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Friday, November 17, 2017

One Hundred and Nine Years Ago Today

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 grades. The trestle was eventually replaced in the late 1950s with a parallel causeway built under contract by the Morrison Knudsen construction company. I am very excited to be able to say that I have a piece of wood from the original trestle in my possession. I got in from these people:

The Williamson-Haffner Engraving Company existed and was headquartered in Denver, Colorado from 1905 to 1915.
The company was a publisher of lithographic souvenir books and view-cards of the American West. While their views were largely based on photographic reproduction, many scenes were artist drawn. They also produced comic postcards. This post card was a photographic reproduction printed by another company but published by the Williamson-Haffner Co. I have 5 post cards of extremely similar images. 4 of them were printed by the company I would love to be able to identify. It has the words "POST CARD" over an American flag draped over a staff lying sideways (see the top of this card). I have many, many post cards from this printer. Unfortunately, none of them identify the printer, only the publishers.

I have seen the message on the back of the post card several times. It must have been popular at the turn of the last century. "I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." I am pretty sure that the word "Dearest" was scratched off much later by another "collector"; and the "mn365 20" looks like it was added after, too.

The post card was mailed 109 years ago today at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

One Hundred and Six Years Ago Today

The First World War was not even four months old; it would be another four years before the significance of November 11th would take hold of the world.
And yet, this father made it a special day for his daughter. They went up to the top of Mount Lowe to make a day of it and he sent her a little reminder of their special time together. The message on the post card says, "Dear Daughter, Just a line from Mt. Lowe and although you are with me I wished to surprise you with a card. Love from Papa" How great is that?

In 1889, David MacPherson, a former Santa Fe Railway civil engineer, planned a steam powered railroad into the mountains behind Pasadena. In 1891, MacPherson and Thaddeus Lowe, a public figure from the Civil War, incorporated the Pasadena and Mt. Wilson Railway. Land near Mt. Wilson was unavailable, so Lowe ran electric trolley cars through Altadena into Rubio Canyon. At the terminus, Lowe built a pavilion transfer station and "The Great Incline". Designed by Andrew Halladie, cable car inventor, the incline was California's first electric cable hoisting mechanism. It traveled 1/2 mile to Echo Mountain summit where Lowe built a powerhouse, Chalet, the Echo Mountain House,
a casino (used as a dance pavilion and dormitory), an observatory, residential car barn, gardens, gas holder, zoo and water system. "The White City on the Mountain" was world famous. Echo Mountain House rose 4-stories with a 400 foot wing providing office space, social and recreational halls, a dining room, curio shop, shoeshine stand and 70 rooms. A massive dome crowned the structure. The interior was finished in natural wood.

Henry Huntington (Pacific Electric Railway System) bought the railway in 1901.  "Red Cars" ran from Los Angeles to Rubio Canyon.  Huntington strengthened the bridges and upgraded the track of the Mt. Lowe Line.  The casino collapsed during a sever gale on December 9, 1905.  The roof flew 60 feet, landing on the powerhouse.  Huntington constructed a modern incline mechanism in a new powerhouse.  For the Alpine Division, he built open-air crossbench cars and expanded the Alpine Tavern.  Amenities included a dining room, billiard room, music room with floor, card room, circulating library and souvenir shop.  Recreation included croquet, tennis, riding, hiking an miniature golf.  Bungalows surrounded the hotel.  A nearby silver fox farm added ambiance.  For the next 30 years, the Mt. Lowe Line was Southern California's favorite lodestone.  Another windstorm destroyed the observatory in 1928.  September 15, 1936, fire completely gutted Alpine Tavern.  Although Pacific Electric weighed rebuilding the hotel, the Depression destined the end of the line. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

One Hundred and Thirty Two Years Ago

The front of this post card is a reproduction of a poster from 1945. It commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of the driving of the last spike in the Canadian transcontinental railway. World War II had just finished and these were pretty heady days in Canada - similar, I am sure, to the days after the completion of the cross-Canada railway. The driving of the last spike happened at Craigellachie, British Columbia at 9:22 A.M. 132 years ago today.

From Wikipedia: The circumstance of the CPR's last spike ceremony led several spikes to assume the honour of being the "last spike". In contrast to the ceremonial gold or silver final spikes often used to mark the completion of other major railroads, the Canadian Pacific Railway's "Last Spike" was a conventional iron spike identical to the many others used in the construction of the line. The symbolic iron spike driven by Donald Smith was badly bent as he pounded it into the railway tie. Roadmaster Frank Brothers extracted the spike and it was given to Smith as the "last spike". Smith had the bent spike straightened and cut several strips of iron from it which were mounted with diamonds and presented to the wives of some of the party assembled at Craigellachie. This spike was later donated to the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. This post card below was issued on the 100th anniversary of the driving of the last spike. It includes a commemorative stamp printed by Canada Post.

I have been to Craigellachie; it is what many would call "in the middle of nowhere". It is near half-way between Salmon Army, to the west, and Revelstoke. There is a lovely little tourist booth at which you can purchase several souvenirs and read about the history of the CPR's last spike ceremony. I have a T-shirt!!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

One Hundred and Eight Years Ago Today

This is another of the post cards in my collection that are related to the Royal Gorge in Colorado. I was collecting this theme of post cards long before I went there to see it with my own eyes. My wife and I decided to vacation in the state of Colorado a few years ago. Because we were in Colorado we included 3 train trips in the itinerary. Pikes Peak was the first one. The Durango & Silverton was the second and the Royal Gorge was the last one. We paid a bit extra to be able to sit in the cab with the engineer. We saw all the sights that are connected to the Royal Gorge in my post cards except this one; it's called "The Crevice". It looks like it might be near the hanging bridge. There are no signs to point them out, so we went past this, but I am not sure when we did.
This post card was mailed 108 years ago today. The message is from one good friend to another. It tells the receiver that the sender is now working in the "mail service". It adds that he has to "learn the work before I get any money". This would not be an acceptable practice today. YAY Progress!!! He does add later that "I like this fine." so I am glad he was happy with what he was doing.

