Skip to main content
Notice: The Library is open for research by appointment only, please visit our research services page for more information.

Locomotives and views of Mauch Chunk contact photographs and negatives

Creation: circa 1860-1950
Accession: 1969-092
View this collection online in the Hagley Digital Archives.
View this collection online in the Hagley Digital Archives.


This collection consists of glass plate negatives and photographic copy prints which were made directly from the negatives. The images document an array of subjects, though the majority of the images are of locomotives, railroad cars, railroad stations, and other railroad infrastructure. Various landscape and cityscape photographs are also included. Where it is possible to identify the locations, the majority of images document sites in Pennsylvania, though photographs of sites in New York state and Ontario are also present.


  • Creation: circa 1860-1950



1.75 Linear Feet

Physical Description

224 glass plate negatives : b&w ; 6.5 x 8.5 in. or smaller. 224 photographic prints : contact prints ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. The contact prints are modern ones made directly from the glass plate negatives.

Historical Note

Most of the photographs in this collection were captured by unidentified photographers. Two series in this collection, however, include works by known photographers William H. Rau (1855-1920) and James Zellner (1836-1897).

William H. Rau was prominent Philadelphia photographer. During the 1870s and 1880s, Rau would become best known for his work photographing scenic views from around the world. During his stays in Philadelphia, he was also prominent portrait photographer for the city’s elites. James Zellner was a lesser-known figure, who worked as a regional photographer out of the town of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, where he was credited as being the first operator of a photograph gallery in the town.

Both Rau and Zellner's contributions to this collection include images of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania. Mauch Chunk is the original name of Jim Thorpe borough in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. The discovery of coal prompted several mining towns to develop in Mauch Chunk and lead to it becoming an important coal shipping center. In 1827, a downhill railroad track was constructed by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company to transport coal from the mines to the wharves. The railroad track became known as the Mauch Chunk Gravity Railroad because it was gravity powered as the cars descended 900 feet for 8.7 miles.

Scope and Content

Views of steam locomotives from various railroads, including the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Reading Railroad, Atlantic City Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Railroad, B. & O. Railroad, and the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, including some built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Also views of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, probably from the 1880s and 1890s, including scenic views. Also views of railroad stations in Pennsylvania.

None of the negatives are captioned, but some have been identified. The majority of the identifiable locations in these photographs are places in Pennsylvania, though a small number of photographs from New York state and Ontario, Canada are also present. Many locations are not identified. Several of these pictures have been identified from other sources as having been taken by photographers William Rau or James Zellner, but may not be the original negatives, as many negatives appear to be copies of originals. Most images do not have a known photographer.

All of the photographs in this collection are also undated, though some of them can be assigned approximate dates based on information available. Most of the images in this collection appear to have been captured between approximately 1860 and 1950.

The Rolling stock series covers images of rolling stock (locomotives, freight cars, passenger cars, cabooses, etc.). Railway companies represented in this series includes the Atlantic City Railroad Company; Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company; Central Railroad of New Jersey; Delaware and Hudson Railroad Corporation; Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company; Erie Railroad Company; Grand Trunk Railway; Lehigh Valley Railroad Company; New York Central Railroad Company; Pennsylvania Railroad; Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co.; Reading Company; New York, Susquehanna, and Western Railroad; and the Utica, Ithaca, and Elmira Railroad.

Railroad station series documents railroad stations, all located in Pennsylvania. These stations include Philadelphia's Chelten Avnue Station and Chestnut Hill Station (both operated by Reading Co.) and Wingohocking Station. Stations outside of Philadelphia include Jenkintown Station, Lehigh Valley Railroad stations in Glen Onoko and Mauch Chunk, and Bethlehem's Union Station.

Railroad tracks and bridges includes photographs of railroad infrastructure such as railroad yards, tracks, tunnels, and bridges. Most of the images in this series are undated and unidentified.

William H. Rau photographs series mostly photographs taken during an 1895 commission with the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Traveling in a customized passenger car, Rau traveled on the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s lines from New York City to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, documenting hundreds of landscapes along the way. One photograph, however, is of Rau's photographer train used during a similar, earlier commission with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

James Zellner photographs series document scenes in and around his hometown of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.

Various locations series includes a variety of cityscapes and landscapes, most of which are undated and unidentified. The few identifiable locations include a photograph of Niagara Falls, an image of Chestnut Hill Baptist Church in Philadelphia, and two images of the S.S. Robert W.E. Bunsen in Welland Canal in Ontario Canada. Some images in this series may be attributable to William H. Rau or James Zellner, but cannot be verified as such at this time.

Existence and Location of Copies

View this collection online in Hagley Digital Archives.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Glass plate negatives DO NOT CIRCULATE.

Related Material

William H. Rau lantern slides (Accession 1971.360), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

James Zellner glass plate negatives (Accession 1974.278), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

Language of Materials


Related Names


Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Locomotives and views of Mauch Chunk contact photographs and negatives
Chris Baer and Skylar Harris
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
Script of description:

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Audiovisual Collections Repository

PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA