Ca. 1924-1926. Seventy-eight loose gelatin silver photos, each ca. 20x24,5 cm (7 ¾ x 9 ½ in). Sixty-one photos are linen-backed. Twenty-two photos are dated (from 1924 to 1926) and/or numbered in negative. Six photos with ink-stamped, typewritten or manuscript captions on verso. Three photos with the ink stamps “Photo made by Ford Optical Co., 1029-16th St., Denver” on verso. A few photos with mild creases on the corners, a few photos mildly faded, but overall a very good collection of interesting strong photos.
Historically significant extensive collection of large original gelatin silver photos, documenting the construction of the Moffat Tunnel in north-central Colorado. Built in 1923-1927, the tunnel provided a shorter route from Denver to the West Coast across the Continental Divide. It was operated by the Denver and Salt Lake City Railway (now a part of the Union Pacific Railroad). “Construction on the Moffat Tunnel began in 1923, with a camp being built at East Portal, Colorado. From there, the Rockies were penetrated. It took four years and over $40,000,000 to drill a six-mile tunnel to carry both water and rail traffic. The Moffat Tunnel provided more direct and certainly more reliable transportation into the northwest corner of the state” (https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/blm/cultresser/co/2/chap9.htm).
The photos were most likely taken for the Moffat Tunnel Commission, a public body formed in 1922 to supervise the construction and its finances. An extensive collection of photos, depicting the construction of the tunnel, “generated by the Moffat Tunnel Commission” and likely similar to ours, is now deposited in Denver Public Library (https://archives.denverlibrary.org/repositories/3/accessions/540).
Most photos show the tunnel’s interior, focusing on the stages of the construction, wooden auxiliary structures, various machinery and its details; many images feature construction workers. Several scenes show the flooded floor of the tunnel – possibly, during the flood in the spring of 1926. There are also views of the construction camps (the one at the East Portal is identified), showing bunk houses and administrative buildings, warehouses, interiors of a camp canteen (with the visible sign “Profane or obscene language strictly prohibited”), a medical examination room, a camp office, &c. Several images portray construction managers, contractors and employees, posing in office settings and the tunnel. Several were identified with the help of portraits published in E.C. McMechen’s historical research, “The Moffat Tunnel of Colorado: An Epic of Empire” (Denver, , 2 vols.; https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001612260). Among the identified people are “D.W. Brunton, member of the Board of Consulting Engineers” and “General Manager George Lewis, inventor of the Lewis Cantilever Bar” (McMechen, vol. 1, pp. 292 and 296). Another interesting portrait of a large group of construction workers and managers features a wooden building with the sign “Moffat Tunnel Commission Office” in the background.
The other images show the James Peak, a passenger train, and an outdoor public gathering at one of the construction camps (featuring workers, women and children). Another group portrait, taken indoors, shows dressed-up men and their families; there is also a group portrait of children of various ages (possibly, from the families of the construction workers). Overall a large, content-rich visual source on the history of the construction of the Moffat Tunnel in north-central Colorado.
A list of captions:
Ink-stamped: Moffat Tunnel Commission; Moffat Tunnel Commission, East Portal (two images); Moffat Tunnel Commission, West Portal.
Typewritten: The Lewis travelling cantilever needle-bar supporting wall plates and roof timbers while bench is excavated and posts placed (placed on verso of the photo with an ink-stamped caption); Erector # 2 used for conveying steel segments to #9-E prior to starting bench excavation.
Manuscript: Colo. Mining Asso., Jan. 192[5?].
Price: $3,250.00 USD