Thursday, September 21, 2017

Our House - 12

House portraits typically feature the whole family, so where it the husband in this one? Since such photographs were typically shot by traveling photographers who went door-to-door at time when the whole family could be expected to be home, maybe the husband was simply away on business. This print is broken, with the lower left corner being found in a whole separate bin in the antique store, and then rejoined digitally in photoshop.

What I find most curious about this photograph, though, is the unusual windwheel which appears behind the house and above the roofline (below). This appears to be a Dempster Vaneless model, inwhich the sectional blade segments collapse as wind speed changes in order to regulate the mill's speed. A good video that describes and shows this type of windmill in operation can be found here on YouTube. A restored one can  be found at this web page.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Steam-Powered Lumber Mill

Since this is an outdoor lumber mill, I would presume it is at the site of some big construction project, rather than a permanent commercial business. That being said, judging by the size of the pile of sawdust in the foreground, this crew has been milling a lot of logs!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Bad Train Wreck

This photo has no information written on the back, and I cannot discern any details that would help figure out when and where this train wreck took place. Clearly, though, it's a bad one. A passenger train with the locomotive ending up inverted, and what appears to be bridge structure sticking up high in the air means this was one bad scene.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Andes: The Ghost of the Loucinda

Time has glamorized paddlewheel riverboats, but some were anything but glamorous. The Andes was one of these boats that had a life of hardship and misfortune rather than romantic glamour. She went through several names and even more owners, and seemed to float from one mishap to the next. River folk can be rather superstitious, and this boat had her share of bad luck.

Originally built in 1897 by the Middleport, Ohio boatyard owned by Captain Benjamin Taylor Flesher, the 140-foot wooden-hulled sternwheeler was owned initially by the Carr Milling Co. and named the Speedwell. Carr (originally the Carr & Brown Milling Co.) was a flour milling concern in Hamilton, Ohio, on the Great Miami River, just north of where it joins the Ohio River. It is likely that Carr Milling thought that by owning their own riverboat, they could bring wheat in, and ship product out without be at the mercy of a shipping company. There is some indication that the boat also operated on another Ohio River tributary, the Kanawha.

Carr didn't keep the boat long, selling her in 1902 to Captain Sam Parsons who renamed her the Helen M. Gould (the wife of railroad magnate Jay Gould, who made a name for herself as a philanthropist) and began packet trade between Cincinnati and Portsmouth, and later between Louisville and Madison. The choice of the name was actually an odd one, as was the original. Sailors, including riverboat crews, are highly superstitious, and this trait extends to their captains. Having a name that begins with S (the worst-ever riverboat disaster happened to the Sultana) or contains the letter M is considered by some a sign of bad luck. For instance, the Greene family had boats named after just about every member of the clan, and yet no boat was named for the matriarch, Mary Greene (the only female captain on the Ohio), because of the M. That being said, the Helen's eight-year career with Parsons passed quite routinely, with only minor incidents occasionally occuring. Rivers, after all, are a dangerous place, even without superstitions.

In 1910, she was bought by the Lousiville and Cincinnati Packet Company, and completely rebuilt. When she emerged, she was essentially a new boat, other than keeping the Gould's engines, ten feet longer and had a new name, the Loucinda (derived from LOUiville, CINcinatti, iDianA). Now free of a name beginning with S or containing an M, things started going badly for the boat. Barely back in the water after her refit, on September 2, 1910, the Loucinda ran down an unattended launch three miles above Louisville, sinking it. Charges were pressed against pilot Gilbert Brasher for negligence and inattention to duty, and he lost his license. On October 12, 1912, a drunken passenger fell overboard and drowned, never a good sign to the highly superstitious riverboat crews. And that was just the beginning of her woes.

