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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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Railway Express: 1940

Railway Express: 1940

September 1940. Montrose, Colorado. "Loading express packages into Denver & Rio Grande Western truck, which takes them to points on the narrow gauge railroad where passenger and express service is not otherwise available." Acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Potatoes then, potatoes now!

That building still stands:


When the Post Office canceled its shipping contracts with the railroads in 1968, the REA likewise ceased to exist because its express cars rode alongside the mail cars at the front of passenger trains -- "head-end business," as it was known. The REA was reorganized as UPS. I'd say they've done all right in the years since.

Crate address deciphered

Father J. Lane was Joseph Francis Lane, a Catholic priest residing in Montrose.

Mrs. Rose Off___ was Rose Offerman, residing on Main Street, Ouray. She was the widow of Herman W. Offerman.

The sender was most likely Urban J. Vehr, Bishop of Denver from 1931.

If this were a Western, the crate would be labeled Bibles and contain either firewater or rifles for the Indians. We Shorpyites love us some Westerns.

I wanted one!

I remember how excited I was seeing these hand trucks in railway stations in my youth ('40s & '50s). I could easily imagine getting a couple of friends together and riding roughshod over the trikes, scooters, Radio Flyers, and Irish mails of less fortunate neighbor kids. Motive power? What kid wouldn't want to help push one of these babies?

Like Better Buggy Whips, Inc., Railway Express is no more, but while they were around, they were an American icon -- literally so, their red lozenge logo prominent on their ubiquitous delivery vans and depot carts. I'd venture to assert that the REA logo was as familiar as its contemporary, the AT&T "Public Telephone" sign that adorned cafes and corner stores all over the country.

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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