enough to have witnessed steam locomotives as part of the passing scene. However, I regret the fact that I was born way too late to have been a steam locomotive engineer. Yes, I am truly an old geezer!

Steam at night

There's an interesting technicality in this shot. The time exposure to ambient light means that there are light trails from the loco lights and a lot of motion blur in the steam, the train alongside and so on. However, the long burn time of the flash bulbs meant that there's motion blur in the flash part of the exposure, too.

[This isn't a flash shot. The illumination is from lights mounted atop tall standards in the yard. - tterrace]

What a Flood!

The ATSF Argentine yard is in Kansas City.

The Santa Fe placed several old engines on its bridge over the Kansas River (sometimes called the "Kaw") in Topeka to try to keep the bridge from being washed away during the 1951 -- it was 1951, not 1952 -- flood. It didn't work. The engines weren't salvaged after the flood and reportedly parts of them could be seen in the sandbars at low water levels for years.

The ATSF bridge wasn't on the main line, but the Rock Island also lost its Topeka bridge during the flood, which was on its main line to the southwest. The city also lost two of four street bridges over the river.

The water reached the street in front of my house, and we had to pump water out of the basement, but the house was up the hill a bit and wasn't otherwise affected. It was the biggest flood ever in Topeka.

AT&SF # 3167

2-8-2 "Mikado" type. Lost in a flood in 1952 and now sunk in the Kaw River in Topeka, KS.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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