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Thursday, February 15, 2018

105 Years Ago on the Southern Pacific Railroad

The picture on this post card says that it shows a steam locomotive coming out of the protection of a Snow Shed.
Snow sheds were very common in the early days of trains going through mountains that threatened the rail lines with avalanche potential. This particular snow shed is of a unique variety: it is purely an added drawing to a beautiful view of some mountains in the background and a train track in the foreground. I suspected it from the moment I saw it. But, to verify it, I used a powerful (15x) magnifying glass that a very good friend of mine gave to me. Through it I can see the gap between the mountain side and the shed. They would never build a protector from avalanches in a way in which the avalanche could take the shed with it by hitting the uphill-side straight on. Plus, the engine on the card is drawn with white lines on the black background.

Anyway, it was obviously attractive enough to tempt Josie to purchase it. She used it to write to Arthur to ask him why she has not heard from him for over a month!
She wrote the card on February 15, 1913. It was mailed from Truckee, California where they would be familiar with Snow Sheds on the train lines.

Friday, February 9, 2018

One Hundred Seven Years Ago

For this post we are staying in California. Instead of the orange groves of the south, we are up north near San Francisco.
This is a scene from the Mt. Tamalpais Railway. To get to ride to the top of Mount Tam in 1911 you would take a ferry to Sausalito and then take a local to the town of Mill Valley. You would change trains in Mill Valley and board the one of the cars of the Mount Tam railway that were pushed up the top of the 2,600 foot hill by a steam engine. The railroad climbed from the town centre of Mill Valley up Mt. Tamalpais from 1896 to 1929. The line was dubbed ‘The Crookedest Railroad in the World’ for the 281 curves that were needed to climb the top of 2,600-foot peak. Official service on the railroad began on August 23, 1896. At that time the round-trip fare from Mill Valley was $1, and from San Francisco, $1.40, including the Sausalito ferry and train connections. There were two steam engines, the original 20-ton Shay (#498) and a 30-ton Heisler. (#2) I cannot see the engine well enough on this post card to know which it is. There were also six open, canopy-top observation cars, one half-enclosed former San Francisco cable car, and two flat-cars. The above information was taken from:

This post card was written on Thursday, February 9th and mailed the same day (107 years ago today). It contains a message to Mrs. Mann of Everett, Washington telling her that, while they are on their way to Los Angeles, they have arrived in San Francisco and the trip so far has been pleasant. Here is the post card's back:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Oranges in February of 1909, but...

... but are these oranges really located in Florida? On the front of this featured post card it says, "A January Scene - Riding Through Orange Groves in Florida" across the top. I am not questioning whether oranges grow in the winter (January, as listed on the post card). In fact, I looked up the growing season of oranges in Florida. I found out that the Early Harvest Season is from October to January. The oranges harvested at this time are Hamlins, Parson Browns and Navels. The Mid Harvest Season includes the picking of Sunstar, Gardner and Sanjuinelli oranges from December to March. The Late Season is when the Valencias (50% of the harvest) are picked from March to June. I do, however, question where this picture was actually taken. It just so happens that I have another post cards in my collection that across the top is written, "Entering California through Orange Groves in Mid winter". Normally, I would not think anything of this. But, today I have to question where the pictures were taken; or is it where THE PICTURE was taken. Here are the two post cards, one on top of the other:

It is the exact same picture. Upon closer examination, I would declare the Florida picture to be the original and the other a copy. The details in the top post card are clearer; there are two people right behind the engine; the oranges do not look like paint brush dots; the train itself has much more detail; and, the telegraph pole to the right looks more like a telegraph pole. I do have to say that the printer has done a marvelous job of changing the ground between the trough and the trees.

Another hint about which came first might be the dates on which they were mailed. This featured post card for today was mailed today in 1909 (109 years ago) from Florida. The other was mailed in 1923 from California.

The feature post card was made in Germany, a typical trait of post cards before World War I. The printing processes in Germany were superior to those in the USA. The American printers had a lot of quick catching up to do to fill in the gap the war left. So much so that the period before World War I is known as The Golden Age of Post Cards.

Here is the back of the post card: it looks like someone moved to Florida and is writing to a friend in Massachusetts to let the friend know that it is different but acceptable.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fifty Three Years Ago Today

The picture on the front of this post card is of train Number 21 being led by engine number 4004, belonging to the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company. This was a Class I railroad in the United States chartered on June 7, 1859. It was centered in Chicago, Illinois and mostly did business west and northwest from there. It was both a freight hauler and passenger carrier railroad. In the early 1900s the company controlled over 5,000 miles of track and by 1970 it controlled 12,000 plus miles of tracks. When it was sold to the Union Pacific in 1995, it had been reduced back to 5,000 miles of tracks.

