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“History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the
pictured present often seem constructed out of
the broken fragments of antique legends.” 

From “The Gilded Age, a Tale of To-Day” by Mark Twain
and Charles Dudley Warner, American Publishing Company, 1874.

On September 6, 1901, President William McKinley was in Buffalo, New York for the Pan American Exposition as part of his re-election tour.

A man named Leon Czolgosz waited in a receiving line for the President and upon reaching the head of the line, Czolgosz shot the President twice with a revolver he had purchased four days before. 

San Francisco Call, September 07, 1901, Chronicling America
Chicago Eagle, September 14, 1901, Chronicling America

Two women became famous for their portraits of President McKinley shortly before he died. President McKinley sat for one of them, Lillian Thomas, a talented painter, born in Cleveland, Ohio and living in Washington, DC –

The San Francisco Call, March 25, 1901, Chronicling America
The Appeal, October 26, 1901, Chronicling America

and Frances Benjamin Johnston, a well-known photographer, who was at the Pan American Exposition and took photos of President McKinley within hours of his being shot. 

Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1905, Library of Congress

The Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photograph collection at the Library of Congress includes a Thomas Marceau photo of Lillian Thomas.

Lillian Thomas photo by Thomas Marceau, 1900

McKinley died on September 14, 1901 and McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, became President. 

In October 1901, United States President Theodore Roosevelt invited Tuskeegee Institute President Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner along with Philip B. Stewart.

The dinner was a significant event and applauded by many. 

The Appeal, October 26, 1901, Chronicling America

Theodore Roosevelt, like William McKinley before him, often conferred with Booker T. Washington about race, political and education topics. As president and founder of the Tuskeegee Institute, Washington was well-regarded around the country. 

Despite Washington’s accomplishments, some, particularly those from the southern United States, accused the President of degrading the office by inviting him. 

The Appeal, October 26, 1901, Chronicling America

Of those letters in support of President Roosevelt’s decision to invite Booker T. Washington, one deserves particular mention – that from Abion W. Tourgee to President Roosevelt.

Page 1 of Albion W. Tourgee to Theodore Roosevelt, Letter from Albion W. Tourgee to Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division. https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record?libID=o35438.

Albion Tourgee was an attorney for Homer Plessy in the tragic 1896 case, Plessy v. Ferguson which sent equal treatment under the law in the United States tumbling backwards, setting a legal precedent that was not overturned until almost 60 years later by Brown v. the Board of Education in 1954.

In Tourgee’s letter to Roosevelt, he expressed hopes for the country and praised Roosevelt for his actions. Roosevelt, on the other hand, revealed to Tourgee that he hadn’t thought much about it and extended the invitation on impulse.

Page 1 of Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Albion W. Tourgee. Theodore Roosevelt Papers. Library of Congress Manuscript Division. https://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Research/Digital-Library/Record?libID=o180529

By 1904, Roosevelt was campaigning for re-election on his own behalf. While he campaigned, another man, James Thomas Heflin, was seeking election for a position he held as a result of the death of his predecessor, U.S. Representative Charles W. Thompson, of Alabama. Heflin represented the district in which the Tuskegee Institute was located. Booker T. Washington was his constituent.

Evening Star, April 11, 1904, Chronicling America

Washington Bee, December 10, 1904, Chronicling America

Heflin was against women’s suffrage, but in favor of labor and states’s rights. He was against interracial marriage and helped draft the Alabama state constitution which included language disfranchising African Americans from the right to vote. 

While on the campaign trail, Heflin made statements suggesting that it would not have been a bad thing if Roosevelt and Washington had been blown up by someone like Czolgosz.

Evening Star, October 5, 1904, Chronicling America

Although Heflin’s comments were generally condemned, there were no repercussions for his statements and convinced officials and the public that he was making a joke. He won re-election.

Evening Star, October 18, 1904, Chronicling America

Upon Heflin’s re-election, he introduced several bills intending to harm federal elections, encourage Jim Crow cars, and bills to reduce competition in cotton futures trading. 

To that end, he introduced legislation to establish Jim Crow cars in the Maryland and the District of Columbia. He falsely claimed that many African Americans in the District of Columbia supported such a measure. 

Evening Star, April 6, 1906, Chronicling America
Bamberg Herald, May 10, 1906, Chronicling America
Washington Bee, April 7, 1906

At least three people responded to the Evening Star reports by Heflin. Those people were E.M. Hewlett, M. Grant Lucas and Barbara E. Pope, an educator and author who later became a member of the Niagara Movement and brought her own Jim Crow case in Virginia shortly before the 2nd Niagara Movement’s meeting Harper’s Ferry.

