The photographic images in this collection are largely of railway bridge construction and other properties owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company at the turn of the twentieth century. Images are of two distinct projects (mostly construction) taken in and around the St. Louis, Missouri area (1890-1900): of a bridge project (name and location unknown) spanning 1902-1903; and of the construction of the Metropolis Bridge (that crosses the Ohio River at Metropolis, Illinois, about 12 miles south of Paducah, Kentucky) between 1914-1915. For the latter project Ralph Modjeski originally served as consultant engineer and then as chief civil engineer of construction. There are also negatives of unidentified bridge construction.
Scope and Contents:
The collection includes approximately 230 glass plate negatives depicting railway bridge construction; 41 negatives, dated 1890 to 1894, depicting construction and railroad facilities in St. Louis, Missouri (including the Mound Street Viaduct and the buildings at the corner of Main and Brooklyn Streets); and 36 negatives showing construction work at the Metropolis (Illinois) Bridge from 1914-1915.
Court testimony in an accidental injury claim (Kersten vs. Hines, no. 21593) indicates these sites are located in St. Louis, Missouri, and were at the time owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. The envelope containing these negatives marks them as the property of F.H. Cramer, Bridge Engineer with the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad.
Negatives in Subseries 3 are themselves undated. The containing envelope indicates the photos depict construction work at the Metropolis Bridge by Carter H. Harrison Jr., 1914-1915.
The collection is arranged into one series.
Series 1, Photographic negatives, 1890-1915, undated
In the later part of the 1800s and throughout the Progressive Era, the United States experienced a great expansion of its railroad industry, which resulted in many partnerships, mergers, and changes in leadership. Among railroad companies that became a dominant force in the industry was the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company (originally the Aurora Branch Railroad), which was purchased in 1901 by James Jerome Hill. Hill, a businessman and resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, also owned the Great Northern Railway and other entities. Hill's other business interests included mining, timber, land, and livestock--all industries with ties to the transportation industry, and particularly to railroads as the country became more reliant upon this mode of transportation. Hill was noted for his business acumen and competition with other wealthy men and families of the time--J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers, and E.H. Harriman of the Union Pacific--who eventually pooled their resources to form the Northern Securities Company.
Northern Securities Company was a holding company, set up to hold a controlling part of the stock of other companies, essentially to control four big railroads of the Northwest. During a period of much labor unrest and migration to the country's Midwestern and Northwestern regions, people were left at the mercy of one big conglomerate that had a stronghold on the industry. It is important to note that the Northwestern Securities Company (at President Theodore Roosevelt's request) was sued by the United States government through invocation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
In March of 1904, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 5 to 4, ruled in favor of the United States and ordered the Northern Securities Company dissolved (Northern Securities Company vs. United States 193 U.S. 197). While the images in this collection are not known to be tied to the court case, they do provide details of many construction projects that are significant to the railroad expansion occurring at that time. The bulk of the collection focuses on railway bridge construction. Also included are photos of the Metropolis Bridge in Metropolis, Illinois, which was overseen in part by Ralph Modjeski. Modjeski was a lauded civil engineer who wrote the engineering manual Standard Designs for Steel Bridges for the Northern Pacific Railway Company. Additionally, the collection includes earlier photographic negatives showing construction from 1890 to 1894 of the Mound Street Viaduct and buildings at the corner of the Main and Brooklyn Streets in St. Louis, Missouri.
Materials in the Archives Center
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, subject category Railroads (AC0060)
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Records, circa 1826-1943, 1951 (AC1086)
Wilbur L. Metz Collection of Railroad Ephemera, 1910-1986 (AC1172)
Northern Pacific Railway Photoprints, 1880-1945 (AC1067)
Wheeling and Lake Erie Photographs, 1925-1942 (AC1075)
Materials at Other Organizations
The Newberry Library
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, 1820-1999
Minnesota Historical Society
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company Corporate records, 1855-1983 (bulk 1901-1970)
Originally collected by the Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (now called the Division of Work and Industry). Exact date and source of acquisition unknown.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply.