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Monday, April 23, 2018

One Hundred and Eight Years Ago

From Wikipedia: The Grand Trunk Railway (reporting mark GT) was a railway system that operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and in the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.[1] The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, with corporate headquarters in London, England (4 Warwick House Street). It cost an estimated $160 million to build. The Grand Trunk, its subsidiaries, and the Canadian Government Railways were precursors of today's Canadian National Railways.

The Grand Trunk station was a historic railroad station in Hamilton, Ontario, which was located on Stuart Street, at the beginning of Caroline Street North. In 1885, an effort was made to beautify the area to the east of the station itself with ornamental gardens. The embankment along Stuart Street provided an opportunity to let passengers passing by to know exactly what city they were in, with the word "Hamilton" written with white stones. You can see this on the embankment to the left of the station and below the white building with the red roof.

The message is Marjorie telling her cousin, Florence, that all is well and that she was the housekeeper while her mother and Martha went to Detroit over Easter. The publisher of the post card, W.G. MacFarland, was a very active post card publisher. If you search for the name you will find quite the number of results, including pictures of his post cards.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

110 Years Ago Today

When the railroad was built, the Dollarhide family owned the Siskiyou Pass wagon road, which became the Pacific Highway, U.S. Highway 99, and Interstate 5 later. They also owned a sawmill, for which they had originally purchased this right of way. The material for the pictured trestle came out of the nearby Dollarhide Sawmill, and Southern Pacific therefore named it "Dollarhide Trestle". Like all the wooden trestles along the Siskiyou Pass route, it was filled with rock and soil later, and is a dam today. On some maps, the location is still called "Dollarhide Curve". The nearby settlement "Dollarhide" has been abandoned, like most of the small settlements along the railroad pass route.
It must be a very steep grade. There are two engines at the front of this train and one at the back, pushing. The Oregon & California Railroad proposed an alternate route for the Oregon and California rail connection, which would have avoided Siskiyou Pass. However, Oregon politicians decided in favor of the present rail route. When Tunnel 13 was completed in 1887, beneath the Siskiyou Pass, there was finally a rail link between Oregon and California. In the 1920s, the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed the Natron Cutoff, a faster, cheaper route between the two states.

The message on the back is simply letting someone know that the writer arrived in Salem, Oregon safely and that the weather was much better than she expected.

Monday, April 9, 2018

81 Years Od Today

There is so much to say about this post card.... Because the title on the front of the card claims that it is "The Steepest Railway in the World" we should check on that. The rails are 1,550 feet long from top to bottom of the canyon. For 100 per cent of the ride the rails are set at a 45 degree angle. That sounds like the steepest Railway in the world to me - - - at least back on June 14, 1931 (not quite 6 years before this post card was mailed) when it was dedicated. If you search on line for the world's steepest railway today, you will find that it is, of course, in Switzerland. It is certainly steeper than this railway is today - it no longer exists. It was destroyed beyond repair by a fire in June of 2013. That was the same month as its 82nd birthday. The incline railway was owned by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. You can see that when we turn the card over:
The purple circular stamp in the top, middle says, "The top of the world Tennessee Pass Colorado" at the bottom of the circle it has the letters: "D. & G. R. W. Rail..." It also tells you that you are a the 10,242 foot elevation mark (not quite 2 miles above sea level. On left side of the card we see that it was published by the Interstate Company out of Denver. Van Noy Railway Hotel and News began a series of mergers and acquisitions in 1914, starting with the Brown News Company (also headquartered in Kansas City) which was acquired on October 1, 1914 being operated as Van Noy News. In 1915, the Company began consolidating operations with the New York City based Interstate News Company. The company name was changed to Van Noy-Interstate News Company in 1917, but the company headquarters remained in Kansas City under the leadership of Ira C. Van Noy. As a result of changes in railroad passenger train service, Van Noy Interstate began to focus more on the hotel side of their operations. In 1922, the Company acquired the Gem Fountain Company, and in 1926 the company began operating as the Interstate Company.
The line down the center of the card indicates that it was printed by the H. H. Tammen Curio 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 are 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. Tammen also manufactured a very popular line of "Colorado curiosities" and "mineral novelties" consusting of a variety of numbered and identified Colorado mineral and ore specimens cemented onto clocks, caskets, inkstands (one of which won an award at the 1881 Colorado State Fair), centerpieces, crosses, horseshoes and so on for ornamental purposes. He described these items as "perfect in taste, blending of colors, etc., and absolutely trustworthy as regards the cataloguing, classification and specifications of the different minerals employed in the construction of each article." He also dealt in stereoscopic and other photos of the West (he was supplied by the famous Western photographer W.H. Jackson), photo albums, books on the West, silver souvenir spoons, a wide variety of humorous and scenic postcards (especially of mining areas), fossil fish, polished agates, botanical specimens, Pueblo Indian pottery, Tlingit Indian carvings, relics and taxidermy items from his stores in Denver.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

