About the Center


Our mission: to preserve and present significant images of railroading.

Railroads helped build the United States—and the world—as we know it, uniting people across vast distances while redefining concepts of space and time. Railroads and photography grew up together, and the visual arts are particularly well suited to portraying and interpreting the enormous impact of the railroad on history, society, and culture. Since its founding in 1997, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art has been passionately committed to telling railroading’s stories through imagery: interpreting the past creatively, connecting it to the present while looking to the future.

The Center, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts and education organization, achieves its mission through exhibitions, conferences, and publications that spring from its core commitment to collect, preserve, and then make widely available imagery that portrays the nearly 200-year history of railroads. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, the Center does not maintain a museum space or large facilities, and instead collaborates on its many projects with individuals and institutions ranging from museums and universities to libraries and historical societies. This approach allows the Center to focus on railroad imagery and the profound and moving stories it can tell.

Primary Initiatives

Conversations, the Center’s annual spring conference, has been held annually since 2003 and in recent years has drawn 175 attendees from across the country and the word. The much anticipated gathering at Lake Forest College (thirty miles north of Chicago) features renowned presenters and opportunities to meet and develop relationships with people who share an expertise and interest in railroad imagery and its significance. In 2016 the Center organized its first-ever regional conference at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. High turnout of more than 100 registrants and positive feedback led the Center to host additional regional events at the California State Railroad Museum in 2018 and the Brigham Young University Museum of Art in 2019. In 2020, the Center began hosting online events, available for viewing on our YouTube channel.

Railroad Heritage Visual Archive maintained by the Center consists of nearly 500,000 images. Archival work is conducted primarily in the Center’s offices in Madison, Wisconsin—led by archivist Adrienne Evans—as well as in partnership with the Archives & Special Collections of the Lake Forest College Library. Collections recently preserved, catalogued, and made available include the complete works of such luminaries as Wallace W. Abbey, Victor Hand, J. Parker Lamb, and Ted Rose. Current processing work includes the collections of John E. Gruber, Jim Shaughnessy, and Richard Steinheimer.

Exhibitions prepared and circulated by the Center number more than twenty, seen at more than one hundred different venues across the country. These shows have enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands to the grand sweep of the railroad and its great impact. Among our most ambitious and successful was Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography, a collaboration with the Chicago History Museum that told the story of Chicago’s railroad community and attracted half a million visitors. For the 2019 sesquicentennial of the golden spike, we prepared After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading. Other exhibitions present the works of renowned photographers such as David Plowden, O. Winston Link, and Jim Shaughnessy. Venues have included the Brigham Young University Museum of of Art, California State Railroad Museum, Cincinnati Union Terminal, Grand Central Terminal, Milwaukee’s Grohmann Museum, and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

Publications have immeasurably expanded the Center’s reach and reputation, while engaging more readers, producing new scholarship, and providing platforms for important stories and images that otherwise would not be published. Railroad Heritage, the Center’s journal, has grown from twenty pages, published twice a year, to a regular quarterly of seventy-two pages and a bold new design introduced in 2016. To accompany the Railroaders exhibition, the Center published a 200-page, hardbound catalogue that won national awards. In 2019, the Center produced After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading in partnership with Indiana University Press. Other books focus on the photographers in our collections, including recent monographs about Wallace W. Abbey, Donald W. Furler, David Kahler, and J. Parker Lamb.

The Center produced After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading, a 320-page, hardcover book, in partnership with Indiana University Press in 2019

Conversations, the Center’s annual spring conference, featured in an ad in Railfan & Railroad magazine

In 2016, the Center hosted its first regionally-themed conference, Conversations Northeast, at Archives & Special Collections of the University of Connecticut Library, featured in this ad in Connecticut Explored magazine

Directors and Officers

The Board of Directors for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art at the offices of Kalmbach Publishing Company in Waukesha, Wisconsin, during the board’s annual meeting in 2015. From left to right: Scott Lothes, Kevin Keefe, Michael Schmidt, Norm Carlson, Michael Valentine (emeritus), Richard Tower, John Gruber (emeritus), Nona Hill, Al Louer, Bon French, Jeff Brouws, and David Kahler. Not pictured: Ronald L. Batory, Betsy Fahlman, Justin Franz, H. Roger Grant, Todd Halamka, and Peter Mosse.

