Help preserve the legacy of Richard Steinheimer

Preserving photographic materials like the priceless work of Richard Steinheimer requires significant investments of time, resources, and professional expertise. The majority of “Stein’s” photography arrived at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art in mid-June, where it joined our archive of half-a-million railroad images. We invite you to make a special gift today to support our efforts to survey, rehouse, digitize, and share Stein’s work—and all of the materials that make the Center’s growing archive such a special resource.

Join the preservation effort today!

Make your gift here.

Member Exclusive: Behind-the-Scenes with the Steinheimer Collection

 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom
Registration closes on Monday, August 1 at 4:30 p.m. (CST)

Center members are invited to register here

 

Member Exclusive: In appreciation for the generous support of our members, join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the Richard Steinheimer Collection and how it was prepared for its trip from Sacramento to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s archive in Madison, Wisconsin. Our special guest is Shirley Burman Steinheimer, “Stein’s” widow, partner, soulmate, fellow photographer and keeper of his tremendous visual legacy.

Shirley will join Stein devotees Elrond Lawrence and Ken Rehor for a special Zoom program on Tuesday, August 2, at 7 pm Central (5 pm PT / 6 pm MT / 8 pm ET). They will talk about Stein’s career and his groundbreaking photography, and Shirley will share tales of their adventures together.

The program will also include a member Q&A with Shirley and the team, including archivist Adrienne Evans and associate archivist Heather Sonntag, who will manage the cataloging and digitizing of the Steinheimer Collection. We’ll show pictures of the sorting and packaging of Stein’s beautiful prints and slides inside his office and darkroom, plus an early preview of favorite Steinheimer images both popular and seldom-seen.

This is the first preview of the collection since the Center set the rail photography world buzzing in June with news of the acquisition—which includes 30,000 color slides, thousands of Stein’s majestic black and white prints, black and white negatives circa 1975 and later, plus scans, and more.

 

 

About the Steinheimers

Richard Steinheimer (1929-2011) is considered one of the world’s greatest rail photographers, blazing a trail of creativity across California and the American West for six decades and inspiring generations of photographers to follow. He met Shirley Burman in 1983 and they married in 1984; the two became a formidable team across the railroad industry until he began suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Shirley will soon release a long-awaited book about railroad women titled Sisters of the Iron Road.


 

Stein’s thunderous portrait of Southern Pacific Alco PAs, which he called “honorary steam locomotives,” leading the City of San Francisco out of Oakland, California, on July 31, 1966. The extra-long train was due to an airline strike that summer. This beautiful print is one of thousands sorted and packed by the Center team in June in preparation for the entire collection’s trip to our archive in Madison, Wis.

 

Elrond Lawrence, Adrienne Evans, Shirley Burman, and Ken Rehor (left to right), sorted and packed the Steinheimer Collection in Sacramento, California, in preparation for the materials to move to the Center’s archive in Madison, Wis.

 

Shirley Burman and Dick Steinheimer at the R&LHS Awards in Los Angeles in 1983.

Railroad Heritage, Summer 2022: Signal box life, BN photography & more

The Summer 2022 issue of Railroad Heritage, our beautiful quarterly magazine, is filled with great photography and stories, plus news about the Center and our collections … and no ads!

Highlights include:

  • “Life Inside a British Signal Box,” a stunning installment of Railroad and the Art of Place;
  • “From the Cab,” photography from a Burlington Northern engineer;
  • “Re-Photography” — before & after views of Southern railroading by Ron Flanary;
  • “The Great American Circus Train” photo feature with images by John Gruber, Thomas McIlwraith, and others;
  • Collection news about Henry Posner III, Stan Kistler’s color photography, Margaret Mailly’s paintings, and more;
  • Interviews with acquisitions & marketing coordinator Elrond Lawrence and author/volunteer John Kelly, a Conversations 2022 recap, and more!

If you don’t receive it already, join the Center and have four issues delivered to your mailbox each year.

$7.95, 68 pages, color and b/w; purchase individual copies:

Railroad Heritage 2022:3 (issue 69)

Richard Steinheimer Collection acquired by Center

One of Richard Steinheimer’s most iconic images, and a perfect display of his daredevil feats: Milwaukee Road “Little Joe” electric locomotive no. E77 is captured at speed under moonlight in the Bitterroot Mountains eastbound from Avery, Idaho, in December 1973. Stein placed his camera on the nose of the trailing SD40-2 and hung on in the cold to make time exposures.