While being noted as one of the largest railroads of the United States is probably worth talking about, this is even more interesting. The following information is taken from our good friend, Wikipedia:
The Chicago and North Western was known for running "left-hand main" on double track mainlines. In other words, traffic was routed by default to the track on the left rather than the track on the right. In the United States, most railroads followed the "right-hand main" operating practice, while "left-hand main" running was more common in countries where British companies built the railroads. According to a display in the Lake Forest station, the reason for this was a combination of chance and inertia. When originally built as single-line trackage, the C&NW arbitrarily placed its stations on the left-hand side of the tracks (when headed inbound toward Chicago). Later, when a second track was added, it was placed on the side away from the stations so as not to force them to relocate. Since most passengers waiting at the stations were headed toward Chicago, the inbound track remained the one closest to the station platforms. The expense of reconfiguring signals and switches has prevented a conversion to right-hand operation ever since.

Although the picture on the front of this card was taken 75 years ago, this particular post card did not get mailed until January 30, 1965.
It is interesting that this is a black & white photo of a steam engine on the front (kinda old fashioned) and on the reverse side the message is typed onto the card using a typewriter (also now kinda old fashioned).

Monday, January 22, 2018

99 years Ago Today

I write this posting today with very mixed feelings. Later today we will be attending the memorial service for my best friend of almost 40 years. I met him while I was still a student in Berkeley, California. When I moved to Edmonton we picked up the relationship very quickly and we soon became best buddies, getting into all sorts for mischief. Today is his 78th birthday, so the memorial will be a celebration of him and his life! The other feeling is one based on the fact that our middle grandchild turns 9 years old today. She is a smart, caring young lady with a sharp sense of humour. So, today I am dedicating this post to both of these marvelous people.

This post card is a picture of the train ferry “Solano”. Until its sister ship, the “Contra Costa”, was built it was the largest train ferry in the world. The two of them carried train traffic from Benicia (the third capital city of California from February 4, 1853 to February 25, 1854) and Port Costa in California (a trip that was perhaps less than two miles). It is a body of water known as the Carquinez Strait on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay where the Sacramento River empties into the Bay. Today, the former ferry route is framed by Solano County on the north, Contra Costa County on the south, Interstate 80 on the west and Interstate 680 on the east.

Although you can’t see it in this post card, the “Solano” was a double side wheel paddleboat.
It was constructed, owned and operated by the Central Pacific Railroad to ferry trains on the transcontinental line (it was on this route that the golden spike was driven in Utah on May 10, 1869) to and from the San Francisco Bay Area. Once the transcontinental railroad reached the sea level ferry crossing at Benicia, it was moved onto the “Solano” to be transported across the strait to Port Costa.

The “Solano”, which was built in 1878 in Oakland, California, was named for the county in which Benicia sits. It was 424 feet (129 m) long and 116 feet (35 m) wide and was capable of carrying entire passenger trains or a 48-car freight train and locomotive. It was in service from 1879 to 1930. By 1927, the “Solano” had reached its maximum capacity. On May 31, 1928 the Southern Pacific, successor to the Central Pacific in operations of the ferry, authorized construction of a railroad bridge from Benicia to Martinez just east of Port Costa. The railroad bridge opened in November 1930 and continues to serve the Union Pacific and Amtrak railroads.

Following the opening of the railroad bridge, most of the “Solano” was dismantled and sold for scrap. However, what does remain of the “Solano” can be seen today where it was scuttled to create a breakwater in the San Joaquin River near Antioch, California east of its old route.
I am sad to say that I know absolutely nothing about the printer or publisher of the card!

I will try to make up for this lack of knowledge, by telling you what very little I know about the town in France to which it was mailed exactly 99 years ago today:

The village of Quittebeuf is a small village located north of France. The town of Quittebeuf is located in the department of Eure of the french region Haute-Normandie. The town of Quittebeuf is located in the township of Évreux-Nord part of the district of Évreux. The altitude of the city hall of Quittebeuf is approximately 140 meters. The Quittebeuf surface is 13.45 km ². The latitude and longitude of Quittebeuf are 49.107 degrees North and 1.012 degrees East. Please do not confuse this town with Quillebeuf, which is very close by!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One Hundred and Twenty Years Ago Today - My Oldest Post Card

I am so happy that I can share this post card - sorry - mail card with you. It is the oldest card that I have in my collection. The card is a souvenir from a local newspaper. The dating of the card comes, not from a cancellation mark on the back from some lettering on the front:
The two pictures on the front of the card are of two train stations in Philadelphia.

