Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Photoshop techniques for foxing, and for stereo images

From: "Moses Gershbein" moses_gershbein@laughingelephant.com

For foxing or the gradual tanning of the paper, presenting a shaded background rather than a white background to the picture, I first try to separate red, green, blue channels. One of these channels will usually have a majority of the foxing. You can eliminate this channel and convert to black and white. Another method is to examine the pixel histogram in a software program. The off-white background will appear as a big hump at one end of the histogram. Slicing these pixels out of the picture will eliminate foxing ... be careful not to lose detail. If the picture was captured at 16 bits, the remaining pixels will be adjusted to give a full 8 bit grey scale image on down conversion. Scanning at 16 bit, you'll need to double the size of the ultimate size you're wanting, as you'll need to convert to 8 bit once you've edited the image, in order to save as tiff or jpg formats.

For the issue of color matching "stereo" images, you'll need to create a mask in Photoshop of the side of the image which you'll be editing to match the other. this is done in "quick mask" mode. Make sure to use a large soft brush to select the edge between the 2 sides. Once you've painted in the space to be adjusted, exit quick mask to reveal the marque around the selection. Then, from your layer pallet, select the layer adjustment (yin & yang looking symbol) and choose either curves, levels, or hue saturation. one or all of these can be used to alter the image for the desired result. This is a much more involved procedure and will require a skilled Photoshop user. ...

—Moses

Moses Gershbein
Blue Lantern Studio

Monday, November 17, 2008

"The Locomotive as Engine Of Artistic Inspiration"

"The Locomotive as Engine Of Artistic Inspiration" by RICHARD B. WOODWARD, © Wall Street Journal, NOVEMBER 17, 2008. (News Article)

"... The train was at once a symbol of engineering acumen, a wonder of the age, and a sign of progress run amok. As Thoreau wrote, 'we do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.' Art in the Age of Steam: Europe, America, and the Railway, 1830-1960, the timely exhibition now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, presents more than a century of ambiguous responses by artists to this intrusive phenomenon. ... The railroad barons financed artists to portray their businesses in a favorable light. Carleton Watkins, whose mammoth-plate views of the West are among the glories of American photography, was subsidized by Collis Huntington. The owner of the Central Pacific Railroad even arranged to shuttle Watkins and his cameras up and down the coast in a private train. The curators have also selected paintings by George Inness and Albert Bierstadt, who in the 1850s to 1870s were similarly commissioned to put railroads on canvas, provided the trains were small and moved through bucolic settings. ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

"The Overland Trail, From the Golden Gate to the Great Salt Lake"

From: annieruok@charter.net

I found a copy of The Overland Trail, From the Golden Gate to the Great Salt Lake in an antique shop in Virginia City. The copy I purchased is slightly different than the one you have in your museum. The remaining title, Along the Southern Pacific – American Canyon Route via Ogden, differs slightly from your copy and a few of the illustrations are different as well.

The book (scenic guide) is beautiful, but I'm not sure how it was made. "The illustrations made from photographs" look as though they were pasted in the book, almost like a scrapbook. Does this mean each book is different? How many guide books were published? Do you have any idea what year the series of guide books were published? No publishing date is listed.

—Beverly

"The Overland Trail, From the Golden Gate to the Great Salt Lake"

From: annieruok@charter.net

I found a copy of The Overland Trail, From the Golden Gate to the Great Salt Lake in an antique shop in Virginia City. The copy I purchased is slightly different than the one you have in your museum. The remaining title, Along the Southern Pacific – American Canyon Route via Ogden, differs slightly from your copy and a few of the illustrations are different as well.

The book (scenic guide) is beautiful, but I'm not sure how it was made. "The illustrations made from photographs" look as though they were pasted in the book, almost like a scrapbook. Does this mean each book is different? How many guide books were published? Do you have any idea what year the series of guide books were published? No publishing date is listed.

