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Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Georgetown Loop 102 Years Ago

The Georgetown Loop Railroad got its name from this:
In the upper right-hand corner of the map you can see how the train doubles back in the canyon in order to gain height or lower itself, depending on the direction of travel. The front of this post card illustrates the principle perfectly as two trains drop in elevation while they are on The Loop.
The Georgetown Loop is located in Clear Creek County just west of Denver in Colorado. Clear Creek County was one of the original 17 counties created by the Colorado legislature on 1 November 1861, and is one of only two counties (along with Gilpin) to have persisted with its original boundaries unchanged. It was named after Clear Creek, which runs down from the continental divide through the county. Idaho Springs was originally designated the county seat, but the county government was moved to Georgetown in 1867. Clear Creek itself is a tributary of the South Platte River, approximately 66 miles (106 km) long,[2] in north central Colorado in the United States. The creek flows through Clear Creek Canyon in the Rocky Mountains directly west of Denver, descending through a long gorge to emerge on the Colorado Eastern Plains where it joins the South Platte. Clear Creek is unusual in that it is a stream named "creek" fed by a stream named "river". Fall River empties into Clear Creek along I-70 west of Idaho Springs, Colorado.
The words on the back of the post card include this sentence: "From the High Bridge of the Loop six pieces of track can be seen apparently detached, and the tourist realizes something of the marvel of engineering skill over which he has ridden."
The post card was published by the H.H. Tammen Company, a novelty dealer and important publisher of national view-cards and Western themes in continuous tone and halftone lithography. Their logo does not appear on all their cards but other graphic elements often remain the same. H. H. Tammen (1856-1924) Harry Heye Tammen was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 6, 1856, the son of a German immigrant pharmacist. He attended Knapps Academy in Baltimore, then worked in Philadelphia before moving to Denver in 1880. With his partner Charles A. Stuart he worked as a Denver bartender in 1880, and in 1881 they established the firm of H.H. Tammen & Co. (which in 1896 became the H.H. Tammen Curio Co., with partners Carl Litzenberger and Joseph Cox) in Denver, Colorado. Deeply interested in the study of mineralogy, he published a promotional journal called Western Echoes magazine, "Devoted to Mineralogy, Natural History, Botany, &c. &c." Volume 1 number 1 is copyrighted 1882. In 1895 Tammen formed a partnership with F.G. Bonfils (whom he had met at the Chicago World's Fair) and they became co-owners and co-editors of the Denver Post. Their publishing business flourished, and Tammen's business successes made him a wealthy man. In 1917 Buffalo Bill Cody happened to die while in Denver, and Tammen (one of the city's biggest boosters) offered Cody's widow $10,000 if she would allow Cody to be buried in Denver; she accepted, and the ensuing funeral procession drew 50,000 people. He established the H.H. Tammen Trust in 1924, providing essential health care for children of families who cannot afford to pay. Tammen died July 19, 1924. The H.H. Tammen Curio Co. was in business until 1953, and possibly as late as 1962.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Written 110 Years Ago Today

Today's post card does not have a picture of any part of a train in it. Instead, there is an empty Santa Fe train track. I chose to collect this card because it is indicative of the type of terrain some of the trains in the Southwest United States had to traverse. A "bonus" feature is that it was near this canyon that the Battle of Glorietta Pass was fought during the Civil War. "Glorietta Pass and Apache Canyon are the site of the 1862 battle called "The Gettysburg of the West," when Union troops from nearby Fort Union, joined by volunteers from Colorado led by John Chivington, turned back a Confederate attempt to march north up the Rio Grande and capture the gold regions around Pikes Peak and Denver, Colorado." --- from The result of this battle was that New Mexico did not become a confederate territory.
This post card is an example of the 1915 - 1930 era post card called the "White Border" era.
In the bottom left of the post card is the numbering: H-1363. This indicates to me that this was a post card printed by Curt Otto Teich for Fred Harvey. This is quickly confirmed by looking in the upper right hand corner where it says, "Copyright by Fred Harvey". The Harvey House was an oasis of comfort and civilization along the railway routes of the Southwest. Entrepeneur Fred Harvey, dismayed by the often crude facilities he had seen at railway stops, endeavored to provide clean and welcoming lunchrooms, restaurants, and hotels as alternatives. His name became synonymous with quality accommodations -- an image fostered by clever and attractive advertising which drew in tourists from around the world. The Harvey House chain also offered tours to cultural, geological, and archeological attractions, further opening the Southwest to visitors. Harvey had close connections with the Santa Fe Railway, contracting to provide dining services along the line; this mutually beneficial association allowed Harvey to use the railroad for free shipment of supplies, while providing railway passengers with quality rest stops. --- from

