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About the Photos

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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Tune-Up: 1942

Tune-Up: 1942

December 1942. "Chicago, Illinois. Locomotive under repair at the Chicago & North Western shops." So that's what that little step is for. Medium-format negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


The Locomotive

One of twelve C&NW J-4 class 2-8-4 Berkshire types. Numbered 2801-2812, they were built by Brooks Locomotive Works in Dunkirk NY, a subsidiary of ALCO, in 1927. They were comparable in dimension and capability to the Lima Locomotive "Super Power" Berks being built in that era, and were the first 2-8-4's to come from a one of Lima's rival builders. Like all the early Berkshires these became obsolete within a few years as the builders' art advanced, producing ever larger locomotives with higher drivers to boost mainline train speeds. The J-4's were long-lived nonetheless, and spent most of their operational lives in the hills of southern Illinois. They went to scrap in the mid 1950's.


The headlight visor and the prominent bell - jaunty.

The Berkshire from Dunkirk

Ol' 2808 was a 2-8-4 "Berkshire" class freight locomotive, built by the Alco/Brooks works in Dunkirk NY in 1927. The 2800 class (numbered 2801-2812) had long careers hauling mostly coal trains, and were all scrapped in the early 1950's.

Before Fuel Injection

New points and plugs.

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | 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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