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Catalog Data

Photograph by:
Thomas H. Lindsey, American, 1849 - 1927  Search this
Subject of:
Unidentified Man or Men  Search this
albumen and silver nitrate on photographic paper with cardboard
H x W (image): 4 7/16 × 7 1/8 in. (11.2 × 18.1 cm)
H x W (card): 8 1/16 × 5 in. (20.5 × 12.7 cm)
cabinet photographs
albumen prints
boudoir photographs
Place captured:
Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States, North and Central America
ca. 1885
A sepia tone boudoir photograph card of a group of convict laborers at Swannanoa Cut, Asheville, North Carolina. Captured by T. H. Lindsey, and part of Lindsey’s “Views” series, the image depicts men wearing hats and striped jumpsuits standing in a line with an in-progress rail track in front of them and sheer cliffs behind them. They hold lunch pails, tin dishes, and shovels. Two armed guards stand down the track on the right of the photograph. Several shovels stick out of the rocky ground on the right of the photograph. At the bottom of the photograph, a white ink caption reads: ["613. Convicts in Line at Swannanoa Cut]. Captioning along the card mount, in black ink, from left to right, read: [LINDEY’S VIEWS OF WESTERN N. C. / ROUND KNOB AND VICINITY / PUBLISHED BY T. H. LINDSEY, ASHEVILLE, N. C.].
On the reverse of the boudoir card is a lengthy exposition on the photographic series of [railroad] views captured and published by The Lindsey Art Gallery of Asheville, N. C. From top to bottom, the notes read:
[VIEWS ALNG THE W. N. C. R. R. / ROUND KNOB AND VICINITY, CLASS D. / In this class will be found some of the most interesting views of our entire collection. / “Round Knob,” nestled in the very heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is perhaps nowhere / surpassed for the wildness and beauty of its scenery. At this point the tourist finds himself in a / basin so completely shut in with grand and lofty peaks, that he wonders from whence he entered / or by what magic means he may escape. A brawling mountain stream rushes by, in whose / crystal waters bask the speckled trout to tempt the angler, while near the Hotel is to be seen / one of the most beautiful spectacles in the world – that glorious fountain – as it throws its spray / two hundred and eighty-six feet high, then like a bridal veil floats off into misty fragments. It is / beautifnl by day, but far more beautiful in the moonlight, as it loses its downy vaper high in the / air, giving to the scene a weird enchantment. * (View No. 604,) /
Above our heads weaving in and out like a silver thread, winds the glistening track over / which the tourist must pass to gain the summit of the Blue ridge. So great and difficult is the / ascent that at one point four parallel tracks may be seen one above the other, while at an other / point, as the train passes over a winding trestle sixty feet high, the tourist might easily drop his / hat on the track below over which he had passed a few minutes before, but now going in an entirely / opposite direction, having gained nothing on his journey save about ninty feet in elevation. So / often does the track turn, twist and double upon itself to gain the summit, that in one of our / views of this section, (No. 600) the track may be seen at seventeen distinct points. After having / gained a distance of over five miles of the ascent, the train is again within one0fourth of a mile / of the Hotel, now lying far below, but still the center of this grand system of iron loops; by / means of which the train is gradually rising to the region of the clouds. From this point to the / summit, in the short space of one and a half miles the train passes through six tunnels and / across numerous gorges, whose sides are clothed with the primeval forest where perhaps the foot / of man never trod. The most noted of which is “Royal Gorge,” (view No. 626) seen from the / car window, whose precipitous sides and deep yawning chasm forms a scene of magnificent / grandure and through whose vista can be seen the blue mountains of S. C., two hundred miles / away. On our left towers the lofty “Pinnacle” of the Blue ridge, (view No. 627) six thousand / four hundred feet above the sea, while on all sides pile lesser peaks in splendid disarray, any one / of which, but for the proximity of the greater pinnacle would be a monarch itself in this kingdom of / the clouds. As the train rushes onward, suddenly without warning we plunge into darkness, and / the famous “Swannannoa Tunnel” one thousand eight hundred feet long (view No. 619) is an- / nounced, two minutes later we emerge at the western end of the tunnel, in the immense cut from / whose massive walls flow the spring from which forms the “Dividing Waters.” (view No. 620). This / is the highest point reached by the train. The waters of a spring at this point divide, part flow- / into the Atlantic Ocean and part into the Gulf of Mexico. We have now entered the famous / “Land of the Sky.” /
List of Views in Class D.New ones constantly being added. /
600 Ball road at 17 points, / 601 Rail road at 6 points, / 602 Rail road at 5 points, Hotel and Fountain, / 603 Rail road at 4 ““““ / 604 Hotel, and Fountain, / 605 Hotel, Fountain and Viaduct, / 606 Hotel and Fountain, / 607 Big Trestle with track below, / 608 Big Fill trestle from below looking west, / 609 Big Fill Trestle ““ looking east, / 610 Destruction Bridge, Rail road at 5 points, / 611 View from Big Fill Trestle, / 612 Deep Cut below Licklog Tunnel, / 613 Convicts in Swannannoa Cut. / 614 Licklog Tunnel, / 615 McElroy Tunnel, / 616 Through Licklog and McElroy Tunnels, / 617 High Ridge Tunnel, / 618 Burgin Tunnel, / 619 Swannannoa Tunnel, 1800 feet long, / 620 The Dividing Waters, / 621 Into the Blue Ridge, / 622 Glacial, / 623 Ice in Rail Road Cut, / 624 The Fountain in Winter, / 624A The Fountain in Winter, / 625 Frostwork at the Fountain, / 626 Royal Gorge, / 627 The Pinnacle, 6400 feet high. / * In addition to our summer views, in this collection we have a number of views of the fountain / taken on a frosty morning. As the fountain short its spay high in the air from the top of Round / Knob, freezing in its fall upon the branches of the trees and shrubbery, thus completely caping / the entire crest of the knob with a frostwork of the most beautiful designs, so extensive as to / even crush many of the larger trees near by, and being sharply outlined by the dark foliage of the / evergreens which cover the adjacent mountains, it forms a veritable arctic scene in a southern / clime. (views 624, 624A and 625.) / Lindsey’s Guide to the “Land of the Sky,” and Descriptive Catalogue of Lindsey’s Views of / Western N. C., furnished free on application, or by mail, 5c. to cover postage. / Address, / THE LINDSEY ART GALLERY, ASHEVILLE, N. C.].
African American  Search this
American South  Search this
Labor  Search this
Men  Search this
Photography  Search this
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U.S. History, 1865-1921  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
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National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Media Arts-Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture