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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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Chicago & North Western: 1942

Chicago & North Western: 1942

December 1942. "One of the Chicago and North Western R.R. classification yards." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

White flags mean "running extra"

That is an unscheduled freight train pulling out. Those white flags are still used today.

I recall engines carrying green flags too. They meant that there were "extra sections to follow." This occurred when a train was not sufficient in length to carry all the passengers or freight. The railroad would break it up into 2 or more trains(sections) as necessary. The green flags would be a visible warning that there were other trains to follow sometimes only minutes apart. Each engine would carry the green flags except the last which may display the white flags for "running extra."

The exact usage may vary from RR to RR, but these rules were, for the most part, universal.

Kodachrome Express

Wow, absolutely amazing. It could have been taken yesterday. If only you could have seen a scene like this yesterday though.

Cold looking, indeed.

I'm not sure what exactly it is in that picture, but it gives me a visceral feel of deep biting cold in a way that few others do. Maybe it's the clear blue of the sky and the way the clouds from the engine are just hanging there, and the dry dry snow, or maybe it's remembering the time when I was in Chicago on Thanksgiving with a totally inadequate coat waiting an hour for a bus that had been rerouted, but ... brrr!

I've been working on the railroad... December...brrrrr.

This would be a tough time to be a brakeman. Look at the way the smoke just hangs in the frigid air. Where's my parka, I suddenly have a chill!

Brings back memories

This is beautiful. I grew up within earshot of these yards, and remember lying in bed on summer nights, listening to the trains.

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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