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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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Ensley Furnace: 1906

Ensley Furnace: 1906

Ensley, Alabama, circa 1906. "Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co.'s furnaces." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Flangeless wheels

Flengeless center drive wheels were common on full size railroads as well as models. Just as with model engines, the sharp curves found in industrial yards required some sort of provision to enable the locos to make it around the curves without binding. It would have been better to have one of the several makes of locos with drive shafts like Climax, Shay and Heisler. Sharp curves presented no problems to them.

Birmingham Southern 1021

Brakes. we don't need no stinking brakes. It will fall apart if it hits anything.


This may just be down to the view, but do those locomotives have small or no flanges on their inner drivers for working round tight curves? I thought that only happened in the model version.

Ensley Works 1888-1976

Ensley Works was the largest producer of steel ingots and rail in the south for most of its history. By 1920, half the steel made in the south came from these open-hearth furnaces. The open-hearth method of steelmaking was rendered obsolete by more modern integrated methods, and this plant was closed by U.S. Steel in 1976 as a result.

Pictures of this site taken in 2008 can be found here:

A short history of the Ensley Works can be found on the BhamWiki:

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John Whitby Allen

As the master HO scale artist of the 1950s, John Whitby Allen would have modeled that flatcar exactly as she sits. He loved this kind of rolling stock on his Gorre & Daphetid Railroad. His work is something see to this day. He was a photographer by trade and did justice to his amazing creation.

Safety Last.

The locomotives have oil burning headlights and there are two lanterns on the running board of the locomotive to the left for night work.

The rolling stock is eclectic, to say the least, their stenciling amusing in our era of 140 ton cars.

Must have been a hazardous environment in darkness with no in-plant lighting, holes in the ground and junk all around to fall over.

Working within the mill itself would be no treat, either.

Thank You.

That flatcar

better not be in interchange service! Aside from the fact that it's about to break in two, it has no brakes whatsoever.

Smoke gets in your eyes

Woe to those who live downwind.

Flatcar 1021

Looks like flatcar 1021 is about to have a catastrophic failure.

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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