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:
December 1942. Proviso Yard, Chicago & North Western R.R. "A train, or 'cut,' being pushed out of a receiving yard toward the hump. A brakeman rides each train to signal the engineer in the locomotive at the rear." View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano, Office of War Information.
April 1865. "Farmville, Virginia, vicinity. High bridge of the South Side Railroad across the Appomattox." From photographs of the main Eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June 1864-April 1865. Wet collodion glass plate negative, left half of stereograph pair, by Timothy H. O'Sullivan; from Civil War photographs compiled by Hirst Milhollen and Donald Mugridge. View full size.
April 1943. "Mrs. Thelma Cuvage, working in the sand house at the Chicago & North Western R.R. roundhouse at Clinton, Iowa. Her job is to see that sand is sifted and cleaned for use in the locomotives. Mrs. Cuvage's husband works as a guard at the Savanna, Illinois, ordnance plant." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.
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.