The Cootamundra Rail Disaster.

w640by Paula Bray
This photograph from the Museum’s Tyrrell collection shows the aftermath of one of Australia’s worst rail disasters of the 19th century.
The accident occurred in the early hours of the morning of 25 January 1885 about five kms south of Cootamundra. The train had left from Albury and was fully laden with mail and passengers, many of them travelling to Sydney to attend the Randwick races the following day.
It had been raining heavily for several days throughout southern NSW and the embankment supporting the rail line over Salt Clay Creek had collapsed and washed away, leaving only the unsupported tracks. As the Australian Town and Country Journal reported,
This left a very large gap, about 50yd wide and about 9ft deep, and into it the mail train dashed.
Attempts to warn the driver had proved futile. Eight people died and 20 were seriously injured. The Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette reported the gruesome discovery of a head “stuffed under the cushions”.
The North Eastern Ensign described the aftermath:
The spot at which the accident occurred is situated so far in the bush from any road that it was found to be a very arduous task to bring proper aid to the sufferers, or to remove them to Cootamundra and other places, where preparations could be made to receive them. These circumstances rendered an otherwise terrible catastrophe still more heart rending, as the poor victims of the smash were obliged to lie for hours under the pitiless rain which seems to have fallen in abnormal volume.
It is intriguing how a photographer from the Henry King studio in Sydney came to be on the scene at what appears to be a very early stage of the salvage operation. Perhaps he was on the train.
The fate of the locomotive is unknown but was said to have fractured its boiler in the accident. It appears to be No 31 and is one of the G23 Class, a 2-4-0 passenger type engine used by the NSW Government Railways.
Appropriately this photo features on the cover of a new publication from the Powerhouse Museum, All is Not Lost: the Collection Recovery Book, which gives advice on how to salvage treasured items affected by disaster.
Photography by Henry King
Read on via Cootamundra railway disaster | Photo of the Day – Powerhouse Museum.

It Killed anyone.


The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed well over 50 million people around the world.

The image above shows people playing baseball while wearing masks.

The crowd wear masks as well. And that reflects the most terrifying and devastating aspect of the 1918 pandemic in a way the other pictures don’t:

It killed anyone. Young, healthy adults—of the sort that play baseball—normally rarely care about the flu, but the 1918 outbreak was different.

It killed anyone, and we still don’t really know why.

The photo also represents a sad futility when you learn that the masks didn’t protect people.

While cotton gauze may stop bacteria, viruses are much smaller.

Yet pictures record large groups wearing them, from police in Seattle, to paperboys in Canada, to soldiers in France, right down to the general public.

Not one of them was protected in any way from one of the deadliest events in human history.

Read on via 10 Poignant Photographs From Humanity’s Lowest Moments – Listverse.

“DDT is good for me-e-e!” 1947.


What is DDT: DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is a pesticide once widely used to control insects in agriculture and insects that carry diseases such as malaria.
DDT is a white, crystalline solid with no odour or taste. Its use in the U.S. was banned in 1972 because of damage to wildlife, but is still used in some countries.
This ad for “Penn Salt Chemicals” from 1947 shows a range of dangerous applications for now-illegal DDT, from agricultural sprays to household pesticides.
Particularly disturbing is the image of a mother and infant, above the caption stating that DDT “helps make healthier, more comfortable homes.” Not quite.
While effective in eliminating dangerous mosquitoes that carry malaria, DDT also has a variety of hazardous effects:
Especially among young children, the chemical has been shown to damage the nervous, immune, endocrine, and neurological systems, not to mention its devastating influence on the natural environment.
The spread of DDT across mid-century America is mirrored today by the success of Monsanto (one of the companies that originally manufactured DDT) in placing its genetically modified products on store shelves before researchers have a full understanding of their larger ecological impacts.
via What Were We Thinking? The Top 10 Most Dangerous Ads | Collectors Weekly.

Quilty, Barton, Albert & more donate Art for Bushfire Relief.

The Island by Ben Quilty (2018)
“As we accelerate towards a warmer planet we inevitably question familiar images, places or ideas that are susceptible to irreversible change.
Islands seem primed for the symbolic and metaphorical, and as a consequence have long been made to accommodate the projections of western ‘explorers’, writers, poets, scientists. Edenic paradise, ecological sanctuary or sites of complete loneliness, islands are constantly reduced as such by those new arrivals.”
Image Credit: Photograph: Mim Stirling
Source: Ben Quilty, Del Kathryn Barton, Tony Albert and more donate art for bushfire relief – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian

Lightning strikes over Batangas.

