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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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Moving Pictures: 1900

Moving Pictures: 1900

"1899 or 1902. Lackawanna photo car." Detroit Photographic's rolling studio-darkroom-showroom. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

About that ballast

I suspect that this photo was made at a station. The smoothness of the dirt path along the tracks suggests this. It was desirable to keep ballast out of walkways, because plain dirt is safer to walk on. People often twist their ankles while walking on ballast. Also, it is VERY difficult, sometimes impossible, to pull those big baggage carts over ballast, especially when they're loaded down with baggage, mail, and express. Station personnel make their jobs much easier by keeping the surfaces over which they have to pull those things smooth. (I speak from experience.)


Ungraded coal of various sizes most likely in that tender: those gigantic chunks had to be hand-shoveled by the fireman into the firebox constantly. Possibly the one car consist was not as demanding fuelwise as a regular train of several cars. Nevertheless, it was hot as Hades labor during the summer, but brutally cold, in that open cab, in the winter season.


The DL&W was a blue chip anthracite hauling carrier and extremely profitable. It prided itself on its physical plant, even down to the point of maintaining "razor" edge ballast along it main line tracks.

Morris and Essex Railroad

Apparently this car really belonged to the Morris and Essex Railroad, which was leased by the Lackawanna for roughly 80 years. Note the "M&E" to the far right of "Lackawanna."


I wonder if the rocks were placed that way to prevent water from eroding the tracks. I've never seen a ballast arrangement quite like that.

The colors of nature

Those would be black, white, and gray, right?

[They were until DPC colorized their post cards and prints. -tterrace]

Posed rocks

No ordinary railroad ballast is that neat.

The future

What an interesting photo. I wonder if these people had the foresight of these photos being invaluable to future generations or was this just a business/hobby type venture ? Either way simply amazing !

Wonder if they slept there, too

From past Shorpy encounters, this is a famous railcar. With the ladies and child shown, I wonder if it also served as a rolling residence for the owners.

With the likely photo chemical fumes, it probably wouldn't have been conducive to living aboard, but it was a clever and modern way of doing business.


Looks like William Henry Jackson himself on the rear platform holding the camera.

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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