Thursday, January 31, 2008

Prospecting for Gold

This picture shows Prospectors in the 1897 Gold Rush in the Yukon Territory. You wonder if they ever found the "Mother Load" that they were looking for. When I lived in New Mexico, I had a friend that would go prospecting up in the mountains every weekend. He always came back with something, but he probably never paid for his gas and all his equipment with is little finds. Gold Fever has always made more people poor than rich.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ironclad USS Monitor

This photograph was taken in 1862 and shows the deck and gun turret of the USS Monitor, the first ironclad in the US Navy. The ship is remembered for the famous fight with the confederate Merrimac, also known as the CSS Virginia. In this epic naval battle the two ironclads went toe to toe, and basically fought to a draw. With the iron armor on the ships, the cannonballs basically just bounced off and did no damage.

It was on this day, January 30, in the year 1862 that the USS Monitor was launched. It was on this day that the entire British Navy, and every other wooden war ship in the world became obsolete.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

California Girl

This photograph was taken in 1942, and shows a young woman with a suitcase standing on the street in Hollywood California. I don't have any other information on the picture. I wonder though if it might be a girl from Kansas who took a bus to California in hopes of becoming a movie star. Just my imagination at work probably.

Monday, January 28, 2008

General Store

This is a photograph from 1936. It shows a General Store in Moundville, Alabama. It is fascinating to look at a picture like this and then think about a Wal-mart. My how things have changed.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Well Dressed Chimp

This photograph was taken in about1910. Not much info available on the picture. It was taken in New York City near the Napoleon Hippodrome. The Chimp appears to be living the good life!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Country Road

This is another great Dorothea Lange photograph from the Great Depression. It shows men sitting on the porch of a country store in Gordonton, North Carolina. The photograph was taken in 1939.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Harriet Quimby

This is a nice photograph of Harriet Quimby taken in 1911. She was the first woman to receive a pilots license in the United States. This photograph was taken shortly after she became the first woman in the United States to receive a pilots license. In 1912 she became the first woman to fly over the English Channel. Unfortunately, she died in a plane wreck a short time later. Today we take out hats off to another pioneering woman.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Train Wreck

This is one of my favorite old photos. The first thing one wonders is how the train ended up driving through the window, and then the second thing one wonders is what the train was doing on the second floor of the building to begin with.

The train wreck actually occurred at the Montparnasse Train Station, in Paris. The wreck was caused by a combination of the Engineer coming into the station too fast, because he was behind schedule, and a failure in the brakes of the train. The engine derailed, went across about 100 feet of the concourse, and then plunged out the window. No one on the train was killed, but one person on the street was hit by falling debris, and was killed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ship Wreck

Did you ever have a day like this? Anyway, I found this photograph interesting. When I first saw it I was curious how the ship could have possibly ended up on the rocks like this. I did a little research and found that the ship was the S.S. Princess May. The ship belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railway. On August 5, 1910 the vessel hit a reef near Alaska. It became stuck on the reef, and then the tide went out. This left the ship suspended in the air. The passengers were safely unloaded. The ship stayed stuck for over a month, but eventually was repaired, and put back into service.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Woman of the Dust Bowl

I really love the photographs from the Dust Bowl and Depression era. It is just amazing how terrible conditions were back then. This is a photograph of a woman from Oklahoma in 1937. Her and her husband are migrant workers. She lost a baby the previous winter. The child died from exposure. The photograph was by Dorothea Lange.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Woman Doctor

I have always been fascinated by pioneers. Pioneers are not always men on horses taming the west or mining for gold . . . pioneers are sometimes women who are among the first to do something typically thought of as a man's job. That is why I found this photograph so interesting. It shows a woman who is a medical doctor sitting in the back of a horse-drawn ambulance. In doing some research on the image, I found that the woman is Dr. Elizabeth Bruyn of Brooklyn. Dr. Bryun was an ambulance surgeon in New York City in the early 1900's. On her first day at work in 1910, she saved the life of an 18 month old baby who had been overvome by gas from a leak in an apartment. I learned that in 1911 she was in this ambulance with a patient, when the horse pulling the wagon got spooked, and bolted, throwing the driver from the wagon. Ms. Bruyn courageously tried to protect the patient as the out of control wagon crashed into a streetcar. She was badly hurt in the wreck, but despite her serious injuries, she continued to administer aid to her patient. Only after another ambulance arrived, and her patient was in safe hands, did she pass out from her own injuries.
In 1918 Dr. Bruyn joined an all-female group of doctors that was equipped by The National American Woman Suffrage Association of New York City. This group of women doctors was sent to France in World War I to establish a 300 bed hospital dedicated to treating victims of poison gas. I was unable to find any additional information on this effort, so we can only speculate as to the magnitude of healing and comfort rendered by this group of women, sent to war-torn France.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes our greatest heroes are unsung?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The General

