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Locomotive Dreams: 1942

December 1942. "Locomotives in the roundhouse at a Chicago and North Western Railroad yard." Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.

December 1942. "Locomotives in the roundhouse at a Chicago and North Western Railroad yard." Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano. View full size.


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If that's a big pile of ashes under the fire it suggests this is not wood but rather stone. All that oil-soaked wood would have gone up in flames faster than an early 20th century resort hotel.

Cushioned flooring?

I was recently given a tour of the NASA-Ames center in Mountain View, CA, and saw a similar wood block floor in a 1940s lab building. When I commented on it, one of the engineers said the wood blocks cushioned any tools that might fall off a workbench, as opposed to the damaging effect of landing on a concrete floor.

Wood block flooring at GPO

The only place I've ever seen flooring like that is at the old Government Printing Office in downtown DC. I remember liking the look of it.

I guess the original purpose, at least in that building, was to lessen the noise of large printing presses. I don't know whether printing is done there now. When I was last there, in the mid-1990s, I don't recall seeing or hearing presses running.

Wood block flooring

In my youth I inspected fire damage to some rooms in the old St. Louis Post-Dispatch building on 12th Street. One room was floored with wood blocks. Fire fighting water had expanded the blocks so that they were humped up as much as a foot or more above the concrete floor like the waves in the sea. I walked on that surface. The sides of each block had slots to accommodate long strips of corrugated metal. Those strips held the blocks together. Wood block flooring was common in machine shops, printing press rooms and the like.

Delano's Masterwork?

This is one of the greatest photos on the site.

Organic Flooring

I believe that the floor surface depicted here is wood block.
Similar to cobblestones, long wood blocks were placed with the grain in a vertical orientation, and were remarkably durable, albeit somewhat lumpy.
As a young lad ca. 1959, my father pointed out to me the old driveway of a family member in East Hollywood, California - it was wood block.

Just beautiful

I agree with the other comments. You couldn't paint this scene any better. Terrific lighting, atmosphere and composition. Fine art in the roundhouse. You can almost smell the coal smoke and steam.


Wow, just perfect!

Absolutely beautiful

The light, the composition, the atmosphere, it's breathtaking, almost like a rendering

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