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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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Stop: 1943

Stop: 1943

January 1943. "Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. switchman demonstrating signal with a fusee, used at twilight and dawn when visibility is poor. This signal means stop." Calumet City, Ill. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.

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Most railroaders born before 1970 would recognize this universal lamp (or in daylight, by hand motion, without a lamp) as *STOP* or, in vernacular railroadese "washout." Same thing. Doesn't matter whether a fusee or lantern is used; same symbol! And classic Delano imagery.

Railroad flares

Read more about fusees or railroad flares. The article uses the very same picture as an illustration, although much bigger (5275x6999 i.s.o. 1200x1323 pixels), you may see what improvement Shorpy's editing effort brings to us!


I would like to show this to all the Flickr fanbois who think they invented this technique with digital cameras and laser pointers.

Just goes to show that with something as old as photography, it's not easy to come up with new ideas. Digital has not brought much to the table creatively but because of it's supreme convenience has resulted in lots more photos being taken.

Lets hope some of them are still around in 100 years.


Yep. I use to work for Penn Central and what 99% of the people would call a "flare" is a "fusee" in the railroad world.

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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