Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wordy Wednesday - 13 April 2011

I had a request to provide some more information on the photo I posted this last wednesday for Wordless Wednesday - so here goes!

First off, here's the pic:

It's from black and white film negatives that belong to my grandfather. Hand-written on the paper they were wrapped in is "Sept 1958".

Of course, it has to be kept in mind that it could be that the film was developed in September of 1958, the pictures weren't necessarily taken then. BUT, I also had a roll that had "Aug 1958" written on it, so I didn't think it was too far behind in time.

In 1958, my grandparents lived in East Palestine, Ohio. And, on the "Aug 1958" roll, there were pictures from a family trip to New York City.

So, my guess would be that this is a picture from the trip home to Ohio from New York City. I can't tell from the landscape where exactly this picture was taken, although I have seen many scenes like this on my trips on the turnpike in PA between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and on my trips driving north from Philadelphia to Binghamton NY.

The car on the road, is (I believe), a 1953 Chrysler Windsor 2-door. This conclusion is based on a conversation with a guy I work with who's hobby is working on cars. He showed me a picture that we matched to the back of this car so I'm pretty convinced. But I'm willing to consider other suggestions as always!!

When I look at the possible route using mapquest, I see that it's basically a straight line between the two places! I had no idea.

That road that is highlighted across PA is Interstate 80. The history of that road that I found on wikipedia notes that a small part of the road (near NJ/PA border) was completed in 1953, but other parts of it were not even started until 1959! So this easy highway crossing of PA would not have been possible in 1958.

If I go to google maps and do the same destinations but tell it to avoid highways, it doesn't look that different:

BUT, even though it looks similar, when looking at the route steps for this, there are a LOT of different roads used, so there's no one road that this picture is likely from.

So then! Conclusion then is:

It's likely the photograph was taken sometime between August-September 1958 while the family was in the car driving from NYC to East Palestine, Ohio.

As a point of reference as well, here are the photographs that were taken right before and after the one shown above:


  1. Now that's the kind of wordy analysis of a photograph that I love to see. Thank you Leah.

    Some comments:
    - I've not used that destination tool on Google Maps before, and now I see it works on Google Earth too, but I can't seem to limit the route to no highways in Google Earth. Perhaps those options are hidden somewhere. Very handy.
    - The shadows in the first photograph seem to confirm that it was an east-west, rather than west-east, trip. If we could work out what time of day it is from the sun/shadows, perhaps we could estimate whether it was near the beginning, middle or end of the trip. At a guess, I would say it's early to mid-afternoon, so perhaps in the second half of the trip (if, of course, they did it in a day).
    - That very long bridge over a large expanse of water looks as though it could be recognisable?

  2. OK, I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that I think your grandparents instead took a more southerly journey along Route 22, which would have taken them through Harrisburg, possibly to Pittsburgh and then on to East Palestine.

    The reason for my arguing that is that I think your photograph is of the Rockville Bridge over the Susquehanna River, just north of Harrisburg. This Panoramio photo shows a similar view. Unfortunately the view from River Road/N Front Street (Harrisburg) is currently blocked by trees for most of its length, but I believe they were somewhere near the junction with Route 81, where that goes over the river, a few hundred metres south of the Wendy's, although I don't suppose that was there in 1958.

    Due to the poor image quality of Google Streetview in this area, combined with aforesaid screen of trees, all I can come up with is Google Earth's 3-D view here, which gives a landscape profile that nicely matches your photo, even if you can't see the bridge itself.

  3. Holy Cow Brett, I think that's it! I had a feeling it was a bridge for a train, but based on those pictures, I think that's the bridge - Wow!! I'm so grateful!

  4. Glad you're pleased - I was pretty pleased with myself too :-) I forgot to mention that the Rockville Bridge is supposed to be the longest stona arch bridge in the world.

  5. Gotta love blogging when the comments and posts vie for top billing!