Today we feature a portrait of General Robert E. Lee, Confederate States Army. This is one of my favorite portraits of Lee. It was taken several days after his surrender at Appomattox. It is the last portrait of him in a Military Uniform. Robert E. Lee was born on this day, January 19, in the year 1807. This date is celebrated throughout the south to this day. In some states it is an unofficial holiday, and some states have even made it an official holiday.
My favorite Lee story is centered around the Battle of Fredericksburg. General Burnside, who was in command of the Union forces, made some terrible strategic mistakes leading up to the battle. Lee, the consummate strategist, exploited these mistakes, and Confederate forces were able to inflict terrible losses on the enemy. As Lee watched the Confederate victory unfold he stated, "It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pancho Villa

Today we feature a photograph of Pancho Villa. Pancho Villa has always been somewhat of an enigma to me. Primarily remembered as a bandit, he was in fact a populist revolutionary fighting for the people, against Mexican Dictators such as Diaz. He was the only military leader to invade the mainland of the United States in the 1900's. In 1916 he crossed the border and led a raid on Columbus, New Mexico. In response, the US sent General John Pershing into Mexico to track the man down. After two years, Pershing gave up, unable to find Villa. Pancho Villa is said to have had the habit of having an ice cream cone before executing his enemies. Eventually, he was assassinated by his own associates. His last words . . . "don't let it end like this, tell them I said something good." What I find interesting about him is that in all the picture I find of him, he has an interesting twinkle in his eye.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cowboy Camp

This is a photograph from 1906 of a Cowboy Camp. By 1906 the traditional cowboy way of life was rapidly coming to an end.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

General John C. Fremont

Today we feature a portrait of John C. Fremont. Fremont was an interesting character in American History. He was an explorer, abolitionist, Radical Republican presidential candidate and Civil War General. he is often remembered as "The Great Pathfinder". On this day in 1847 he was appointed the first governor of the California Territory.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined on the side of the North. As commander of the Army's department of the West, he issued a bold proclamation freeing the slaves in Missouri. The proclamation was issued on August 31, 1861, and read:
"All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines shall be tried by court-martial, and, if found guilty, will be shot. The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri who shall take up arms against the United States, and who shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use; and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free."
Interestingly, this proclamation really upset President Lincoln, who directly ordered Fremont to rescind the proclamation. It was not until several years later that Lincoln issued his own Emancipation Proclamation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Native American Child

This photograph was taken in 1905, and shows a young Native American child. The photograph was taken by Edward Curtis. These Native American photographs are among my favorites.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Enrico Caruso

This is a portrait of Enrico Caruso, the sensational opera tenor of the early 1900's. It was on this day, January 13, in the year 1910 that opera was broadcast live on the radio for the first time. The performance was by Enrico Caruso, singing on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. I wonder if he really needed a cane, or if it was simply a fashion accessory?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kit Carson

Today we feature a portrait of Kit Carson. I love reading about legendary figures from the Old West. They seem to have had such large lives compared to men of today. Carson was a famed hunter, trapper, mountain man, scout, Indian fighter, and military advisor. Kit grew up on land owned by the children of Daniel Boone. He was one of 15 children, and his father died when he was very young. He went to work in a saddle shop to try and help support the family. He was intrigued by the stories he heard from trappers and mountain men, and at the age of 16 joined up with a group of trappers headed for New Mexico. He became a skilled trapper and mountain man. He fell in love with an Indian maiden, and shot a mans thumb off in a dispute over her. He was considered both a fearsome Indian fighter, and a great friend to the Indians. He was the most respected scout of the day, and served as a scout for John Fremont on a number of expeditions, including the one that mapped out the Oregon Trail. Carson provided his services to the US army in the Mexican American war, and the Civil War.
It just amazes me all the things he did in his life. Today, it seems like men just get trapped in little cubicles trying to eek out an existence for their family. I think many men dream of living the life of someone like Kit Carson.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fixed Bayonets

