Monday, June 26, 2006

Question about trc construction photos

From: "Glenn Willumson"

This is a question that has bothered me for several years now and I'm hoping that someone on this listserve might help me with the answer.

In the forward to George Kraus' High Road to Promontory he writes: "Hart's stereos and captions are a significant contribution to this book, as are the detailed description of many of Hart's photographs provided by Central Pacific chief engineer Samuel S. Montague and his assistant, J. M. Graham."

My question is where the "detailed descriptions" might be located. I have visited the major repositories of the photos and transcontinental railroad archives, most recently the California State Railroad Museum, but no one seems to have descriptions from the nineteenth century nor has anyone been able to suggest where I might find descriptions of the Hart stereos by Montague or Graham.

If anyone has any suggestions, I would be very grateful to hear them.

Thank you.

—Glenn Willumson


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Snoddy"

Good question from Glenn. I too looked for those descriptions without success.


6/26/2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

I suspect the answer is hidden in Kraus's bibliographic reference to "Bulletin of the Southern Pacific, 1913-1931 (these contain many interviews with surviving engineers and workers who built the Central Pacific Railroad)." While I have not seen any articles in the Bulletin which are specific "captions" to Hart photos, they are worth looking for! I'm confident Kraus had something in mind, and the "Bulletin" is a good place to start looking for anyone who has access to them!


6/27/2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Don Snoddy"

There is a full set [of the Southern Pacific Bulletin] at the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs.


6/27/2006 8:17 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Lynn Farrar"

I am of the impression that you are reading the references to George Kraus' book High Road to Promontory out of context. I had the privilege to edit George's book for technical details and I never had the impression he had any info directly from Montague and/or Graham. George worked in the Public Relations Dept. which had many papers from old timers of the CP and SP but I do not remember any of them having reference to Hart photos per se. I have sent most if not all these old timer's memoirs to the CPRR Museum so you might review that website. George was a very close friend of mine and we spent many hours on subjects he was interested in. I headed a research team for 11 years whose main thrust was to determine exactly what the actual cost was to construct the track structure from 1852 to 1921. We amassed a mountain of old records dealing with many subjects on SP early history, among which were these memoirs and Hart photos. Between my team members and myself we reviewed tens of thousands of documents and records and there was no indication that Montague or Graham had spoken on the subject of Hart photos. Should you have a particular question I would be glad to offer an answer. While my old memory is certainly not infallible, it still is reasonably good and I do enjoy trying to help legitimate historical researchers.

—Lynn Farrar

7/05/2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Glenn Willumson"

... Lynn Farrar ... says that he thinks that I'm reading too much into the sentence. I take that to mean (and wrote this to him) that George Kraus was the one who put information that he had learned from Montague and Gray's "papers" together with Hart's stereos. In other words, Montague and Gray did not directly comment on Hart's stereographs, but Kraus as the researcher put information he learned from them (and others, I imagine) together with the stereographic photographs.

... I'd be interested to hear if others feel that I have misunderstood it. Kraus' comment just seems so direct – "Hart's stereos and captions are a significant contribution to this book, as are the detailed descriptions of many of Hart's photographs provided by Central Pacific Chief Engineer Samuel S. Montague and his assistant, J. M. Graham" – it's hard for me not to think that there must be some connection between Hart's stereos and some kind of description by Montague. But as you will see in his email, Lynn Farrar does not seem to think so.

... The page citation for the Hart-Montague quotation ... is from High Road to Promontory, page 9, third paragraph.


7/05/2006 4:45 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

If I have learned anything about Lynn Farrar in the past 15 years, it is that he tells only what can be verified ... the gentleman is a wizard with a terrific memory.

—G J Chris Graves

7/05/2006 7:46 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Glenn Willumson"

I am sure your comments are right, Chris. The other thing I'm sure of is that Lynn Farrar has forgotten more about the transcontinental than I will ever know. I did not in any way intend to question what Mr. Farrar wrote to me.

I'm just asking if someone who knows more about the subject than I do has another interpretation for what he means by "taking the quotation out of context."


7/06/2006 8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another more tragic possibility is that George Kraus had descriptions of the Hart photographs from Montague and Graham in the SP Public Relations Department files, but that because Lynn Farrar didn't know about these documents, he was unable to save them when the SP went into its Library at Alexandria frenzy. We can only hope that a copy has survived somewhere, (along with the writings of the Chinese railroad workers about their experiences) perhaps included in the government archive where the arc of the covenant is being stored. Only through the diligence of Glenn Willumson and others, might a surviving copy, if one still exists, be found.

7/06/2006 8:39 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Another possible way to read Kraus' comments is that Montague and Gray provided info to Hart for use in his captions.  I'm particualrly thinking of milages, bridge lengths, and such like included in Hart captions.

7/06/2006 2:41 PM  

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