T. Bondurant French, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Chairman
Bon French is the Executive Chairman of Adams Street Partners, one of the largest and oldest managers of private equity investment in the world. Begun in 1972, Adams Street has offices in Chicago, New York, Menlo Park, London, Singapore, Beijing, and Tokyo. Bon is a Trustee of Northwestern University and chairman emeritus of the Chicago History Museum. He is a member of the CFA Institute and a former director of the National Venture Capital Association. A life long rail enthusiast and photographer, Bon has photographed over 650 railroads and shortlines, principally in the United States and Canada. Bon worked as a brakeman for the Soo Line Railroad during the summers while earning an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Ronald L. Batory, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ronald L. Batory concluded a term in public service in early 2021 as the fourteenth administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, a position for which he received a presidential nomination and unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate in 2018. His prior career spanned forty-five years in the railroad industry where he was president of The Belt Railway Company of Chicago and president and chief operating officer of Conrail. His other board responsibilities include several railroad companies and associations, the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library, and his alma mater of Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. His personal art collection includes numerous railroad paintings. He lives with his wife Barbara in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jeff Brouws, Stanfordville, New York
Jeff Brouws, born in San Francisco in 1955, has pursued photography since age 13. Over the ensuing 40 years, Brouws has compiled a visual survey of America’s cultural landscape. Besides being instrumental in helping organize our yearly conference, Brouws brings knowledge of 20th century photography and a broad background in publishing—his seven books include monographs on the works of Richard Steinheimer and Jim Shaughnessy, as well as Approaching Nowhere (2006), a compilation of his own imagery of America’s evolving suburban and urban landscapes. His photographs can be found in numerous collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and Harvard’s Fogg Museum.

Norman Carlson, Lake Forest, Illinois
Norm Carlson spent 34 years with Arthur Andersen, the last ten as the worldwide managing partner of the transportation industry practice; he began his second career as an independent consultant following his first retirement in 2000. Among his assignments was being chairman of the board of RailWorks and being a railroad trustee on two occasions during the regulatory review period. He is president of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society and managing editor of its publication First & Fastest; moderator of the Sandhouse Group, the monthly railroad discussion group of the Transportation Center at Northwestern University; and past president of the East Troy Railroad Museum. He has number of publication credits and his photographic work has been published. Norm served in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois.

Betsy Fahlman, Tempe, Arizona
Betsy Fahlman is a professor of art history at Arizona State University, where she has taught since 1988. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware and specializes in American Art, with interests in public art, American modernism, the New Deal, and industrial archeology. She has written articles for Railroad Heritage and she has frequently reviewed the Center’s books for a variety of journals and newsletters. Her many books include Wonders of Work and Labor: The Steidle Collection of American Industrial Art (2008) and Chimneys and Towers: Charles Demuth’s Late Paintings of Lancaster (2007). She lives in Tempe, Arizona, and vacations in Wisconsin’s Door County every summer.

Justin Franz, Columbia Falls, Montana
Justin Franz is a writer, photographer, and magazine editor. He is originally from Maine, graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Journalism in 2011, and spent nine years as a newspaper reporter. Today, he is the associate editor of Railfan & Railroad and Railroad Model Craftsman magazines and the managing editor of Flathead Living, a quarterly lifestyle magazine in Northwest Montana. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Seattle Times, Atlas Obscura, Trains, Railroad Heritage, and the Montana Free Press. He is also the co-host and co-producer of Project 7, a true-crime podcast about the life and disappearance of Montana militia leader David Burgert. He is a life-long railroad enthusiast and lives in Columbia Falls, Montana, with his wife Ashley.