The back of the post card also confirms that this is a Fred Harvey post card. The message was typed onto the post card; don't see that very often, although I do have a couple of them. The date on the back that was typed in says it was written 110 years ago today.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

McKeen Motor Car

From the source of all knowledge worth knowing [Wikipeida] because the McKeen Motor Car Company website is under construction. The McKeen Motor Car Company of Omaha, Nebraska, was a builder of internal combustion-engined railroad motor cars (railcars), constructing 152 between 1905–1917.[1] Founded by William McKeen, the Union Pacific Railroad's Superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery, the company was essentially an offshoot of the Union Pacific and the first cars were constructed by the UP before McKeen leased shop space in the UP's Omaha Shops in Omaha, Nebraska.
The UP had asked him to develop a way of running small passenger trains more economically, and McKeen produced a design that was ahead of its time. Unfortunately, internal combustion engine technology was not, and the McKeen cars never found a truly reliable powerplant. The vast majority of the cars produced were for E. H. Harriman's empire of lines (Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and others). Harriman's death in 1909 lost the company its major sponsor and investor, and Harriman's successors were less enthusiastic about the McKeen cars. Many McKeen cars ended up being re-engined with a variety of drive mechanisms — gasoline-mechanical, gasoline-electric, diesel-electric, or even steam power. Most, although not all, McKeen cars had the distinctive "wind-splitter" pointed aerodynamic front end and rounded tail. The porthole windows were also a McKeen trademark, adopted allegedly for strength after the 7th production car. A dropped central door, as pictured, was also present on the majority of the cars. Two lengths, 55 and 70 feet, were offered; either could be fitted out with a large mail and express area ahead of the center doors, a smaller mail/express area, or the car could be all seats for a maximum capacity of 64 or 105 respectively.
It is when I read the backs of postcards like this
that I wish that I could speak a multitude of languages. I would love to know what is being said, even if it only, "I'm OK; are you?" The post card was published by a company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska - just like the Union Pacific and the McKenn Motor Car Company. The Barkalow Brothers, Sidney D. Barkalow and Derrick V. Barkalow, arrived in Omaha from Ohio in 1856. BARKALOW BROS., news agents U. P. R. R., firm composed of D. V. and S. D. Barkalow, commenced business in 1865. D. V. B. of above firm was born in Warren County, Ohio, February, 1843. In 1856 he removed with his parents to Omaha, Neb. Learned printing and telegraphy, and about 1862 was engaged as operator on the overland telegraph line. He married in Cheyenne, W. T., May 24, 1876, to Miss Kate Whitehead. They have two children, Weltha M. and Robert V. Mr. B. is a member of the Pleasant Hours Club. S. D. Barkalow of above firm was born in Warren County, Ohio, in 1844; removed to Omaha Neb., with his parents in 1856. At the age of fifteen years he commenced clerking, and at seventeen started in business for himself in book and stationery firm of Barkalow Bros. They became the exclusive distributors of printed materials, including postcards, for the Union Pacific Railroad. They won won their contract with the U.P. in 1865 and became the exclusive news agents on the trains and in the stations along the line. The Barkalow Brothers also published non railroad oriented view-cards that were often printed by Tom Jones. They eventually became suppliers of hotel gift shops and moved their business to Fort Myers, Florida. They have been known to cooperate with Williamson-Haffner Company in their publishing efforts. The forgoing was found on the great website of the Metropolitan Post Card Club of New York

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Want to Join a Club?

