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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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Merchants Despatch: 1904

Merchants Despatch: 1904

Despatch, New York, circa 1904. "New cars, Merchants Despatch Transportation Co." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

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MDT info

Just as an addition to all of the above info, My dad worked for the MDT somewhere around 1929 + as an ice inspector for them. He worked out of Rochester, then to Bellefontaine, Ohio where I was born, then on to the yards at Toledo Ohio. I used to accompany him to the ice house where he made sure that the correct amount of ice and salt were added to the end part of the car before it took off to other stops along the way to its final destination. Many memories are with me to this day.


Ice was used so the floors were raised in the middle to allow the melted ice to run off. They stayed raised even after loading.

I wonder

if they have that new-boxcar smell?

Rochester's great industrial suburb

Despatch is now called East Rochester. Merchants Despatch Transportation Company churned out thousands of refrigerated rail cars (among other types) for over a century in this spot. The car shops closed in 1970.

Newfangled brakes

The freight cars are touting their air brake system, which was pretty modern for that time. The brake hose hanging off the back of the rear car is referred to as a "Glad hand" and is identical to those we use today.

[George Westinghouse invented the air brake in 1869. - Dave]


It's interesting that in this shot you can see that the cars, when new and empty, rose up in the middle so the floors were flat once they were loaded.

Brand new

Those cars still look brand new and are coupled together in order of their registration numbers, so it seems they come directly from the manufacturer. The date of the photograph was probably not too far from the date of their commissioning painted onto the cars (5-12-1904).

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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