David Marcham Photograph Collection

Cover Image:
David Marcham Photograph Collection
Setting a handbrake on an SLSF boxcar, 1951 - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:

Historical Context

David Marcham’s lifelong career in railroad management began with his youth and student days in Ithaca, NY. As a teenager, he rode and photographed the trains of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and made friends among railroaders. As a student at Cornell University, he worked summers for the railroad, serving at Cortland and other locations in upstate New York, and taking more photographs. The railroad images captured on film in 1941-1956 show the last days of passenger service to many small communities. Service was being cut back and becoming less convenient. Motive power was also in transition; steam locomotives were being replaced by newer diesel-powered locomotives. Local transportation was moving to the highways, and special movements (such as circus trains) were becoming rare. Enthusiasm and first-hand perspective make these photographs an intimate record of smalltown railroading that would soon disappear.

Scope of Collection

David Marcham’s photographs provide first-hand, vintage views of railroading in the Finger Lakes and surrounding areas between 1941 and 1956. They are focused in Tompkins, Cortland and Cayuga counties, with forays into Chemung (Van Etten), Madison (DeRuyter, Cazenovia), Schuyler (Burdett), Seneca (Lodi, Geneva), and Tioga (Owego, Spencer) counties. The collection is focused on the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Subjects include:
Railroad employees performing everyday tasks, indoors and out, in all seasons.
Passenger service via self-contained “gas-electric” cars, and by a “combine” car attached to a local freight train
Freight service powered by a variety of steam and diesel locomotives
Transportation of fluid milk and dairy products
Snow plows, wreck repairs, circus trains and other special movements

Browse within this collection

Additional Information

Publisher of Digital:

David Marcham, Mark Charles, and Richard W. Jahn

Browse similar collections

NYH Topic Areas:
Collection Type: