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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:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Angels Flight Railway in Los Angeles

Colette and I won a trip to Los Angeles through a radio station that we listen to and support. We stayed in a hotel in the financial district about 6 or 8 blocks from the Union Train Station. Just a few blocks away from our hotel was an even more famous (with me, at least) railway station: Angels Flight Railway.
When I was much younger… in the 1960s …our family went to the Angels Flight Railway and rode the funicular. I don’t remember how many times we went up and down Bunker Hill. It was great. I still have a ticket to ride Angels Flight from that time in my box of memorabilia. Originally, I kept it because I thought that we would someday return and ride it again. I didn’t know much about the railroad then. But, to date I have found lots of very interesting background and information.
Angels Flight was the result of the efforts of Colonel James Ward Eddy, a Civil War veteran. He began construction of Angels Flight (a two foot, six inch gauge railroad) on August 2, 1901. The railway ended up being a 33 percent grade for 315 feet. He opened the railway on December 31st of the same year. On Opening Day more than 2,000 people took the two funicular cars, Olivet and Sinai, between Hill and Olive Streets (two blocks) in downtown Los Angeles.
Colonel Eddy was born on May 30, 1832 in Java, New York and he died in Los Angeles on April 13, 1916. He moved to Illinois in 1853 where he studied law and became a lawyer and friend of Abraham Lincoln, so much so, that during the Civil War he enlisted in the Army and joined those whose job it was to protect Washington, D. C. After the war, he helped to build a branch line from Flagstaff, Arizona to Phoenix for the Santa Fe railroad. Then, he moved to Los Angeles in 1895. He was part of the project to bring power lines from the Kern River to L.A.
Six years after moving to Los Angeles, he built Angels Flight with his own money. It just so happens that this railway is very close to the area of town in which the colonel lived. The first rides cost one penny and they took passengers from one station to the next in about a minute.
In May of 1969 Angels Flight was closed down so the city government could redevelop the area and displace over 20,000 people. They put Angels Flight into storage. On February 24, 1996 Angels Flight was opened half a block south of the original site. Since then it has had several accidents and many safety violations. Today, it sits on display for all to see and none to ride.
You can get more information about Angels Flight on Wikipedia ( at or at
These two post cards show Angels Flight in its early years. Both post cards are from before March 1, 1907. The backs of them clearly show that one can only write the address on that side. The one on the left, above, is by the Detroit Publishing Co. There is a great source of information about the Detroit Company at ( and at The right-hand one is published by the M. Rieder Company who published view-cards of the West and of Native Americans. His cards were printed in Germany except those contracted out to Edward H. Mitchell in the United States.
The left one below is also from Detroit Publishing and the right-hand one is from M. Rieder.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Don't Try This at Home!

I cannot imagine being able to or wanting to stand inside one of the Spiral Tunnels on “The Big Hill” just east of Field, British Columbia. It just isn't a safe thing to do!! But that is exactly what the photographer for Gowan & Sutton Company must have done to get this beautiful shot of Cathedral Mountain.
Then, in order to sell a very impressive post card to someone, they hand tinted the real photo card. I can see a light shade of blue surrounding Cathedral Mountain; there is a slight shading of green on the side of the mountain, too.

The photographer was probably standing at the opening of the top of the Lower Spiral Tunnel in the base of Mt. Stephen. The track continues to curve to the left, which will take it to the Upper Spiral Tunnel built into the base of Cathedral Mountain.

An eastbound train leaving Field climbs a moderate hill, goes through two short, straight tunnels on Mt. Stephen, under the Trans-Canada Highway, across the Kicking Horse River and into the Lower Spiral Tunnel in Mt. Ogden. It spirals to the left up inside the mountain for 891-m and emerges 15-m higher. The train then crosses back over the Kicking Horse River, under the highway a second time and into the 991-m tunnel in Cathedral Mountain. The train spirals to the right, emerging 17-m higher and continues to the top of Kicking Horse Pass.

I have written in my past blogs about this area that straddles British Columbia and Alberta in the Rocky Mountains. See my 2013 entries from February 17th (probably from Cathedral Mountain looking back at Mt. Stephen), March 22nd and April 5th as well as Nov. 8, 2014. I have also written about the publisher/printer on April 12th and August 2nd of 2013 and February 1st of 2014.

Gowan Sutton (1921 – 1960) was 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.