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Saturday, August 4, 2018

The One that Started It All

Although I did not know it at the time, this post card was to become the first card in my Train Post Card collection. I was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on June 5, 1982.
One of the guys in the class one year before me knew my passion for trains. He gave this to me as an "ordination card" on that occasion. It measures five and half inches tall and eight and three quarters inches wide. I kept the post card because a) I do love trains, and b) Patrick and I were good friends. I did not know at the time, that it would be the first card in my train post card collection - which today numbers 3,014 cards from around the world. I seriously committed to collecting post cards the year that England was the feature country at Klondike Days here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was in the 1990s. I wanted to collect something related to trains that would not take up much room. They had a huge selection of train post cards at their exhibit for sale. I committed and bought one of each!!

This post card features a partial history of the development of what is know today as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company. [Of course, at this time (1982) the Santa Fe part was still its own railroad company.] the train on the far left was built in 1892; the next one is from 1923; that is followed by a 1934 model of the "Zephyr". The second from the right is a 1955 diesel engine (an E-9 unit) as is the one on the far right, which is a GP-30 from 1962.
They all got together to celebrate "A Century of Locomotives".
The picture was taken by the Burlington Northern Railroad, as the company was known back in the 1970s. The post card itself was published by Lyman E. Cox from Sacramento, California - the home of the California State Railroad Museum.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Today in Railroad and Post Office History

This post card is a very modern one from my collection. However, it is a
reproduction of a post card that was originally published in 1934 for the Chicago Worlds Fair. It celebrates the first time ever that United States Post Office mail was sorted on a moving train.
The picture in the upper right-hand corner is a photo of the original "mail car" on which this historic event happened.
Sorting mail on the train lasted from July 28, 1862 to June 30, 1977... almost 115 years.
This back of the post card shows that it was published by the Whippany Railway Museum. The Whippany Railway Museum is a railway museum and excursion train ride located in the Whippany section of Hanover Township in Morris County, New Jersey, United States. The Whippany Railway Museum began when the Morris County Central Railroad (MCC) first opened to the public on May 9, 1965 at Whippany, NJ.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

International Crossing

Built in 1887 by the Dominion Bridge Company out of Montreal, Quebec and designed and engineered by Strauss Bascule Bridge Company (Strauss Engineering Company) of Chicago, Illinois

The Structure Type is described as A Metal 8 Panel Pin-Connected Camelback Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Heel Trunnion)

The main span is 368 feet long (there are 9 spans); the entire bridge length is 5,580 feet long (over a mile); and the roadbed over which the train travels is 21 feet wide.

It was renovated in 1913.

The International Railroad Bridge is a magnificent landmark bridge whose significant size comes from a large number of smaller spans, rather than a single large bridge. Indeed, the bridge is unparalleled in its variety of span types. It is one of the few bridges in North America to have more than one type of movable span. It is one of the few bridges in North America to have more than one type of movable span. Indeed, within this bridge each of the three most common movable bridge types is represented. When all these sections are combined, the result is a bridge that is unrivaled in variety, size, beauty, and history. These separate and different structures that carry the railroad over the St. Mary's River and its canal systems are collectively referred to as the International Railroad Bridge. The bridge was designed for and continues to carry a single set of tracks. In addition to the variety of span types, the bridge's existing spans were also constructed at different times. Two dates are most significant in the bridge's history. First, is 1887, which is what the oldest spans on this bridge date to, including the fixed camelback spans and the swing bridge. The second most significant date is 1913 when the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company designed the largest (and one of the most unusual) bascule span in the world for this bridge. Because of the variety of span types and span ages, photo galleries for this bridge as well as the narratives have all been organized into separate sections by bridge span type. The bridge crosses the river and canals of St. Marys River by making use of islands, some of which are artificial islands created by the locks. As such, from a technical definition, this bridge could be thought of as several bridges, since there are a few short sections that has track running along the ground. However, the structure is generally referred to in discussion as a single bridge, and therefore this bridge is being presented here on in that format.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mabel is going to the top of Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak rises to 14,115 feet above sea level in the state of Colorado.
Mountains with elevations this high have a very slow melting rate of the snow that it accumulates over the winter. Here, in this picture on this post card we see how that affects the ride up the mountain on the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad.

At the beginning of Spring it was announced that Pikes Peak would not open this year... and maybe never again. It was too old and needed too much money to rehabilitate it.

Recently there was a second announcement that this may not be the case. A new company has either purchased the railroad or will pitch in to rehabilitate it. Keep watching the news!!!

Pikes Peak is named for Zebulon Montgomery Pike, an early explorer of the Southwestern United States. Lieutenant Pike (later General Pike), first sighted what he termed "The Great Peak" in mid-November of 1806. A few days later, he attempted to climb the mountain with a small band of men, however, heavy snows around the 10,000-foot level turned his party back. In 1820, Edwin James, a botanist who climbed many peaks in Colorado, made it to the top. The first woman, Julia Holmes, climbed the peak in 1858.

In 1873, the U.S. Signal Service (an early Weather Bureau) built a telegraph station on the summit to monitor the weather. The station was lived in by Sergeant John O'Keefe and his wife.

On the afternoon of June 30th, 1891, the first passenger train, carrying a church choir from Denver, made it to the summit of Pikes Peak by train. Mabel, the author of today's post card, decided that she would rather drive up to the top of the mountain in the middle of July, 1939.

