Thursday, July 12, 2012

Those Places Thursday - Traveling Railroad Photo Cars

This wonderful cabinet card photo of four young women brought to my attention something I had never heard of before - traveling railroad photo cars. According to Robert O. Brown, the Hutchings Railroad Photo Car was designed to be a traveling studio. The train car would consist of studio, dark room and sleeping rooms for the photographer and assistant. It appears Hutchings, who was headquartered in Kansas, traveled in his railroad car up and down the Kansas railroads and into Nebraska. To see what a traveling photo car may have looked like check out this webpage. In Brown's 2002 book, "Collectors Guide to 19th Century U.S. Traveling Photographers" he believes that Hutchings most likely worked from 1884 - 1889. If you do a web search you will find many photos posted with his photographer's mark and most look to be from this time period.

I would date this particular photograph more at the end of that time frame, about 1889.  The uneven scalloped card edges were rarely seen before that time on cabinet cards.  The girls' clothing fits the time period as do their hairstyles.  The lace collars three of them are wearing are so intricate and beautiful.  I also love the girl with the eyeglasses!  Alas, our subjects are once again unidentified.


  1. What a terrific picture, Teresa ! I had never heard of the railroad car photo studios, either. I wonder if they ever printed the location where the photos were actually taken. Something else to research, right ?

    Mary Beth Marion

  2. ...and the body language of the 4 subjects..they all seem to be looking in different directions! Maybe some would look to see where they'd come while others where they'd been?

  3. Wow! This is so very interesting. I hadn't ever heard of traveling railroad photo cars before. But it really does make a lot of sense as a service for those who weren't able to travel to a brick and mortar photo studio.

    I like how at the bottom of the photo the photographer actually put the words Railroad Photo Car. I have a photograph of my 2nd great-grandmother taken at the F. E. Webster Photo Boat. I posted this photo on my blog. If you're interested in seeing it, here's the link ~

  4. I have a cabinet card from G. W. Hutchings, then based in St. Joseph, Missouri. It's probably the same photographer. See this page:


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