Weir Junction, Taunton, Massachusetts
Weir Junction, looking roughly northwest. Typical of Southeastern Massachusetts railroad landscapes at the turn of the last century, this junction supported transportation and industrial uses. The passenger station was situated just to the left of the hopper car. The former Old Colony Railroad line crossed the existing tracks just beyond the station. One industrial area existed on the right-hand side of the photograph, out of sight. Industries included the Sanders Lumber Company, which had lumber sheds, a door/sash warehouse, a paint/sash/flooring warehouse, and a hardware warehouse, all with rail access. Just beyond the Sanders complex was the Leonard and Baker Stove Company. It boasted a foundry, enameling department, assembly and storage, and a carpenter shop, all situated within a dense building cluster. Looking ahead at the group of buildings behind a thin veil of vegetation, was once the site of a General Electric Company Plastics Division works. The main building originally had a sawtooth roof and was supported by wood posts and beams.
The CSX and Bay Colony Railroad companies interchange at this location today. The amount of rail traffic is much less when compared to the last century's early years. Nonetheless, the rail traffic that occurs today is as real as in previous times, but with much different technology.
Historical photographs depicting railroad activities from one hundred years ago make it difficult to realize the complete context. Observers and photographers of the railroad scene today should realize that their photographs may become part of a small-town historical society, or some other collection. It helps to document simple details noticed at the time of taking the photograph, as they may prove invaluable later. Noticing the number of crossbars on the wooden utility lines, or even how much the vegetation has encroached around the signal box, bring to light details that future researchers may overlook. Any photographer documenting their motivations for particular commonplace scenes can be especially invaluable to future researchers.
Even though the context of historical photographs is difficult to realize, a little thought and imagination helps. Today's observer to Weir Junction railroad activities will note the smell of diesel exhaust, hear the crackle of radio communication, or maybe even catch a glimpse of hand signals being passed between crewmembers. One hundred years ago, the observer would have noted the smell of coal exhaust, the passing of hand signals, and at night, the soft glow of kerosene lanterns marking the position of the switches.
Some similarites between both eras: movements are governed by a timetable and book of rules, the sounds of grinding wheels on rails, and perhaps during a foggy autumn night, the muffled crash as cars are coupled together.
Photographed by Karl M. Dietzler, March 26, 2006.
Added to the photo archive by Karl Dietzler, April 4, 2006.
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