Williamson Yard Photos on LOC

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Apr 6 15:50:40 EDT 2020

The photo on page 20 of the latest Arrow (Volume 36, Issue 1) reminded me of several Ben Shahn photos I stumbled across a couple of months ago. These depict the Williamson Yard in 1935, and are wonderfully crisp. I suspect many people that monitor this list may have already come across these, but in case not:


The link above contains a query that will show photos associated with (or thought to be) Williamson. When the page opens, you can modify the search criteria in the side bar to look more widely. About 10 are of the N&W yard.

Expect to see a wide range of coal cars - gons and hoppers - a variety of coal loads and a mix of old and new lettering schemes. Even a Z1a(?) shifting. Like the page 20 caption, repack dates aren’t visible, though one build date (for an HA) is. Fortunately, Mr Shahn documented the date.

Ben Shahn was from Circleville, Ohio the thirties taking photos for the FSA. Some of the photos in his collection are eye-opening when it comes to showing living conditions at that time and are, of course, fascinating from a historical perspective. Most of the ~2900 photos (about 40%) were taken in the Ohio, with the rest scattered from Pennsylvania to Louisiana. It’s worth looking through the entire collection.

Matt Goodman
Columbus, Ohio, US


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