I won't kid you; the Snowpocalypse has transitioned to the Icepocalypse but the effect is the same. We're pretty much trapped inside with little hope of release until some time Monday. So I've been reading, and puttering about the house, and goofing around on the Internet.
And from there I was reminded about why I enjoy living in the Internet Era. It began with this post over at Lawyers, Guns & Money, captioned "Man sitting on dead horse, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 1880":
From there one of the comments in the thread lead me to this post, where the investigators use various clues from the photograph to pinpoint two dates that the photograph could have been taken: "Since the tree looks like it is in full foliage, the picture must have been taken on either August 10, 1873, or August 10, 1879."
To pursue all this through pre-digital means would have taken days at the very least, pulling through almanacs and historic mapping and things like building records and old photographs.
And that's assuming that I would have come across this fascinatingly bizarre photo in the first place - it's easy to forget that the pre-Industrial ages were brutally hard on domesticated working animals like horses and mules. When you see beater vehicles on the road today (and I don't know where you live but Oregon, which lacks a state regulation requiring vehicle inspections, has tons of them) think of what would happen if these people drove a horse like they drive their cars and trucks. Only instead of going without oil changes and replacement brakes these poor animals would go hungry and cold and get driven far beyond their strength.
The death rate for urban horses must have been horrific.
And then think about the number of abandoned vehicles you roll past parked in side streets or down dead-end alleys. Translate that into the corpse of a 1,500-pound drayhorse; something that's too big to move with anything smaller than a large mechanical hoist, the Victorian or early 20th Century equivalent of a tow truck.
We tend to think of our times as The Most Awful Ever, and I agree that the Automotive Age has brought with it some fairly awful side-effects. But the advent of the automobile also brought with it the solution to some fairly awful problems, and the carnage of these animals was one of them.
Still doesn't explain why some joker was photographed sitting on a dead horse in the middle of a Sheboygan street in August 1873 (or 1879).
But some mysteries will and probably always should remain mysteries.