115 Years Ago - Regarding a Bay Colt Horse

I know that the title of the blog says, "Bay Colt Horse" but that is not the subject of the picture on the post card. That is one of the topics in the message. This person is writing to George Cramer in Mapleton, Minnesota asking, "Have you driven your bay colt yet? He must be a dandy by this time." Mapleton is about 100 miles South-Southwest of Minneapolis. On Google maps it looks like it could still be farm country where they raise bay colts. Other interesting notes about the back of this post card:
1) The post card is published by Edward H. Mitchell from San Francisco. Edward H. Mitchell was one of the earliest and most prolific postcard publishers in the United States, and he was a San Franciscan. Cards bearing his name as publisher have been used, collected and studied since the end of the nineteenth century – the dawn of the Golden Age of Postcards. Several extensive checklists running to over three thousand entries have been compiled and updated. Mitchell published very early cards – colored vignettes – that were printed in Germany. He was publishing undivided back cards from a Post Street address before the earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed his printing operation and much of San Francisco. He continued to work out of his home until he built a plant and warehouse on Army Street. From there he published thousands of divided back cards including many views of San Francisco and the West, series on the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands, high quality real photo views, comics, artistic designs and a series of early exaggerations of California fruits and vegetables. He printed cards for himself and other publishers, most notably to promote the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. Collectors and researchers of all Mitchell cards cannot help but feel a personal link with the publisher because he identifies himself on each of them as “Edward H. Mitchell”–  not “... Company,” not “... Inc.” just Edward H. Mitchell.”
2) Contained in the postal cancellation is an advertisement for the upcoming WORLD'S PANAMA PACIFIC EXPOSITION IN SAN FRANCISCO IN 1915. It was ostensibly advertised as a celebration of the that fact that the recently opened Panama Canal would connect the Pacific world to the rest of the world through the canal. Being a train post card blog spot, I have to mention that the C. P. Huntington, the first steam locomotive purchased for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was included in the exhibits.
3) If you look carefully at the cancellation mentioned in number 2, above, the I in SAN FRANCISCO is spelled with an exclamation mark !
I do not know how intentional that is. I can find no references to it on line or in any of the books that I have. I do know that the city had experienced a devastating earthquake less than a decade earlier and they were excited to show the world how they had recovered. Maybe this was a hint.
The picture on the front of this post card is from a mountain in the range that surrounds Las Angeles, California. I have written about Mt. Lowe before in this blog. That is the San Gabriel valley in the background. In order to get to this point in the Mount Lowe experience the riders would have taken a Pacific Electric trolley from Los Angeles to the base of the mountain. Then they took an incline railroad very nearly straight up the side of the mountain where they would then transfer to this trolley, which would then take them through the Granite Gate, across Las Flores Canyon and around the circular bridge in order to get to the Inn at the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, today there is very little that remains of this marvel. You can read more about Mt. Lowe here:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Boy Away from Home 94 Years Ago

"Trains entering California and Florida through Orange Groves" is a theme that repeats again and again in my post card collection. I posted earlier this year about two post cards with the same scene, one claiming it was in California and the other Florida. This post card is sticking with the California concept. It is certainly a real possibility. When I lived in California there were train tracks that passed next to and through orange groves. I remember one that went through an avocado grove! In the bottom left of the post card, starting the title, is the combination: H-2290. This immediately tells me that this post card was printed so the the Fred Harvey Company could sell it.

