Monday, October 31, 2016

Mystery Photo Monday - Steam Crane on a Barge

Every photo has a story behind it - but sometimes I've just got no clue on what it is, and no clues to follow. So, it's time to crowd-source and introduce #MysteryPhotoMonday. 

Today's mystery photo is a fascinating one...a steam powered crane on a barge likely doing some repair work to what appears to be a defensive fortification in a harbor or river. It also looks like the photographer was standing on the deck of a riverboat. So the big question is: where was this shot? There's got to be a lot of history - and a good story - with that fortification there! Please feel free to comment below.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pasadena's Orange Inn

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, there were four things true of Central and Southern California: Towns were far apart, the weather was hot, cars had no air conditioning, and orange groves proliferated everywhere. As a result, numerous juice stands shaped like giant ornages sprung up everywhere along the north-south Central California Highway 99 and of course the famous east-west Route 66. Parched travellers (and presumably their children) could stop on a hot day and slack their thirst.

Determining the location of the particular stand shown in our photo proved to be a bit of a challenge, until I came across the Giant Oranges page on the website. There I found a scan of a real-photo postcard (click here to see it) showing the same Orange Inn vintage orange juice stand under an old oak tree. The good news is that after I enhanced the postcard image a bit, the writing at the bottom became distinguishable, and reads:"Everything in Orange. Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, Calif." Foothill Blvd was part of Route 66.

In discussing this with Debra, the owner of, she put me on to another site displaying the same postcard, the Homestead Museum in the City of Industry. And they even listed the Orange Inn's former address: 2458 Foothill Blvd.

Now comes the sad part: I looked the address up on Google Maps' Streetview feature and compared the ridgeline in the backgrounds of the above photo and the post card, and got this approximate view of the site:

Well, at least you can probably still get orange juice at that Mobil station....

While the Orange Inn is long gone, a few other orange stands still stand today! Including one in Florida!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Family Photo Friday - Two Sisters

I don't normally acquire cabinet photo portraits for the Archive, there are just so many out there, and individually they are generally unremarkable (it's a shame, of course, that so many have lost their connection with the names of those pictured). However, these two very beautiful sisters caught my eye...the style of the portrait, and even the backing board, was a bit unusual. Sadly, no one bothered to write their names on the back. At least we knew that the photo was taken by a studio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The watches pinned to their blouses was a fad in the 1890s.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Faded Lady and the Bicylces

On the fourth #TBT of each month, we feature one of the most common types of vintage photos, the portrait.

Really old photos, especially albumen prints, have a habit of fading really bad. Take this one, for example.

Thanks to Photoshop, though, a lot of detail can be brought out, and it becomes clearer that the photo is of a woman sitting with a pair of bicycles at the side of a road or path.

So there's not much of a story with this photo, but someone thought it worth the time to take it, and preserve it. And maybe that's enough.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Riverboat at the Bridge of the Gods

Many of the antique photographs in the Archive's collection are not in what would be considered "mint" condition, and probably wouldn't be found in the collections of more formal museums. But that's okay, because regardless of the condition, these photographs are still a remarkable window on the past. This is one such photograph. Typically when one things of sternwheel riverboats, it's the Mississippi (along with Mark Twain) that probably comes to mind. But the Columbia River, separating Washington and Oregon, also had a big population of paddlewheel riverboats.

Many of the Columbia's riverboats looked very similar to each other, and unfortunately the boat's motion and the camera's slow shutter speed has resulted in enough motion blur that the name can't be distinguished. But, based on other photos and the boat's features, this is possibly the Claire, the Dalles City or the Altona.

The riverboat, in this photo, is exiting the Cascade Locks, which were built in 1896 in order to bypass the Cascade Rapids and make navigation between the upper and lower Columbia possible. The rapids were the remnant of four massive landslides in the area, the most recent being the Bonneville Slide that Native Americans in the area called The Bridge of the Gods. The estimated dates of the slide have varied as the dating methods have evolved, with the range varying widely from 1100AD to 1700AD. The most recent studies suggest a date of 1450. The slide temporarily built a natural dam across the river that was 200 feet high and over three miles long, forming a lake that stretched from 35 to 70 miles upstream. The river eventually overcame the dam the lake drained.

The rapids and the original Cascade Locks no longer exist, having been submerged in 1938 by the lake formed by the new Bonneville Dam (the Archive's collection also includes the photo below of the dam).

Friday, October 21, 2016

Family Photo Friday

In the late 1800s, there were a lot of immigrants coming to America from all over Europe, including Germany. Often, they brought little with them except for what they could carry. This carte de viste print of a husband and wife is very, very worn, and was probably dearly cherished. It's a tragedy that it has since lost its family. The back of the photo includes the photographer's imprint, "E. Schink, Photographisches Melier, Essen."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Our House - Part 1

For the third #TBT in each month, we feature a photo of an ordinary house, usually with the owners posing proudly.