You will notice that the logo in the top, middle of the card appears again. I have this on so many of the post cards. I would love to know who it belonged to.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

One Hundred and Twenty Two Years Ago

Today's blog entry is dedicated to my good friend Aline, whose birthday is today. She is MUCH younger than this post card, but she does speak French. Why do I add this little tid-bit you ask? Read the rest of the posting:

Almost everyone who is into trains must know about this famous accident that happened in Paris. And, of course, I have a post card that commemorates the event. Unfortunately, the post card is not from 1895. It is from, at the earliest, 1963; it contains a 5-digit zip code to New York on the back. Zip codes were introduced to the United States in January of 1963.

The official title of the incident on the front of this post card is "Montparnasse Derailment". I can make out the words "CHEMIN DE FER" and "DE L'OUEST" on the side of the building. What we see in the picture is then engine.
The whole train consisted of the locomotive (No. 721), three luggage cars, a post office car, and six passenger coaches. The only person hurt in the accident was a woman on the street below who was struck by some of the falling concrete as the engine burst through the wall.

I just received another post card in the mail 16 days ago with a picture on it depicting the same accident. A good friend of ours was in Europe. While she was in Paris at the Musee d' Orsay where she picked up this post card. On the back of the post card she writes, "I suspect I will see Colette before either of you see this!" She was right. Colette had coffee with her on October 2nd; we received this card on the 6th of October.

This incident happened on October 22, 1895 - One Hundred and Twenty Two Years Ago today.

Friday, October 13, 2017

One Hundred and Two Years Ago Today

This post card was mailed to his father one hundred and two years ago today by Bert. I know this because the message reads: "Dear Father, This is certainly a beautiful city and a good place to live. Things are very lively here & so many tourist the street are certainly black. Your son Bert."

The post card was published by the Van Ornum Colorant Co. centered in Los Angeles, California.
From 1908 to 1921 they published lithographic view-cards, mostly depicting scenes of southern California. Their corporate symbol on the back of this post card is also the divider between the message and the address. It is a stylized palm tree, like so many that one can see in Southern California.

ANGEL'S FLIGHT was open from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. daily. The round trip fare was 5 cents. I have, in my collection of collectables, a certificate with the history of Angel's Flight and a promise to rebuild once Bunker Hill's community renovations are done. We purchased it on one of our trips to downtown. It is probably 50 years old itself. That is nothing compared to the age of this post card!

Built in 1901 by Col. J. W. Eddy, was a commercially operated miniature cable railway transporting passengers up and down the steep slope of Bunker Hill, between Hill and Olive Streets. The line climbed 315 feet up the 33 1/3 percent gradient from its starting point just south of the entrance to the Third Street Tunnel. Colonel Eddy promoted the line, which
opened in 1901. He had been a friend of Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War. Angels Flight was built to allow residents of the wealthy Bunker Hill neighborhood to get to and from the business district near the Plaza. Eddy also set up a telescope and later a tower to attract tourists. It was an observation tower that rose 100 feet above the tunnel mouth, and commanded a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. You can see it in the middle of the post card against the sky.

Two thirty-inch gauge counterbalanced cars, seating thirty-eight passengers each, operated on the line. The track had three rails with a passing siding in the middle. Only up-bound passengers had to pay. The city required the company to maintain a parallel stairway for people who didn't want to pay.

The Bunker Hill neighborhood gradually declined over the years until the 1960's when the city decided to "renew" it. The city promised to save the line's equipment and to rebuild it. The last day of service was on May 18, 1969. In early 1995, construction began at a new location, 4th and Hill Streets, using the original rail cars, station house, and the two end station arches. The original driving mechanism was put back, but is no longer used. The trestle and track structure are new. The line reopened on February 24, 1996. It was quickly shut down again when a person died on the funicular. The Angel's Flight can still be seen today, but it is not in use.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

One Hundred and Five Years Ago

Most of this below is from our favourite source of information: Wikipedia. This is a picture of a train sitting at the station in Parry Sound. Parry Sound is a town in Ontario, Canada, located on the eastern shore of the sound after which it is named. Parry Sound is located 160 km south of Sudbury and 225 km north of Toronto. It is the seat of Parry Sound District, a popular cottage country region for Southern Ontario residents. It also has the world's deepest natural freshwater port, which makes it a great spot for a railroad terminus.

The body of water that gives the town its name was surveyed and named by Captain Henry Bayfield in the 19th century, in honour of the Arctic explorer Sir William Edward Parry. In 1857, the modern town site was established near the Ojibwa village of Wasauksing ("shining shore") at the mouth of the Seguin River. In the late 19th century, rail service was established, making the town an important depot along the rail lines to Western Canada.

Via Rail's Canadian (the train route from Toronto to Vancouver and back) transcontinental passenger train serves the Parry Sound railway station three times a week both east and westbound. Westbound passenger as well as Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway freight trains are carried over the Seguin River by the Parry Sound CPR Trestle, a visible presence in the center of town.

The post card was mailed One Hundred and Five Years Ago today. It is a note from Helen to Mrs. Smith testing to see if she has the correct address.