Batangas, Philippines
Lightning strikes over Batangas as the Taal volcano erupts.
Viewed from the Tagaytay Ridge in Cavite, Taal Volcano and Lake presents one of the most picturesque and attractive views in the Philippines. It is located about 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the capital of the country, the city of Manila.
The main crater of Taal Volcano originally had a lake, until the 2020 eruption that evaporated the water inside it.
The volcano has had several violent eruptions in the past, causing loss of life on the island and the populated areas surrounding the lake, with the death toll estimated at about 6,000.
Photograph: Domcar C Lagto/Pacific Press/Zuma/Rex/Shuttestock
Source: 20 photographs of the week | Art and design | The Guardian

Running into a Dust Storm.

Jim Powell@jimpowell2002
Mullengudgery, Australia
A child runs towards a dust storm in New South Wales. Damaging winds produced by thunderstorms have whipped up dust storms that turned daytime into night in some towns
Photograph: Marcia Macmillan/HO/AFP/Getty Images
Source: 20 photographs of the week | Art and design | The Guardian

The Deadly Matterhorn.

bergsteigen_erstbesteigung_seilschaftThe Matterhorn was climbed for the first time on 14 July 1865.
Four of the seven men led by the Englishman Edward Whymper lost their lives in the attempt, and the story of Zermatt and the tragedy on the Matterhorn was soon on everyone’s lips.
The rope connecting Edward Whymper and local guides Peter Taugwalder and his son to the rest of the unfortunate rope group, broke during the descent. It is now displayed in the Matterhorn Museum alongside other relics of this first ascent.
From 1857 onwards, several unsuccessful attempts had been made to climb the Matterhorn, mostly from the Italian side.
When Edward Whymper arrived in Valtournenche in July 1865, it was already his sixth summer season in the area.
During each of the previous five summers, Whymper had failed in his attempts to climb the mountain regarded here as the unconquerable King of the Alps.
Every unsuccessful attempt reinforced the superstition that the mountain was invincible, so that even experienced local mountain guides often turned down generous offers from the leaders of foreign expeditions.
But the Briton did not believe in mountain demons, and his project was based on rational thinking. He had studied the books of Horace Bénédict de Saussure and had come to the conclusion that the mountain could be conquered not from the Italian south-west side but via the north-eastern ridge on the Swiss side.
It was not Breuil that would be his starting point, but Zermatt – where Mont Cervin was known as the Matterhorn. In 1862, John Tyndall became the first to climb the south-west shoulder, now known as Pic Tyndall, together with his guides J. J. Bennen, Anton Walter, Jean-Jacques and Jean-Antoine Carrel.
But it did not appear possible to continue the ascent along the Liongrat ridge, and Whymper also regarded the Liongrat ridge as being unfeasible.
He therefore attempted to persuade his friend Jean-Antoine Carrel to attempt an ascent from the Zermatt side, but Carrel insisted that he wanted to climb from the Italian side.
In July 1865, Whymper happened to learn from a publican in Breuil that Carrel had set off for the Liongrat ridge again – without informing Whymper.
Whymper felt he had been deceived, and hurried to Zermatt in order to assemble a group for an immediate attempt via the Hörnligrat ridge.
On 14 July 1865, the mountain was successfully climbed for the first time by Whymper’s seven-man rope group.
The group climbed onto the shoulder over the Hörnligrat ridge and, further up, in the section where today’s fixed ropes are located, they diverted onto the north face.
Edward Whymper was the first to reach the summit, followed by the mountain guide Michel Croz (from Chamonix), the Reverend Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, D. Robert Hadow (all from Britain) and the Zermatt mountain guides Peter Taugwalder senior and Peter Taugwalder, his son.
They spotted Carrel and his group far below on the Pic Tyndall.
Read on for Tragedy on the Descent via First ascent of the Matterhorn : Zermatt Bergbahnen AG.

The Sad Life of a ‘Toffy Nosed Git.’


