Tag Archives: railroad

Before DART: The Texas Electric Railway

For this next piece, Blue Texas Railway,   I took the image of a historical railway sign and added some modern flair.  The Texas Electric Railway was a streetcar rail line that existed in Dallas in 1917.

According to the Texas State Historical Society, “The company operated three routes out of Dallas, one to Sherman and Denison, one to Ennis and Corsicana, and one to Hillsboro and Waco. With a length of 226 miles, the Texas Electric was the longest interurban between the Mississippi River and California.”

The company finally stopped service in 1948. The cause of the failure was the increasing competition of people owning personal cars and trucks. A strange twist of fate because one of the leading reasons for  Dallas Area Rapid Transit or DART is the heavy traffic and desperate need for a metro line in Dallas.

The image of the rail sign and indeed the sign itself  is originally black and white. While this would provide great contrast to the image alone, I couldn’t let it be.  Like a child with a new toy, I’ve been looking for the perfect image to try out a new yellow and blue filter process that would give an image an electrifying tonal change. The stark contrast of the filter applied over a slightly underdeveloped original produced the extremes I was looking for.

Blue Texas Railway
Blue Texas Railway

 

My feeling is that while black and white art is much more traditional and classic, there are plenty of occasions where a burst of color will produce a much more satisfying emotional response in the picture.

 

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George C. Werner, “TEXAS ELECTRIC RAILWAY,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqt13), accessed April 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

What Is It?

There is one question that tends to push a lot of artists over the edge.   It’s usually a “really?” moment for artists.  When an artist hears “What is it?” it usually sends a chill down their spine.  It’s not a bad question; it’s one I’ve had to ask when visiting some of the more contemporary art museums.  But, when you see it from the artist’s point of view it is a daunting question full of frustrating answers.

You as an artist have had this vision in your head, you’ve managed to photograph it, draw it, or paint it out of your mind and put the subject into the real world.  It took days of processing, scraping and looking at various colors, shapes, focus and detail until your eyes want to bleed, but finally it is perfect according to your vision.

That is when you meet your own personal art critic, the very person you want your art to communicate with and it fails.  They can’t see your masterpiece.  They don’t share your wonder or vision.  They don’t “get it.”

Frustrating?  You bet.  That is why I present today’s work What is it? .   Now, I know I’m spoiling a lot of fun for art critics by beating them to the punch but the truth is; I don’t know.

Yes, I made this photographic work of art.  I like the colors, the lines and the feeling of placement. The texture of the roofs and how they contrast each other alone is worthy of a work of art.  But it’s not why I took the picture.

Nor is the difficulty and challenge of the shot.  It was an overcast day when I visited the Texas State Railroad.  I think this shot is one of my greater technical accomplishments because I managed to get the picture while the train was moving.  Tripods do not work on a moving train so every shot was a gamble of camera settings, light exposure, and shutter speed and the mistress of all outdoor photographers; luck.   Challenging as those conditions were, it’s not why I took this shot.  I took the picture because of curiosity.

I’ve no idea what these little houses are about.  Each of the little houses have a separate color, with different types of roofs.  The doors and windows are not uniformly on the same side, and neither are the hinges and doorknobs.  Even the shutters are different.  Yet, they obviously are uniform in size and built for the same purpose.

Seeing the old farmhouse, you sometimes see old outhouses, or storage sheds, but 6?  Who has 6 outhouses?

So, what do you think they are?  Leave a comment and let me know.

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An Iron Plate on an Iron Horse.

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Photocopy of an engraving–ca, 1850-1859 Danforth, Cooke, & Co’s. Locomotive & Machine Works: Paterson, New Jersey

Stories exist behind every picture.  Sometimes these stories are mere fantasies and artistic escapes, but other times, the stories ring true with a unique view of the historical past.  This work of the front plate of Engine 316 of the Texas State Railroad is a charming example of that form of historically significant art.

 

The chipped paint and the dirty appearance of the lettering and numbers show the age and wear that this locomotive has experienced.  This image elevates the industrial beauty of the iron horses of the great steam locomotive period.   The plate itself, especially shot in a tight close-up, provides a sense of permanence of the industrial revolution and the role that steam engines played in it.