H. Roger Grant, Clemson, South Carolina
Roger Grant, 1943-2023, was a renowned writer of railroad history and professor at Clemson University. Included in his publications are company histories of the Chicago & North Western, Chicago Great Western, Erie Lackawanna, Georgia & Florida, and Wabash railroads. Some of Grant’s recent books were Visionary Railroader: Jervis Langdon, Jr. and the Transportation Revolution (Indiana, 2008), Twilight Rails: The Final Era of Railroad Building in the Midwest (Minnesota, 2010), Railroads and the America People (Indiana, 2012), and The Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Rail Road: Dreams of Linking North and South (Indiana, 2014). He was a native of Albia, Iowa, and taught at the University of Akron for 26 years before joining the History Department at Clemson. Grant had a lifelong interest in railroads, sparked in part by the trains of the Burlington, the Minneapolis & St. Louis, and the Wabash that served his hometown.

John Gruber, Madison, Wisconsin, Director Emeritus, Founder and Past President
John Gruber, 1936–2018, was the primary founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and served as president and editor of its journal, Railroad Heritage, until 2013. He was a freelance railroad photographer, author, and editor, and he received awards from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in 1994 for lifetime achievement in photography and in 2009 for an article, “Railroading Journeys,” about the life, times, and photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg. He was a contributing editor to Classic Trains, author of Classic Steam (2009), and co-author of Caboose (2001), Travel by Train, the American Railroad Poster (2002), Railway Photography (2003), Milwaukee Road’s Hiawathas (2006), and he co-authored the CRP&A book Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy with John Ryan. He edited Vintage Rails magazine from 1995 to 1999.

Todd Halamka, Western Springs, Illinois
Todd Halamka is a practicing architect and founder of Todd Halamka + Partners in downtown Chicago.  TH+P focusses on three core domestic and overseas markets: universities; corporate headquarters office and office mixed-use; and hotels. He and his wife Susan have three grown children now attending college, and reside in Western Springs, Illinois, in southwest Cook County, along the BNSF Railway’s former Burlington triple-track speedway. An avid outdoorsman, Todd loves to travel, hike, fly-fish and commune with nature, preferably within eye- and ear-shot of a nearby railroad.  His focus on railroad photography began in 2011, combining his life-long love of trains and fascination with image-making.

Nona Hill, Madison, Wisconsin, Treasurer
Nona Hill has been a rail enthusiast her entire life, having grown up next to the Milwaukee-Watertown-Madison line in Wisconsin. She and Clark Johnson, her husband, operate High Iron Travel, operator of the Caritas, the most widely traveled private car in America. Clark is on the board of directors of Iowa Pacific Holdings, which operates several short lines in the west, and the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners. He is a former science adviser to the science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nona is treasurer of Pro-Rail, a Madison-based passenger advocacy group, and vice-president of WISARP, the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

David Kahler, Pittsboro, North Carolina, Vice Chair
David Kahler has practiced architecture for more than 30 years and has been recognized by his peers as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. After serving as the president of Kahler Slater Architects, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for nearly three decades, Mr. Kahler founded DK Consulting in 2001 and serves as president and design adviser. Many projects for which he has been the design principal have won awards, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin State Capitol Restoration, the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, and the Pettit National Ice Center. The Milwaukee Landmark Lighting project received a national urban design award from the American Institute of Architects.

Kevin P. Keefe, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Kevin P. Keefe was born in Chicago in 1951 and graduated from Michigan State University’s School of Journalism in 1973. At MSU, he was a key figure in the effort to restore Pere Marquette steam locomotive 1225, and his 2016 book for MSU Press, Twelve Twenty Five: The Life and Times of a Steam Locomotive, won the Library of Michigan’s prestigious Notable Books Award. In recent years he collaborated on books about photographers Jim Shaughnessy, Wallace W. Abbey, and J. Parker Lamb. He has worked for daily newspapers in Michigan and Wisconsin, and as an associate editor and editor-in-chief (1992–2000) of Trains. He retired in 2016 as Kalmbach Media’s vice president-editorial after twenty-nine years with the company.

