A chain of circumstances in the summer of 1990 led to my first acquaintance with the Glover family of Marietta, Georgia and their wonderful old company with its colorful past.
As I became acquainted with James Bolan Glover IV, and his son, Jim, they shared with me a dream they had of restoring one of the three Glover-built steam locomotives still in the old foundry building. I knew their dream to memorialize Marietta's role as a builder of locomotives could be realized with help from the right people. Today, Glover-built locomotive #81421 sits on display alongside the CSX main line in downtown Marietta, across the tracks from the old NC&StL depot.
In the process of getting the little Glover engine restored, I carefully reviewed the old records that were still available from the locomotive production years, including what originally was a collection of 931 glass plate negatives. Devising a means of printing the entire collection of negatives became a top priority. Over the years, 78 of these plates had disappeared, and of the 853 left, many had deteriorated or cracked, making them of little use. Also included in the 853 plates were repetitive photos and photos of the pipe fittings the company produced.
761 RELEVANT PLATES
A total of 92 poor quality, repetitive photos or photos of pipe castings were not selected for printing, leaving a collection of 761 plates relevant to the locomotive production years. This is remarkable considering Glover built about 200 locomotives!
When we looked for an affordable means to make prints from 761 glass plate negatives, we were confronted with a serious financial problem. Eastman Kodak was contacted about the collection, and advised that contact prints should be made before further deterioration of the plates took place. They were so committed to this preservation project that they donated the necessary supplies to ensure its completion.
It took us 18 months, during which time my basement windows were sealed with black plastic, and a large portion of the basement devoted to a mass production darkroom, but the task was completed, thanks to the untiring efforts of Martin K. O'Toole and David Lathrop, plus a host of friends pressed into darkroom work service.
A large portion of this book is devoted to the many photographs reproduced from these glass plates. I think you will be surprised at many of these photographs, because while the Glovers tried to emulate the big locomotive builders by producing builders' photos, they were, nonetheless, a relatively small family enterprise in the rural South. Their builder's photos reflect this with the frequent inclusion of grandchildren, dogs-and women with Carmen Miranda hats. This is not surprising when you understand that J.B. Glover was operating the camera. To me, that makes these photos unique and gives them a charm all their own. I wonder how many Baldwin builders photos were taken by Mathias W. Baldwin?
SHARE THE INFORMATION
The overwhelming amount of material the Glovers preserved, along with the opportunity to review the material in depth, resulted in the urge to share this information. There have been previous articles on Glover locomotives published prior to this undertaking and credit is given to Mallory Hope Ferrell, Alton Lanier, Tom Lawson and others who have written material giving us the opportunity to better understand the Glover Machine Works and its fascinating products. However, this is the first time an in-depth study could be conducted and a more complete and accurate record of these locomotives created.
The locomotive output of the Glover Machine Works never came close to that of the major builders such as American, Baldwin or Porter. For most of the 100 year existence of the company, the focus was on the production of products other than locomotives. But build them they did, and that puts the Glover name on that important list of the Steam Locomotive Builders of America.
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