In 1878 Fred Harvey was the first to established a chain of restaurants then hotels across the Southwest that provided quality service. Much was done to market the region including publishing large series of postcards depicting Native Americans and local scenery. In 1897 Harvey took over the news stands for the A.T.&S.F. Railroad and began distributing postcards. The Santa Fe Railroad also did a great deal to publicize its Route to the Grand Canyon. A large amount of postcards were produced depicting the canyon and the Railroad’s hotel interests within the National Park.
Fred Harvey himself provided some of the images for these cards until his death in 1901. Between 1901 and 1932 the Company contracted all their cards with the Detroit Publishing Company (that is who printed this post card). These cards have an H prefix before their identification number, but in addition Detroit published many of Harvey’s images on their own. After Detroit closed, many of Harvey’s cards were contracted out to Curt Teich among others.

The message on the back is a son telling his mother that he is okay and in North Bend, Oregon. She lives in Hilltop, Kansas. My short research indicates to me that Hilltop's post office was discontinued in August of 1951. I am not sure if it disappeared altogether, or if it was absorbed into Wichita. There is an area in Kansas that is remembered in Wikipedia as Hilltop, but there is also a district in Wichita named Hilltop.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lonely 109 Years Ago

The publisher's title for this post card is "Three Elevations of Track on F. & C. C. Ry., Colo." If you look very, extremely carefully at the very top of the hill in the middle, you can see a dark line with a very slight puff of smoke heading skyward. That is the first level. The second level is obvious with the engine and three passenger cars. The third level of tracks stars in the lower left and crosses a wee bridge to the right. The railway is the Florence and Cripple Creek, a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge railway. It went Northwest out of Florence, Colorado where it met with the Denver and Rio Grande. It included CaƱon City (from where this post card was mailed) on the banks of the Arkansas River. The C & CC Railway traveled up the steep and narrow Phantom Canyon to the Cripple Creek Mining District, west of Pikes Peak. It was founded in 1893 and went out of business in 1915. (from Wikipedia)
I love the kinds of messages this post card contains: Why haven't you written to me!! I find humorous because the author is complaining that he hasn't hear from his cousin, but he certainly hasn't told her much in the way of news with this post card.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

See America First 104 Years Ago

The back of this post card promotes that Americans should see their own country first. It is very politely worded, "SEE EUROPE IF YOU WILL BUT SEE AMERICA FIRST". It is very cute that they have a dark outline of all of North America (with white border line above and below the States) but they don't really mention Mexico and Canada as options. The giveaway to me is that HUGE American flag. I am pretty sure that they meant for Americans to visit the 48 states (there were only 48 in 1914) first, then, if there is time left in the visitor's life, he or she can go to see Europe.
Of course, the front of the card hints at the absolutely very best way to "See America first".... take the train. This is a picture of a steam train crossing the Great Salt Lake in Utah on the Lucin Cut-off. The train is leaving the Midlake Station on its way to the other shore. The Lucin Cut-off is a railroad line which included a railroad trestle which crossed the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Built by the Southern Pacific Company between February 1902 and March 1904 across Promontory Point, it bypassed the original Central Pacific Railroad route through Promontory Summit where the Golden Spike was driven in 1869. By going west across the lake from Ogden, Utah to Lucin, Utah, it cut off 43 miles and avoided curvatures and unpleasant grades. The trestle was eventually replaced in the late 1950s with a parallel causeway built under contract by the Morrison Knudsen construction company. Today the wood from the old trestle is being re-used by the Trestlewood Company. I have a piece of the original trestle to go along with my train post card collection. Thank you, Trestlewood.

The message on the back is reassuring if not disconcerting. "Everything is just right in this city. Will depart 21st." If everything in the city is just right, why are they leaving?