Old photographs can provide insight into a variety of areas

Editor's note: This is the tenth and final part in a series of articles based on a presentation given by area historian and photographer Ray Beimel regarding items in the society's collection related to winter throughout the community's early history.While old photographs can showcase many common activities and sights from winters throughout the community's history, local historian Ray Beimel explained during the Historical Society of St. Marys and Benzinger Township's recent banquet that not every picture is as it appears. "Don't throw any photographs away, let me throw them away," Beimel said. He used a photograph of the ice skating pond at Kaulmont as an example. "Oh look, a picture of ice skaters. No, this is a picture of the Shawmut's coaling ramp - you know, where they ran the hopper cars up here and coaled the locomotives below? We don't have a lot of pictures of that," Beimel said. The photograph also showcases how large and well-used the skating pond at Kaulmont once was. "Look at the size of the pond," Beimel said. "What they have out there today is a fraction of that. [There are] dozens and dozens of skaters. I came from the wrong side of the tracks in the sense I always lived on the north side of town and my mom never let me play with kids who lived on this side of the tracks, so I've only heard stories about the old boxcar with the heater in it. But you can see what a big activity it was."