Scott Lothes, Madison, Wisconsin, President
See Scott’s full bio on the staff page.

Albert O. Louer, Williamsburg, Virginia
A native of Highland Park, Illinois, the Chicago & North Western nurtured Louer’s interest in transportation and railroads. He was graduated from Lake Forest Academy and the College of William and Mary with a concentration in history. He started at Colonial Williamsburg in 1968, moving to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He returned to Colonial Williamsburg in 1982 as Director of Public Relations. In 1991, he moved into fundraising, first as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and now as Senior Director for Major Gifts. His interests and collections are in how the railroads developed marketing techniques and advanced the art and science of promotion.

Peter J.C. Mosse, New York, New York
Peter Mosse grew up in England where he witnessed the end of the steam era on British Railways. Following steam’s demise in 1968, he started traveling abroad to ride and photograph surviving steam and traditional railroads elsewhere. Over the ensuing forty years he visited more than fifty countries in that pursuit. In 1980, on impulse, he purchased a railroad painting and thus started what is now a collection of more than 150 railroad-themed, original works of art. Mosse has an MA degree from Oxford University and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He worked in London and Kuala Lumpur for the UK Rothschild banking group before moving to New York in 1977 to set up a precious metals trading subsidiary, and he has lived in New York since then. He is treasurer of the Brasenose College Charitable Foundation (Oxford), serves on the audit and beneficiaries committees of St George’s Society of New York—the state’s oldest charity—and is a past international president of the Circumnavigators Club, which was founded in New York in 1902.

Michael P. Schmidt, Owosso, Michigan, Secretary
Schmidt—a collector of railroad photographs and paintings—is an orthopedic surgeon. In 1984 he moved to Michigan to complete his training in orthopedic surgery and has been in private practice in Owosso almost continuously since 1990. He is Vice Chief of Staff, Chief of Surgery, and serves on the board of trustees of his hospital. He is Assistant Regional Clerkship Director for the Central Michigan University School of Medicine. His interest in the images of railroading dates back to his days in Los Angeles where he and his brother rode bicycles the 20 miles to LAUPT to wander the platforms and get what pictures they could. Schmidt continues to photograph, draw, and paint railroad subjects. He collects railroad photographs, especially by photographers in the transitional period of the 1940s through the 1960s, and has started to acquire commissioned and noncommissioned paintings.

Richard Tower, San Francisco, California
Richard Tower is President of the Candelaria Fund, a private family foundation making grants supporting self-help programs to combat poverty and community-based organizations that preserve local history and culture. His career includes management stints with Amtrak and Southern Pacific, an executive position with Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co., and rail consulting work. He has served as Vice-President and Treasurer of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Management Corporation, and he has served on the boards of the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association and Western Railway Museum, Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, BritRail Travel International, and the San Francisco Embarcadero YMCA.


Adrienne Evans, Director of Archives and Collections

Adrienne Evans

With a combined seven years of experience in the archiving field, Adrienne Evans joined the Center in November 2017 from History Colorado in Denver, where she served as the 20th Century Colorado Photography Collections Project Archivist from 2015 to 2017. Highlights from her time at History Colorado include processing the photographic archive of the Aultman Studio, one of the longest-running photography studios in the United States, and working with autochromes by Fred Payne Clatworthy, one of the first color photographers featured in National Geographic magazine. Evans first became passionate about photographic materials as an undergraduate student at the University of South Dakota, where she produced and exhibited her own photographic work and processed photographs from the University Archives. She completed her master’s degree in Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2014. Her previous experience also includes archival work for the Wisconsin Historical Society and Montana State Historical Records Advisory Board as well as an internship at the Image Permanence Institute. Evans holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota, where she majored in English and minored in Photography. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and arranging holiday-themed photoshoots featuring her three cats, Squid, Mangus, and Seena.

