Transportation Tuesday: A Moment on the Baltimore and Ohio

I was inspired by this salted paper print from the 1850s of people posing for a photograph on a Baltimore and Ohio engine. I thought about the women in their stays and hoops, and wondered if they were boosted up onto that ledge, or if they walked out from the cab to rest upon their perch. Either way, it’s not easy with your torso confined (I had to crawl up into a 5 ton troop transport in eighteenth century stays to be transported for a reenactment once – a National Guardsman planted a hand square on my fanny and up I went). The image was taken in Oakland, a Garrett County town almost all the way to West Virginia (then Virginia). While rail fans could talk a lot more about the technology of this locomotive, I love the moment the photograph captures.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991.1151.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

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