—Beverly

Friday, November 14, 2008

Panic of 1873

"The New York Weekly Witness newspaper for September 27, 1873 contains extensive reporting on the calamitous 1873 financial panic precipitated primarily by the bankruptcy of robber baron financier Jay Cooke due to his over extension and inability to raise capital during the construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

This newspaper was published the week following Cooke’s declaration of bankruptcy, an event which sent the world financial system into tumult resulting in large scale bank failures and heralded the onset of a prolonged period of economic distress. This newspaper contains a long list of national, state and private banks affected as well as other detailed reports on the panic as it unfolded."

The following is some information on the 1873 panic from Wikipedia:

The Panic of 1873 was the start of the Long Depression, a severe nationwide economic depression in the United States that lasted until 1879. It was precipitated by the bankruptcy of the Philadelphia banking firm Jay Cooke on September 18, 1873, following the crash on May 9, 1873 of the Vienna Stock Exchange in Austria (the so-called Gründerkrach or “founders' crash”). It was one of a series of economic crises in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In September 1873, the American economy entered a crisis. This followed a period of post Civil War economic overexpansion that arose from the Northern railroad boom. It came at the end of a series of economic setbacks: the Black Friday panic of 1869, the Chicago fire of 1871, the outbreak of equine influenza in 1872, and the demonetization of silver in 1873.

The Black Friday panic was caused by the attempt of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk to corner the gold market in 1869. They were prevented from doing so by the decision of the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant to release government gold for sale. The drive culminated in a day of panic when thousands were ruined - Friday, September 24, 1869, popularly called Black Friday. There was great indignation against the perpetrators.

Coming at the height of an extemely dry period, the Chicago fire of October 8-9, 1871, caused a loss of nearly $200 million in property in a blaze that overran four square miles. Its effect was compounded by simultaneous fires at Holland, Michigan, Manistee, Michigan, and Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The lumbering industry boomed as Chicago rebuilt, but other sectors of the economy were disordered by the financial losses incurred in the series of fires.

The outbreak of equine influenza in 1872 had a pervasive effect on the economy. Called the “ Great Epizoötic”, it had an effect on every aspect of American transportation. The whole street railway industry ground to a halt. Locomotives came to a halt as coal or wood could not be delivered to power them. Even the United States Army Cavalry was reduced to fighting the Western tribes on foot; their adversaries likewise found their mounts too sick to do battle. The outbreak forced men to pull wagons by hand, while trains and ships full of cargo sat unloaded, tram cars stood idle and deliveries of basic community essentials were no longer being made. The effect this disease had on the US economy should not be understated.

The Coinage Act of 1873 changed the United States policy with respect to silver. Before the Act, the United States had backed its currency with both gold and silver, and it minted both types of coins. The Act moved the United States to the gold standard, which meant it would no longer buy silver at a statutory price or convert silver from the public into silver coins (and stopped minting silver dollars altogether.)

The Act had the immediate effect of depressing silver prices. This hurt Western mining interests, who labeled the Act "The Crime of '73." Its effect was offset somewhat by the introduction of a silver trade dollar for use in the Orient, and by the discovery of new silver deposits at Virginia City, Nevada, resulting in new investment in mining activity.[3] But the coinage law also reduced the domestic money supply, which hurt farmers and anyone else who carried heavy debt loads. The resulting outcry raised serious questions about how long the new policy would last.[4] This perception of instability in United States monetary policy caused investors to shy away from long-term obligations, particularly long-term bonds. The problem was compounded by the railroad boom, which was in its later stages at the time.

At the end of the Civil War, there was a boom in railroad construction, with 35,000 miles (56,000 km) of new track laid across the country between 1866 and 1873. The railroad industry, at the time the nation's largest employer outside of agriculture, involved large amounts of money and risk. A large infusion of cash from speculators caused abnormal growth in the industry and overbuilding of docks, factories and ancillary facilities. At the same time, too much capital was involved in projects offering no immediate or early returns.