Evening Star, April 8, 1906, Chronicling America

President Roosevelt’s sentiment set forth in his letter to Tourgee, was belied by his actions in 1906, when he summarily discharged, without honor and without an opportunity to defend themselves, the entire regiment of 167 men in Brownsville, Texas. These soldiers were prevented from serving in the military and resulted in the denial of several pensions for those who had served more than 20 years.

Roosevelt’s announcement appeared to be timed to be made after the 1906 election.

Excerpt from Roosevelt’s hostility to the colored people of the United States The record of the discharge of the colored soldiers at Brownsville. n. p
. Washington
, 1906. Pdf. https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.24001000/

This incident, which occurred the same week as the 2nd Niagara Movement Meeting in Harper’s Ferry, WV (August 15-18, 1906) – the 1st being held in Buffalo, NY in 1905, was indicative of rising tensions in the country, increased voting rights disfranchisement for African Americans, and epidemic level lynching numbers. Despite criticism, Roosevelt did not publicly apologize for his decision.

It was not until the Nixon Administration in 1972, after decades of investigation, when Congress determined the soldiers were innocent. Nixon pardoned the solders and granted them honorable discharges, yet none of the surviving soldiers were given backpay, although some financial restitution was paid.

By 1908, Heflin was well-known for his support of the “lost cause” and spoke at related events. In April 1908, upon the pretense of defending a white woman on a DC railcar on which he was riding, he forced an African American man, Louis Lundy, from the railcar and shot at him through a railcar window, hitting him and an innocent bystander, Thomas McCreery, both of whom were injured. 

Evening Star, April 5, 1908, Chronicling America

Heflin’s family came to the aid of McCreery, the white man who was injured. Heflin’s brother, Dr. Heflin went to great lengths to assist him. Louis Lundy, the target of Heflin’s rage, received no special care.

Ultimately, Heflin was indicted, but the charges were later dismissed.

Evening Star, May 11, 1908, Chronicling America

By early 1908, Heflin’s attempt to force Jim Crow laws on the District of Columbia by amendment was defeated. 

The Spanish American, February 29, 1908, Chronicling America

Barbara Pope’s Jim Crow case was successful, although the jury awarded her only one cent in damages.

Alexandria gazette, June 05, 1907, Chronicling America

These incidents were mere bumps in Heflin’s decades long career. None of these transgressions impacted Heflin’s election prospects. When Woodrow Wilson was President, Heflin introduced legislation resulting in national recognition of Mother’s Day in 1914. He remained in the United States Congress until he was barred from participating in a U.S. Senate campaign in 1930.

African Americans continued to attend meetings in the White House, but were not invited to social events until the wife of Congressman Oscar Stanton De Priest of Chicago, Jessie Williams De Priest, was invited to a tea scheduled for June 12, 1929 by Louise Henry Hoover, President Herbert Hoover’s wife. Congressman DePriest was the first African American elected to Congress not from a southern state. When he was elected in 1928, he was the first African American elected to Congress in the twentieth century. 

Congressman Oscar DePriest, 1924, Chronicling America
Jessie Williams DePriest
Lou Henry Hoover

Mrs. Hoover was careful to ensure that the tea would be comfortable for Mrs. DePriest and the other guests. The invitation list was prepared in secret and it wasn’t until after the tea was held that the public was aware of the event.

The DePriests and The Hoovers received hostile responses because of The Tea. Many Americans remained of the belief that social interaction between those separated only by skin color, suggested that such interaction signaled social equality. 

Congressman DePriest served from 1929-1935 and departed from Washington, DC when he was not re-elected. The DePriests returned to Chicago.

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To give you an idea about how old this original copy of American Railroad Journal is, consider that it is one year older than when the B&O reached Harper’s Ferry. Published in New York, it was edited by D.K. Minor.

It contents include:

Suspension Bridges

Hydraulics as a Branch of Engineering

Public Lands

Agriculture

Literary Notices

Foreign Intelligence

Poetry (!)

There is an unusual account of the proper storage for butter that has been salted, yet not intended to be eaten for several months.

The quantity of salt for butter that is not to be eaten for several months after salting, should not be less than half an ounce of salt, mixed with 2 drachms of sugar and two drachms of nitre, to sixteen ounces of butter. The sugar improves the taste, and the nitre gives the butter a better color, while both of them act with the salt in preserving the butter from rancidity.

