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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Some Very Steep Climbs

The picture on this post card is of one of the steam engines pushing a passenger car up the steep incline on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.
The whole railway is known as the Mt. Washington Railway Company; we are looking at Jacob’s Ladder. You can see the white trestle woodwork that would have spawned the name.

A short history: Sylvester Marsh was born in New Hampshire in 1803; he worked very hard, moved to Chicago, patented a few mechanisms and got rich. When he retired he moved to Boston. While hiking Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, he was caught in some very bad weather and decided to use his ingenuity to make the trip to the top of the mountain safer for all who followed. In 1858 he applied to the state for a permit to build a steam railway up the mountain. At the same time, he applied for the patent of the cog drive system that would safely take the train to the top of the mountain. At the same time he formed the Mount Washington Steam Railway Company. In 1868 the Jacob’s Ladder section was built and finally, on July 3rd of 1869 the first trip up the mountain was made.

I have many post cards of this railway, so I will expand the story with each post card that I post on this blog.

This post card was printed in Germany (as were so many others before World War I broke out) for the publisher G. W. Morris. This company was headquartered in Portland, Maine. They published pictorial books before they reached out into field of the post card. Most of their post cards were of the Northeast United States, especially New Hampshire and Maine. On many of their post cards the sky is actually drawn in on the scene giving the post cards published by the G. W. Morris Company a distinctive and identifiable look. They started with cards printed in Germany using the continuous tone lithography method. After World War I they contracted out their halftone cards to Curt Teich. The company existed from 1901 to 1922.

Part of my excitement about this post card is not the front, but the back. It reflects the steep climb that the post card industry had to face in the early stages of its growth. It is an official “Private Mailing Card.”
These cards were the first ones that the U.S. government allowed to be printed by presses owned by private companies. They could not use the title Post Card because those were only to be printed by the U. S. government. But, by a generous act of congress on May 19, 1898 private companies were allowed to print and sell their own cards which the purchaser could actually send through the mail like a post card. One could still not write on the back of the post card; that was not allowed until March 1, 1907 through an act of another generous congress.

This post card was sent on August 18, 1905 from New Hampshire to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. But Florence Jameson must have moved and not told Cora. So, someone scratched out the original address and scribbled “Woodstock, Conn.” It arrived in Woodstock on August 21st.

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.