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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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Götterdämmerung: 1942

Götterdämmerung: 1942

December 1942. "Chicago, Illinois. Repair and overhauling in the Chicago & North Western Railroad locomotive shops." Medium-format negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Great Delano exhibit in Chicago going on now

Just visited the Jack Delano "Railroaders" exhibit at the Chicago History Museum. The exhibit focuses on the people who insured that America's WWII railroad supply lines ran efficiently and at full capacity. Great photos (black and white AND COLOR!) of dozens of railroaders, from top management down to the gofers. Terrific insights into the dispatching and maintenance of the trains and great stories of the folks and families who depended on railroading as a livelihood. Lots of train photos, too. If you are a fan of Jack Delano's art or a fan of mid-20th century railroading, don't miss this exhibit. It runs through the end of January 2016.

Various Appliances

A poster below already pointed out the booster engine on the closest track. Good call; I had no idea what it was. The cylinders on the floor to the right of the booster are interesting. I want to say that they're compressed air reservoirs, but they appear to be way too long, so I have no idea.

Lead and trailing trucks are being worked on tracks 2 and 3. There's a 2-wheel pony (leading) truck on track two that is flipped over. To the right of that is a 4-wheel trailing truck off a 2-8-4. The trailing truck on track 3 that the guy is welding inside is off an H Class 4-8-4, pictured many times on Shorpy. Neither locomotive is in the picture. Perhaps if we turned the other way? The picture looking the other direction is on here someplace.

Wrong Title

Alas, Götterdämmerung is an ending. A better title might be: "Nacht und Nebel" or Night and Fog.

[Twilight of the Gods = the fast-approaching final days of the huge steam locomotives which up to this point had ruled the rails unchallenged. -tterrace]

Wood blocks

During the late 1920's and early 1930's my father was the engineer who was in charge of the Brooklyn Bridge. He told me that the bridge was paved with wooden blocks set on end very much like the railroad shop in the picture. . When the blocks became worn they were picked up and turned over. Relatively light weight, non-slippery and durable.

Franklin Booster

Looking in the lower left corner of the photo, the item on the cart is a Franklin Booster. These were mounted usually on the rear truck of larger steam engines and provided extra tractive effort at lower speeds. The SP 4449 has one.

Twilight of the Gods

When exactly does the fat lady sing?


I see what you did there... :)

Flooring: bricks or wood blocks?

The flooring may be wood blocks set on end, rather than bricks or stone blocks. I've seen this in another roundhouse, the reasons for using wood were (a) absorb oil, rather than providing a very slippery surface for oil spills, (b) less chance of damaging a part if it were dropped.

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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