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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today in history: the picture on this post card's date

The engine on the front of this post card is an EMD FP7A. The EMD means that it was manufactured by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors. The FP7A is the model of engine. The FP7A model was designed to be a diesel engine that carried a steam generator as part of the cab. This allowed the engine to pull and heat passenger trains. This model was also an improvement over the previous EMD E-units because the company changed the wheel configuration to give the engine better traction pulling up grades. The engine was rated for 1,500 horsepower.
The company started building the FP7A units in June of 1949 and the final one rolled out of the factory in December of 1953 after about 380 of these engines were built. This particular engine on the post card was one of the last ones. It was built in December of 1953 as part of order number 3169-A2. Its serial number is 19065. Originally built for the Alaskan Railroad as number 1512, this picture shows it as part of the Wyoming & Colorado Railroad on September 23, 1989 – 28 years ago today and almost 64 years after it rolled into service.

I have looked on the internet and I can find a picture of the same engine in service. The picture is dated January 1, 1996. The engine was serving the Wyoming Scenic Railroad in that picture. Let’s hope that it has had a long and fruitful life and that someone is still enjoying it today.

I found this information about the publishing company on their website: Founded in 1964 by the late Carl H. Sturner, Audio-Visual Designs has been a leader in providing high quality railroad images products for over 4 decades. The business was originally located in Earlton, NY. The name was derived by the products sold at the time – audio soundtracks of trains well as visual items (post cards, books, & calendars). The first All Pennsy Calendar was published in 1966 and for many years used exclusively the photos of Don Wood, a long time friend of Carl's. In the late 80's, Carl started showcasing other photographer's work as well.
Railroad Christmas cards were added to the line of products early on and with a few exceptions have featured real photos of trains in action. Three railroad books have been published by Audio-Visual Designs: I Remember Pennsy, Locomotives in My Life, and The Unique New York and Long Branch: all of which were projects worked on by Carl and Mr. Wood. Audio-Visual Designs has also published books for other non-railroad related organizations. By the time of his untimely passing in 1995, Carl had grown Audio-Visual Designs into an established icon in the railfan community - providing an enjoyable aspect of both the railfanning and model railroading hobbies. We serve many excursion railroads, museums, and hobby shops with stock post card images, greeting cards, custom products and the All Pennsy Calendar.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pick An Orange As You Go By

This post card is published by the M. Kashower Company out of Los Angeles. It is from the "white border era" of post cards, which means it was printed between 1915 and 1930. That puts it in the right time zone because the company only existed from 1914 to 1934.

It is a stylized picture of a steam train passing through an orange grove in southern California. I lived in So. Cal. for many years starting in 1959 and I can attest that, while this is certainly stylized, it is possible that a similar photo could have actually existed, including the mountain in the background.
This route (The Golden State Limited) began running on November 2, 1902 from Chicago to Kansas City to El Paso, then it went on to New Mexico and Arizona and finally arrived in Los Angeles. It was a partnership between the Rock Island Line and the Southern Pacific. The journey was 2,762 miles long, making it the longest route in the United States. Canada had a route longer, so this was the second longest train route in North America. It took about 63 hours to complete the journey from Chicago to Los Angels. The Golden State Limited used Pullman passenger cars exclusively. The route began as a seasonal experience, but in 1910 the Golden State Limited began to run all through the year until its demise in 1968. Limited was dropped from the name in May of 1947.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What a High Bridge!

In the aftermath of the Civil War, a major north-south railroad route was deemed vitally important. The Cincinnati Southern Railroad picked up where the defunct Lexington and Danville railroad had left off. A new cantilever bridge was designed by Charles Shaler Smith to be built at the same location as the previously planned suspension bridge.