It has been a while since we featured a photograph of State Militia threatening US citizens with fixed bayonets, so I decided today would be a good day for the photograph above. The photograph shows strikers from the Lawrence Massachusetts Textile strike being surrounded by Massachusetts State militia. The strike began on this day, January 11, in the year 1912. A new law had gone into effect at the first of the year that put limits on the number of hours in a work week. The textile factory owners responded by cutting the pay of the workers proportionally to the new shorter work week. When the workers realized this, they went on strike in mass. Things got pretty ugly before it was all over.
What I find fascinating about this image is that it is the people, not the military, displaying the US flag.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gusher at Spindletop

This is a photograph of the discovery of oil at Spindletop, Texas. This was the first major find of oil in the United States, and this well tripled the entire oil production capability of the United States overnight. The discovery was made on this day, January 10, in the year 1901. This cheap oil helped to fuel the incredible industrial expansion of the United Sates over the last 100 years. Texas oil production has been declining over the last several decades, and with increasing demand, the country has become dependent of foreign oil, which in many cases, comes from very unstable parts of the world. The time has really come to find better alternatives.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Women's Fashions, 1930's

I am always surprised at the stark contrast between the photographs from the 1920's and 1930's. There was such abundance, and yes, such excess in the 1920's. When you look at the pictures from that era, you just have to look at the people and think that they had no idea what was about to hit them. I find it interesting to compare a typical picture from the 20's (posted yesterday), and a typical picture from the 30's (posted today). My how things had changed.
My father grew up during the depression, and it affected his entire life. He was a successful businessman, but he never forgot the days of the Great Depression. I can remember growing up he had a rule in our house that you never tore off a complete paper towel. He would say "That's what they want you to do. Don't tear it off at the perforation, just tear off the amount you need." He also insisted that lights not be left on when not in use, that food never be wasted, and that you should never pay someone to do a job that you could do yourself. So, we never had a maid or yard man or anything like that. At the time I was growing up with all these rules, I just thought he was cheap, and a hard man. Today, I see that he loved us, and never wanted us to face a situation like he did as a child. Today, I can appreciate his love, and his wisdom. By the way, today is my Dad's birthday. He just turned 88. He still does not use complete paper towels, and when I visit, still asks me to turn the lights out if they are not needed. Happy Birthday Dad. Thank you for your love, and the lessons you taught me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Women's Fashions, 1921

This photograph illustrates Women's fashions in the 1920's. The mink stole would definitely be a no no today. Likely, the feather hat would be frowned on by some as well. I find it interesting looking at old pictures that Men's hats tended to always be rather simple, functional and stylish. On the other hand, there are many examples of women's hats being rather overdone.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Buffalo Bill Cody

This is a portrait from 1907 of William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Buffalo Bill was a beloved figure from the old west. He was a buffalo hunter, scout, soldier, and probably most remembered for his Wild West shows. At the start of the 1900's, he was the most recognized celebrity in the world.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Samuel F. B. Morse

Today we feature a portrait of Samuel F. B. Morse. It was on this day, January 6, in the year 1838 that Samuel Morse first demonstrated the electric telegraph. The telegraph was perhaps the single largest step forward in telecommunication history, in that it allowed messages to be sent electronically for the first time. The telegraph was key in settling the west, and served as the basis for modern communication methods. I wonder if he could have even dreamed of today's telecommunication capabilities?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Howard Carter

Today we feature a portrait of Howard Carter. Howard was a noted archaeologist who on this day, January 3, in the year 1924, discovered the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun in the Valley of Kings in Egypt.
On a side note, I like his top hat. I wonder when the top hat fell out of fashion?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

World War I German Soldier

Today's photo shows a German Soldier from World War I. He is wearing a gas mask system. It looks like the system might include a small oxygen bottle.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bathing Beauties

This photograph shows women swimsuit fashions from the year 1919. Call me old fashioned, but I think that women's swimsuits today are too revealing. I think that the skimpy suits put too much pressure on young women to be super thin, and to be overly concerned with their physical appearance.
P.S. - Happy New Year! My new years resolution . . . but of course, to do a better job in finding interesting old pictures to post every day.