Monday, November 02, 2009

Shaping the West - Stanford University Spatial History Project - A.A. Hart Visualizations

From: "Spatial History Project"

I wanted to let you know about a new project that the Spatial History Lab at Stanford is working on. They (we) are mapping the locations of Alfred Hart's photos along the CPRR and pairing each with a repeat photograph from the same spot. It's been fascinating thus far to see the changes in the landscape over the ensuing 150 years.

The project is still in progress (winter snows in the mountains will stall further photos during the winter) but we're excited about the contrasts we've seen already.

I wanted to let you all know about the project not only because it seems in line with your interests, but because we would love your input. I'm sure there are details we're missing and whole stories that we've forgotten. If you know anything more about the photos, please do let us know.

The link to the site is: Spatial History Project – A.A. Hart Visualizations.

You can navigate through the photos (we only have the first nine up now, with more to come in the very near future) both spatially and linearly.


Killeen Hanson
Project Manager, Shaping the West
Spatial History Project
Stanford University


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Spatial History Project"

... appreciate any help you could give us on correcting errors, etc. The best way would be to send them as e-mails ... to Let me know which photo pair you're referring to and whether we need to correct information about the original Hart photo or the modern repeat photograph.

—Killeen Hanson

11/16/2009 3:13 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Spatial History Project"
Subject: New Batch of Hart Photos Now Posted on the Spatial History Website

The newest batch of Hart repeat photos have been posted to the Spatial History Website. We've add 13 new photo pairs to the site covering most of the rail line between Bloomer Cut and Colfax.

If you're interested, hop over to the site and take a look. If you notice any inconsistencies or errors, please let me know by e-mailing me at Be sure to note which photo you're talking about and whether changes should be made to information about the Jesse White's modern photo repeat or about Hart's original photograph.

—Killeen Hanson

12/14/2009 1:14 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Hi Killeen,

Levee at Sacramento: The sailing vessels in the Hart photo appear to be scow schooners up from San Francisco Bay. These were a very common type of vessel used on the Bay into the early years of the 20th century, and one is preserved at the National Maritime Museum in SF. In the current photo, the statement that the current bridge does not open is incorrect. The I Street Bridge – the heaviest swing bridge in the U.S. – regularly opens for river traffic. No large vessels ply the river above Sacramento any more because the Corps of Engineers no longer dredges the river channel above Sacramento.

Railroad Wharves at Sacramento: The term "platform cars" is incorrect; they are flatcars.

Round House at Rocklin: The Rocklin Roundhouse was simply to house locomotives and perform routine maintenance to get them ready for their next run. There were no shops at Rocklin, as the railroad's main shops were at Sacramento. Thus the tracks were simply radiating into the locomotive stall in the roundhouse. The railroad used wood for fuel because it was abundant, not because of a lack of coal. The C.P. did not begin to use coal until long after the initial construction of the line. Finally, the photo does not show smokestacks from steam engines powering machinery. Those are "smoke jacks" which exhausted smoke from the steam locomotives housed in the roundhouse; the locomotive would be spotted in the roundhouse with its smoke stack beneath the smoke jack.

Freight Depot at NewCastle: Those are not carretas in the Hart photo. They are dump carts used by the railroad to move earth from cuts to fills – the dump trucks of their day.

Auburn Depot: Again, in the Hart photo caption, the railroad burned wood in those days because it was abundant, cheap, and the railroad owned vast areas of timberland over the Sierras due to their land grants as part of the Pacific Railroad Act. It had nothing to do with the scarcity of coal. In the contemporary photo, the "historic railcar" is a former Southern Pacific bay window caboose (and I can't tell what the other cars are).

Trestle in Clipper Ravine: In the contemporary photo caption, what is the source for the assertion that the C.P. intended to replace their timber trestles with cut stone viaducts?

Teamster Camp At Colfax: The statement in the caption for the Hart photo that "horses cannot back up" is simply incorrect, and freight teamsters routinely backed their wagons into loading docks. If you ever get a chance to attend a draft horse show and competition you will see teams doing just that.

Hope this helps, and I'll keep checking back for new pairs.

—John Snyder

1/12/2010 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Expansion of the Western Railroad."

12/21/2011 11:42 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Robert Bowdidge ""

I'm helping a research group at Stanford study how railfans, local historians, and academic historians can work together via crowdsourcing. They're trying a pilot study where they've got a collection of photos from the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific, and they're hoping to see what eras and subjects end up being interesting to the railfan communities. ...

I've included the text of the request I sent to the Espee@yahoogroups and BayArea_RailHistory@yahoogroups mailing list which should be an appropriate post.

Robert Bowdidge


[I'm one of the railfan advisors for the Stanford Spacial History Lab's "Living with Railroads" project. Go check out their photos and help them test what historical details the larger project might be able to discover for both us and for professional historians. All the photos are related to the SP and Central Pacific.]

Stanford's Spatial History Lab's "Living With Railroads" project is exploring how to crowdsource historical information about railroads, and could use your help on a pilot study. They've collected several historical railroad photos in the American West, and would be interested in what you know about the location, context, or back-story for each photo.

To participate, visit their blog, check out the photos, and share what you know in the comments section for each photo.

To learn more about their "Living With Railroads" project, visit their project website.

—Robert Bowdidge

6/24/2013 5:36 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Daniel Towns"

I'm a researcher at Stanford interested in building some contacts among the online railfan community. My searches led me across the CPRR forums, and I am impressed with the level of activity there. If it's possible for me to create a public post, I would appreciate the chance to introduce myself and describe my work.

Before joining my current project, I studied history and gained much of my knowledge about railroads from Richard White, author of Railroaded! I continue to research railroads as a historian, but I am now involved with a "crowdsourcing" site for railroad photographs on Historypin called Living with the Railroads.
At this time, the site is live and open for contributions from anyone on Historypin (which only requires a google, facebook, or twitter account to login). I'm emailing to extend the invitation for members and readers of the CPRR discussion group.

We're not requesting anyone's personal photo collections – rather, we hope to gauge interest in a group like the CPRR forum members. Furthermore, the burden of adding photographs to another archive need not rest upon them. I manage the project with an undergraduate research assistant, and we would take any opportunity to "pin" photos posted by members who know their exact dates and locations. Of course, we also invite anyone to create their own Historypin channel as a way to host the images – I simply want to offer our services for anyone who might be willing to host their content through Living with the Railroads but unwilling to pin photographs themselves.

Ultimately, we hope that our Historypin project can become a place where selections of railroad material from various archives (around the country and the world) can appear together. Please let me know if this sounds like something that belongs on the discussion forum; your comments and critiques are also welcome as we are still in the launching stages. ...

—Daniel Towns, Researcher, Stanford Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA)

2/12/2014 8:42 AM  

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