Photo: The late Harry “The Horse” Kinder (left) warned me many years ago about what a bastard Alex “The Toff” Riley (right) could be.
THE first story begins on a visit to the Adelaide Airport when The Toff was pulled aside and asked if he had any objection to being tested for bomb making residue on his clothing.
The Toff sarcastically replied that he was a 90 year old retired “Planner in Charge” who had lost the use of both of his hands in the Korean War and had not made any bombs that week.
The security guy went ballistic and said that he would have him frog marched out of the airport and be made to appear in front of Tony Abbott the very next day.
The Toff clamped up and offered up only one word answers from then on.
Luckily the State Governor put in a good word for Alex and he walked free.
Well f**k me, then it happened again.
The very next time The Toff returned to the airport he was pulled aside and asked the very same question again.
This time the Toff replied cautiously and said he was now a 75 year old pensioner with “disabilities” and had fought in Vietnam.
The security guy apologised and said he was only doing his job. The Toff was not amused and muttered under his breath “moron” as he walked away.
Well f**k me, then this happened.
Some months went past and then The Toff received a letter from a Bad Debt agency.
The letter demanded how and when was he going to pay the $2,500 fine for the shop window front in the Riverland town of Berri that he tossed a wheelie bin through on New Year’s Eve.
The Toff was shattered as once again he was being accused of something he did not do.
Really? He phoned the agency and said you have the wrong man as he the Toff was a 80 year old pensioner who could not lift an empty wheelie bin, yet alone throw it through a plate glass window.
The Toff said he could prove that he was at Seaton that night at a New Years Eve  Party for geriatrics, some 150kms away. Fortunately the dumb guy agreed and no more was heard.
Well f**k me, and then this happened.
Some bloke left his business card in the Toff’s “letterbox asking the Toff  to call him. This bloke David, said there was a “victims of crimes” case against the Toff regarding his assault on a woman called Elizabeth.
This time the Toff explained to the bloke that he was a 85 year old pensioner with dementia, a heart problem and had recently undergone brain surgery.
Oh! said the bloke – sorry about that but a number of people have said they think you look like a sexual predator. 
Well f**k me said The Toff, how many more bastards are using my name out there.
by Anonymous in the Interests of Public Safety!

Paddington tram depot fire, 1962.

Paddington tram depot fire, 1962.
Photo: K Howard; wikipedia
On this day forty-eight years ago, Brisbane residents awoke to news of a terrible fire that would cause public transport chaos in the days ahead.
On the night of 28 September 1962, one of Brisbane’s fiercest ever fires blazed away at Paddington, destroying the Paddington Tram Depot and with it, 65 of Brisbane’s trams.
The photograph above shows people coming to see the remnants of the depot.
The sudden loss of almost one-quarter of the tram fleet caused both immediate and then lasting damage to Brisbane’s public transport network because it was a precursor to the end of trams in Brisbane.
That finally eventuated in 1969.
Source: Your Brisbane: Past and Present: Paddington tram depot fire and Ithaca Fire Station

The San Francisco Earthquake, 1906.


Image: Grant Avenue after the earthquake in San Francisco.
by Chris Frantz
At 5:12 a.m. on 18 April, 1906, the people of San Francisco were awakened by an earthquake that would devastate the city.
The main tremor, having a 7.7–7.9 magnitude, lasted about one minute and was the result of the rupturing of the northernmost 296 miles of the 800-mile San Andreas fault.
But when calculating destruction, the earthquake took second place to the great fire that followed.
The fire, lasting four days, most likely started with broken gas lines (and, in some cases, was helped along by people hoping to collect insurance for their property—they were covered for fire, but not earthquake).
With water mains broken, fighting the fires was almost impossible, and about 500 city blocks were destroyed.
The damages were estimated at about $400,000,000 in 1906 dollars, which would translate to about $8.2 billion today.
Uncertain Death Toll
In 1906 San Francisco was the ninth largest U.S. city with a population of 400,000, and over 225,000 were left homeless by the disaster. The death toll is uncertain.
City officials estimated the casualties at 700 but more modern calculations say about 3,000 lost their lives.
The lowballing city figures may have been a public relations ploy to downplay the disaster with an eye on rebuilding the city.
On 20 April, the U.S.S. Chicago rescued 20,000 victims, one of the largest sea evacuations in history, rivalling Dunkirk in World War II.
Martial law was not declared, but some 500 looters were shot by police and the military.
Read on via San Francisco Earthquake: 1906