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Wednesday, April 14, 2021


Continuing on the theme of the last two blogs, I am posting another post card given to me by my friend. This one is a picture of a hotel in Emonton, Alberta, Canada. The hotel was built by a railway company, so I have it filed in my collection under the category of "Special Cards". It is one of 507 cards that match that description. Here is the history of the hotel as found on this website: The Macdonald Hotel, built in the derivative Canadian Chateau style of the grand railway hotels, is one of Edmonton's foremost symbolic and visual landmarks. Fronting on 100 Street and MacDougall Hill adjacent to Frank Oliver Memorial Park in Edmonton's downtown core, it's strategically situated, L-shaped form and seven-storey Indiana limestone facades present a dignified and solid presence overlooking Edmonton's North Saskatchewan River valley. Heritage Value Completed in 1915 and named after Sir John A. MacDonald, the "Mac", as it has become affectionately known, is significant for its strong association with Edmontonians' social, cultural and political history as exemplified by the intense civic rancor when it closed its doors in 1983 and the protracted negotiations that led to its careful restoration and extraordinarily well received public reopening celebration in May of 1991. The centrepiece for royal visits, graduations, family birthdays, and a wide range of other occasions, the "Mac" continues to be a major contributor to Edmonton's collective memory. The Macdonald Hotel is architecturally significant as an expression of the Chateau style preferred by Canadian transcontinental railways for their hotels, a style derived from French Renaissance-era chateaux. Characterized by high-pitched dormered roofs and inspired by French architectural elements, the Macdonald Hotel was designed for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway by architects Ross and MacFarlane, who also designed the Fort Garry Hotel and the Chateau Laurier. Built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and later owned by both the Canadian National Railway (CNR) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the MacDonald Hotel symbolizes Edmonton's participation in the great transcontinental railway initiatives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Macdonald Hotel's substantial visual landmark status can be attributed to its distinctive architecture and prominent location overlooking the North Saskatchewan River escarpment. Source: City of Edmonton (Bylaw: 7700) Character-Defining Elements The Canadian Chateaux style is expressed in character-defining elements such as: - the form, massing and scale of the L-shaped building; - the recessed diagonal entranceway and perpendicular wings and turret; - the steeply sloped dormered roofs including roof features such as high chimneys, projecting towers, turret roof and finials; - the five arches of the entrance portico with order expression of four pillars and two pilasters including stone detailing such as gargoyles and provincial crests of the four western provinces; - the major defining elements on all facades such as pilasters, balustrades, balconettes, overhangs, brackets, cornices, arches and keystones and other stone detailing; - mouldings and decorative elements on all facades including hood mouldings, dentils, and panels; - all blind arcades, windows and door openings, arched windows, leaded glass transoms, windowsills and transoms; - all architectural metals such as copper roofing, cornices, bracketing and decorative eavestrough. The cultural landscape and landmark character-defining elements of the Macdonald Hotel include: - the Frank Oliver Memorial Park between the Macdonald Hotel and Jasper Avenue; - the relationship of the building to MacDougall Hill, Jasper Avenue and 100th Street; - the open space adjacent to the rear facades of the building overlooking the North Saskatchewan River valley; - the views of the North Saskatchewan River valley from the hotel and adjacent grounds; the open space and gardens at the east side of the building.
The post card was publlished by Valentine & Sons. It is one of 27 cards in my collection by "Valentine". 18 are by Valentine Souvenir, 6 are from Valentine & Sons, and three other are from other partnerships. The title on the front of the post card suggests that it was published before the Hotel Macdonald was officially named as such. But, for sure it is from after 1915.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Trains and Drug Stores

Like last week’s blog post, I am honouring the family history of a friend of mine. He gave me this post card about which I am blogging today, the post card from last week’s blog, and a few more post cards yet to come. This post card shows a locomotive at the station in Ponoka, Alberta. The picture was taken around 1910, but the post card was mailed on June 4, 1912.
