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Lucky Lager: 1957

Lucky Lager: 1957

Oakland, 1957. "Accident on tracks." Note the beer can next to the rail, and let's be careful out there. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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Grain Doors

Those grain doors were heavy. Put in a few in the early sixties. Some of us made a raft out of 2 or 3. Some raft--it went straight to the bottom when launched.

Kero Lamp?

The lamp on the tall post is a switch lamp that indicates the position of the switch. Probably red and green lenses (but could be blue/amber too). Green meant the switch was open, meaning the train would go straight through the switch. Red meant the switch was closed, meaning the train would turn through the switch.

This one looks to still be using a kerosene lamp as opposed to electric bulbs as were used in the '50's and '60's. Switch indicators now are reflective metal and the lamps are collector's items.

Decisions - decisions

I drove a lot of 50's cars as a young man, mostly stick shifts as they were fast and dirt cheap to fix when you blew the transmission.

The dilemma that I remember most was wanting my arm around my girl, a Lucky Lager in my hand, a cigarette, a Hurst shifter and the steering wheel (with spinner) ... with only 2 hands !!

Ah ... the good old days.

Grain Doors

Those are stacks of grain doors between the switch stand and the boxcar. Before todays ubiquitous covered hoppers, these were nailed across the doorways of boxcars to cover the lower half of the doorway, so that the boxcar could be loaded with bulk grain, hopefully without it filtering out cracks in the seal of the closed door during shipment.

Re: Retired from Service

Possibly an older railway post office?

Lucky Lager

I remember Lucky Lager; I was in the Air Force ca 1975-79 and was stationed in northern California. I don't recall drinking any Lucky more than once or twice, I remember it as being worse than some of the grocery store brands. As an aside, you haven't lived until you have made cocktails with Albertson's "bourbon". Ah, to be young and stupid.

Re: Colorful Can

Colorful, but barely drinkable. Seven to ten cents a can by the case, if I remember right. The hangovers were unforgettable.

Big Buicks, too

came with three-on-the-tree as standard until 1971. I guess a few had to be run off the production lines now and then just to keep up the pretence that Dynaflow wasn't standard equipment and was worth paying extra for. Anyway, I well remember seeing a no-frills, stick-shift '59 Le Sabre 2-door sedan (the kind with the huge delta wings) on a used car lot in Pasadena, Calif., in the mid-1960s and thinking at the time that it ought to be saved for a museum of automotive rarities. With a 364-cu. in. V-8 engine and 340 ft. lbs. of torque, it hardly needed much of a transmission anyway. From a standstill, just let the clutch out in any gear it happened to be in; you wouldn't notice a whole lot of difference (unless it was reverse).

Fond memory

My friends and I used to call this brand of beer "Red Cross" beer. Now, it like this (and all) Oldsmobiles has vanished.

Dave, the manual tranny was, indeed, offered. But, try to find a car that had one. I used to buy Olds bellhousings, clutch linkage and flywheels for manual transmissions just for resale. Never found that many in all the Hydramatic multitudes. My '50 model was one of my favorites. I'd like it back.

Merry Christmas and stay safe.

Good golly

I love when Shorpy displays a car wreck photo! The comments are fascinating and provide a great break from work. The comments regarding the Olds 98's drive train gave me a chuckle, reminding me of "My Cousin Vinnie".

Retired from Service

Where's the rail buffs? Isn't anybody going to comment on the cool building in the background; a retired rail car with clerestory roof? The windows make me think mebbe it was a combo passenger/freight? These "buildings" can still be found 100 years after rail service.

Colorful can

And it's collectible!

To answer Revolverman

Oldsmobiles in 1953 did not have "posi-trac" differentials--those didn't come until the performance obsessed '60s. This car has the four-speed Dual-Range Hydra-Matic standard on all 98's, unless it happened to be built in August or later when the Hydra-Matics were replaced by Buick's Dynaflow after the Hydra-Matic plant fire.

[A synchromesh manual transmission was standard equipment on all 1953 Olds 98 models. Hydra-Matic "Super Drive" was an extra-cost option. Oldsmobile offered limited-slip differentials as an option starting with its 1959 models. - Dave]

Low speed

That looks like damage from a low speed switching collision. The damage is high up on the car so it was likely a railcar being pushed rather than a locomotive that made contact.

Olds 98

1953 Oldsmobile 98 2 door hardtop. A pretty rare car today. Any new modern car would hold up much better, but I doubt seat belts would help much in this case.

Ended in a Tie

All the indications of a grade crossing accident. If that was on the WP tracks there's a good chance my father investigated it, as he did hundreds like it. As he used to say, if you're going to race a train to crossing, make sure the race doesn't end in a tie.

Oakland automotive mayhem

There's a 1953 Olds 98 that won't show up at the old car shows in the decades ahead. Looks like it could have been hit by a locomotive and pushed down the track a ways.

Post Mortem

Car was obviously hit by a train as it crossed the tracks (probably illegally). Notice that the left rear tire as been stripped off the rim. Car was probably pushed 100 feet or more before the train came to a stop. I imagine the beer can was perhaps there before the accident.


I used to work bad wrecks such as this one and went to school just to learn how. Of course there are so many variables in only looking at pictures. This wreck looks survivable. And also it appears the driver may have been still accelerating upon impact due to left rear tire being split off rim meaning it was spinning very fast on impact. This could be answered if I knew about the drive train such as, did this car have a "posi-track" rear end. Which would tell us if both tires were spinning or just left. Also, notice frame of car, it does not look bent. Which means car was being pushed very well.

Oldsmobile Glass

The rear window is still in one piece, reminds me of my friend's 1950s Olds back in the early '70s. The summer temps got hot and the rear glass on his car popped out in one piece and ended up on the trunk.

Out of the past

When "Old 97" met the "Olds 98".


Lucky Lager.

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