In September 1873, Jay Cooke & Company, a major component of the United States' banking establishment, found itself unable to market several million dollars in Northern Pacific Railway bonds. Cooke's firm, like many others, was invested heavily in the railroads. At a time when investment banks were anxious for more capital for their enterprises, President Ulysses S. Grant's monetary policy of contracting the money supply made matters worse. While businesses were expanding, the money they needed to finance that growth was becoming more scarce.

Cooke and other entrepreneurs had planned to build the nation's second transcontinental railroad, called the Northern Pacific Railway. Cooke's firm provided the financing, and ground was broken near Duluth, Minnesota, for the line on February 15, 1870. But just as Cooke was about to swing a $300 million government loan in September 1873, reports circulated that his firm's credit had become nearly worthless. On September 18, the firm declared bankruptcy. The Northern Pacific would not be completed until 1883, and then by another financier: Henry Villard.

A similar process of overexpansion was going on in Germany and Austria, where the period from German unification in 1870-71 to the crash in 1873 came to be called the Gründerjahre or "founders' years." A liberalized incorporation law in Germany led to the founding of new enterprises, such as the Deutsche Bank, as well as the incorporation of established ones. Euphoria over the military victory against France in 1871, combined with the influx of capital from the payment by France of war reparations, encouraged stock market speculation in railways, factories, docks, steamships - in short, the same areas of overexpansion as in the United States.

On May 9, 1873, the Vienna Stock Exchange crashed, no longer able to sustain false expansion, insolvency, and dishonest manipulations. A series of Viennese bank failures resulted, causing a contraction of the money available for business lending. In Berlin, the railway empire of Bethel Henry Strousberg crashed, bursting the speculation bubble there. The contraction of the German economy was exacerbated by the conclusion of war reparations payments to Germany by France in September 1873. Coming two years after the founding of the German Empire, the panic became known as the Gründerkrach or "founders' crash"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Question from a visitor

"Should the government be responsible for imposing restrictions on dangerous occupations?"

Sunday, November 09, 2008

National landmark designation for CPRR

From: Mike_Bilbo@nm.blm.gov

I worked for 5 years in the BLM Winnemucca Field Office and despite talking to many historians and national historic trail people could never find out – and many people seemed irritated when I asked - why wasn't the CPRR ever considered as a national historic trail or any other kind of national recognition? I don't think it is even designated as a national engineering landmark, or is it? There is so much written on it as the most significant feat in mid-19th Century America and yet it doesn't seem to rate or merit a national trail designation. It seems to me that it basically enhanced what the California Trail was all about, even follows the California Trail, yet gets ignored as if it is not as significant as the California Trail. It is interesting in that you can drive the entire railbed across public lands from near Elko to Fernley, Nevada.

Mike Bilbo
Outdoor Recreation Planner
Socorro Field Office
901 S. Highway 85
Socorro, New Mexico 87801

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Pavers Find Link To Transcontinental Railroad"

"Pavers Find Link To Transcontinental Railroad: Museum Curator Calls Old Sacramento Find 'Amazing'," © KCRA 3 – Sacramento News, November 7, 2008. (News Article)

"SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Paving crews ... working in the employee parking lot behind the Sacramento Railroad Museum ... found part of a Central Pacific trestle ... that we believe dates back to the 1860s ... " [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Fernley Depot News"

"Fernley Depot News" by Fernley Preservation Society, © Reno Gazette-Journal, NOVEMBER 5, 2008. (News Article)

"... the Southern Pacific established the Fernley [Nevada] siding in 1904, and constructed a single story Depot and telegraph office ... The depot was replaced in 1914. ... The original right of way is visible to the north of Fernley to this day. Line changes to reduce grades in 1902, moved the line to its current location through Fernley. ... The Central Pacific served the shipping needs of the ... Eagle Salt works, established in 1871 ... until relocating their rails, so the Eagle Salt Works Railroad was constructed, utilizing portions of the abandoned C.P.R.R. grade from their mine to the S.P.R.R. in present day Fernley. ..." [More]

[Courtesy Google Alerts.]

Saturday, November 01, 2008

CPRR Discussion Group

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