This first article tells us about the railroad history in Ponoka. It is from the Ponoka News. The second article speaks directly to the style of the train station itself. Both are very interesting. One of Ponoka's first buildings, the Canadian Pacific Railway Station was built in 1891 and served our community and districts for 77 years. Siding 14 began in 1890 as a solitary railway depot, which was inhabited by the section crew and a caretaker for the nearby octagonal wooden water tower, which was fed from a small reservoir in the Battle River by a windmill driven pump. As a vital supply point for the huge steam locomotives, these structures would be our modest beginnings, and soon welcomed hundreds of railway workers, settlers, labourers, professionals, and businessmen looking to establish their homes, their farms, and their livelihoods here. Due to the demand on the facility and the event of the steel rails reaching the Ponoka siding from both directions, the community's first official building, the big brown station was built in 1891. The classic 'B' type train depot included a long loading platform and a waiting room, which in the winter was heated by a stove all night long to accommodate incoming railway travellers or locals looking to get warm. A landmark at the end of Chapman Avenue, the water tower also supplied a nearby hydrant to assist our local fire department with the dousing of many fires that occurred in the countless wooden buildings now being built in the community. It became obsolete with the Canadian Pacific Railway's conversion to the powerful diesel locomotive in the 1950s, then was dismantled and rebuilt as a granary on a farm north of town, and still stands to this day. The men working on the tracks with wagon teams and heavy equipment in those days had no easy life, facing backbreaking tasks, long hours, sickness (influenza and other maladies), unpredictable conditions, and low wages of just $1.50 per day. Those with teams were paid $2.50 a day and board, while teamsters received $25.00 a month and board in the village. Most camped beside the river as they moved along with the crew, while some stayed in the station with the agent and family, and only a few could afford the $4.00 a week room and board in Ponoka. Early historians claim that during the construction of the railway, a massive stock pile of wooden ties near Morningside stretching half a mile were piled over 50 feet high, with some remnants still remaining to this very day. It wasn't long before three daily trains were arriving in the Ponoka station, quickly setting the daily rhythm of this now bustling town (1904), with a steady influx of freight, mail, and passengers, who may either make this community their new home or move on down the line. While Dick Slater and his dray were delivering supplies throughout the community, freight and grain cars would rest on the siding while they were loaded from elevator row or with livestock from the stock yard. Mail was sorted on board the train, so service was prompt, and passengers could now reach Lacombe in comfort in just 20 minutes. That busy train station was the 'heart of Ponoka' for many decades, the centre of heavy traffic and supplies, a friendly place to pop in and purchase a ticket, and on many occasions the spot where hundreds gathered to greet the arrival of their hockey team, a celebrity, or family and special friends. Rail passenger and local freight traffic would steadily decline as highways improved and car and truck ownership grew. The historical train station was demolished in 1968 to make way for a new Shopping Centre development, while the speedy Calgary/Edmonton day liner service was discontinued several years later. The main C.P.R. line is now very busy day and night with long freight trains hauling every type of cargo, but the fond memories will always remain of those shrill whistles blowing both day and night or of the long plumes of smoke that billowed from those big black steam engines as they lumbered into and through town 24-7 with their precious cargo, always followed very closely by that now long extinct old caboose. Wood Combination Station and Freight House (1891) The Calgary & Edmonton Railway was constructed from Calgary to Red Deer in the fall of 1890 and continued on to Edmonton the following spring. Stations were primarily boxcars until, in 1891, the railway built a cookie-cutter combination station and freight house approximately every twenty miles along the route. Each was constructed in about three weeks. They started out virtually identical but over the next several years, modifications were made to each station to make them more functional according to the needs of the community and station master resulting in some distinction but the primary characteristics remained. Besides Red Deer, this design was built south at Innisfail, Olds, Carstairs and Airdrie. North of Red Deer, they were built at Lacombe, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin, Leduc and Strathcona. By 1914, the stations at Red Deer, Lacombe, Wetaskiwin and Strathcona were replaced by larger stations and the original stations were relocated and converted to freight sheds that were in use until the 1950s. The stations at Ponoka, Innisfail and Olds remained as the principal station also until the 1950s. The Innisfail and Olds stations were replaced by unimaginative and utilitarian cinder block buildings. South of Calgary, similar stations were built at High River, Claresholm, Okotoks, Nanton, and De Winton. The Calgary & Edmonton Railway (owned partially by railway builders McKenzie and Mann as well as James Ross, a contractor with the CPR) leased the line to the CPR until the CPR purchased it outright.
