This autumnal view of Ithaca's South Hill portrays the inclined plane on which railroad cars were drawn by horses up the hill, then to Owego and back. The climb was made in two stages; the lower plane measured 1,733 feet in length, and the upper plane was 2,225 feet long. The second, steeper, section was ascended using power from a windlass as well as horsepower. Via this method, Ithaca's gypsum and salt were transported to Owego and beyond to the Atlantic coast. The Ithaca-Owego Railroad, that ran this feat of engineering, was bankrupt by 1842. Norris sought to give the steep scene a sense of distance and depth by treating the foreground in a steady, exacting manner, while the upper reaches of the incline plan are painted in a looser wash.