Delaware Before the Railroads: A Diamond Among the States by Dave Tabler
What’s it About?
A recreation of Delaware’s history through photography and detailed commentary.
Fresh out of college, Dave Tabler provided the photography for a book entitled The Illustrated History of American Civil War Relics, which taught him how to work with museum curators, collectors and white cotton gloves.
He moved to Delaware in 2010 and became love-struck with the state’s rich past. His experience working with curators and collectors came in handy when he got the urge to photograph what he calls “a love letter to Delaware’s early heritage.” The result is a magnificent photographic work called Delaware Before the Railroads: A Diamond Among the States.
Delaware’s Long & Rich History
The arrival of the railroad in 1832 marked the end of an era in Delaware. But for a number of reasons, Delaware’s colonial structures remained undisturbed for longer than many other colonial era states.
Tabler’s book shows this to readers through a collection of current photographs that trace the history of the state as far back as 1638 since the first Swedish explorers.
The book’s images are organized by time period, actually starting in 1610 when the Delaware land mass was named, and then breaking into other time segments. While each picture offers a capsule explanation, Tabler jumps to a “notes” section in the back of the book to provide more detailed information and background.
The images tell the story: a picture of a Swedish ship with the explanation that the Swedes saw new markets for copper as their motivation to establish a colony in North America. A picture of an inner residence shows how the Europeans initially built crude log cabins, the first of their kind in the New World.
The book depicts slave quarters and the inside of a church showing how, while both enslaved and freed men attended white churches, they were relegated to sitting in the gallery.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
The book is filled with wonderful visuals of churches, houses, fields, shelves of pottery, artifacts, graves, scenery and a variety of objects that the average person might not recognize or comprehend the meaning of without Tabler’s comments.
In addition to the pictorial narrative, Tabler provides more detailed “sidebars” on the topics of slavery in Colonial Delaware, plantation life, blacksmithing, colonial medicine, clockmaking, domestic clothing and colonial hearths.
While Delaware is a mere slice of the bigger picture in American history, the depiction of its story, with fascinating descriptions, intricate details and marvelous photographs, is representative of an entire time period such that any history buff or curious reader, regardless of where he or she is from, will find great enjoyment in this project.
Delaware Before the Railroads is a colonial treasure and a fascinating journey for readers of all ages and all interests. Tabler has done a masterful job of recreating the past through pictures and text, interweaving a wide array of images and stories that fill us with knowledge and wonder.
About Dave Tabler:
Dave Tabler at a young age was encouraged to try his hand at taking pictures with the family camera. He went on to earn degrees in art history and photojournalism despite being told he needed a “Plan B.” Fresh out of college, Tabler contributed the photography for The Illustrated History of American Civil War Relics, which taught him how to work with museum curators, collectors, and white cotton gloves. In 2006 Tabler parlayed some early encounters with Appalachian culture into AppalachianHistory.net, which today reaches 375,000 readers a year. He moved to Delaware in 2010 and became smitten with its rich past, resulting in this photographic “love letter” to Delaware’s early heritage.
Publish Date: 10/7/2022
Genre: Historical, Nonfiction
Author: Dave Tabler
Page Count: 100 pages