The back of the post card tells us that the Campbell Drug Company of Ponoka was the seller of the card. Check out this website for more history: The first telephone pole to be installed in Ponoka along the Bell Telephone Company Calgary to Edmonton phone-line was set up across the street from the present Royal Hotel in 1903. A hot item of interest in the Sept. 9, 1906 edition of the Ponoka Herald would report that Bell and the local town council were now involved in a ‘heated scrap’, as the telephone company had gone to work erecting poles on almost every street and back alley of the new town without getting permission from the city fathers. Thankfully this little spat was settled quite amicably and the first telephone office was opened that same year at the back of Dr. Campbell’s Drug Store in the Baadsgaard Building along Chipman Avenue. Sidney Bird pharmacist and property owner in Ponoka, first opened a drug store in Ponoka in 1910, and then took over the Campbell Drug Store in 1916.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

106 Year Old Post Card from the City in Which I Live.

This post card was given to me just this past week by a friend who respects history and its preservation. This post card was sent from one of his ancestoral relatives to another relative back in 1915. I want to respect that history and so I am entering it into my blog this week. There are several more to follow.
This post card shows a Canadian Pacific train crossing the newly constructed High Level Bridge in Edmonton, the capital city of the province of Alberta in Canada. The post card was sent on June 4, 1915, almost two years to the day since the bridge saw its first passenger train. Below is the story of the High Level Bridge. The High Level Bridge was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It purchased an already existing railroad (the Calgary and Edmonton Railroad) which had begun the surveying for the bridge. The Calgary and Edmonton Railroad wanted to build a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River to join the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton together. Then the CPR negotiated rights of way, design and content of the bridge - among many other things. Finally, construction of the bridge began on August 14, 1910. There are 62 land piers and four river piers holding up the bridge. Construction of the piers was completed in 1911. The addition of the steel girders began on the south side of the river and slowly - and safely - the crew made its way to the north side, and in early 1913 the bridge made it to the side of the river where the Legislative Building is The bridge was to carry a train in the middle of the top of the bridge and street car lines on the outside of the top of the bridge. The bottom deck was built to carry automobiles The bridge is 755 meters long or 2,478 feet and 13 meters wide or 43 feet. It originally carried street cars, steam engines and cars. It rises 64 meters or 210 feet above the North Saskatchewan River. On June 2, 1913 the first CPR passenger train steamed into Edmonton over the newly completed structure. The first streetcar crossed the bridge on August 11, 1913. By that time, the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton became one city: Edmonton. Today, I drive a street car over the tracks that the train in this post card is traveling. It is part of my volunteer duties as a member of the Edmonton Radial Railway Society.
