Axel Lathe #1

Gordon Osmundson Photographs'

Railtown 1897 Machine Shop

These images were made during the course of seven day trips to Railtown 1897 during the summer of 1995. Today Railtown is owned and operated by the California State Railroad Museum which maintains a program of daily operations through the summer season. Normally people can only visit the round house on guided tours, but I had the good fortune that the general manager there at the time was an old friend from my high school days and he gave me pretty much the run of the place.

All the photos were all taken in one room, the machine shop, which adjoins the roundhouse. They were all shot with my view camera using available light. Light levels in the machine shop were low and the need for depth of field great. This resulted in many of these photographs being shot at an exposure of ten minutes at f64. I had to be careful walking around on the plank floor, not to wiggle the floor boards and disturb the camera. Although the level of light was low, the quality of the light was quite nice as you can see.

The shop itself is quite interesting, most of the machines are still functional and are used occasionally to help maintain the vintage railroad equipment at the museum. Power to operate many of the machines is supplied from a system of shafts, belts and pulleys up near the ceiling. A large electric motor now powers these belts and shafts, but originally, before the days of electricity, a stationary steam engine was used.

For more machine shop photographs, see the Nevada Northern Gallery.

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