Summary Information
Title: Walter J. Teskey Photographs
Collection Number: AIS.2010.03
Creator: Teskey, Walter J.

Collection Dates: 1936-1963
Extent: 131.0 items

Language: English

These photographs were taken and developed by Dr. Walter J. Teskey, who lived in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Teskey practiced as a chiropodist (contemporary title is podiatrist) in the Jenkins Arcade and was an amateur photographer and train enthusiast. The collection consists of images depicting the city of Pittsburgh during the 1930s, with particular focus on the Pittsburgh Flood of 1936 (also known as the Great St. Patrick’s day flood) and the Ohio River flood of 1937. Additionally, the collection contains photographs of both model and full-scale trains taken during the 1960s. Digital reproductions of the photos are available online.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

June 2012

Finding aid prepared by Jennifer Chan.

Warmer than normal temperatures on March 16, 1936, led to the melting of snow and ice pushing the waters of the already swollen Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers over their banks. Heavy overnight rains on March 17 further elevated water above the 25 foot flood levels of the city. On March 18 of 1936, the city of Pittsburgh experienced the worst flood in its history, with water levels reaching a peak of 46 feet. Referred to alternately as both the Pittsburgh Flood of 1936 and the Great Saint Patrick’s Day flood, flood waters submerged portions of the city for more than 48 hours. This massive destruction of buildings and area steel mills finally prompted the United States Congress, three months after the flood, to approve nine flood control reservoirs as part of flood control measures that the city had pursued without success for the prior three decades.

In early 1937, record rainfall contributed to the flooding again of the city of Pittsburgh. Heavy rainfall across several states in the Ohio River Valley caused water levels of the Ohio River to rise above flood levels, resulting in massive flooding that devastated portions of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and the city of Pittsburgh. Though spared the brunt of the river’s floodwaters, Pittsburgh still experienced serious flooding, with water levels reaching a peak of 28.1 feet.


Dr. Walter J. Teskey was an amateur photographer, train enthusiast, and a chiropodist who practiced in the Jenkins Arcade. Teskey was a resident of Wilkinsburgh until his death in 1979. Known for his highly precise scale train models, Dr. Walter J. Teskey considered himself to be a hobbyist train enthusiast, though his extremely precise scale models were employed by Westinghouse in their development of production-size train components. The latter portion of this collection depicts trains and scale models with riders.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The collection consists of 131 photographic prints taken by Dr. Walter J. Teskey. Subjects depicted include the city of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh during the 1936 and 1937 floods, trains, and people riding model trains. Images were taken between 1936 and 1963.


The contents of this collection are arranged chronologically, by known date.

Subject Terms

  • Disasters -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Photographs
  • Flood damage -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Photographs
  • Floods -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Photographs
  • Railroad trains -- Photographs

  • Downtown (Pittsburgh, Pa.) -- Photographs
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Photographs

  • Photographs

  • Environment
  • Transportation

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Donated by Ken Kobus via Rawden E. Rambo, a Balitmore surgeon who acquired them from his friend, Walter J. Teskey. Rambo and Teskey are both deceased.

Alternate Format:

Digital reproductions of the collection are available electronically at

Preferred Citation:

Walter J. Teskey Photographs, AIS.2010.03, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Jennifer Chan in May of 2012.


All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh.

Collection Inventory

Series I. Flood 1936-1937

Scope and Content Notes:

A series of photographs depicting the city of Pittsburgh during the 1930s. Photographs of the city of Pittsburgh taken before, during, and immediately after the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1936. Photographs of Pittsburgh taken during the Ohio River flood of 1937.

Box 1
Item 1-96 Photographs

Series II. Trains

Scope and Content Notes:

This series features trains and scale models with riders.

Item 97-131 Photographs