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Finally, a road photo that I didn’t have to research…

July 11, 2015, 10:12 PM

Whenever I find a photo online showing something amusing on the road, I always like to find out the location.  I’ve become rather skilled at looking at background details in photos to sleuth out locations after posting and geotagging countless photos on Panoramio, as well as researching filming locations for Project TXL (a planned overhaul of the Today’s Special site).  So imagine my delight to see this funny road photo, showing Thomas the Tank Engine being transported on the back of a truck:

Original caption: "My buddy saw Thomas the Tank Engine getting kidnapped earlier this morning."
Photo: Imgur

No need to do any research for this photo’s location.  This is northbound Interstate 81, at the southern edge of Harrisonburg.  See for yourself.  I know this location very well from countless trips up and down I-81.  After all, this spot is about 30 minutes north of my parents’ house.

For those not familiar, this is why I love the Internet.  For photos where I do have to research, I’ll usually pick out a background detail in the photo, usually something written, and latch onto it.  Here’s an example, from an episode of Today’s Special:

This is the Little Pie Shoppe in Toronto, which appeared on the episode “Noses“.  My initial research on this location was a bit direct, i.e. I googled the name.  I got an address, and it went to a location that was completely unrecognizable, and too modern for what I was after.  Watching the episode again, I latched onto that “2568” in the upper left corner of the photo.  That’s an address.  I guessed that it was likely on Yonge Street, and I turned out to be right.  Street View for 2568 Yonge Street in Toronto gave me a match.  Even though the building has since been painted and the signage is different, it’s still recognizable, and the details under the second-story windows matched exactly.  Win.

And believe it or not, I enjoy doing this sort of research.  I always get a rush when I can determine a location, especially, in the case of Today’s Special, where the source footage is 30 years old.