Tag Archives: rails

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.

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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