Then on April 25, 1913, Loucinda had a close brush with disaster. She had broken down at Louisville, Kentucky, and so the steamer Monterey was tasked with towing her to Jeffersonville, Indiana, for repairs. The Monterey was only half of the Loucinda's tonnage (107 to 197 tons), and when the pair pulled away from the warf, a south wind caught them and was more than the Monterey could handle, and the two were pushed into the main current of the river, heading straight for the Falls of the Ohio, a series of rocky rapids and waterfalls in which the river drops 26 feet, the only non-navigable part of the Ohio. The master of the Monterey tried to back towards the warf, but this just served to swing the pair so that they were now heading directly downstream. The Annual Report of the United States Life-Saving Service for FY 1913 describes what followed:
The power of the towing vessel [the Monterey] was not sufficient to offset the force of the current, and she was swept down through one of the openings between the Kentucky and Indiana chutes of the falls and over Backbone Reef.  In striking the reef she broke her rudder. She also started to leak from stem to stern, and filled so fast that her three steam pumps were unable to hold the inrushing flood in check. Passing under the Pennsylvania bridge, she was borne into the Big Eddy where the water in her hold set her to rolling. In a short time she turned entirely over and the fierce current tore away her upper works, letting her boilers and machinery drop out. Then the upturned hull floated off and plunged over the falls.
The danger in which the two vessels found themselves after leaving their warf was promptly observed from the life saving station. The service crew in two boats put out into the river and separated the line between them, then took off the five men composing the crew of the Monterey, and placed_them on the Loucinda. They next dropped an anchor from the vessel last named and carried two of her lines to the Indiana shore. With the lines firmly secured the men on the Loucinda slacked away on the anchor line and she swung into the quieter water near the bank. Later a harbor tug took her through the canal and on to Jeffersonville. Only two men were aboard the Loucinda.
In 1914, the Loucinda was chartered to the Louisville and Evansville Packet Company, but at some point during that summer, she hit a sandbar and became so stuck that she was not freed until that December when the river level rose. That many months without income was a difficult time for the steamer's operators.

The final and fatal bit of hard luck came three years later when, on January 30, 1918, she was wrecked in the Cincinnati ice gorge disaster that wrecked a number of riverboats. In the spring, the owners tried to salvage what they could. The hull was repairable, and in 1919 the Louisville and Cincinnati had a new boat was built on the hull, named the Andes. She was, but all reports, a bare-bones vessel, "cheaply built" according to one report. However, the bad luck seems to have been shaken off. She was even chartered off to the Greene Line for a time, and then sold, in March 1927, to Captain Oliver F. Bradford.

And then, on July 1, 1931, the good luck ran out. While approaching Plaquemine Lock, about 13 miles south of Baton Rouge, the Andes was wrecked and sank.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hewing Timbers

It's easy to forget, in our day of automation and refined machinery, that America was built with skill and the sweat of manual labor. These timbers are massive, and are being hewn and prepared by hand.

Given that this is taking place in a railroad yard (the two Chicago, Burlington and Quincy boxcars suggest that this might be Chicago) suggests that these timbers might be destined for a railroad trestle (although that's purely speculation on my part).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hoisting Cement

This photograph is essentially dying, crumbling to powder due to age and poor handling in the past. It's evidence of how transient our memories of the past can be. When they're gone, there is no replacing them. Long before modern cement pumps, this is how construction was done.

The cement mixer in the lower left of the image is a Koehring Mixer, which helps date the image a bit. The Koehring Company was started in 1907 to manufacture cement mixers, and was the first to develop a steam-powered, portable mixer (a photograph of an almost identical mixer can be seen here on Robert Grauman's Photobucket gallery). The Koehring company's product lines were owned by different parent companies over the years, but the name lasted until about 1987, when then-owner Northwest Engineering acquired Terex, and discontinued the Koehring and several other brands.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our House - 11

So, I have to wonder with this photo: what was the point of hauling such a beautiful rocking chair out into the yard if no one was going to sit in it for the photo? Maybe it's in memorial to someone who recently passed? Maybe the husband of the woman sitting in the other chair? And I wonder why the son chose to stand behind the fence, instead of with the rest of the family? Given the wife's dress style (specifically the puffed sleeves at the shoulder), I'd guess this was taken in the 1890s.