Miscellaneous news

Temperance Meeting of Mechanics – We were led by the call of a public meeting, published in the papers, and numerously signed by some of our most respectable mechanics, to look in at Chatham-street Chapel last evening, and we know not when and where we have seen a more gratifying spectacle, than was afforded by the gathering there, in such a cause, of more than 2000 persons, most of whom were, we have little doubt, mechanics.

It is to be regretted that the taste for music is not more prevalent in this country. It has a humanizing and gentle influence upon the character of a people, and affords a source of refined and innocent delight which nothing else can supply. A taste for music encourages all the social virtues; it furnishes an amusement which delights without danger, and affords instead of the dull and sating pleasures of dissipation, a source of delight as refined as it is endless. The ladies are particularly interested in this matter. – When a taste for music becomes more general in the other sex, they may depend not only on having more of their company, but having that company rendered more agreeable by the charms of gentleness, refinement and harmony.

It has a great masthead and is in good condition.

1835 American Railroad

This and other original Victorian Era newspapers are available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry. Contact us for purchase price and delivery options. In most cases, there is only one copy.

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Deadline is approaching!

Phileas Fogg’s Itinerary:

London to Suez (السويس as-Suways) via Mont Cenis & Brindisi by rail and steamboats – 7 days

Suez to Bombay (now called Mumbai) by steamer – 13 days

Bombay to Calcutta (or Kolkata) by rail – 3 days

Calcutta to Hong Kong (香港)by steamer – 13 days

Hong Kong to Yokohama (横浜市 Yokohama-shi) by steamer – 6 days

Yokohama to San Francisco by steamer – 22 days

San Francisco to New York by rail – 7 days

New York to London by steamer and rail – 9 days.

William Hall's Tellurian Clock with globe

William Hall’s Tellurian Clock with globe

Where would you like to go?

Map from 1872 version of "Around the World in 80 Days."

Map from 1872 version of “Around the World in 80 Days.”

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Trains! It’s almost a year away – but worth getting excited about now!  The “Steampunk unLimited” event is going to be held in November this year.

A juxtaposition of art and invention, creativity and technology while paying homage to the Victorian Era and Industrial Revolution, an unprecedented weekend at the Strasburg Rail Road is announced.  Train rides behind a massive steam locomotive, delicious eats and treats, steampunk handiwork, photo opportunities galore, an insider’s look through a shop tour, music reflective of days gone by, and so much more are just a snippet of the weekend’s events. 

From the Strasburg Rail Road website!

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I’m always learnin’ somethin” here …

  1. The Strasburg Rail Road Company was responsible for restoring the William Mason for the movie, “Wild, Wild West” AND there may be a steampunk-related event in the near future!!!
  2. There is a place called The Kitchen Kettle Village in Pennsylvania

  3. That steampunk computer mod enthusiasts are alive and well, and

  4. Taking photographs of Harper’s Ferry enveloped in fog is hard.

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We are celebrating our one year anniversary this month. We closed out September with a bang – the Steampunk Leisure exhibit opened and Steam held its inaugural Shameless Steam business series event.

Brunswick Railroad Days October 6 & 7, 2012

The Harpers Ferry Merchants Association, of which Steam at Harper’s Ferry is a member, is promoting Brunswick, Maryland’s annual Railroad Days celebration. If you are interested in taking a train from Harper’s Ferry to Brunswick for the Railroad Days activities, drop by Tenfold Fair Trade on Potomac Street to purchase tickets. Participating Harper’s Ferry Merchants Association members will have information about Railroad Days at their establishments. Check out the Brunswick Railroad Museum if you go and see if the Harpers Ferry extension is complete. It is a wonderful exhibit.

Halloween 2012

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is coordinating a special installation for the fall which should be up by Halloween. Also, check out special Halloween offers in town as well as late night hours the Saturday before Halloween and October 31.

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is Seeking Artists

As you may know, Steam at Harper’s Ferry advertises a call to artists for specific themed exhibits on a quarterly basis. Starting in November, artists who are interested in displaying their work on commission between exhibits should contact Steam at Harper’s Ferry directly. Steam is particularly interested in art that “works” in the gallery space. Artists are encouraged to come to Steam before contacting us. Information about submitting work is available on the website.

