More Early Construction Photos


Ask yourself this: where was this picture taken from?

I got a lot of response to the post last week with the very early construction pictures, particularly to this shot with the railroad cars. I was guessing that the picture wasn’t taken on campus because the contract for building the spur was written and signed in 1913. After further review, the call on the field is overturned. If you zoom in and take another close look, you’ll be able to see two things. First, to the right of the train there’s a lamp post, a classic Rice German high hat. Were those already on campus this early? Yes, they were. Here’s one in another image from 1910:

Second, the track itself isn’t built up at all. It’s a narrow gauge and has been laid down right on the ground. The specs for the spur that Wilmer Waldo built in 1913 call for the grade to be raised somewhat. It also just makes sense that the stone would be laid out in that fashion very close to where it would be used. So I’m currently guessing that this was just a temporary track, meant to be used only to get construction materials to the work site. I suspect that it was laid in roughly the same line as the 1913 spur, but I haven’t been able to find any more visual evidence of it so I’m not sure about that. There are many, many more pictures to look at but they’re kind of disorienting—most of them aren’t labeled and it isn’t always immediately clear which direction the photographer is facing—so I have to go slow and be patient.

In the meantime, I’m scrutinizing these photos much more closely than I ever have before  and so I’ll go ahead and post some of the more interesting ones. Any thoughts on what we’re looking at are greatly appreciated.

For reference, here’s one I basically understand, taken from up in the East Hall construction towards the Administration Building:



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11 Responses to More Early Construction Photos

  1. Obviously an early prototype of the James Stirling towers on Anderson Hall. Later moved to that Cancer Survivors’ Plaza on Fannin. 😉

  2. Richard A. Schafer says:

    Every time I look at these early construction pictures, I am struck by how much empty land there was around the site. Rice was way out “in the country” in those days. Hard to even imagine these days. Back in the 80s (I think) there was an amazing proposal to sell the campus and build a big beehive somewhere north of Houston, making so much money on selling 303 acres in that area that purchasing, building, and moving the campus to a completely new facility up north of town would make sense, supposedly.

  3. I think the fourth picture is the first of the steam tunnels. The third picture reminds me of some early drawings I saw somewhere.

  4. mjthannisch says:

    Kind or reminds me of early drawings of the library.

  5. Kathy says:

    These are amazing photos! Keep ’em coming!

  6. Grungy says:

    The third picture is looking north from outside of the wall on the Founder’s Court side of Lovett Hall. Not a common POV for this building.

  7. Grungy says:

    I really like the steam-engine concrete mixer.

  8. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    Is it possible that pictures 2 and 4 are of the same area, but from different angles? My reference point is that engine with the smokestack, presumably used to rotate the concrete mixing barrel. In picture 4, the area of high ground to the right could be that scarp where they dug out the slight rise to make the site level.

  9. Deborah Gronke Bennett says:

    While looking for a picture of that spire, I happened across this wonderful interactive picture gallery, which contains some of the pictures Melissa has discussed here.

  10. marmer01 says:

    Richard Schaefer is correct. The proposal to sell the campus was from William Cannady and was taken pretty seriously. From the Thresher in February 1973:

  11. Pingback: A Visit to U of H Leads to Railroad Excitement | Rice History Corner

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