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About the Photos

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 • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Union Station: 1908

Union Station: 1908

Washington, D.C., circa 1908-1910. "Switch yards, Union Station." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Split couplers

If you will look closely, you will see that most, if not all, of the locomotives have a slot in the coupler knuckle. This allowed the use of link and pin coupling so either the locos are quite old or else they have to handle some older equipment still equipped with link and pin. I would have thought that most every loco and car would have had patent Janney automatic couplers at this late date. The exception to this would be industrial or lumber company equipment where the combination couplers were common.

The Camera

Any idea what kind of camera/equip. was this picture taken with? it seems so remarkably clear!

[Standard 8x10 view camera. - Dave]

In scale

Best model train layout ever!

Clean scene

Is this not the tidiest industrial area ever? And that switcher with the ladderback tender is a modeler's dream.

One thing has definitely changed

That is the squeakiest clean ballast I have ever seen. Hundreds of locomotives and trainmen were waiting for the chance to drop grease, cinders, coal, spikes, tie plates, and whatever else would drip or come loose.

It's so clean and pristine

It's so clean and pristine that I thought it was another shot of Swartzell's model railroad.

Washington Terminal Co.

Union Station, which opened in 1907, was owned and operated by the Washington Terminal Co., a joint venture of the Baltimore & Ohio and the Pennsylvania railroads. My grandfather, a stonemason, came to Washington in the early part of the last century to work on the station and for the next 30 years worked for Washington Terminal in its Maintenance of Way department.

Train Now Leaving

Train now leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and CUC ... amonga!!

Red Light

Tough place to get into. I don't see one semaphore that's not in the stop position.

Shoving to a joint

The little teapot switch engine (second engine from the left) looks like it is gently rolling to a coupling joint adding a baggage car and a coach (dining car with side door?) to a passenger consist. The fireman ("tallow pot") is leaning out of the window to pass signals to the hoghead from the man (men) riding point. They are working on that side because of the curve in the track. I think they are adding cars rather than taking them away because there is minimum smoke issuing from the switcher. What a pleasure it is to see old railroad photos like this on Shorpy. Many thanks for all the work you do to bring them to us.

Hide and Seek

That's the statue on the very top of the Capitol dome appearing to sit on top of the curved roof of the Station. It's actually about a quarter of a mile behind it.

A wondrous journey

I just wanted to express my thanks for having experienced your wonderful website. I have been looking at the photographs, almost on a daily basis, for several weeks now. I am on page 634 and feel sad that my journey is about to end ... except for the new daily entries. I love photography and to able to learn about the photographer, the setting and people in them, and so much more, has been a life-changing experience. Thanks you so much for enriching my life with these marvelous photos.

[You have 287 more pages to go, if you haven't checked out the 1,000 or so user-submitted photos. - Dave]

Not Much Has Changed

With the exception of the steam locomotives and the Pullman coaches the photo looks like it could be taken any decade within the past one-hundred years.

 
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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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