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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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Pampa Depot: 1943

Pampa Depot: 1943

March 1943. "Pampa, Texas. Going through a town on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe." Photo by Jack Delano, Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Grain Doors

The several stack of wooden panels in the middle of the picture are grain doors. before the advent of covered hopper cars to carry grain, it was typically carried in boxcars.

The regular boxcar door was opened by sliding it to the side and the grain door placed just inside the opening, nailed at each side. The grain door left a gap at the top of the door opening. The elevator worker then placed a tube through the opening to fill the car. Since grain was heavy, it would only fill the car to somewhere below the top of the grain door.

At the receiving elevator, the grain door would be breached to let the grain flow out near the bottom. Lots of shovel work getting the last of the grain out, unless the elevator had a car tipper, which would tilt the car to get most of the last of the grain out.

Sky tone

Jack Delano's work continues to amaze. In this one he probably put an orange filter over the lens to render that burning Texas sky as a middle tone of gray. Masterful control of the B&W process, indeed.

Life in a Small Town

I have never been in Pampa, TX but this picture reminds me so much of life in a small town in Kansas. The first thing you might notice is the smell of the hot creosote from the cross ties baking in the sun. Then there would be the sound of the machinery and blowers in the grain elevator. Once you get away from the sounds of the elevator there might be the sound of someone on a construction project with the sounds of hammering or sawing somewhere in the distance. Other than that, it would be mostly quiet. There might be the sound of a passing car once in a while or, maybe, the roar of a passing freight train highballing it through on the mainline. There was always the thought of having a cold one at the end of the day in the local "watering hole" and listen to the old timers telling tall tales. I would surely rather live there than in a big city.

Dropbox Dot Com

"Birdhouse? or a mailbox?"

It's probably a dropbox for waybills. They were common where cars were interchanged when / where agents weren't on duty, or when customers were switched during off-hours.

What's that on left?

Birdhouse? or a mailbox?

Oil column

The "stand" nearest the camera is actually an oil column. They were often co-located with watering facilities so the locomotive could take on both water and fuel in a single stop. "Stand" was a term used sometimes, but "column" was the more correct term. Water or oil "plug" was a slang term used as well.

Building on left behind box car

Looks like the same building, 5 windows, detail at top and arch above center window.

View Larger Map

Oil and Water

The far standpipe is water, the near one is Bunker C heavy fuel oil for the oil fired steam locos.

One is oil, the other water...

Lorenzo is correct that the more distant monolith is a water crane which was found in nearly all busy steam era service facilities but I would have to say that the nearer structure is an oil column since the Santa Fe along with most other roads out west ran mostly oil fired locomotives. Oil was cheap and abundant, coal less so.
Great photo, Shorpy!


The tall black objects to the right of center are 'water stands'.
They supplied water to replenish the tenders of steam locomotives.

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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