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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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Atlanta Depot: 1864

Atlanta Depot: 1864

1864. "Atlanta, Georgia, railroad yards." Wet plate collodion glass negative, left half of stereograph pair, by George N. Barnard. View full size.

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And on September 2nd 1864, the departing Union troops set fire to this railroad terminal and all its standing Confederate railroad rolling stock to ensure the enemy would not be able to readily reclaim the area. Next day, the mayor of Atlanta and aldermen surrendered the city to the Union, asking for further protections and no additional private property destruction.

That scenario was famously dramatized in Gone With the Wind, both book and film.

Blades, points, switches

The "blades" you refer to are properly called "points." Points move back and forth to be pushed close to the main running rails to make the locomotives go to the appropriate track. The switches are called stub switches.

Link-and-pin couplers

Before the day of the automatic coupler, many a railroad worker lost limb or life to the dangers involved with building a train.

Hangin' Out

That's a lot of guys just hangin' out in the switchyard...

Locomotive Smokestacks

The large stacks were indeed intended to help keep embers from falling on the grass along the tracks. They are much more complicated than they appear since they had cast iron deflectors and screens inside the stacks.


Does anyone know why the engine stacks are so big, especially compared to the size of the shunters. Creosote traps? Flash and ember traps?

Lil Switcher

Check out the cute little switch engine steaming away over by the cut of cars on the right. Those stub switch stands are the precursors to the harp switch stands, seen here.


This photo brightens the day by bringing Buster Keaton's "The General" to mind -- especially the scene involving the famous Keaton curve.

Point (Switch) Blades

Notice how there are no blades as such. Sections of rail move across when the lever is pushed/pulled rather than the traditional machined tapered blade.

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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