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Saturday, March 15, 2014

More (Lots More) about the Back than the Front of the Post Card

This post card shows a steam engine going through the Royal Gorge in Colorado on the left and gives a detail of what it is pulling on the right. If the picture doesn’t tell you the story, the words above certainly make it clear. “Through the Royal Gorge in an Observation Car on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad”.
The history of the Royal Gorge is fascinating. You can read about it on the Wikipedia website here:

I recommend the article.

The train still runs through the Royal Gorge today, although it is not operated by one of the big Railroad Operators.
You can catch a ride through this website:
They operate trains year-round from CaƱon City, Colorado. It is on my “bucket list” of things to see and do.

I have mentioned the Royal Gorge in 12 previous posts, so I won’t go into detail about the topic on the front of the post card.

I will delve into the content on the back of the post card.
In a book about post card collecting I once read a chapter titled “Every Post Card has Two Sides”. This chapter opened my post card world very wide. I now try to find out all I can about both the publisher and the printer of every post card. I have a list of 325 publishers and printers of the post cards in my collection. I research all of them whenever I can. Many of these were truly unsung heroes of the post card world. I only know a little bit about just over one third of the known publishers and printers… and there are many post cards that do not reveal who printed or published them.

Today’s post card is an example of not knowing much about who published or printed the post card. There are certainly clues. The design between the two pictures is unique. The print style on the font is another clue. I know it is part of a series of cards because I have two others similar to this one.

When I look at the back of one of those other cards, I see that it was printed by Carson-Harper from Denver, Colorado. Carson-Harper published both books and postcards. They produced multi-view scenes of the West as pioneer souvenir cards and private mail cards in tinted halftone. They later reproduced many early pioneer images as regular postcards. (from: )
I cannot guarantee that Carson-Harper printed the one in this blog, but you can compare the post cards in my next blog.

Today, I am concentrating on the message on the card. What really caught my eye was the PS in the upper left-hand corner of the card.

The body of the message gives me the impression that this is the woman of a married couple, Jennie and George, who are coming back from a journey out west, writing to her mother and a friend who lives with the mother. She is telling them that they have arrived in Colorado Springs at noon and will leave tomorrow just before noon. They haven’t decided if they will go up to Pikes Peak. They are on their way to Emporia (I presume that this is Emporia, Kansas).

Side note about Emporia, Kansas from Wikipedia:
The city is the home of Emporia University and once had an Amtrak stop that was served by the east and westbound Southwest Chiefs daily. The station was eliminated in the mid-90s. Here is a file picture I found on line of what the station used to look like:
The Southwest Chief is the successor to the Super Chief, a train operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (Santa Fe) until 1971 and later by Amtrak until March 1974 when the Santa Fe forced Amtrak to stop using the name because of a perceived decline in quality after Amtrak took over the Santa Fe's passenger trains. After subsequent improvements in service, the Santa Fe allowed Amtrak to change the name of the Southwest Limited to the Southwest Chief on October 28, 1984.

In 1953, Emporia was the site of the first Veterans Day observance in the United States. At the urging of local shoe cobbler Alvin J. King, U.S. Representative Edward Rees introduced legislation in The United States Congress to rename Armistice Day as Veterans Day. President Eisenhower signed the bill into law on October 8, 1954.

Back to the P.S.:
It reads, “P. S. We were only delayed 3 hours by the slide near Soldiers Summit yesterday in Utah.” Imagine being the mother and receiving that Post Script! I would wonder if they were okay, if the train was damaged, it anyone was hurt, etc. But Jennie drops it as a second thought. They must be okay.

Soldier Summit takes its name from a group of soldiers who were caught in an unexpected snowstorm on the summit in July 1861. These soldiers were Southerners, previously under Union General Philip St. George Cooke at Camp Floyd, on their way to join the Confederate Army. A few of them died in the storm and were buried on the summit.

The post card is addressed to her mother who lived in McConnell, Illinois. Here is a bit of history about McConnell, also from Wikipedia:

In 1836, John Dennison claimed 1,000 acres east of the Pecatonica River for the purpose of starting a town. The area was heavily timbered and required a saw mill, which was erected north of the grove on a small creek in the spring of the year. This mill, located on Muddy Creek, was operated by Dennison and John Van Zant.

During the following year, Dennison and Van Zant plotted the town with Van Zant acting as surveyor. Stephenson County abstracts prove that the town was to be called either "Pennsylvania" or "New Pennsylvania".

By the spring of 1838, Dennison and Van Zant had made several land improvements and sold all of it, including the mill, to Robert McConnell. McConnell then changed the name to "McConnell's Grove". Due to Galena being the nearest town to acquire supplies and mail, McConnell built a storehouse and went to Galena to purchase goods to start a trading post.
On March 11, 1842 the land Robert McConnell received from Dennison and Van Zant was deeded from the United States to McConnell from the Land Office in Dixon.

Worth mentioning here is that Galena, the town that Mr. McConnell went to for supplies, was also a terminus on a railroad that went to Chicago. But, more than that, the Galena & Chicago Railroad was the first railroad to operate in Chicago. It was built to connect the lead mines near Galena to Chicago. This is rather unusual because the railroad comes from the west in 1848. One could easily have expected that one of the major railroads of the day would reach Chicago first. But, no; railroads didn’t reach Chicago from the east until 1852. These were the Michigan Central and the Michigan Southern Railroads.

The post card was mailed on June 26, 1922, so it is 91 years old.

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