Shaler, as he was known, was an engineering officer in the Confederate army during the Civil War. He designed the Confederate Powder Works in Augusta, Georgia. Following the war, he became well known as the foremost American engineer of the day. His Baltimore Bridge Company, a partnership with Benjamin and Charles Latrobe, boasted of creating 13 miles of bridges in its advertising, including four bridges over the Mississippi, one over the Missouri, and one over the Saint Lawrence. Shaler was known for innovative solutions to engineering challenges.
His use of a cantilever design for the bridge helped solve the difficult construction challenge of the 275 feet deep gorge of the Kentucky River. The cantilever meant that minimal scaffolding was necessary; the arms of the bridge could be built out from the piers, balancing each other without the need for falsework.
When the bridge was completed in 1877, it was not only the first cantilever bridge in North America, but also the highest and longest cantilever in the world. The completed bridge stood 275 feet tall and spanned 1,125 feet. Until the early 20th century, the bridge held the record as the highest bridge over a navigable stream.
High Bridge, as it became known, ushered in the era of modern bridge building. The engineering marvel was dedicated by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated High Bridge as an engineering landmark in 1986. A model of the bridge can be found in the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.
With increasing and heavier railroad traffic, it became evident that the bridge would need to be reinforced or rebuilt. During 1910 and 1911, the bridge was rebuilt using a design by Gustav Lindenthal.
The rebuilt bridge used the same footings as the original bridge and was built around the original. By raising the track deck of the new bridge almost 30 feet above the existing deck, railroad traffic was able to continue uninterrupted during the rebuilding.
The higher deck of the new bridge required a new elevated approach. A temporary trestle was built and then filled to the required height.
As traffic increased, the railroad found it necessary to double the track on the bridge. By the end of the track doubling project in 1929, High Bridge had attained its current appearance.
The massive limestone towers that had been a trademark of the bridge and village had to be removed to provide clearance for the extra track. Legend has it that when the towers were built in 1851, a bottle of premium bourbon was sealed in each tower by the masons to commemorate the occasion. When the towers were torn down, no one admitted to finding the bottles.

The above information is from:

The post card was published by the Metrocraft Company of Everett, Mass. They were a major printer of linen and photochrome postcards, as is evidenced by this particular post card,
displaying a variety of subjects. They also printed postcards for many other publishers. A good number of Metrocraft’s early photochrome postcards retained the use of retouchers that had worked on their linens. These cards have a very distinct look before they went over to a completely uniform photographic means of natural color reproduction. From: the Metropolitan Post Card Club of New York website.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Moffat Tunnel

I am blogging about this post card because it just recently came to me in the mail. I have a few others about which I will blog so that I can process them into my collection - now up to 3,034 train post cards.

I published on previous blog about the Moffat Tunnel. It was on May 10, 2014. That post was mostly about David Moffat, after whom the Moffat Tunnel was named. This is a quick summary of what was in that post: "Almost all of the information that follows came from the Wikipedia website.
David Moffat was born in Washingtonville, New York on July 22, 1839. He moved to Denver, Colorado in 1860. Unfortunately, as the Union Pacific Railroad built the transcontinental railroad heading west it by-passed Denver for a much flatter and easier to construct route. Building the transcontinental railroad through Nebraska, totally by-passing Colorado, left the Denver stranded from the commerce connections that it had hoped for.

As a result of this snub, the governor of Colorado, together with other local business leaders, including David Moffat partnered with East Coast investors to form a railroad company (the Denver Pacific Railway) that would link Denver and the Colorado Territory with the transcontinental railroad. The second railroad company, the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, with which Moffat was involved got its start intending to connect the mining area of Colorado to the city of Denver. It began in 1872 and operated as an independent railroad until it was sold in foreclosure proceedings in 1889.

Looking south, Mr. Moffat, along with other business men, began the Denver and New Orleans Railroad. Their intention was to bring business to and from the Gulf of Mexico. As if that wasn’t enough railroading, David Moffat then started the first trolley line in Denver.

His next venture was to be the Manitou and Pike's Peak Railway climbing to the top of Pikes Peak. The company was founded in 1889 and limited service to the Halfway House Hotel was started in 1890. The summit was reached the following year.

In 1885 David Moffat was elected to Denver & Rio Grande board. Then in 1887 Moffat was elected president of the Denver & Rio Grande. Moffat built the Glenwood to Grand Junction, standard gauging Pueblo to Grand Junction, and the Tennessee pass tunnel.