Lisa Hardy, Program Administrator

Lisa Hardy

Lisa grew up to the rhythmic soundtrack of trains rolling through the center of her hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. As a child, she vividly remembers counting train cars while waiting at crossings and considered it a stroke of good luck if a rare caboose spotting occurred. A lifelong lover of the arts, she is excited to work professionally in an arts organization like the CRP&A. Her academic journey is marked by milestones such as earning an associate’s degree in performing arts from Eastern Arizona College and a bachelor’s degree in theatre education with a minor in studio art from Northern Arizona University. Her desire for further expertise led her to attain a master’s degree in fine arts in arts administration from Southern Utah University (SUU). During her time at SUU, she had a role during the Utah legislative session in Salt Lake City, where she supported the SUU Executive Director of Government Relations, championing both the university and the arts. She further honed her skills as the Digital Marketing and PR Associate for the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), taking on the additional role of producer for the museum’s engaging podcast, Observations & Conversations. Notably, she also served as the student representative on the Utah Shakespeare Festival Board of Governors from September 2023 to September 2024. While Lisa’s academic pursuits predominantly centered around the arts, her professional journey spans more than eleven years, encompassing diverse administrative roles in both public and private sectors. These experiences shaped her into a collaborative problem solver with the ability to navigate complex landscapes with skill using clear communication, humor, resilience, and adaptability. Lisa, her partner Craig, and their loyal dog, Maggie, enjoy hiking, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, camping, and sitting around a crackling fire laughing and telling stories with friends. When not immersed in the outdoors, Lisa can be found reading books, listening to podcasts, playing the piano, or in her studio painting, paper crafting, and crocheting. Lisa’s office mascot, a giraffe named Seraphina, is always on the lookout for photos of train cars with giraffe passengers—if you know of one, please send it her way.

Natalie Krecek, Processing Archivist

Natalie Dust

Natalie Krecek joined the Center as an archives intern in March 2018. Her responsibilities include housing and digitizing negatives, entering metadata, and assisting with social media. Natalie received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from North Central College in 2017, with minors in Art History and English. In the summer of 2016, she attended an archaeological field school at the Center for American Archaeology partnered with Arizona State University where she had the opportunity to work close to the famous Koster site and Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis. A few months later Natalie traveled with Enactus, a non-profit team of students and professors to Highlands Guatemala to work with indigenous Mayans conducting interviews towards greater research of sustainability within their community and the environment. In the spring of 2017, Natalie combined her love for history and culture by completing an internship at the Field Museum in Chicago where she focused on the Gantz Family Collections. In her down time, she enjoys her two cats Clover and Finley, and her dog Douglas as well as spending time with her husband and friends. Having moved from Chicagoland she loves to explore Madison and learn about its history, especially through the railroads!

Elrond Lawrence, Acquisitions & Marketing Coordinator

Elrond LawrenceElrond Lawrence serves in the new role of acquisitions & marketing coordinator. His time is split between: working with collections donors to ensure the smooth transfer of their materials into the Center’s Railroad Heritage Archive, and establishing a marketing communications program to reach new audiences. Elrond is a writer, photographer, and publicity expert with a passion for railroads and vintage highways. He grew up in Fontana, California, within sight of Santa Fe Railway’s Second District main line and former U.S. Highway 66; weekend trips to the desert with his parents sealed his love for trains and the open road. Elrond authored the book Route 66 Railway and his work appears frequently in Trains, Railfan & Railroad, the NRHS Bulletin, and other publications. He lives along California’s central coast near Salinas with wife Laura, cats, and an SP searchlight signal. Read the announcement here.

