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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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Fireboat 44: 1905

Fireboat 44: 1905

Boston circa 1905. "Fireboat, Engine No. 44." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.

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Brave men

The fireboat appears to be made of wood. Brave to come up to burning ships in such a vessel, to put it mildly.

[That's not what fireboats are for. They fight fires in the warehouses and docks along the waterfront. - Dave]

Interesting as well to see no smoke coming out of the funnel, but the ship is leaving a wake. I wonder what she's burning--either a coal fire is burning down in the firebox, or could it be an early adopter of fuel oil?

In which case the men are doubly brave, I dare say.


Sept. 1, 1895 – Fireboat Company 44 was organized on the south side of India Wharf, off Atlantic Avenue, downtown, at a berth formerly used by fireboat Engine Company 31. The company was assigned a new fireboat, seen here and renamed in 1923 the MV Angus J. McDonald. That boat was replaced in 1931 and the company disbanded in 1954.

Tall Ships

Interesting to see so many wind-powered ships in the background- some steam assisted ones too.

Ten years after this photo, every ship, no matter what its propulsion, was being pressed into service because of the pressures of WW1. Seeing so many sailing vessels still active in 1905 helps one to understand how there happened to be lots of sail powered ones available for service through the war.

SHORPY OLD 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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