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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Summit Cut: 1904

Summit Cut: 1904

Vermont circa 1904. "Summit Cut, Green Mountains." I see seven eight people here. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

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On the Map

Summit Cut is in the town of Mount Holly on the rail line between Bellows Falls and Rutland.


I love a good train. I especially love the sound of a train at night and the call of the horn. That surely is harsh light on those kids. Makes them look like they are made out of stone.

Is this a ninth person?

I see something that looks like a bearded man up higher on the cut face.

[I see a horsy and a ducky. - Dave]

She's a Special

Flying flags, with link and pin coupler, the kind that would take away fingers, and one coach. This is a special train with brass collars aboard that will stop when and where they please. Frozen in time, for as long as a Shorpy will find them, praise be.

[Another caption for this image describes the train as a "Photographers' Special." - Dave]

Maybe before 1900

The deadline for removing the coupler style shown was set by Congress in 1893 as January 1898. By 1905 several complaints had been heard before the ICC and Fed courts that upheld the ban on couplers that required "a man to go between cars."

"Summit Cut" denotes the summit (high point) of the railway, not the mountain.

The Cut

This road passes through a very interesting section of country, and is no doubt destined to be a favorite line of travel with the tourist, seeking health and pleasure. The summit cut in Orange is a work of great interest and labor. This cut is through solid granite for the distance of a quarter of a mile, and in some places thirty feet deep. The extreme summit is about seven hundred feet above the level at Concord, and five hundred above that at Lebanon." -- "The Eastern Tourist" (1848)

There is also view which shows the train approaching and a view without the train showing what appears to be a bridge crossing high above the cut.

Summit Cut

Summit Cut was the high point on the Rutland Railroad's line between Rutland and Bellows Falls. This photo appears in the book "The Rutland Road" by Jim Shaughnessy (I thought it looked familiar). This is some sort of company publicity shot or a souvenir photo taken during an excursion, perhaps booked by the Detroit Publishing Company. Mastadon bones were unearthed on this spot in 1848 during the digging of Summit Cut.

Instant Souvenir

See the penny on the rail? Later the locomotive will squish
it really, really flat for the owner to keep as a remembrance.
When I was a kid I'd do this when the Barnum and Bailey Circus
Train came to town.

There's only 7 I'm sure

So where is the 8th person?

On the cliff face, there are four people: two kids, a short man with a bowler hat and a dark skinned man behind him. On the train side, there is the engineer, conductor and the woman in the long skirt in the back. There is something across from the woman that could be a figure with a black jacket and a white collar, but I'm fairly sure that is just an illusion and it is just the cliff face. Where's #8?

[Right in front of your nose! It was another commenter who pointed him out to me. - Dave]

Trying to figure this one out

I'm trying to figure out what exactly is going on in this picture and I have a theory: The train was the first to use this route and they stopped at the summit of the mountain to for a picture to commemorate the momentous occasion. The people on the side of the tracks are passengers. The little girl is waving a flag in celebration, sort of in the same way that a mountain climber might plant a flag at the summit of a mountain.

Am I close?

[1. This is not the top of a mountain -- or else this wouldn't be a "cut." 2. Incline tramways aside, trains generally don't go to mountaintops. - Dave]

In plain sight

our 8th subject stands. Dave's sharp eye alerted me to search closely for our shy passenger.

You didn't count

the garden gnomes did you ??


My grandpa would have loved that picture. He was obsessed with everything to do with trains to the point where he would sit and listen to recordings of trains.

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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