This is possibly the oldest photograph in the Archive's collection, and is from the post-Civil War era. In very light pencil on the back it reads, "Uncle Jim and Aunt Nell Tharp". In pen, written much later, it idicates that the photo was owned by "Mrs. Moufield".

Some details can be brought out by enhancing the contrast. There's still snow on the roof and ground, but it must not be terribly cold, as the wife isn't bundled up in a coat.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

In the Lumberjack's Camp

I found this photo buried in an old box in the dim reaches of a run-down antique store in Norfolk Virginia: think Sanford and Son, here, but not so brightly lit, and definitely more cavernous. Price: $1. This appears to be an albumen print, and I'm guessing it is from the late 1800s, based on several clues.

Here's the full artifact; note that the edges of the actual print are crookedly cut.
Below, I've enhanced the image somewhat, tweaking the contrast and tone-mapping a bit to bring out some of the detail hidden in the fadedness of the print.

The bits of snow on the ground and the lack of leaves suggest a winter-ish or maybe spring scene, but one not so cold as to require heavy coats.

I've cropped the individual men so that you can open these images at a higher resolution, just in case anyone might actually recognize one of these fellows.

Three of the men have full felling axes, which supports the idea of a late 19th century date, when felling axes were used predominantly, and before two-man crosscut felling saws came into popular use. The presence of a grinding stone supports the idea that these are lumberjacks, in that cross-cut felling axes would need frequent sharpening to be as efficient as possible, and because their purpose was to cut across the grain of the wood (as compared to a splitting axe), sharpness was much more critical to professional lumberjacks who would be swinging their axes all day long..

The fourth man is holding one end of a two-man bucking saw, used for cutting up downed timber; bucking saws had a much narrower blade than felling saws.

Behind him appears to be the camp cook holding a basin, and just inside the tent one can just make out a stove with a coffee pot on it. Most of the cooking, though, would likely have been done on the wood-burning stove at the far right of the photo. The tent's stove and stove pipebehind the cook, suggest a kind of permanency to this camp that wouldn't be seen in the camps of other mountain men who move from site to site more frequently.

Lumberjacks lived a fairly solitary and migratory life, and women were seldom to be found in lumber camps. The industry peaked in America in 1906, when there were a half-million lumberjacks working in the forests across the country.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Family Photo Friday

Many Friday's we'll be celebrating #FamilyPhotoFriday here at Lost America Found.

When photography was new and only a few had cameras, it was natural for the few to try to make a living with them. Some went about town, taking photos and selling prints of ordinary families standing in front of their homes, and they remain very important glimpses into the ethereal moments of ordinary America on an ordinary day. Sadly, all too often the names of the families have been lost to time, robbing people today of a connection to their past.

I'd guess this was shot sometime in the 1890s or 1910s, but clothes are a difficult thing on which to judge.

Notice that there's a child's hand sneaking in from the right...was one member of this family left out when the photographer shot his image?

Below, I've included bigger crops of the faces, on the off-chance that some genealogy researcher happens to actually recognize these people.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Grammar School

For the second #TBT in each month, we feature a school or class photo. Do you have any relatives here?

There are a lot of old school photos floating around, having survived, but this one almost didn't, and it struck me as a bit unusual. First, there's the architecture. Second, the list of names on the back. I have no information about where this was, or when it was taken, but there are some clues if someone wants to pursue it.

From the clothing styles, I'd guess 1920s to early 1930s. I've blown up the faces and split the class into two halves so that you can see them better, and maybe recognize someone.

There's a fairly extensive list of names on the back, and I've enhanced to photo below in order to see the penciled writing clearer. I searched for some of the more unusual names at, in hopes of seeing some location correlation, but I couldn't distinguish any (there were hits with some of the names, including Erwin C. Bathke, born in 1895, a date that might fit). Given the time period, it's likely that many of the young men saw service during World War II and died overseas.

For the purposes of genealogy researchers using Google searches, here's the list of names as best as I can make them out:

Left column:

  • Frederick Schwarz
  • Anna Marie Adkison
  • Thelma Rensli
  • Dora Whittlesey
  • Ruth Rawlands
  • Ansel Campbell
  • Gertrude Carico
  • Melvin Niel (or Neel)
  • Effie Jane Cowles
  • Margaret N....a
  • Ternici (?) Neagles
  • Sam Chenalt
  • Carter Miller
  • Lucile Denny
  • Beatrice Chase
  • Ailene Horst
  • Virginia White
  • Brown (?) Thompson
Right column:
  • Abe Polesky
  • Gladys Davis
  • Roger Enders
  • Gil Brown
  • Kenneth Mulligan
  • Maxine Stout
  • Coleman Stoat
  • Lula Hammond
  • Velma Bainum
  • Orlando Wilson
  • Edward DuMond
  • Anna Graham
  • Helen Kline
  • Erwin C. Bathke
  • Umau Kline
  • Arlene Benning, Log Cabin Tr.
  • Elsie Brown

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mining Ghost Town

Sometimes when you're researching unmarked vintage photographs, they can play tricks on you. This 1920s or -30s print of a mining ghost town was printed from a backwards negative, so the view is flipped horizontally, but I didn't know that when I started searching. The version at the right how the print appears. Below is how the view actually would appear to someone standing in this spot. After searching the internet for similar views in order to identify the town,

The photo flipped back to how the view actually looks
I came up empty, so did what I should have done in the first place: contact the good folks over at the Western Mining History website (and you can also follow their posts on Facebook!). It wasn't long before I heard back from them that this was Nevadaville, Colorado (also known sometimes as Nevada City), and they have a page of current photos of the town (they also host this photo from 1900 from aproximately the same vantage point). The giveaway that the photo had been flipped was the position of the building with the three arches next to the larger brick building. Another early photo can be found here, and a stereoview can be found here.