 

Perhaps we can alter our perceptions of the time period more by looking into the history of the Cooke Works that produced this star of the yesteryear.   The Cooke Locomotive and Machine works factory, erected in the early 19th century in Patterson, NJ, started to manufacture steam engines as early as the 1850’s.

 

The company also had the names of Danforth, Cooke, & Company, Cooke Locomotive & Machine Works and, thanks to a merger in 1901, the ALCO or American Locomotive Company.  The plant was in full operation until the 1920’s when it shut down operations in the Patterson area.

 

This means that our valuable engine 316 is one of the last steam locomotives produced by the Cooke Company before it merged with the ALCO in 1901-1902. Engine 316 not only provides a group of tourists with a glimpse of the years of East Texas railroading.  She also provides an inspirational ride through the history of American engineering and manufacturing for the mid 1800’s to the 20th century.

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A Living Legend: The 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler

They truly do not make them like this anymore.  Engine 316 has hauled freight, people, tourists, and lots and lots of curious children.  This engine has seen it all.

The 316 is a 4-6-0 wheel configuration that gives it 4 guiding wheels and 6 drive wheels.  The engine, like the Consolidations, has no trailing wheels.  The designation for the 4-6-0 is “Ten Wheeler”.   They hauled fast freight and passengers as early as 1847.  The 2-8-0 Consolidations like Engine 300 replaced the Ten Wheeler.

A. L. Cooke Locomotive Works manufactured the 316 for the Texas & Pacific Railway back in 1901. It spent many years hauling various cargo for the Texas & Pacific and then the Paris & Mt. Pleasant Railroad in 1949.

Finally, in 1951 the 316 met her retirement in Abilene.  The city was celebrating its 75th anniversary and bought the 316.  They gave it a paint job and a new number 75 and placed on it in Oscar Rose Park for display.   There to spend the rest of her time.  The 316 quietly endured the Texas heat, the blizzards of the winter, and the hands and feet of thousands of school children and curious adults.

Finally, this grand old lady of the rails was ready to meet her end at the hands of a scrapping crew.  But she had fate intervene.  An anonymous woman not only bought the old engine but also donated it to the Texas Railroad in East Texas.

After years of hard work and renovation she is back to work as the 316.  She now spends her days hauling happy tourists between Palestine and Rusk, Texas.

 

Here is the website from the Texas State Railroad with her exact mechanical specifications:

https://www.texasstaterr.com/engine_info.php

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Engine 300: History Rides the Rails in Texas.

 

Come one!  Come all!  Any railroad tycoons out there?  Locomotives and trains have long been a favorite hobby of people since their beginning.  There is something about these mechanical monsters that just defines raw power.  Maybe it’s the iron exterior, maybe the belching steam and smoke.   No matter, these behemoths of days gone by live on in our imagination and our fine art.

Engine 300 is a 2-8-0 Consolidation steam engine built back in 1917.  According to the Texas State Railroad, this engine saw domestic action in WWI and WWII.  Eventually it came into the care of the Texas State Railroad and is now fully restored and works transporting tourists instead of freight.

 

Referred to as the Consolidation class, because of the lack of trailing wheels in the back of the engine, these locomotives became popular in the United States after the Civil War.   Because there is no trailing wheels, this means that the front wheels or guide wheels occupy a single axle in the front.  The 8 drive wheels follow them immediately on 4 separate axles of their own. The design was first manufactured as early as the late 1860’s by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and used primarily for freight and goods transportation.

 

The Consolidation class engines saw work internationally in portions of Europe. Indeed, the two most common places outside the United States these capable steam engines worked were in the United Kingdom and eventually Australia.  However, they did see use in Turkey, South Africa, and even Finland.

 

Interestingly, the Russian designation for this engine class was the 1-4-0.  They counted the number of axles, not the number of wheels.

 

It is also worthy to note that Engine 300 uses oil as a fuel, not coal or wood.  The burning of oil provides a nice benefit for this tough little engine.  This working museum piece hauls passengers looking for an adventure with a minimum of black soot and none of the burning embers usually found in coal or wood burning engines.  This small fact makes everyone much more comfortable.

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Here is the link to the more technical specifications on this particular engine.  https://www.texasstaterr.com/engine_info.php