Tom Solomon Photographs, RG 146

This post continues our concentration on railroads and the collections concerning them at the Wiregrass Archives.  The Tom Solomon Photograph Collection, RG 146, is one of our favorites.

To call Tom Solomon a “well-known artist and train enthusiast” as his 1988 obituary did is an understatement.  Twenty-eight years after his passing, those who knew him and his work in the Wiregrass still talk about him, and there is an ongoing discussion about this missing paintings.


Solomon was a draftsman by trade, working for the Atlantic Coast Line and the Florida East Coast Railway.  But he was a painter and photographer whose collection at the Wiregrass Archives (all photos, even of his paintings) was the basis for Railroading in and Around Dothan and the Wiregrass Region (Arcadia Press, 2004).

Solomon’s photographs record depots up and down the ACL  line.  They capture vignettes of economic and social life of the Wiregrass, like this 1963 image of the  massive stack of agricultural freight awaiting transshipment from Iron City, GA.

Freight depot at Iron City, GA.
And this March 15, 1942, photo of Grimes, AL, residents posing before their tiny depot.  Ms. Julia Smith, Library Director at Troy State University Dothan until she retired in 2005, identified these folks as Chelle Vann Horne, Presley Dasinger, and Kathleen Brookins Smith (her mother).  It’s unclear whether all of the Solomon photos are original (some go back to the early 20th century) of if there are many copy negatives.  But no matter.

Whistlestop station at Grimes, AL, just north of Dothan
This black-and-white photo of his painting of the “Jody” taking on water at Capps Station is certainly original.

Freight depot at Iron City, GA.
He even captured the slow fade of the railroad system as in this 1960s shot of a four-car train on a milk run.  The conductor captures the mail hoop from the stationmaster.  In earlier days, trains passed stations with enough speed that hand-to-hand transfers were dangerous.  Station workers hung the mail ring from a steel pivot arm turned toward the track so the passing train’s own ring-catching arm could grab it.

ACL Conductor McIntosh catching order hoop from Agent H.H. McAilily
In all, the Solomon collection contains 257 scanned images of all things train-related:  depots, people, engines, more engines, wrecks, bridges, and general scenes, all black-and-white (with one exception).  These are available for viewing and use by anyone by visiting the archives of following this link to our online finding aid:


“J. Marion Sims: Carolina Lineage, Alabama Fame”

Dr. Horton

On September 13, 2016, Dr. Tom Horton of Charleston, South Carolina will make a presentation on the role J. Marion Sims and other Carolinians in the settlement of Alabama.


Date:  Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Time:  7 – 8 pm CDT
Place:  Harrison Room, Malone Hall, Troy University Dothan Campus


Dr. Horton says this about Dr. Sims

J. Marion Sims

Long before the state of Alabama was famous for its two-legged exports such as Percy Sledge, Mia Hamm, and Kenny, the Snake, Stabler,  a 35 year-old fellow, slight of build and strikingly handsome, traveled from antebellum Montgomery to New York, and from there to Paris. When he returned briefly 20 years later to visit his many friends, this amazing man was one of the most renown doctors in the world.

James Marion Sims, originally from Heath Springs, South Carolina, grew up in a log cabin with his Scots-Irish parents and grandparents. His birthplace was an easy morning’s horseback ride to the Old Waxhaws region where Andrew Jackson had been born just a half century earlier.

Sims completed his surgical training at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia and practiced briefly in Lancaster, S.C. His first two patients died and the distraught young practitioner uprooted and moved west where so many of his kin had already gone due to family squabbles and depleted soil. Settling in Mount Meigs, Sims quickly established himself as somewhat of a miracle worker with the life-saving surgeries that he performed.

Sims pioneered numerous operating techniques, instruments, and medical protocols. He devised successful ways to treat cleft palate, ruptures in males, and vaginal fistulas that sometimes accompany difficult, prolonged labor in pregnancy. Hundreds of scientific articles, countless demonstrations and speeches, and at least one textbook made Sims a name known across the Western World.

J. Marion Sims, M.D., as he was professionally known, has been labeled as “the father of Gynecology,” and his creation, The Woman’s Hospital of New York has been copied around the globe. As surgeon to Queen Victoria and Czar Nicholas’s consort, Alexandra, Sims’ place in history is firmly established.

Alabama gave him is professional start.