Taken from the Union Pacific Railroad's website:

Long an advocate for a rail line that would extend all the way to the Pacific, former railroad attorney and now President Abraham Lincoln realized his dream when he signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862.
The Central Pacific Railroad of California, which had been chartered in 1861, was authorized to build a line east from Sacramento. At the same time, the Act chartered The Union Pacific Railroad Company to build west from the Missouri River. The original legislation granted each railroad 6,400 acres and up to $48,000 in government bonds for each mile it completed. The UP deadline for completion: July 1, 1874. The Corporate Headquarters for the Union Pacific Railroad is in Omaha, Nebraska. probably not very far from where this picture was taken.
The writer of the post card is inviting himself to join a club in which they trade post cards with each other. The other person, Miss Nellie Valentine, lives in Michigan. He lives in Omaha, thus the nature of the post card.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Look, Ma! No hands!!

OK Get a load of this caption on the back of the post card: "Gravity Car of Mill Valley and Mt. Tamalpais Railway descending Mt. Tamalpais from Muir Woods, California." What a wild ride that could be... although it does look like the person in the front left of the car has his hand on a braking mechanism of some sort. Mount Tampalpais used to have a hotel, tavern at the top. During its time a trip on the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railroad was a favorite city getaway for San Franciscans. The railway was an immediate success when it opened for business in 1896 and was dubbed by locals as the “Crookedest Railroad in the World” because of its 281 curves in just over eight miles of track, which were depicted in the company’s logo, seen left. Imagine the feeling of excitement and anticipation people must have felt as they ferried across the bay to Sausalito. At the nearby Mill Valley train depot a sleek Heisler or Shay steam engine’s whistle signaled the beginning of the train ride to the top of Mount Tamalpais. Passengers breathed the fresh mountain air from open cars as the train climbed to an elevation of 2,500 feet at a speed of 10 miles per hour. At the summit people marveled at views of the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Locomotives were positioned on the downhill end of the train and pushed the passenger cars uphill, allowing for unobstructed vistas. Watching the engines push from below was an added spectacle for riders, who could see the train’s gears and engineer at work. Ridership declined in later years. By 1920, automobiles could drive to the mountain summit on twisty roads. A fire on Mount Tamalpais in 1929 left many of the rail ties damaged or destroyed. Rail managers lost hope for profitability and abandoned reconstruction efforts. The last train traveled up the mountain on October 31, 1929. Tracks were pulled up in 1930, signaling the end of travel to Muir Woods on the Mount Tamalpais Scenic Railway.
The writer of this post card is telling Miss Alice Lazarus that they are going camping in Yosemite National Park for two weeks. They even have tents and utensils. The writer tells us that Ted looks fine [I presume that Ted is her husband] and the letter that Alice sent arrived on "my anniversary, May 3" So, I don't know if Ted is her husband.... Why else would she have an anniversary? AND the writer does not sign the post card with a name.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Back Says 1911 but the Front Says 1902

The front of this post card shows a section of track leading to a tunnel in the Eagle River Canyon on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. That is what the caption at the bottom left of the picture says. The copyright on the bottom right says that the picture was taken in 1898. That doesn't mean that the post card is that old; or at least I cannot prove that it is that old. More on the age of the card at the end of this post.

The following information was taken from:

The first part of the Denver & Rio Grande line from Salida, CO, up to Malta was constructed as part of the narrow gauge extension of the Royal Gorge Route route in 1880. From Malta, what would become the Blue River Branch was run up to Leadville, and then up and over Fremont Pass at 11,330 feet. The branch then worked down the north/east side of the pass as far as Robinson. Another branch was extended north to charcoal ovens at Crane's Park, near the south side of today's Tennessee Pass. The objective was not to cross the Divide and reach points west (that goal having already been accomplished via Marshall Pass), but rather to tap the mining boom under way in Leadville.

The next year, 1881, was more of the same. The branch from Malta to Cranes Park was extended over the Divide at Tennessee Pass, and then down the Eagle River valley/canyon
to Red Cliff to serve a new pocket of silver mining. 1882 brought two more miles from Red Cliff to Rock Creek. Aside from more spurs around Leadville, the line over Tennessee essentially stayed the same until 1887.