Shameless Steam – March

The next Shameless Steam arts-related business series will be held in March. If you are interested in promoting your arts-related business or your own work, please see the website under the post “Call for Presentations!” or follow the links under the “Events” tab.

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News From Steam At Harper’s Ferry

For Immediate Release: 4/30/2012
Contact: Cynthia – 304-885-0094 or info@steamatharpersferry.com
John Lamb – jwilliamlamb@gmail.com

Legendary Steam Gun Is Focus of Event at Steam At Harper’s Ferry
Author of Book on Winans Steam Gun to Presents Its History and Sign Copies of Book

Steam powered weapons are a staple of steampunk literature, art, and fashion, but in 1861 Harper’s Ferry played a part in the story of the “Winans” Steam Gun. “Its tough to imagine Harper’s Ferry as enemy territory, but in May 1861, Federal troops captured a steam gun, allegedly built by Maryland industrialist Ross Winans as it was being transported to Harper’s Ferry” says John Lamb, author of A Strange Engine of War: The “Winans” Steam Gun and Maryland in the Civil War. “ The men captured with it hoped to sell it to the Confederate troops there.”

While the gun never made it to Harper’s Ferry, Lamb will share its story with patrons of Steam at Harper’s Ferry on May 6. “Steam is a steampunk art and gift shop. What better place to share the story of such an outlandish, but entirely real Civil War device?” Lamb says. “Steampunk is a literary, artistic, fashion, and musical movement that starts with Victorian aesthetics, keeps things steam powered while taking technology and society in different directions. While contemporary to us, its roots go back to the 19th Century.”

 “One of the frequent themes of steampunk literature, is inventors toiling in obscurity on their creations – that is a pretty fair synopsis of the steam gun’s creation by Charles Dickinson and William Joslin,” Lamb says. What started as an effort to build a hand powered “centrifugal” gun by the men, grew into a steam powered weapon that rocketed to national prominence in the wake of the April 19, 1861 Baltimore Riot.

The gun’s menacing appearance and its arrival on the public stage at the height of anxiety after the riots helped bury its true origin, and forever linked it to noted Maryland industrialist Ross Winans through newspapers at time and through many books and historical articles over the years. While the basic facts of the story were talked about at the time, they soon faded from memory, according to Lamb. “Newspaper articles around the 50thanniversary (1911), helped bring out the story of its last days,” Lamb says. “During the 100th anniversary (1961), a replica was built for a reenactment of the gun’s capture. In 2007, Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel put the idea of the gun to the test. My book, published in 2011, continues the gun’s 50 year cycle of returning at key anniversaries for another round of publicity.”

Lamb’s interest in the gun was sparked when he found an engraving of it while working on another project in the early 1990s. “My curiosity about it began simply – what was it, was it dangerous? What happened to it? The more source materials I read, the less sense it all made – with good reason – the accepted account of events had little to do with what really happened.” Lamb says. “I worked on it here and there as I could and slowly a more complete account of the gun emerged. Being on Mythbusters spurred me to complete my work and put out a book, which came out in 2011. I have really enjoyed uncovering the true story of the Steam Gun, and am looking forward to sharing it with gallery guests at Steam at Harpers Ferry.”

If You Go: Historical Presentation/ Book Signing with John Lamb, Author of A Strange Engine of War: The “Winans” Steam Gun and Maryland in the Civil War, 2-4 p.m., Sunday, May 6, Steam at Harper’s Ferry, 180 High Street, 1B (on the stairs), Harper’s Ferry, WV, 25425. For more information visit, http://www.steamatharpersferry.com, call 304-885-0094 or send an email to info@steamatharpersferry.com

About John Lamb

John W. Lamb, author of A Strange Engine of War: The “Winans” Steam Gun and Maryland in the Civil War works in communications and development in the non-profit sector, is interested in Maryland’s Civil War history, 19th Century technology and shapenote singing, and appeared on the Discovery Channel’s *Mythbusters* series episode regarding the Winans Steam Gun. He lives in Harrison, Tennessee, with his wife and 3 children.

About Steam

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is a Victorian/Steampunk themed art gallery and gift shop located in the historic lower town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Steam at Harper’s Ferry has quarterly openings and features local and regional artists.

John W. Lamb
Author, Historian, and Development Professional
Harrison, TN, USA
jwilliamlamb@gmail.com

The book is available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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Harper’s Ferry visitors have a unique opportunity to walk alongside two historic canals. One, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which extends from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD for a distance of about 185 miles and the other, the Shenandoah Canal also known as the Shenandoah Navigation, which is often overlooked even  though its construction began twenty-two years earlier than that of the C&O. 

