If you’ve been reading my blog long enough you’ll probably remember my saying I don’t collect stereoviews. That’s largely true – I will on occasion buy the odd one if it’s cheap and has an interesting subject, but I’m not really looking for them – collecting them is kinda like getting into sports trading cards of all varieties: just too much out there if it isn’t your primary focus. I am however collecting a specific series because it’s a small series – only about 24 images in total for the full set. The first one in the series that I acquired was found at an antique shop in Sacramento, California. The card shows a station on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, outside Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania (now known as Jim Thorpe, PA). I have since found four more in the series. These are all early stereoviews from the 1870s (one of the new ones posted here today has a date on the reverse in pencil of October 4, 1876), identifiable as such by the size (they are larger than the later cards) and by the paper stock and printing style.
Here are the two latest acquisitions. I had been hunting for more on an irregular basis for the last year-plus, and then finally these two show up at almost the same time, and in quite good condition overall. I suspect it will be hard to complete the set, but it’s not like I’m on a schedule 🙂
After digging up the stereoview of the Lehigh Valley Railroad station, I did a quick peek on Ebay to see if I could find any others. Whaddya know, my first search turns up another in the series. It’s in pretty rough condition, but I bought it anyway because it was going cheap. This is one case of a stereoview set that I’ll actually try to complete – there’s only 24 in the set. I have a casual interest in railroad memorabilia, as my grandfather was a conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Broadway Limited between Altoona an Chicago in the first half of the 20th century. I’m also a roller-coaster fan, so finding a photograph of the first roller-coaster is pretty cool (first roller-coaster you say? see the blurb below).
This is a picture of the switch-back gravity railroad, which was originally built to aid in bringing coal from the top of the mountain to the railroad. It quickly grew into a tourist attraction, and then became the first roller-coaster in the United States, when it became dedicated to passenger service. The car would be towed to the top of the mountain on one track, then switch and fall down the other track propelled by gravity alone. There was a driver/brakeman in the car to prevent it from flying off at the bottom out of control.
The town is Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, now known as Jim Thorpe, PA, named to honor the Native American athlete. Ironically enough, Jim Thorpe was from Oklahoma, and his sole connection to Mauch Chunk is that he attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and that Mauch Chunk was a Native American name approximately meaning “Bear Mountain”, because the mountain in whose shadow the town was built looks like the back of a bear. After he died in 1953, his surviving wife sold his remains to the town, which hoped that his grave would be a tourist attraction.
This next image is another recent acquisition – another Washington DC carte-de-visite. This one, if the inscription on the back is accurate, is a self-portrait by the photographer, or at least the inscription is by the photographer – “Your Friend – From Mr. Arthur(sp?) Woodley”. I’m curious if the Woodly on the card is a typographical mistake, as the signature really does look like it says “Woodley”. I’m also curious if the Woodley/Woodly is any relation to the Woodleys for whom Woodley Park was named. Given how small a town DC was in the 1860s, I’d say the odds are in favor.
The address on this one is a mystery – 181 Pennsylvania Avenue would put the studio on the Capitol lawn. Furthermore, he indicates that the studio is located between 17th and 18th Streets, which would make 1781 Pennsylvania Avenue a more likely actual address. I wonder if the printer was short on E’s and 7s when he ran these off.