Feb 15, 2018 - Sale 2466

Sale 2466 - Lot 21

Price Realized: $ 3,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,500
Presentation album entitled Structures of the L.S. & M.S. Railway, with 33 mammoth-plate photographs of newly-constructed viaducts, arch culverts, and swing bridges along the railroad route. With photographs by H.L. Bliss (27), Sweeney of Cleveland (4), and an uncredited photographer (2) showing topographic views of state-of-the-art construction projects that span the width of rivers, highways, and creeks; a few with crossing trains and a handful showing signage and pedestrians. Albumen prints, the images measuring 8 3/4x11 to 13x16 1/2 inches (22.2x27.9 to 33x41.9 cm.), mounted recto only to heavy pages, each with a printed caption, location, technical information, photographers' credits, and engineers involved; the final print is a lithograph of the L.S. & M.S. passenger depot in Chicago. Oblong elephant folio, black leather boards with moroccan borders and gilt embellishments. Circa 1875

Additional Details

The route of the railway (Chicago to Buffalo) is significant in the context of structural engineering due to its association with the Ashtabula (Ohio) Train Disaster. The Ashtabula Train Disaster occured on December 29, 1876. The L.S. & M.S. iron truss bridge collapsed; the train had 159 passengers aboard and fell 70 feet into the snowy creek. The wooden rail cars caught fire from the oil lamps and wood/coal fired heating stoves aboard the train, adding to the horror. Rescue attempts failed miserably due to the snow and lack of the town's lack of equipment and personnel to deal with such an accident. More than 90 persons died.

Following the accident an investigative coroner's jury concluded the bridge had been improperly designed and inspected. Days after testifying before a State of Ohio Legislative Committee, Charles Collins, the railroad's engineer in charge, whose name appears on the spine of this album, was found dead in his bedroom from a gun shot wound which was first believed to be a suicide but later concluded to be murder.

The two views of the Collins residence also appear likely the work of Sweeny based on the shared appearance of ruled lines framing the photographs.