Once more, it has been awhile since I put out one of these, but I try to have some news to announce and while I have been very busy, there hasn't been a specific event to put out there. Since my last newsletter, my primary focus has been on my book about the Nevada Northern Railway now to be titled Where Steam Moved Mountains.
Since my last newsletter in November, I've been to Ely twice more, in February I went to the Winter Photo Shoot, now grown to two weekends and attended both, spending the intervening week doing more photography around the shops and depot, and up the road in Currie and Shafter. I next attended the Long Steel Rails Festival in June. The weather in February was mostly blue skies with some scattered clouds. Just what I was hoping for. The trip overall produced more new images than any previous. I went through all the loaded film holders and Grafmatics that I had, over 300 4x5 sheets of Tri-x. It looks like I have around 80 images that are worth printing.
Between the October and February trips, I now have a good photo essay about the railroad's offices located on the second floor of the depot. These offices are maintained by the East Ely Railroad Depot Museum, a division of the Nevada State Railroad Museum. They are independent of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. This at first may seem an odd arrangement, but in practice I think that it has worked well as the office and company records require a different kind of curatorial attention than do the rest of the railroad and it is good that they are managed apart from the operation of the railroad museum.
The offices are worth a visit and you will find preserved there what amounts to an office museum showing what an office environment was like in the first half of the 20th Century. Everything is there including the stationary storeroom, furnishings, safes, legers, etc., etc. Most interesting, I think, are the office machines of the pre-computer age. I've photographed these plus the lath and plaster, and wainscoted hallways and office interiors.
I've also done more photography of the railroad shops with additional exterior views and interior views of the warehouse and paint shop/coach shed building. I finally developed some negatives from earlier trips requiring a special N-2 development and these plus new images from the October trip have given me additional material on the back rooms of the engine house including the restroom and boiler shop.
For some of the interior photography that I have been doing, the existing illumination has been inadequate. After trying to do this with flash, I began to think that studio reflectors would do a better job. Then I found that these lights are not expensive. Sometimes the directional quality of these lights is an advantage, sometimes it can be balanced by using several reflectors, sometimes its effects aren't that important, but if they need to be softened an umbrella reflector can do the job. Sometimes the umbrella reflector can be used to provide a supplementary soft light in the dark corners of scenes would otherwise be photographed using time exposures in existing light. I used this lighting equipment for many of the office photos upstairs in the depot, in the boiler room, for photos in the restroom, some views in the passenger cars and for some detail shots in the enginehouse.
I did some photography on the June trip, photos of some of the smaller shop buildings behind the RIP building and photos of #40's rods which were off along with the main driver. But the trip was primarily devoted to research. Steve Swanson is always finding new things in his diggings through the company records and some of this was presented in his lectures at the festival. I've also been looking at historic photographs, but more on that below.
In the darkroom, I worked through printing all the images made during the October trip sometime in March, then developed and proofed the negatives from the February trip. I'm well into printing the February images and, as of this writing, have done over 50. I'll hold on developing the June negs until I'm done printing the February ones.
I've been continuing to do research on Mark Requa. I now have enough material to write up a four page biography for the book. I've found material at the Huntington Library, City of Piedmont, California Historical Society and the Nevada State Historical Society. I also wish to thank Gail Lombardi, Kristine Requa Snyder (Mark's great granddaughter), Gena Wood and Pete Hansen for tips and information. From the Huntington I received copies of Requa's memoir Recollections of early days in Virginia City and Gold Hill and a recount of the "Big Crevasse" and his memoir about his service as the head of the Petroleum Division of the Fuels Administration during WWI.
Also from the Huntington came photos of the Ruth and Star Pointer Mines. On the back of these were notes by Mark Requa and a stamp that said Harry Shipler commercial photographer Salt Lake City. Harry Shipler, wonder what ever happened to his negatives, worth a Google search and . . . Jackpot. The Shiplers were a three generation business of commercial photographers in the Salt Lake area. They did commercial photography and also photographed things of personal interest. The negatives, most anyway, are now at the Utah State Historical Society in the old D&RGW depot in Salt Lake City. (Amtrak stopped here until recently.) Most have been digitized and around 8,000 can be seen online. history.utah.gov A search for photos at Ely, Shipler Commerical Photograph Collection will turn up 45 images many taken at the time of Railroad Day, Sept 29, 1906. I've incorporated a number of these into the book. After visiting Ely in June, I drove to Salt Lake and was able to look through the 8x10 glass plate negatives.
In Ely I spent an afternoon with Pam Martin looking through her collection of historic Ely images. With the late Ron Healy, she accumulated over 1,000,000 negatives. She and Healy bought up many local collections including that of local commercial photographer, C.D.Gallagher. Pam also has the negatives from the book Nevada Northern Railway and the Copper Camps of White Pine County, Nevada. With my portable scanner, I was able to scan a number of the prints that she had and later scanned some of those that we did not have time to get to from that book. With Pam's collection and the Shipler images, I now have a sizable number of historic images for the book. Those who have not seen the book dummy in the past few months will find that now the front part of the book, that had been mostly text, is now peppered with historic photographs.
This has added a whole new dimension to the book. Included are a look into the Liberty Pit at Copper Flat, photos of the Railroad Day celebration including Mark Requa on the Speakers stand, photos of Ruth, both the girl and the town, details and an overview of downtown Ely, A look up main street in notorious Riepetown, Sadies Place and a look in the parlor there with the girls there engaged in the world's oldest profession.
In most cases, I will be getting high resolution digital scans of the original negatives. This will allow me to processes the images in Photoshop and hopefully get the same kind of quality that I can get in my own work printed in my traditional darkroom. Hopefully, I say, because I still need to get up to speed on using more of the features of Photoshop.
I do not yet have a publisher, but hope to have a further announcement about this soon.
Below is a selection of the historic images.
Ely, 1908, D.C. Gallagher Photograph, Pam Martin Collection.
Ely Mercantile Co., Ely, Nevada, 1906, Harry Shipler photograph, USHS
Ely Realty Co., Ely, Nevada, 1906, Harry Shipler photograph, USHS
Stage Coach, Ely, Nevada, 1906, Harry Shipler photograph, USHS
Mark Requa's Star Pointer Mine, Ruth, Nevada, 1906, Harry Shipler photograph, USHS
Train from Ogden arriving, Ely, Nevada, 1906, Harry Shipler photograph, USHS
Train Switch Board, On Board Train from Salt Lake, Ely, Nevada, 1906, Harry Shipler photograph, USHS
Liberty Pit, Copper Flat, Nevada, Pam Martin Collection.
Railroad steam shovel, Liberty Pit, Copper Flat Nevada, Pam Martin Collection.
Ruth Nevada, 1926, Pam Martin Collection.
Ruth Drug Company, Pam Martin Collection.
Notorious Riepetown, the non-company town, Pam Martin Collection.
Sadies Place, Riepetown, Nevada, Pam Martin Collection.
Sadie's Girls, Riepetown, Nevada, Pam Martin Collection.