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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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Great Bales of Fiber: 1905

Great Bales of Fiber: 1905

Alabama circa 1905. "The cotton docks at Mobile." Big bales of bolls. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Feeding the firebox

Yes, all of that staked wood is fuel for the firebox. Since fuel storage space was limited onboard, frequent wooding up stops were required. This led to greater fuel production onshore, with an corresponding increase in manpower. By the 1870s steam-driven log splitters were being put to use producing the four to five foot lengths needed to feed the steamboat fireboxes. One crew manning a new mechanical splitter could far outpace a dozen gangs splitting by hand. As a bonus, each length came out a uniform size and shape.

Soon smaller versions were available for farms and small wood lots. The example of one below is from 1878. A video of a similar one working can be found here.

1878 Splitter

Big sticks

Can anybody tell me what the large wooden(?) pieces used for that are stacked along the dock at various places? They appear to be too regular in shape to simply be cord wood to stoke the boilers.

Is that Mary S. Blees

across the river?

(Behind the Vienna in the postcard)

Bales and Ties?

Wondering if the piles of wood are railroad ties?

A few years later than 1905

The sternwheeler shown Jas. T. Staples wasn't built until 1908.

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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