Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Desert Depression Shooting Club

When the whole country's in a Great Depression, there's nothing like a little desert shooting expedition in New Mexico to help one escape from the troubles of life.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Our House - 13

This month's "Our House" photo is another very faded albumen print from the 1880s or 1890s, and depicts an elderly couple (the husband is wearing styles from the 1870s) posing in front of their home. Note the gingerbread decorative touches at different places on the house...someone clearly put a lot of labor into this place.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Parsonage in the Snow

This winter street scene in what appears to be a western town (sparse pine trees and rocks in the distance suggest a scene typical of New Mexico or Idaho) is accompanied by a puzzling pencil inscription: "Parsonage first, Bullis in distance." Presumably, then the nearby house is some church's parsonage, and the house farther away belongs to a family with the surname Bullis.



Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mining Phosphate

Today we have two completely independent photos that appear to show the same thing, mining phosphate to be processed into fertilizer. The first image is a thin snap-shot, without any indication as to where it was taken. It shows a crew of laborers digging and loading their shovel-fulls into small rail cars. At first, I thought that it might be peat that they were digging, but then after acquiring the second photograph, I realized that it instead might be phosphate.




Shortly after acquiring the above photograph, I found the stereoview to the right, titled Mining Phosphate near Columbia, Tenn. This card is one of a series published in 1927 that dealt with mining and industrial development of Tennessee and the South in general. Most of the text on the back of the card is a general discussion of the importance of fertilizer to agriculture, but the last paragraph describes the process:
Phosphates are formed about decayed organic bodies in layers of rocks. In Tennessee the phosphate deposit is in limestone. Beds of this mineral are found in many places in the South, especially in Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. Here you see how phosphate is dug out and loaded on cars. these cars are run to a nearby factory, where the mined material is manufactured into fertilizer.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Building an Overpass

There's a tremendous amount of activity and detail in this photograph from the 1920s. Construction crews are using a steam crane and a cement mixer to mix and pour concrete for an overpass. As of this writing, I have not been able to identify the location, but there is reason to suspect it might be in or near Scranton, Pennsylvania (more on that below). The photograph itself is in poor condition, and is starting to deteriorate, having suffered water damage at one point.


A team of horses stand waiting as the crew operates a cement mixer.





The only reference that I could find to Globe Stores was to a rather famous one in Scranton, PA; however the railroad station does not appear to be a Pennsylvania one.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Main Street, Anytown USA

Once upon a time, an early photographer decided to snap a photo looking down this street. I have no idea why, maybe he just wanted to record a moment in time on an ordinary day. Not an automobile is in site. One can almost imagine that this is a sunny, warm, muggy July day, the sky is blue, the trees are green, it's rained recently and the street is still muddy.

The image in this albumen print has faded drastically, but below an enhanced copy brings out details.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Our House - 12

House portraits typically feature the whole family, so where it the husband in this one? Since such photographs were typically shot by traveling photographers who went door-to-door at time when the whole family could be expected to be home, maybe the husband was simply away on business. This print is broken, with the lower left corner being found in a whole separate bin in the antique store, and then rejoined digitally in photoshop.


What I find most curious about this photograph, though, is the unusual windwheel which appears behind the house and above the roofline (below). This appears to be a Dempster Vaneless model, inwhich the sectional blade segments collapse as wind speed changes in order to regulate the mill's speed. A good video that describes and shows this type of windmill in operation can be found here on YouTube. A restored one can  be found at this web page.