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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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Yellow Rows of Texas: 1943

Yellow Rows of Texas: 1943

Extracted sulfur stacked in a "vat" 60 feet tall at Freeport Sulphur Co. in Hoskins Mound, Texas. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by John Vachon.


Hoskins Mound, Texas

There is little remaining at the site of the Freeport Sulphur Company's sulfur mine at Hoskins Mound. The surrounding Gulf Coast prairie stretches for miles and miles. It is desolate and unpopulated even though it is about 50 miles south of Houston. Its few remaining facilities are inaccessible behind locked gates and threatening "No Trespassing" signs.

This facility used extremely pressurized saltwater steam to melt and extract the sulfur from the earth. This brine, or the extracted sulfur, or both, continues to be a potent herbicide. The facility is surrounded by a waist high blanket of local grasses and vegetation, but its grounds are still bare, baked and lifeless.

A railroad spur once connected this sulfur plant to nearby Freeport. Its crumbling remains are easily seen. I am glad John Vachon photographed the plant during it heyday.

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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