Tag Archives: trains

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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A Halloween Wish

 

Steaming out of the past is Engine 300 from the Texas State Railroad.  I wonder how many ghosts still ride those rails?   It is Halloween after all.  Who knows?  More passengers might board every weekend than the conductor can see.  So, ride the rails in Palestine Texas, just make sure you offer some popcorn from the concession car to the “stranger” sitting beside you.

Halloween is one of the strangest holidays.  People like to get scared on purpose.  They dress in all types of costumes and seek adventures pretending to be someone or something they are not.  It’s a time of parties, like masquerades, where being anonymous and masked is not unusual.  But, it’s a time when being popular for the best costume is also a thrill.  People also travel great distances to get lost in spooky maize fields cut into labyrinths or go for a harmless scare at commercial “haunted houses”.

Indeed, this holiday has a long and storied past. Scholars believe it is from an autumn festival held by the druids in Celtic Europe before the times of the Catholic Church.  In fact, that’s when the colors orange and black became associated with Halloween.  The early, non-filtered honey wax candles the druids used during their celebrations for the dead where naturally colored in an orange hue.   Further, the ancient druids and Celts associated black with death.  So, both colors have lasted into modern-day and seen every year in decorations and holiday revelry.

Since that time it’s experienced several attempts at assimilation in the Christian faith as All Saints Eve or All Saints Day but never to the level as other holidays like Christmas.  It’s also seen periods of persecution as “devil worship” and even periods of huge popularity in its past.  Today, it revels as a fun holiday with large elements borrowing from other cultures.

For instance, Latino culture in the United States will often combine some of the rituals of American Halloween customs like “trick or treating”, with the family parties and celebrations of loved ones from the Día de Muertos holiday in Mexico.

So, we at A&A photographic Arts want to take the time to wish you and your family a Happy Halloween, Día de Muertos, or All Saints Eve/Day.  Whatever your culture or nationality, have fun and celebrate the living and the dead!

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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