Only just shy of a year after the Union Pacific-Southern Pacific merger, on 23-Aug-1997, the last through revenue train went over the pass. The train was OMIGV-19, a westbound unit taconite train with two units on the front and three in the middle. It departed Pueblo at 1125h and pulled into Minturn at 2005h. The last train over the top of the pass is questionable, but Denver Rio Grande Western 3075 went over the top from the west side on 23 Dec 1997 with two gondolas for Malta, running back light. The Malta Local continued to run from Pueblo-Malta until 9-Mar-1999, and beyond that only a few work trains have plied the east side of the pass.

Now about the age of the post card. This is one of my favorite post cards. I love and respect all post cards that are from the era when the only thing allowed on the back of the post card was the address. The sender had to be creative if s/he wanted to send a message and not just a picture. You can see at the bottom on the front of the card, John has written "On DRG Train May 8 - 06" So this post card is guaranteed to be 112 years old today. But keep reading; it may be older. It wasn't mailed until three days later in Spokane, Washington.

The printer of the card was the Detroit Photographic Company. Originally a printer of religious books and calendars, the Detroit Photographic Company Ltd. shifted production in 1897 when owners William A. Livingstone and Edwin H. Husher saw the potential in postcards. After negotiations with Orell Fussli, Detroit became the sole American company to license the Swiss photochrom process, which they would eventually register in 1907 under the name Phostint. In addition they would also distributed Swiss made prints for Fussli in America. When the well known Western photographer William Henry Jackson joined the company as a partner, he added his thousands of negatives to Livingstone’s collection of Great Lakes imagery and Husher’s photos of California. All this provided a strong foundation to start publishing postcards. Jackson traveled around the United States taking many additional pictures until 1903 when he took over the management of Detroit’s factory. By 1904 as postcards sales increased to 7 million per year they changed their name to the Detroit Publishing Company. They produced postcards on a great variety of subjects but they are best known for their view-cards. The quality of their cards are considered some of the finest produced in America. They also printed many contract cards whose numbers increased as ordinary sales began to fall. Many of their views found on postcards were also produced as larger sized prints. Detroit went into receivership in 1924 but printed contract cards until 1932. The look of these cards changed over the years as the phostint technique was secretly perfected. All their cards were printed in Detroit except for a rare few from Austria and Switzerland.

The company kept very good records of their printing history and so I know that this particular card was printed in 1902 because it is numbered between 6000 and 6999.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dizzying Heights 108 Years Ago

The Mount Lowe Railway was the third in a series of scenic mountain railroads in America created as a tourist attraction on Echo Mountain and Mount Lowe, north of Los Angeles, California. The railway, originally incorporated by Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe as the Pasadena & Mt. Wilson Railroad Co. existed from 1893 until its official abandonment in 1938, and had the distinction of being the only scenic mountain, electric traction (overhead electric trolley) railroad ever built in the United States. Lowe’s partner and engineer was David J. Macpherson, a civil engineer graduate of Cornell University. The Mount Lowe Railway was a fulfillment of 19th century Pasadenans to have a scenic mountain railroad to the crest of the San Gabriel Mountains. The Railway opened on the 4th of July 1893.

What you see here is the second phase of three train trips that the tourists took to get to the Alpine Tavern at the top of the mountain. If it looks like the people are posing for a picture, that is because they are. Mr. Lowe hired a photographer to take pictures of the people after they got onto the cable car. Then, of course, the tourists could purchase the pictures once they were developed.

After having their pictures taken, they were taken up the mountain. That building is NOT the Alpine Tavern. The tourists disembarked at the top and transferred to a trolley that took them farther up the mountain into the wooded part. That is where they could find the Alpine Tavern and a friendly "pet bear".

The post card was mailed on May 2, 1910 - one hundred and eight years ago today. The writing is very small because she has a lot to say in a very small space. Basically, she is saying that she hasn't heard from her aunt and uncle, the recipients, [and she hopes it is not because they have been ill] and she wants to stay with them while she is in their area. She has been to California to recover from an illness, herself. She is on her way back home feeling better but without any more pounds on her frame. I know it is a she because she signs it your affectionate niece.... but her name is obscured by the top post mark.