This is the back of the post card. There is a nice, chatty, newsy letter. It was sent from Ponoka, Alberta, but there is no sign of a stamp having been used. The left side of the post card tells us that the post card was published by Frasch Fotos of Edmonton. My searches on the internet do confirm that such a business did exist and there are other post cards to prove it. However, there is nothing about the history of the company, that I could find.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Shay Logging Locomotive (5 of 5)

The locomotive featured on the front of this post card is the last of the three types of common
steam engines used in the logging industry that I will discuss. It is a Shay Locomotive that was used by the Charles R. McCormick Lumber Company. The information below was gleaned from this article: The Shay steam locomotive was the most well-known and widely used of the geared designs to operate in the United States (the others being the Climax and Heisler, which followed in the footsteps of the Shay but were not quite as successful). Nearly 3,000 Shay locomotives were constructed from 1880 through nearly the mid-20 century. Designed by Ephraim Shay (an inventor, among his many, many job titles he held over the years) the geared locomotive proved to be an invaluable tool in the logging industry through the first half of the 20th century as it could operate on almost any type of track. Part of the design's successful was due to Shay's partnership with the Lima Locomotive Works. At first the builder had no interest in the design but eventually was persuaded to build a prototype, which was sold in 1880 to the lumber firm of J. Alley Company in Michigan. With the success of this prototype Shay applied for and received a patent on his design in 1881. As other logging companies saw the advantages the locomotive provided sales were off. Over the years both Shay and Lima improved upon the initial design making the locomotive heavier and more powerful with better tractive effort and adhesion. For instance in 1884 the first three-cylinder Shay was built and a year later Lima introduced the first three-truck locomotive. Then, in 1901 Shay received a patent for an improved geared truck. More than any other geared design the Shay steam locomotive proved to be most successful with main line railroads as several found use for it along steep and circuitous branch lines such as the Western Maryland, Northern Pacific, and New York Central. By the time production had ended on the Shay some 2,671 examples had been built by Lima spanning a period from 1880 to 1945. Its success launched Lima as a major builder of steam locomotives How geared steam locomotives work, according to William E. Warden in his book West Virginia Logging Railroads, is that these cylinders drive a flexible line shaft with universal couplings and slip joints through bevel gears. Essentially what this means is that the vertical cylinders drive a horizontal crank shaft attached to drive shafts extending to each truck axle. These axles have gearboxes attached to them which propel the engine forward. And, because geared steam locomotives have all of their trucks powered, they provided excellent adhesion enabling them to climb grades well over 5% (something all but unthinkable on main line railroads), although this high adhesion factor limited its speed to under 20 mph. Because the cylinders were designed to be situated directly ahead of the cab it forced the boiler to be offset to the left. However, as it turns out this worked out well since it provided for a counterbalancing of the locomotive. Additionally, the flexibility of the design allowed each truck to negotiate the track independently of the other, thus keeping the locomotive on the rails and allowing it to operate over almost any type of track (which was usually nothing more than rails laid directly onto a hillside for most logging operations).
This post also continues the displaying of some of the post cards in my collection from the Kinsey's Locomotives collection. The picture was taken by Darius Kinsey in 1927 near Camp Talbot, Quilcene, Washington. I have learned a lot about logging and the steam locomotives used in the industry during these five blog posts. I hope that you have enjoyed learning as much as I have.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Climax Logging Steam Locomotive (4 of 5)

The locomotive featured on the front of this post card is a Climax locomotive. This engine was built by The Climax Manufacturing Company and was used by the Webb Logging & Timber Company in Washington State. The Climax locomotive is one of the three most popular designs of steam locomotives used in the logging industry. This post is continuing the theme of the various designs, so a quick glance back into the previous posts will catch you up, information-wise.
This is taken directly from a Wikipedia article: A Climax locomotive is a type of geared steam locomotive in which the two steam cylinders are attached to a transmission located under the center of the boiler. This transmits power to driveshafts running to the front and rear trucks. The invention of the Climax locomotive is attributed to Charles D. Scott, who ran a forest railway near Spartansburg, Pennsylvania between 1875 and 1878. A lumberjack of considerable mechanical ingenuity, Scott sought to bring an improved logging locomotive of his own design to market and brought the drawings to the nearby Climax Manufacturing Company in Corry, Pennsylvania. The first four Climax locomotives were built and delivered in 1888. The design patent was filed in February in the same year and granted in December. The invention was not patented in the name of Scott, as he had only a limited education, so he left the drawings to his brother-in-law George D. Gilbert, who was a civil engineer by profession and worked for Climax. Gilbert had the invention patented in his name without mentioning Scott. Many loggers considered the Climax superior to the Shay in hauling capability and stability, particularly in a smaller locomotive. This was due to its fully sprung truck arrangement; the Shay locomotive had no springs on the bogie on the drivetrain side and was therefore not fully able to compensate for twists in the track. The ride on the large class C Climax was characteristically rough for the crew, since the imbalance of the large drivetrain could only be compensated at one speed. Two Climax locomotives are preserved in Canada, both at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, British Columbia. Shawnigan Lake Lumber Co. No. 2 is a 25-ton Class B locomotive, and was built in 1910 as shop number 1057. Hillcrest Lumber Co. No. 9 was built to a larger, 50-ton Class B design in 1915, and is Climax shop number 1359.