She is letting her good friend Mrs. James Baker know this little tid-bit of information. The post card is being sent to Sipesville, Pennsylvania. It is a town just about 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and 30 miles south of where the Johnstown Flood of 1889 happened.
We have seen the little mascot in the top center of the post card before. This is the emblem (plus the arrow pointing up at it) used by the H.H. Tammen Company on their post cards.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Raphael Tuck & Sons

This picture shows a train crossing the Delaware River - something George Washington did back on Christmas Day in 1776. It sure was a lot easier in 1905 when the train took you across!
There is a company's name in the bottom right-hand corner of the post card. I tried to find something about it on line, but could not. The best I could find was that there was an Oscar Woodworth in Trenton in 1905. It is in a part of a newspaper that also included the words: "violet scented rice toilet powder". It sounds to me like O. Woodworth was a five and dime type of a store.
The train is on the Morrisville–Trenton Railroad Bridge, which today is a rail bridge across the Delaware River between Morrisville, Pennsylvania and Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, in the United States.

The bridge carries the Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains and SEPTA Trenton Line as well as non-revenue trains for NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor Line that have terminated at the Trenton Transit Center bound for the Morrisville Yard.
This post card was printed by the Raphael Tuck & Sons Company. It was founded in 1866 by Raphael Tuck, a seller of furniture and picture frames. After only a few months in business he expanded to become an important dealer in popular lithographic prints and greeting cards. In 1871, after concentrating on the picture side of the business, Tuck’s three sons joined the firm and they began publishing their first Christmas cards, printed in their native Prussia. When Raphael retired in 1881, his son Adolph took over the family business. He opened offices in New York in 1882 and Paris in 1885 to facilitate orders and distribution. By 1894, a year after they were appointed official printers to Queen Victoria, they printed their first Souvenir Card. When postal regulations were finally changed after much lobbying by Tuck and others, it provided better opportunities to enter the postcard market. Tuck immediately began the printing of postcards in chromolithography, and their twelve card set of London became the first illustrated card set in England. After opening their new facilities in 1899, Raphael House became the first publisher to print postcards in a larger size that we now call standard. They went on to publish a very wide variety of card types and all sorts of printed matter, including many innovative designs, eventually becoming a major publishing house. Not one to miss an opportunity, Tuck also became a major supplier of postcard accessories such as albums and display frames for cards. While most of Tuck’s cards were printed in Prussia, Saxony (a.k.a. Germany), and Holland until the First World War, the designs on them not made at Raphael House usually came from artists local to the subject at hand working through their international branches. After Raphael’s death in 1900 his son Adolph ran the business until his own death in the Great War. The firm was then taken over by his son Reginald. Their London factory and offices were destroyed in 1940 during a German bombing raid, but they began publishing anew after the war. Reginald died in 1954 and the business then passed to his brother Desmond who retired in 1959. Soon after the firm was purchased by Purnell & Sons.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

American Falls, Idaho

This post card can certainly be dated as being 109 years old today. The post mark tells us that it was mailed on July 1, 1909. But, it is older than that. This type of post card was used for mailing post cards prior to March 1, 1907. Prior to this date, one could only write the message on the front of the post card. The back was reserved for the address only.
After March 1st of '07 the Divided Back post card took the country by storm. You can see that this post card has an added feature of being embossed. Those grey lines on the post card are from the rocks and river on the front of the post card.

The front of the post card is showing the American Falls in the Snake River
in Idaho. The town of American Falls was once a thriving, active hub located on the west bank of the Snake River, but during what was easily the largest government relocation of its time, the town was moved in it’s entirety to avoid flooding by the nearby dam. The known history of American Falls is just as fascinating as what remains shrouded by the passage of time. Part underwater marvel, part ambitious undertaking, part prehistoric wonder, and part active community, this (literal) hidden gem is a spectacular portion of Idaho’s history that few know the full story of… and even fewer know of the incredible discoveries that its muddy depths have revealed. In 1925, the Bureau of Reclamation began the job of moving American Falls to make way for the American Falls Dam. It was an ambitious and expensive undertaking that involved moving nearly 350 residents and their homes, over 60 businesses, churches, and schools, and lifting the entire railroad across the river an additional 22 feet to prepare for the increased water levels. The above information can be found at:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

66 Years Today

The title at the bottom of this post card drives me crazy. I have several that say something like "entrance to the Spiral Tunnel", as if there is only one tunnel. There are two Spiral Tunnels, one right after the other in the same area of the Rockies. The problem is that the "Lower Spiral Tunnel" is much easier to see from the road and to access for dramatic pictures.
As you can see, this train is going over a tunnel entrance from which it will soon be emerging. I have a couple of modern post cards in which the train is actually driving over itself. This particular train is westbound, so it has already gone through the "Upper Spiral Tunnel" and passed under the Trans Canada Highway.

That is Mount Stephen in the background. It was named after the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, George Stephen. He is pretty famous because was the first Canadian to be elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom (as opposed to the Peerage of Great Britain). He was also one of the presidents of the Bank of Montreal. He is especially remembered for his philanthropy in the community.

The back of the post card contains a bit of uniqueness of history. The person on the three cent stamp is King George VI. He died on February 6, 1952. His daughter, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned queen until June 2, 1953. That means that, even though Elizabeth was the queen, her picture was not on the stamp used by Bill, the writer of the post card. The post card was mailed on June 28, 1952 - 66 years ago today - when a picture of the queen would normally have been on a stamp.
The post card was published by Gowan Sutton. They were a publisher of real photo and printed postcards of the Canadian West. Not only did they produce cards depicting large cities, they captured many hard to reach views within the Canadian Territories. Many of their cards were hand tinted in a simple manner striving for style rather than realism, which created cards in vastly differing quality. While the real photo cards were made in Canada their printed cards were made in England. This is a real photo card, so it was made in Canada.