1892 David Moffat next developed a railroad to Creede from Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado. It ran along the banks of the Rio Grande to Creede at his own expense. He formed the Rio Grande Gunnison Railway Company.

Finally, David H. Moffat and his business associates established the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific Railway. It was reorganized as the Denver & Salt Lake Railway and it was along this railway that the Moffat Tunnel was bored. David Moffat envisioned a tunnel through the continental divide west of Denver. Construction of the Moffat Tunnel took place from 1923 to 1927. It was officially opened on February 28, 1928 with much fanfare and several trainloads of special guests in attendance at the East Portal, the picture on this post card. Denver & Salt Lake Railroad locomotive 205, a 2-6-6-0 compound locomotive, pulled the first official passenger train through the new tunnel. The Moffat Tunnel is 6.2 miles long and is the 6th largest tunnel on earth.

Mr. Moffat died on March 18, 1911, before he could realize this dream."

This post is more about the Tunnel itself and, of course, the post card attached to it. This post card was published after 1927. I know that because one of the dates on the top of the tunnel states that it was completed in 1927. But, judging by the wording on the back of the post card, it was not published much after that date. It says,"The estimated cost was to be approximately $13,000,000 but due to unexpected and unforeseen conditions arising from time to time it is now estimated that the total cost will be about $18,000,000." This card was published so closely to the completion of the tunnel that they didn't even know the full cost of the construction.

The post card was published by the H. H. Tammen Curio Company. That little critter at which the arrow up the middle of the post card is pointing, is their trademark. 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. (from the Metropolitan Post Card Club of New York)

The post card itself is from the Linen Era (1930 - 1945).
You can see how this company tried their best to make it look like linen. In my books, nobody came close to the best linen post card maker Curt Teich.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Chock full of Mystery!

These four post cards contain a whole lot of mystery. The first is a tongue-in-cheek mystery: Where did they get food that grew so large? The other mysteries are things like: Who printed these cards? Who published the cards? Where were they sold? Why are they printed in black and white? How old are they?
The only answer to a question from above that I can provide is not very specific. The cards were probably printed in the Divided Back Era (1907 – 1915). After March 1, 1907 the public were allowed to write more than just the address on the back of the post card. A line was usually printed down the middle and, certainly at the beginning of this era, the two sides were labelled about which side was appropriate for the address and which was reserved for the message. Another hint is that the pictures on the fronts of the cards go all the way to the edges of the post cards. After 1915, in order to save some money on ink costs, the printers provided a border around the picture on the front of the post cards.

If you look at the numbers on the flat cars (right side) you might conclude that these cards were part of a series published by the company - whoever they were.

A careful look at the post card with the flat car holding the watermelon foreshadows this border. If you look to the right-hand edge of the post card you will see that there is white space between the scene and the edge of the card. Unfortunately, it is not something that was done on purpose. This card is at the bottom of the picture below. You can imagine that the part of the watermelon is missing from the left side of the card. It could easily be the width of the white stripe on the right.

This post card is at the bottom of the picture below. You can see that the box that contains the words, “PLACE STAMP HERE” is very close to the edge – compared to the three above it. This card didn’t go through the cutting machine very neatly. Another mystery: Who was on quality control?

Monday, October 26, 2015


William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States on March 4, 1909. While has was campaigning for the presidency, he used a train that had a car at the end with a platform on the back. As a matter of fact, this post card has captured a picture of him on that train car. He followed Theodore Roosevelt into the presidency so the economy in the United States was flourishing. You can see in the upper right of this post card the word “PROSPERITY”. The large vegetables in the picture reflect the same feeling of wealth. This post card was produced in 1908, while Taft was still travelling across the United States trying to drum up as many votes as he could. He won the election with only 51.6% of the popular vote.

