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.
Vintage photos of:
March 1943. "Activity in the Santa Fe R.R. yard, Los Angeles, Calif. All switch lights, headlights and lamps have been shaded from above in accordance with blackout regulations. The heavy light streaks are caused by paths of locomotive headlights and the thin lines by lamps of switchmen working in the yard. Santa Fe R.R. trip." View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano, who seems to have been among the earliest photographers of light trails in color.
January 1943. Calumet City, Illinois. Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad switchman demonstrating signal with a fusee, used at twilight and dawn, when visibility is poor. This signal means "go ahead." View full size. Caption and 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information.
February 1939. Calipatria, Imperial Valley. Car on siding across tracks from pea packing plant. Twenty-five year old itinerant, originally from Oregon. "On the road eight years, all over the country, every state in the union, back and forth, pick up a job here and there, traveling all the time." View full size. Medium format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.