The canal became obsolete for use as a canal once the C&O was completed, however, the water siphoned from the Shenandoah fed industries, such as the paper mill on Virginius Island, through the early 1900s. If you take the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park bus from the Park entrance at Cavalier Heights, you can still see lock ruins, especially during this time of  year.

The train tracks along this portion of the Shenandoah were once owned by the Winchester & Potomac Railroad, considered a Confederate railroad system during the Civil War. In 1867, the Winchester & Potomac Railroad was renamed the Winchester & Strasbourg Railroad.

A few weeks ago, Harper’s Ferry experienced some excitement as !!Snow Panic!! set in, although short lived. Here is a photo showing the Shenadoah Canal lock still on the job managing the Shenandoah in the midst of the fearsome flurries.

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I follow a Yahoo! group about the B&O Railroad. I asked Mr. Cohen if I could repost a recent post of his to the group. He said yes, and here it is. If you want to get in touch with Mr. Cohen, there is a group email address below.

The Washington County Branch RR began operations in 1867 or 1868 from Weverton, which about a mile and a half to 2 miles west of Knoxville. The branch was something like 24 miles long and lasted until 1975-1978 when it was removed in stages. Today, IF you know where to look there are evidences to find at Weverton where the branch headed towards Hagerstown. They are located almost exactly opposite the C&O Canal lock house there off old Keep Tryst Rd. I passed right by there yesterday afternoon and this is an excellent time to check it out as the weeds and underbrush are non-existent for photos, especially using the lock house as a prop for photos, maybe a bit of an anachronism with current motive power behind the 180 years old (or thereabouts) lock house. Some of the rails for the branch are still there for a few dozen yards before they were removed heading up the valley where I think Israel Creek flows.

The B&O backed this project and from what I have read, it wasn’t very successful financially. The last passenger operations ended October 31,1949 with I think the Doodlebug running a triangle route between Brunswick, Frederick and Hagerstown and back again.

There were a number of stations along the line and some have good photos surviving. A few are quite elusive to find. The Weverton station was closed from what I have determined in 1929 or thereabouts and was demolished in early 1936, just before the big Potomac flood of that year. Route 340 today occupies much of the old town along the hillside which was removed to make way for that work in the 1960’s. The last permanently assigned station agent Franklin Garber retired in 1929, died in 1944 and is the great-great grandfather of the B&O RR HS Sentinel editor, Harry Meem. Franklin Garber is now a permanent resident in the cemetery in Knoxville at the top of the hill there.

Weverton was named for Caspar Wever (those are the correct spellings) who attempted to establish a milling community at this point but it was too isolated even back then to attract the necessary development.

Wever led an interesting past being involved in construction of the old National Road, what later became Route 40 and construction of the B&O mainline. He was involved in the faulty construction of the first B&O bridge across the Potomac at Harpers Ferry and that forever clouded his future 25 years of life before expiring in early 1861.

As an aside, if you want to know more about Wever, there has been an informative booklet published by Peter Maynard plus I think Dilts’ book covers some of his shenanigans as well.

Bob Cohen

January 29, 2012

Baltimore_and_Ohio@yahoogroups.com

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Take a look at these rare Harper’s Ferry postcards. 

The first one has a copyright date of 1911 by W.L. Erwin. In this view, you can see the Island Park bridge.

 

The next image may be from 1927 because the postmark is August 19, 1927 Luray, Va. and was sent to Walkerton, Ontario, Canada. The sender writes:

Franklin and Mr. Cliwe and myself are on a motor trip, taking in some wonderful signts. Crystal Cave, Pa., Shenandoah Valley, Va., Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and then home by way of Eastern Shore.

Anna E. Cliwe

The next two postcards are more recent.

Have you noticed anything? Take a look again at the images. For the most part, the skyline is familiar. If you’ve seen images of Harper’s Ferry before, the train tracks, rivers, lower town are photographic mainstays. But what isn’t there?

Give up?  Look at the first postcard again. Do my eyes deceive me, or is the HILL TOP HOUSE MISSING? Is it hidden by trees? Almost every photograph of the town I have seen from this perspective includes the Hill Top House in the background. I understand that it was burned down in 1912. Does anyone know if that 1912 date is incorrect and that, in fact, Hill Top House was burned down earlier?

What a sad view! 

Come see these and other historic Harper’s Ferry postcards at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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