Scott Lothes, President & Executive Director

Scott Lothes

Scott Lothes became the Center’s full-time executive director in 2011, after serving on its staff part-time since 2008. In 2013 he succeeded John Gruber as president and editor of the Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage. Fascinated by railroads from birth, Scott grew up watching coal trains in West Virginia. He took up photography while attending college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was graduated magna cum laude in 2002 with a degree in mechanical engineering. His photographs and articles appear frequently in magazines including Trains, Classic Trains, Railfan & Railroad, and Railroads Illustrated, and he’s had two front-page travel stories in the Sunday Oregonian, Portland, Oregon’s leading newspaper. Scott is the editor of Rio Grande Steam Finale, author and editor of The Railroad Photography of Donald W. Furler, coauthor of Wallace W. Abbey: A Life in Railroad Photography, and contributor of forewords and chapters to four other books. He won the Trains and Canon photography contest in 2003, tied for first place in the Center’s 2006 Creative Photography Awards Program, and in 2008 staff at Trains selected one of his photos for inclusion in its “100 Greatest Railroad Photos” special issue. He presented at the Center’s 2008, 2018, 2020, and 2022 conferences, and he has made numerous multimedia presentations at Winterail, Summerail, and the other railroad and travel photography shows. Prior to joining the Center, he spent three years as assistant editor of the engineering magazine Sound & Vibration in Bay Village, Ohio, and one year as an English teacher at a high school in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. He has also lived in Oregon and traveled extensively in Vietnam, China, and central Europe. Since moving to Wisconsin in 2011, he has undertaken a project to document the railroads of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, where he enjoys hiking and camping with his wife, Maureen Muldoon, and their dog, Maddie.

Heather S. Sonntag, Associate Archivist

Heather Sonntag

Heather Sonntag began working for the Center in 2020 as a contract archivist and joined the staff as an associate archivist in 2021. She processes collections while assisting with the Center’s overall preservation plans and policies, and she also lends her sharp eyes to proofreading publications. Heather first encountered photo collections at the front end of archives, when she interned at the Library of Congress for her doctoral thesis research. This led to a Fulbright fellowship to continue studies on nineteenth-century photo albums in St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. After earning her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she entered the back end of archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society working initially in the conservation lab, and then switching to the digital lab and onto processing film and photography collections. In 2020 she earned a master’s degree in archives administration and a certificate from the Center for Culture, History and the Environment through the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies. Heather has curated photo exhibitions for UW-Madison, the US Embassy in Kazakhstan, and on prescribed burns in Wisconsin by local black-and-white photographer, Jill Metcoff. She also has offered Photography and War: Imaging History, Technology and Conflict, a mini-course through the UW-Madison Extension, and published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she has made Madison her home since 1999.

Gil Taylor, Processing Archivist

Gil Taylor

Gil Taylor began working for the Center as a contract archivist in 2021 and joined the staff in 2022. He has fully processed the Jim McClellan Collection and is currently working on the Henry Posner III Collection. Along the way, he has also become the Center’s resident specialist in moving image film. He holds a bachelor of arts from Bates College in Maine and a master’s in library and information science from UW-Madison. His prior archival experience includes the UW-Madison Archives, the Chazen Museum of Art, The Olson House, the Farnsworth Art Museum, and the Maine State Museum.

Inga Velten, Development Director

Inga Velten

Inga Velten joined the Center for Railroad Photography & Art as its Development Associate in September 2017 and was promoted to Development Director in 2019. She brings more than seventeen years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and administration, with particular expertise in data management, prospect research, and major gift fundraising. She is a lifelong Wisconsinite and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a degree in History and English. Inga enjoys spending time at her family’s north-woods cabin, as well as exploring state parks and back roads with her husband Rob O’Connell, children Grainne and Eamonn, and dog Cara. When not exploring, gardening, or in the kitchen, Inga can easily lose herself looking at historic photographs in books and on the web. Her great grandfather was a locomotive engineer for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway from the early- to mid-1900s, and she is enjoying the meaningful connection her work with the Center makes to her family’s railroading roots.


