Oiling Around

Operating a steam locomotive can be a labor intensive thing, with almost always something to do for both the engineer and the fireman. Jack Delano spied this engineer as he was oiling around his charge before starting out on the day’s run. It’s likely that the fireman is busy tending the fire and making sure everything is in working order at his post.

It’s May of 1943 and we’re in the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad’s Clyde yard in Cicero, Illinois.

Oiling Around

Filling the Tank

This Chicago and North Western locomotive is having its thirst quenched as the fireman fills its water tank. We’re at the coaling tower in the Proviso yard near Chicago on a cold day in December of 1942. The tender has been filled with coal, and the locomotive’s sand dome is full. This stop at the water penstock completes the fuel and water replenishment. Next comes a thorough greasing of the valve gear and other moving parts, and she’ll be ready for the days labor.

Photograph by Jack Delano

Filling the Tank

Loading Potatoes

Last week we viewed a Jack Delano photograph of a string of reefers at a potato grading station near Belcross, North Carolina. In his travels Mr. Delano also recorded these workers loading a freight car in Elizabeth City, North Carolina with sacks of potatoes. It’s July of 1940, and that’s a lot of potatoes to load on a hot day! Note the interesting truck. It appears to be a short tractor-trailer arrangement. I like the slide out timber in the rear serving as a step up to the trailer deck.

But there’s more . . . the cars looked familiar to me. Turns out I had posted another view of similar cars back in 2019. I had speculated at the time that the “reefers” in that photograph looked like ventilated boxcars. I notice in this photograph that the truss-rod car in the foreground has “ventilator” stenciled on it’s side. The roof hatches also appear to me to be a lot thinner than the typical insulated hatches on an iced refrigerator car. I had also speculated at the time that perhaps tobacco was being loaded into the cars in the background. Looking again at that image, I think it more likely that it was indeed sacks of potatoes. I’m going to call that mystery solved! 🙂

Loading Potatoes at Elizabeth City, NC

While on the subject of potatoes, I have posted a couple other Jack Delano images with this theme. While in Caribou, Maine he had recorded this image of a line of trucks loaded with potatoes in wooden barrels. I also posted a view of the depot in Caribou. In the background is a string of cars being loaded with potatoes. Below is a photograph of one of those cars, a wooden outside braced car. This Bangor and Aroostook car appears to be in excellent condition. Note also the interesting warehouse behind the car. It’s amazing the detail put into a mere warehouse! Mr. Delano recorded this view in October of 1940.

BAR Boxcar at Potato Warehouse

Reefers at a Grading Station

I’ve previously posted a few photographs that Jack Delano recorded while traveling through North Carolina back in the summer of 1941. This image was recorded during a visit in July of 1940.

There isn’t much information recorded about this scene, simply stating that these reefers (refrigerated cars) are at a grading station near Belcross, North Carolina. It’s an interesting collection of cars, with both steel and wooden cars in the mix, one even being an older outside braced car. Represented are Western Fruit Express, Fruit Growers Express and Burlington Refrigerator Express. And there is one car that doesn’t seem to have any identification that I can see, even under magnification. Perhaps the lighting is such that faded lettering isn’t visible.

All have their roof hatches open. Since it’s July, I would assume that the contents merely need to be kept ventilated. One car at left has a door open and appears to be loaded. Another car at right has it’s doors open and appears empty. I can faintly make out a man with some crates on the platform beyond those open doors.

Reefers at a Grading Station

The Car Knocker

Last week we viewed a group of workers inspecting cars in the C&NW yard near Chicago. These fellows are known as car knockers, a term used for the early custom of tapping the wheels to detect flaws. In this instance they were checking journal boxes and brakes. The image below is a portrait of one of those workers we saw in the prior post.

I’ve mentioned before how Jack Delano often featured the human element of a profession, and I’ve featured several of his photographs such as this. My hat is off to this working gentleman.

Chicago and North Western Railway, Proviso yard, December 1942.

The Car Knocker

Journal and Brake Inspections

A constant chore on railroads is the ongoing inspection of the rolling stock. It’s a chilly December day in 1942, and Jack Delano has captured this view of several workers doing just that. The men are inspecting the journal boxes and brakes on a cut of cars here in the Proviso yard near Chicago.

Seen center and right are two older cars, an outside braced wooden boxcar and similar gondola. Gondolas tend to lead a rough life and that Burlington gon is no exception, with several of it’s wood planks damaged. But it can still serve for loads other than granular commodities.

Journal and Brake Inspections

Giant AT&SF Grain Elevator

During his trip out west on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe back in March of 1943, Jack Delano spied this enormous grain elevator while they were crossing Kansas. This facility has a capacity of 10 million bushels of grain! Note its size compared to the automobile seen just left of center.

I also note the variety of freight cars at right. We can see boxcars from the Santa Fe, the Chesapeake and Ohio, the New York Central, a wooden truss rod Great Northern, and a round top Seaboard Air Line (labeled for automobile and furniture loading). Also in the mix is a Pennsylvania gondola. An interesting variety indeed!

Giant AT&SF Grain Elevator

Railroad Help Wanted

It’s May of 1943 and the spring is here in Chicago. Jack Delano found himself outside of the employment office of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad’s Labor Bureau located near the Union Station. The United States is well into the war effort, and there are many jobs to be filled on the labor intensive railroads. And the CMSP&P (the Milwaukee Road) is hiring. Most prominent is the sign advertising for track laborers at $5.00 per day! And there are ongoing opportunities for skilled trades and other laborers as well.

From the looks of the window next door at the A.A. Johnson Employment Agency, there are quite a few non-railroad jobs available as well. Some that I can discern are farm hands ($70-$80 month, with room and board), nursery laborers, dishwasher, coal handler ($7.41 for 10 hour day), milkman, janitor (neat, sober man at $125 month), stockman, hotel fireman, and a warehouse laborer.

Railroad Help Wanted

Pullman Porter on the Capitol Limited

In March of 1942 Jack Delano was traveling to his assignment in Chicago aboard the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s flagship passenger train, the Capitol Limited. Late in the day he captured Pullman Porter Alfred McMillan preparing the upper berth for the night.

The air conditioned Capitol Limited was known for fine dining in it’s “Martha Washington” series dining cars. It also offered amenities such as secretaries, barbers, manicurists, and valets. If the train was on schedule, it was probably somewhere in Pennsylvania when this photograph was taken.

Pullman Porter Making a Berth

Clutching the Bills

Last week we saw Jack Delano’s portrait of the crew of a Chicago and North Western freight train as it was readying to start its journey. Here the train has arrived at its destination in Clinton, Iowa and is entering the receiving yard. With waybills clutched in hand, Conductor Wolfsmith is hopping off the caboose as the train passes the yard office.

Mr. Delano recorded this scene in January of 1943. If you’d like to see the other images along this journey, find them here and here.

Clutching the Bills

Portrait of the Crew

In January of 1943 Jack Delano managed to get a ride on a Chicago and North Western freight train. The trip started at the Proviso Yard near Chicago and made the trip to Clinton, Iowa and return. I’ve shown a couple photos that he took along the way in previous posts. See them here and here.

Here Mr. Delano has lined up most of the crew for a portrait before they start on their journey. Unfortunately the fireman didn’t make the cut, as he was busy tending the fire on the locomotive. But seen here are the two brakemen at left, the engineer, and the conductor at right. In a few minutes they’ll be on their way on this frosty morning.

The #3014 is a 1929 product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and is a class ‘H’ 4-8-4 Northern. She has 76″ drivers, runs with a 250 psi boiler pressure, and generates 65,225 lbs. of tractive force.

C&NW Crew and Train