RICHARD STEINHEIMER COLLECTION ACQUIRED BY THE CENTER FOR RAILROAD PHOTOGRAPHY & ART

Iconic photographer’s work joins North America’s largest archive of significant railroad photography and artwork

MADISON, WI / June 13, 2022 — The Center for Railroad Photography & Art announced today that it has acquired the majority of the photography collection of Richard Steinheimer, one of the world’s greatest rail photographers, who blazed a trail of creativity across California and the American West for six decades and inspired generations of photographers. The collection includes nearly all of Steinheimer’s color photography, a vast collection of his majestic black and white prints, plus black and white negatives and scans, exhibition prints, and more.

“This is truly a monumental event in the Center’s history,” said Scott Lothes, executive director of the Center. “From the day I joined the staff in 2008, I have hoped the Center could be the steward for Stein’s photography, and I know our founder, John Gruber, also held that hope. We now have the ability to preserve and share his work thanks to the trust of Shirley Burman Steinheimer, Stein’s widow, partner, soulmate, and keeper of his tremendous visual legacy. We’re grateful for the incredible generosity of our board of directors and donors – foremost Bon French and Rich Tower, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, and everyone who has ever supported our efforts.”

The Center has received nearly all of Steinheimer’s color photography, which comprises about 30,000 slides, as well as a significant selection of black and white prints and scans spanning his entire career, plus black and white negatives circa 1975 and later. Additional ancillary materials will come at a later date. The collection joins an already-impressive list of significant American photographers whose work is preserved by the Center, now in its 25th year, and shared with the public through its quarterly magazine Railroad Heritage, a book publishing series, an annual conference, traveling exhibitions, social media, online presentations, and more. Exclusive member programs are being planned.

Richard Steinheimer was only 23 when he snapped this timeless portrait of Southern Pacific no. 2700 and crew on the westbound San Diego & Arizona train no. 451 at Dos Cabezas, Calif.

Steinheimer was born on August 23, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois, and died from Alzheimer’s Disease on May 4, 2011 in Sacramento, California, where his wife and photography partner Shirley Burman Steinheimer still resides. A team from the Center led by archivist Adrienne Evans gathered at the Sacramento home in early June and prepared the collection for transportation to the Center’s archive in Madison, Wisconsin, where it has safely arrived.

Heather Sonntag, Ph.D., associate archivist, will take the lead on processing the Steinheimer Collection supported by Elrond Lawrence and Ken Rehor, lifelong Stein devotees who were part of the collection team in Sacramento.

“With this milestone achievement, combined with the Ronald C. Hill Collection in 2020 and recent agreements to acquire collections from California photography legends Tom Gildersleeve, Gordon Glattenberg, and Stan Kistler, the Center has assembled a world-class collection of western North American railroad photography,” said Lothes.

Steinheimer’s life and work

“Stein” shook up the world of traditional railroad photography in the 1940s and 1950s with a wholly unique style that included daring action images that leaped out of the camera frame and sweeping panoramas that captured trains in their environments, from magnificent Donner Pass and the stark Mojave Desert to bustling cities, railroad yards, and small rural towns. With a lanky six-foot, six-inch frame, the master of light and composition was fueled by a passionate – and sometimes manic – pursuit of dynamic images, but his true secret weapons were a friendly, humble, and infectious personality and his engaging smile. His demeanor helped him connect with people to make countless soulful portraits of railroaders, rail passengers, and everyday Americans from a vanished era.

In dozens of landmark books and in the pages of Trains magazine and others, he narrated his sprawling photographic essays with lively, joyful writing that celebrated the railroad experience and invited viewers to jump in their car —or board a train – and vicariously join Stein on his latest adventure.

His black and white work is timeless and striking, and his transition to color transparency film provided a new canvas with which to play, reaching new levels of creativity and storytelling with light and mood and the changing colors of western railroads in the 1970s and 1980s. For decades, while creating watershed railroad projects, he was in high demand as an innovative Silicon Valley photographer, shooting for Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Apple, and other pioneering technology companies.

In 1983 he met fellow photographer Shirley Burman, and their love story created a formidable partnership that thrived for nearly two decades. Together they worked on projects for Southern Pacific, Amtrak, TTX Corp., the California State Railroad Museum, and other clients. Since his passing, Burman Steinheimer has cared for his image collection and legacy; she is currently completing a book about women in railroading and her photography collection is anticipated to join Stein’s work at the Center at a later date.

More information about the Steinheimer Collection, his legacy, and future image requests will be shared at the Center’s website. For more information about this announcement please contact Elrond Lawrence, acquisitions and marketing coordinator, at elrond(a)railphoto-art.org.

The Center’s team (from left) Elrond Lawrence, Adrienne Evans, and Ken Rehor (right) worked with Shirley Burman Steinheimer at her Sacramento home in early June to prepare and ship the Steinheimer Collection.