From Wikipedia:
In 1889, the Reading Railroad decided to build a train depot, passenger station, and company headquarters on the corner of 12th and Market Streets. The move came eight years after the Pennsylvania Railroad opened its Broad Street Station several blocks away at 15th and Market Streets, and one year after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its 24th Street Station at 24th and Chestnut Streets. The chosen location was occupied by an open-air market that had been in continuous operation since 1853. After loud complaints and much negotiation, the railroad agreed to purchase the markets for $1 million and move them to a new structure: the Reading Terminal Market, located to the rear (north) of the headhouse at 12th and Filbert Streets. This required the train shed and all of its tracks to be constructed one story above street level, with the Ninth Street Branch to bring trains in and out.
The headhouse was designed in 1891 by Francis H. Kimball, and the train shed by Wilson Brothers & Company. Construction began that same year, and the station opened on January 29, 1893. At the time, the train shed was one of the largest single-span arched-roof structures in the world.

Also from Wikipedia:
The original Broad Street station, pictured here, was designed by Wilson Brothers & Company under authority of the old Philadelphia. Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (established 1836 from merger of four smaller lines dating to 1831). It was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the same year of its completion in 1881. It was one of the first steel-framed buildings in the United States to use masonry, not as structure, but as a curtain wall. Initially, trains arrived via elevated tracks built above Filbert Street. By 1885 the land between the station and the Schuylkill River had been purchased and cleared, and a 9-block viaduct constructed. Broad Street Station was dramatically expanded by renowned Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, 1892-93.

This is the back of the card. You can see that it is considered to be a "Mail Card" not a post card. On May 19, 1898, Congress passed an act allowing private printing companies to produce postcards with the statement “Private Mailing Card, Authorized by Act of Congress of May 19, 1898.” Private mailing cards now cost the same amount of money to mail as government-produced postcards: 1¢. The words “Private Mailing Card” distinguished privately printed cards from government printed cards.
Messages were not allowed on the address side of the private mailing cards, as indicated by the words “This side is exclusively for the Address,” or slight variations of this phrase. However, if the front of the postcard did not contain an image, it could bear a message. If the front did have an image, then a small space was left on the front for a message.

In December 1901, the Postmaster-General issued Post Office Order No. 1447, which allowed the words “Post Card” instead of the longer “Private Mailing Card” on the back of postcards. Private printers were now also allowed to omit the line citing the 1898 Private Mailing Card Act. However, messages were still not allowed on the address side of postcards. By this time, the front of most postcards had images, which eliminated it as a space for messages. Because of the absence of message space on the address side of postcards, this era of the Post Card Period is also known as the Undivided Back Period.

Friday, January 5, 2018

One Hundred and Seven Years Ago Today

I had never heard of the "Eastern Express" until I saw this post card (and two others in my collection). I searched the internet for a reference to the Eastern Express but could only find people trying to sell post cards on-line with Eastern Express in the titles. Knowing that the transcontinental railroad had several names for their cross-country trains, one would think that this name would be listed officially somewhere. But, I cannot find it; at least, none connected to the Union Pacific Railroad.
This particular Eastern Express is just southeast of Ogden, Utah at a little unincorporated area of Utah called Croyden. I did look on a map and there is a railroad track that passes just a wee bit south of Croyden today. You can see in the post card picture that there are two locomotives pulling it up the hills toward the Rocky Mountains.

I like this post card because it tells us that the person who wrote it mailed it while he or she was on the train. The post mark tells us that is was mailed on January 5th of 1911 on the line between Ogden and some place that starts with an SAN... I took out my super-magnifying glass and it continues on the stamp with SAN FRAN!! But it also tells us it was mailed on the train, itself, because the bottom of the postmark contains the letters R. P. O. The R.P.O. stands for Railway Post Office.

The first railroad post office car in North America was used on July 28, 1862 when the train traveled over the Hannibal & St. Joseph RR in Missouri as the mail made its way to California.

This post card is from the Divided Back Era. The number on this card is A-9091... It was published by the Barkalow Bros. 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. 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.