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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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Snowy Joliet: 1943

Snowy Joliet: 1943

March 1943. "Joliet, Illinois. Leaving the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railyard." Photo by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

My take:


The Scale House

An important ancillary building once found in nearly every yard, but now less common, was the scale house.

Most cars containing bulk commodities such as grain, coal, and such were weighed - both to determine the weight for transportation charges by the railroad, and often for the charges the shipper would bill their customer for the merchandise. Every car had (has) the empty weight of the car stenciled on the side of the car, and the switching crew and a clerk would weigh each car, and subtract the Lt Wt (Light Weight, as stenciled) to determine the weight of the contents, and attach the scale ticket to the Bill of Lading.

Note that there are four rails past the scale house. The Live Rails were for weighing the cars, the Dead Rails (or Bypass Rails) were so that engines could pass the scale without using the Live Rails, since their weight often exceeded the capacity of the scale.


Mr. Delano was looking back from the caboose of a westbound train; the view is actually NNE. Des Plaines River/Sanitary and Ship Canal to the left, EJ&E bridge and Joliet Coke Plant in the background.

Mixed Signals?

That looks like a train order signal. Not motorized, each blade appears to be manually operated by means of a pipe that extends down each side of the mast to just above the ground and then... nowhere. No trackside racks for delivering orders/messages on the fly, no telegraph office visible... are there any Santa Fe experts out there who know what this signal might have been for?

Can't quite make it out

Keep the door closed when ??????????? cars.

[Illegible in the original. -tterrace]

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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