Libraries with online railroad image collections include:

John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library
University of Missouri-St. Louis, Thomas Jefferson Library Building, 1 University Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63121-4499, 314-516-7253

California State Railroad Museum Library
111 “I” Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

The CSRM Library provides public access to the museum’s documentary collections. The Library is located next to the Museum of Railroad History on the second floor of the Big Four Building. The reading room is open to the public without charge Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Cleveland State University Library
Rhodes Tower Room 320, 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115, 216-687-2449

The Nickel Plate Railroad collection consists of files, drawings, and images of the railroad, especially as it passes through Cleveland. A general NKP Collection contains some small panoramic negatives of NKP views and Gerald Adams donated two albums of photos and many boxes of NKP drawings. In addition, the North American Railway Foundation underwrote the purchase of two other collections of Nickel Plate photographic negatives, one being from the company’s publicity department and the other from the personal collection of the late Mr. John A. Rehor, author of The Nickel Plate Story. While most of the material is unprocessed, NARF is funding preliminary work on the Nickel Plate and the Newburgh & South Shore collections.

Denver Public Library
10 W. Fourteenth Ave. Pkwy., Denver, Colorado 80204, 303-640-6200

The online collection contains 50,000 images of Native Americans, pioneers, early railroads, mining, Denver, and Colorado towns. Photographers of interest to railroad historians are listed here.

Photographer, Subjects Photographed, Call number or name

  • George Beam, Railroads, Pueblo Indians, GB1
  • William H. Jackson, The American West, W H Jackson
  • Louis McClure, Architecture and Industry, MCC 1
  • Otto Perry, Railroads 1915 to 1955, OP1
  • Robert Richardson, Narrow Gauge Railroads, RR1

James J. Hill Library
80 W. 4th St., St. Paul, MN 55102

Historic photographs in the James J. Hill, Louis W. Hill, Reed Hyde, and L. Dorcy manuscript collections are available online. As part of the Hill Manuscript collection, the library houses more than 8,000 images that span a century of economic development in the American Northwest and Western Canada. Each image is available for purchase.

Lake Forest College
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045-2399, 847-735-5064

The Donnelley and Lee Library lists photos, mostly from the 19th century, in the Munson Paddock Collection. The library is named for Eliott Donnelley (1904-1975), a notable railroad enthusiast, modeler, preservationist, and book collector.

Museum of the Rockies
600 West Kagy Blvd., Bozeman, MT 59717-2730

The Museum of the Rockies has more than 20,000 photographs by Ron V. Nixon, made from 1916 to his death in 1989. The collection also contains records, correspondence and historical writings that span the steam, diesel, and electric eras in several states and Canada. There are 9,763 images and data records entered as of January 5, 2007. Nixon’s first published photograph was in Railway Age magazine in 1930, and later his work appeared in magazines, newspapers, rail company posters, advertisements, and calendars. He retired in 1975 as manager and wire chief for the Northern Pacific Relay Division in Missoula, Montana.

Railroad Cartoons

Web site devoted to railroad political cartoons, 1850-1940. The site contains hundreds of cartoons, with sources and some brief descriptions. High quality copies are available to interested parties. The cartoons come from the private collection of Mark Aldrich, the Marilyn Carlson Nelson professor of economics emeritus at Smith College. Aldrich is the author of several railroad-related books, including Death Rode the Rails: American Railroad Accidents and Safety, 1828-1965.

Frederick R. Parsons and Andrew B. Duncan operated the Parsons Palace Car Photo Company, St. Louis. Parsons maintained a studio at 1407 Market St., St. Louis, in the 1890s. Duncan was official photographer for the Frisco railroad for ten years, settling in Springfield, Missouri, in 1903. This may be the car he used on the Frisco; does anyone have details? John Gruber Collection


Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand, 1994 Tracks near Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand, in 1994. Photograph by Fred M. Springer
Center for Railroad Photography & Art
1930 Monroe Street, Suite 301
Madison, Wisconsin 53711
info [at] railphoto-art [dot] org

We do not maintain our own museum space but instead partner with institutions across the country to host our traveling exhibitions. We enjoy visitors to our office in Madison and we typically keep normal business hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please check ahead of time to ensure that someone will be available to meet with you.