SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Transit: 1906

Transit: 1906

The Ohio River circa 1906. "Canal locks at Louisville, Kentucky." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Early open type arc lamp

The arc lamp in this photo is a very early open carbon type that was dominant in the 1880s and '90s, requiring very frequent maintenance. A single set of carbons lasted only a few hours before needing to be replaced. These were rendered obsolete by the late 1890s by enclosed double globe arc lamps, which could burn a single set of carbons for a week. The lamp shown here is a slightly modified version of an open lamp having two carbon rod sets instead of the usual one. When one set burned up the second set was energized.

This lamp may have remained in service later (1906) as it was likely switched on only when the locks were being operated at night to allow boats to pass. These early open lamps are extremely rare. Very few survive today.

The Transit

Built in 1889 at Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Spent most of its career in the Louisville harbor switching barges. Sank in 1901 and was raised. Rebuilt in 1920 at Paducah, Kentucky, and renamed the A.W. Armstrong.

Jedi Knight

practicing on the walkway on the left.

The Grim Reaper

standing up there on the left embankment!


Early 20th Century. The horrors and depradations of the Civil War finally beginning to recede into memory. America in the midst of the industrial revolution and poised on the brink of international dominance. How wonderfully sleek and bustling and modern this scene must have looked to a Kentuckian in 1906! That soaring steel bridge spanning the Ohio River in the background. The fine, solid stonework of the locks. The hissing, wheezing energy of the steamboat pushing a barge full of coal up (down?) river. Industry!!


Sic Transit gloria.

[Bever forunt! - Dave]

Then and now

Puzzling abotu this O went to google maps and forunt:

So it is a curve in the river where it dropa a bit, possiy once was rapids, and the locks alow boats to get around the drops. I bever knew! Someone will probably post when they got rebuilt into the modern version...


Grandma would have been 9

My grandmother was born in Louisville in 1897; she would have been familiar with sights like this. So, Shorpy shows us what our ancestors saw. Love Shorpy!

Planes, trains and automobiles

... are spectacular here on Shorpy, but the steamboats, ah, the steamboats. How they beckon me.

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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