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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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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Swipin’ Coal: 1917

Swipin’ Coal: 1917

"Swipin’ coal from the freight yards." Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. April 1917. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Swipin' Coal

I live in Australia and steam locomotives ran the rails until the 1970's. In the mining village where I lived the last steam locomotive was retired in October 1967 and replaced by a diesel-hydraulic GE 44 tonner. As a young boy, I lived very close to the railroad tracks. My mum would send my brothers and me off with a metal bucket to pick up loose coal that fell from the locomotive tender as it went about its business. We were lucky though. The engineer, a chap named Laurie, was a family friend and sometimes he would stop and shovel coal into our buckets to save us some time. Great Photo! It brought back a good memory.

Swipin' Coal

My father told us that he would look for coal along the tracks putting the finds into a burlap bag. This would have been around 1930 in the Wilson section of Clairton, PA.

Swipin' Coal

My grandmother, who is 101, tells how she and her brother would go and collect coal that fell from the train, so they would have heat. Her father had abandoned the family and her mother did laundry to keep them alive. My grandmother said that sometimes the train folks even threw out coal on purpose for them.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | 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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