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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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Near Ophir: 1940

Near Ophir: 1940

September 1940. "Trestle of narrow gauge railroad near Ophir, Colorado." Acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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I see small platforms with steel barrels, placed at intervals along the far side. What purpose do the barrels serve?

[Fire extinguishers. - Dave]


I seem to have Ophir of heights.

It's a long way down

How 'bout that for a clever title for my comment?

Safety Rails

The outer rails are there to keep the trucks traveling relatively straight over a trestle, viaduct, or bridge during a derailment. A rough ride but better than the alternative.

Outside guard rails

The smaller section rails outside the running rails are intended to keep derailed cars from going completely off the trestle deck. Additionally, there are guard timbers at the ends of the ties as a last resort.

On a standard gauge railroad, the guard rails would be between the running rails, with the guard rails brought together at a point at the end. Not so good with tippy narrow gauge cars.

With modern welded rails, and very few bolted joints, the chance of a spontaneous derailment is greatly reduced, and the guard rails are now frequently omitted, especially if passenger trains do not use the line.

Also note the extended timbers on the near side, presumably to allow laying down planks to make maintenance work easier.

Dual purpose

Is that standard gauge also on the trestle?


Thanks to both Steamcrane and Wormy for the guard rail information. I knew of standard gauge guard rails, but not the narrow gauge type.

As always, Shorpy is informative as well as artistic and entertaining.

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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