The post card was produced by William H. Martin (1865 – 1940). He worked out of Ottawa, Kansas after purchasing a shop there in 1894. Somewhere along the way he decided to produce not just photographs of exaggerated subject matter, but, he turned these photographs into post cards. He sold his Ottawa business and opened The North American Post Card Company in Kansas City, Kansas. In only three years he made a fortune by selling these post cards. He sold his photography (post card) business in 1912 to open a new venture: the National Sign Company.
This particular post card was used on September 19, 1910, 18 months after Taft became president. It seems to be a note from one young man to another asking when he went to the fair, because they did not see each other there. There must have been a large blimp or dirigible at the fair – it is mentioned at the end of the message with a “ha ha” added.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Goin' to Florida

The Overseas Railroad was an extension of the Florida East Coast Railway
to Key West, located 128 miles beyond the end of the Florida peninsula. Work on the line started in 1905 and was completed in 1912; the line was in daily passenger and freight service until its destruction by a hurricane in 1935. My wife and I joke a lot about cars driving down the road for kilometers with their turn signals on. We usually alert the other person by saying,"Guess he's goin' to Florida." Then the other person knows to look for a car with continuous turn signalling happening. I have to admit that she has asked me if I was going to Florida a couple of times. Today's blog post is taking us to Florida without the benefit of an ongoing turn signal. We are looking at three of my seven post cards that highlight the Florida East Railway's Long Key Viaduct. I will first tell you the story, then talk about the publisher of each post card at the end. I will simply intersperse the fronts of the post cards through the narrative as taken mostly from Wikipedia. The
construction problems were formidable; labor turnover was frequent and the cost was prohibitive. The first portion of the line, from Homestead to Key Largo, was across swamp land. Thankfully, the dredging of the drainage canals to clear the swamps provided the material to build up the roadbed. Worse than any other challenge was the weather: a hurricane in September 1906 destroyed the initial work on the Long Key Viaduct and killed more than 100 laborers. Hurricanes in 1909 and 1910 destroyed much of the completed railroad. After these hurricanes, work resumed at a faster pace — The owner of the railroad was 80 years old and wanted to ride all the way to Key West on his railroad. The completion of Seven Mile Bridge assured many that the line would soon be completed. Henry Flagler, by then blind, arrived in Key West on January 22, 1912, aboard his private rail car "Rambler", telling a welcoming crowd, “Now I can die happy. My dream is fulfilled.” Regular service on the 156-mile extension — dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" — began the following day, with through sleepers between New York and Key West with connections at Key West for passenger steamers and car ferries bound for Havana. Flagler died less than 18 months later in May 1913.
The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane washed away approximately 40 miles of the Middle Keys section of the line. In addition, the Long Key Fishing Camp was destroyed, along with a rescue train which was — with the exception of locomotive #447 — overturned by the storm surge at Islamorada, Florida. With Flagler gone, the railroad was unwilling to repair a line that had never repaid its construction cost — an unknown figure. It was later determined that the total cost of what had been derisively nicknamed "Flagler's Folly" exceeded $50 million ($1.31 billion today), all from his personal fortune.

The top post card, above was mailed in 1914, soon after the viaduct opened. It was published by the H. S. Kress Company. A publisher and large distributor of postcards through their national chain of Five & Dime stores. They were purchased by Genesco in 1964 who slowly began shutting the business down.

The middle post card was published by the Leighton & Valentine Company
out of New York City. Hugh C. Leighton was a printer and major publisher of national view-cards, especially scenes of New England. They printed most of their cards in four distinct styles employing halftone lithography. Most used a simple soft yet highly recognizable RGB pallet. While some cards were printed at their plant in the U.S. most were manufactured in Frankfort, Germany. Almost all their cards were numbered. They merged with Valentine & Sons in 1909.

The last of the post cards was published by the E.C. Kropp Company:
a publisher and printer that began producing chromolithographic souvenir cards and private mailing cards in 1898 under the name Kropp. These cards were of much higher quality than those that would printed under the E.C. Kropp name. They became the E.C. Kropp Company in 1907 and produced large numbers of national view-cards and other subjects. Their latter linen cards had a noticeably fine grain. Sold to L.L. Cook in 1956 and they are now part of the GAF Corp. U.S. This post card is an excellent example of a linen post card. The texture and weight of the card are obvious when one holds it and holds it up to the light. I hope you can see the texture in this close-up: