Re: Photo: Swift & Company Shed

Schuyler Larrabee

I am surprised that no one has mentioned that there are “Wool Soap” stickers all over the place.  I am sure that this is a location where Wool Soap is involved.  I’d say that the closest reefer is indeed permanently spotted here. The roof walk (running board, if you prefer) has been removed, further (beyond what others have noted) suggesting it’s not going anywhere.


The chimney is not supporting anything, except >possibly< giving the building a bit of lateral support (not likely, the building would have been built with diagonal boards “let in” to the studs to provide lateral stability.”  The building is not under the shed.  The back side of the shed is closer to us than the end of the reefer, which, based on the shadow is nearly even with the near face of the shed.  So the chimney is closer to us than the face of the shed.


There are indeed burlap bags on the ground. I think they are next to the platform which has a crate or something similar on it, the corner of which is casting a shadow on the edge of the platform decking.  The platform, which is at floor height of the cars, probably extends far enough to reach the doors of the far three cars, which may be in use to transport freight.  Now, someone mentioned that Swift had a plant nearby.  Maybe these cars, unsuitable for interchange, and shuttling the materials for Wool Soap from that other location to here,. 


Note that looking in the dark area between the back corner of the building and the corner of the reefer, there appears to be something ALONGSIDE the other side of the shed.  I see that as very likely another freight car, or cars (box cars) on the next track over to the left.  Unfortunately, we can’t walk off to the left to see if there is a car there or not.


Interesting shadow of the five-crossarm pole on the side of the street behind us.  Shadows of wires on the front of the building too.  Strangely, there appears to be a shadow of another pole across the driveway at the right, but the angle of that shadow doesn’t conform to the shadow of the five-crossarm pole.  What’s up with that??


Finally, I agree that 1935 is the address of this building on the street, and NOT the date of the image.


VERY interesting photo.




P.S. Claus thanks for doing what so often needs to be done, repeating the URL for the photo being discussed:



From: <> On Behalf Of Claus Schlund \(HGM\)
Sent: Saturday, December 26, 2020 7:31 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Swift & Company Shed


Forgot to mention, if you zoom in on the window, you can see a little bit of the interior of the shack, might be the edge of a roller shutter desk that is hopelessly crowded up with 'stuff' of some sort.


Also, note that we are looking a a four-car cut of reefers, and the three furthest from the camera have very obvious chalk marks, but the one car closest to the camera does NOT have any chalk marks. Further evidence that the car closest to us may not have moved in a very long time...


Claus Schlund


----- Original Message -----

Sent: Saturday, December 26, 2020 7:21 PM

Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Swift & Company Shed


Hi List Members,


For everyone's convenience, I will put the web link back into the conversation...



The date is given at the web site as: [1935?]


I will say that if you zoom in on the image, the sign immediately above the door reads - you guessed it - 1935! I suggest it might be a street address number, but maybe the library researchers mistook it as being the year?


I will also add that the shed looks to be very recent construction, the wood is in top-notch shape, not dirty nor dog-eared nor weathered to any detectable extent.


Someone mentioned there may be two tracks under the shed, but I do not think that to be the case. I suspect there is an enclosed annex to the back end of the shack that extends under the shed - perhaps the shed covers this annex and/or a loading platform beyond the annex to provide shelter from the elements?


Also notice that the poster on the end of the car is not just pasted on, it is nicely framed with wood that has 45 degree beveled corners, and the poster appears to have been put up there is some amount of care to make for a good-looking presentation. Contrast this with the other pasted-up bills that are in the image. This makes me think the car closest to the camera is there to stay.


I like how the siding used to make up the sides of the shed appear to be random width boards!


Claus Schlund




----- Original Message -----

Sent: Saturday, December 26, 2020 6:50 PM

Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Swift & Company Shed


This location is about a block from the Denver Union Station. A map that came with the book "Denver's Railroads" shows the L.J. Brown hide house, but where the Swift shack and shed are located in the photo is called out as "Country Club Dist[ribution] Co. Interestingly, the track (or tracks - are there two under the shed? I think so.) are not shown on that map, which shows every track that existed, and I mean every track. The map is said to be from "about 1936." 


Another map from the same book, from "a time when the narrow gauge South Park and Clear Creek Lines were still operating," again show no tracks but does show a building outline that is consistent with the photo. The building is labeled "KC Bag Co." I believe the South Park line was abandoned in 1937.


I suspect the photo is from well before 1935, and even the library questions that date. The freight cars in the background seem to support this.


I tend to agree that the reefer closest to the camera is permanently parked there. The condition of the paint compared to the others is one give-away in my opinion. Note also the plethora of chalk marks on the others, but none on the first car.


Swift had a large packing plant a few miles away from this location so I suspect suspect something was shipped from the packing plant to this location for use or transshipment in the immediate area. This is very close to downtown Denver.

Richard Townsend

Lincoln City, OR


-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Parks via <BPARKS_43@...>
Sent: Sat, Dec 26, 2020 3:04 pm
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Swift & Company Shed

This may end up being one of those photos that we never figure out.

Dave Parker questions the date of the photo, and the age of the cars would suggest it was more around WWI.  Additionally, from what I could determine, the girl on the poster on the end car was used on multiple posters form around 1900 through WWI (may have been used later, but I couldn't find any dated later).

The fact that the poster is on the car, and not the building, is very interesting.  As far as I know, that would make the car ineligible for interchange, which lends weight to Ken Akerboom's comment about the cars possibly being used for "permanent" storage.  If that was the case, then 1935 would be probable for the date of the photo.

I am leaning towards agreeing with Douglass Harding that this structure has to do with byproducts.  His observations about that are logical.

Finally, the brick chimney looks like it was built prior to the covering over the track.  My guess is it was for heating in the building.  It almost looks like it is used to help hold up the shed, but you can see a partial gap at its top, which says to me it is not holding any of the load.  Makes me wonder if the chimney was still in use at this time.  If it was, then some (or all) of the smoke would end up under the shed.

Probably the best way to resolve all of this is if anyone can determine anything based on the cars in the background.  Will be interesting to follow other's comments on this one.
Bill Parks
Cumming, GA
Modelling the Seaboard Airline in Central Florida

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