3D is not just for superheroes anymore.

Spectacular images of just-developing California, Nevada and Utah originally shot in the 1860s now appear as virtual reality in a brand new book published by the Nevada State Railroad Museum.  Authors will give a lecture and sign copies at the Nevada Historical Society at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.

10 31 12 waiting for the cars

“Waiting for the Cars” is a striking work that reveals 218 images of the Central Pacific Railroad, first captured by 19th century artist Alfred A. Hart in stereoscopic photography, the virtual reality technology of the day.  Hart’s historic railroad photographs show the region from 1863 to 1869 as the railroads were changing the face of the West and heart of the nation.

Both the original stereoscope cards and the new 3D versions are shown alongside each other in the new book by Howard Goldbaum, University of Nevada Reno associate professor, with accompanying text by Wendell Huffman, Nevada State Railroad Museum’s curator of history.  Some images have been digitally repaired in their 3D versions where necessary.  In the reproductions of the original stereo cards, imperfections have been left intact.

“The images are presented as the photographer made them—in 3D,”said Goldbuam, whose original photographic research and digital anaglyphic, red and cyan conversions transform Harts’ work.  “Our hope is that in displaying these images in stereographic format they will be more pleasing and meaningful than the ordinary flat presentation and that Hart’s art will find renewed appreciation,” he said.  Goldbaum gathered Hart’s images from the Library of Congress and from private collectors. Huffman's research included going through every Sacramento paper from 1855 to 1900.

The book’s title is a nod to a young man who held his gaze at a photo of a locomotive at Bloomer Cut that seemed so real, he said he was "waiting for the cars to come." The story was recorded in the Sacramento Bee in 1867.

Captions reflect the activity Hart recorded and place the landscape in the context of the construction and early operation of the railroad.  Some captions tell what followed.  “Just as the railroad wound through a variety of terrain, the subjects of the captions range far and wide, though they all relate to the scenes Hart captured,” Huffman said. Among the locations featured are Lost Camp, near the area the Donner Party became stranded, freight depots in Reno, the Summit Tunnel near Truckee, and Palisade, in eastern Nevada.

The book includes two pairs of 3D glasses.  Viewers can see samples of the digitized photos online at waitingforthecars.com and can request a free pair of glasses be sent to them for online use.

“Each sample is shown with its full text, the original stereo card view on a facing page and the new 3D anaglyph,” Goldbaum said.

Online visitors can also see 12 views not included in the book.  “We hope that this sense-of-place media will make history come alive for our readers,” he said.

To order online, visit waitingforthecars.com or call 687-6953. Books are available at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, 2180 S. Carson St, Carson City, and at the Nevada Historical Society, 1650 N. Virginia St. in Reno.  “Waiting for the Cars” is $29.95, hardcover at stores. If purchased online the cost is $35, which includes shipping and handling for U.S. orders.