Trains were once the main mode of long distance transportation in America. Whether travelling out West or shipping huge orders of just about anything, odds are it was done via train.Among the railway lines making this possible was the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. Construction started in 1859 and eventually it ran trains from Chicago to the Pacific Coast.
The Library of Congress has a stunning collection of photos of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway by Jack Delano of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information. They depict the trains, the route, and the people who made them run.
It is a striking insight into the transportation system that once dominated our country.
We kept the original titles and captions for the photos from the FSA/OWI so you can see how these were described at the time they were taken.
Santa Fe RR freight train about to leave for the West Coast from Corwith yard, Chicago, Illinois, Santa Fe R.R. trip.
Activity in the Santa Fe R.R. yard, Los Angeles, Calif. Due to blackout regulations, flood lights, switch lights, locomotive headlights and lights on the bridge in background have been shaded to cast light downward. Broad streaks of light are caused by paths of locomotive headlights, thin wavy lines by lamps of switchmen working in the yard. Santa Fe R.R. trip.
Retiring a locomotive driver wheel, Shopton, Iowa. The tire is heated by means of gas until it can be slipped over the wheel. Contraction on cooling will hold it firmly in shape. Santa Fe R.R.
Working with a small steam drop hammer at the blacksmith shop in the Santa Fe R.R. shops, Topeka, Kansas.
Washing one of the Santa Fe R.R. 54 hundred horse power diesel freight locomotives in the roundhouse, Argentine, Kansas. Argentine yard is at Kansas City, Kansas.
General view of the city and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, Amarillo, Texas. Santa Fe R.R. trip.
A completely overhauled engine on the transfer table at the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad locomotive shops, Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is now ready to go into service.
Passing a section house along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad, Encino vicinity, New Mexico.
A east bound Union Pacific railroad freight train waiting in a siding, Alray, Calif. Coming up through Cajon Pass. The Santa Fe tracks are used by the Union Pacific as far east as Daggett, Calif. Santa Fe R.R. trip.
Santa Fe R.R. crosses the Colorado River into California between Topock, Arizona and Beal, California.
Flagman standing at a distance behind a Santa Fe R.R. west bound freight train during a stop, Bagdad, Calif.
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