Nevadaville is the eastern-most of three mining towns in Colorado's Gregory Gulch (the other two are Central City and Blackhawk), and the towns sprang up after prospector John Gregory discovered gold in the area in 1859. At its peak in 1880, the town had just over a thousand residents, but today boasts a whole six!

The large brick building is the Nevadaville Masonic Temple, and is still in use by the Freemasons. After their original meeting hall burned with most of the rest of the town in 1861, they added a second story to this building. As that fire burned through the town, the residents dynamited a number of buildings to successfully stop the progress. The building with the three arches was once a saloon built by Joseph and John Kraemer. The building at the far right in the above photo has since been restored and serves as a general store. The house behind the Masonic Temple still stands today, and in 2012 was for sale for a whopping $47,000.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Stop in Bishop

For the first #ThrowbackThursday, or #TBT in each month, we feature a photo showing America's love for its new cars and trucks.

For those not familiar with eastern California, you might not have heard of the little town of Bishop. It is a unique place, sitting at the northern end of the Owens Valley, the gateway to the eastern Sierras. Bishop has a history steeped in mining and mountaineering. John Muir used to come though upon occasion. It is a watering hole on the way to Mammoth Mountain, Mono Lake and points north. For hunters and fisherfolk, hikers and climbers, it is a place to eat and fuel before heading into the back country.

So what's this gentleman doing? His truck appears to be loaded he heading for a mining operation? A camp?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Palacios' Pleasure Pavilion

Palacios, Texas, is a small community of just over 5,000 people nestled on the Texas Gulf Coast half way between Houston and Corpus Cristi, and despite its size, it's the home of a vibrant shrimping community, and calls itself the "Shrimp Capitol of Texas". The town was originally settled in 1903, and the following year the New York, Texas and Mexico Railway, part of the Southern Pacific Railroad, built a line extending to the community and started to invest in its development as a seaside resort destination (the SP frequently did that in order to create destinations which passengers would pay fares to get to - this, in part was how Los Angeles came to be).

Every seaside resort needs a venue for activities, so one of the first buildings put up by the Palacios Townsite Company was the Pleasure Pavilion, built at the end of a 400-foot long pier in the summer of 1904. Designed by local architect Jules Leffland, it had a central twin-deck pavilion space, and then in the wings were fifty mens' dressing rooms (or bath houses) and twenty-five ladies' dressing rooms for bathers. The Pavilion's management rented woolen swimsuits to would-be bathers, and the far-side of the building featured high and low diving boards  (built from the left side as it appears in the photo) as well as a slide. Since sailing was a favorite pastime of the era, docking space was provided for local boats to tie up while visiting. The Southern Pacific would periodically operate special excursion trains to the town bringing tourists as the destination's fame grew. Orchestra concerts, dances and special sporting events were held in the Pavilion.

Hurricanes in 1915 and 1919 damaged sections of the Pavilion and its pier, but the damage was quickly rebuilt. During the 1920s, the management partnered with the near-by Palacios Hotel to hire an orchestra, which would perform at the hotel during the day and in the Pavilion at night. In 1932, new owners removed the bathing facilities in the west wing and replaced them with a restaurant and soda fountain.

Track of 1934's third hurricane
In July, 1934, the third hurricane of that year's season (they hadn't started the tradition of naming hurricanes yet) was an unusual one for its track. It formed as a tropical storm in the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina and took first a westerly track before heading southwest, making initial landfall just South of St. Augustine, Florida. It crossed Florida and moved into the Gulf of Mexico, where it strengthened and became a Category 1 hurricane, heading right for the Texas coast. It made its second landfall at Lamar, Texas, just 50 miles southwest of Palacios. Though only a Category 1, it still packed a punch, and the Pleasure Pavilion suffered a lot of damage. Besides the damage, the building was over 30 years old, and the community decided it was time to replace the Pavilion as well as build a new sea wall to prevent further damage.

The original Pavilion from our photo was razed in May, 1935, and replaced by one almost equally glamorous, known as the "Roundhouse", which lasted until September 11, 1961 when it was destroyed by Hurricane Carla. A smaller, open air pavilion was built by the city, and now they are building a new one, though it appears they've learned the lesson about hurricane damage, the new new pavilion is being built of steel and concrete - and on land.