Some Answers About the Railroad Spur

The William Ward Watkin negatives (with indices) that I discovered last week turn out to surpass even my wildest dreams. Here’s just the first example. Some of you will remember this striking photograph, which shows a rail car off to the right behind all the stone:

Construction c1910 rr spur

I talked about it here, puzzling about where the rail spur could have come from at such an early date.

What I didn’t know was that some of the Watkin photos actually show later construction. This isn’t an image of materials used for the Administration Building at all—it’s for the Physics Building! I found the notation in the index to the third (and last) folio–it’s number 44: “P. Stone piles,” taken on January 31, 1914. Since the spur was completed in 1913, it all suddenly makes sense.

Watkin papers box 10 Folio 3 index

But wait. Look at that next entry, for number 45: “Hoisting steel trusses from cars.” I held my breath and pulled it out. Holy. Smokes. That’s a beautiful picture of a rail car behind the power plant. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Watkin papers box 10 3_46 Jan 31 1914 hoisting steel trusses from cars

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4 Responses to Some Answers About the Railroad Spur

  1. So, in the upper photo, if I am interpreting this correctly, the power plant is just out of the frame to the left, the Administration building is to the right and a bit behind, and the photographer is probably standing on a ladder or scaffolding where the Physics building is. The lamppost is along the diagonal road from the Founders court loop to the power plant. Am I oriented correctly?

  2. I think the railcar with trusses in the second photo is spotted next to the stone pile. If you look under the car in front of the truck you can see the cut stone on the other side. The trusses are being offloaded on the opposite side from the stone. I think this car would be the next car out of the right hand side of the frame of the first photo. So it’s probably close to a spot that would lie between Physics Amphitheater and Duncan.

    Very cool how this all ties together!

  3. Could those trusses actually be on the rail car in the first image? Looks like they might be. Could be that you are the first person to touch those since WWW filed them…

  4. Dennis Hogan says:

    The SA&AP Ry had a spur into the Rice campus to bring in building materials and fuel oil.

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