This post also continues the displaying of some of the post cards in my collection from the Kinsey's Locomotives collection. The picture was taken by Darius Kinsey in 1920.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Logging Locomotive - Another Type (3 of 5)

As we have seen in the past few posts, getting through the steep grades of logging mountain sides was accomplished through many designs of steam locomotives. This engine is called a "Mallet" (pronounced mal-ay);
it was invented by a Swiss (think lots of mountains) engineer Anatole Mallet who lived from 1837 to 1919. A Mallet engine has one boiler that is connected to two sets of driving cylinders; this is also called an articulated engine. What makes this a Mallet engine is that the steam goes through one set of cylinders (rear) at high pressure, the exhaust from those cylinders is at a lower pressure, but strong enough to still be used in the second set of cylinders (front set) before it is sent out the exhaust. The picture on the front of this post card is of a Mallet 2-6-6-2 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. It is being used at the Bloedel Donovan Lumber Mills in Sekiu, near Clallam Bay on the westen side of the Olympic Peninsula.
The photo was taken around 1930. The post card continues to show you some of the post cards in my collectioin that are from the Kinsey's Locomotive series. I will continue next week with another, different, design of steam locomotive also used in the logging industry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Logging Train - NOT a Common Sight (2 of 5)

Last week I posted about a logging train, a common sight in many forests in North America. The logging train was the common sight; the type of locomotive being used on the train was not common. Last week I featured a "Tank Engine". This week I am featuring a gear-driven type of locomotive. The steam locomotive that is most familiar to people has a steam-driven piston on either side of the front of the locomotive. These pistons push a rod that is connected to cranks (bars) that are attached to the driving wheels of the locomotive. Each push and retraction of the piston equals one rotation of the driving wheel. The larger the driving wheel, the faster the locomotive can travel; the smaller the driving wheel, the more powerful is the locomotive. But, there is a limit as to how small the driving wheels can be without having a piston stroke that is just not practical. Logging in mountainous territory requires power to get up the steep hillsides. Moving up the mountain side requires power that would make the piston stroke unreasonable. The solution is to change how the steam’s power is transferred to the driving wheels from cranks to gears. There are three typical designs of geared locomotives: the not-so-common Climax, and the Shay were well known and used.
The Heisler locomotive, as shown on the front of this post card was the third. The following information was taken from the website: The Heisler steam locomotive was the other popular and well-known geared design built in the late 19th century. However, likely due to the fact that it did not hit the market until the early 1890s, a few years after the Climax and Shay had already begun production (the Shay was first built in 1880), it was not as successful. Despite this the Heisler did sell several hundred units and interestingly, remained in production until nearly the start of World War II (by comparison the Climax ended production in 1928). Additionally, just like its competitors the Heisler was offered in two and three-truck designs, although manufacturers also built them to nearly a dozen different specifications. Today, according to the book, West Virginia Logging Railroads, by William Warden at least eight Heislers are still in operation and more than thirty others are preserved around the world. A few places you can see them running include the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Railroad in Felton, California which has 2-truck #2, built for West Side Lumber; Roots of Motive Power in Willits which maintains Blake Brothers 2-truck #6; and Meadow River Lumber Company 3-truck #6 at the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad in rural Durbin, West Virginia. End of information from the website!
The post card is, again, part of my collection that includes the photographs of Darius Kinsey from Washington State. This picture was taken in 1922. Kinsey, born in Maryville, Missouri, moved to Snoqualmie, Washington, where he took up photography in 1890. He worked as an itinerant photographer for several years, until meeting Tabitha May Pritts at Nooksack, Washington. The couple married in 1896. The following year, they set up a photo studio in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. In 1906, the couple moved to Seattle. Darius gave up studio work and focused instead on the lumber industry and scenic photography. Tabitha developed the negatives and made the prints, which were sent back to the logging camps and sold to the loggers. Darius used an 11" X 14" Empire State view camera with a custom made tripod that could extend twelve feet high. He used glass plates until 1914, when he switched to film. The major collection of his work is held by the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. The University of Washington Libraries also has a collection of his work.