R&LHS Centennial

North America’s oldest railroad history organization—the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc. (R&LHS)—marks its 100th anniversary this year. Founded in Boston in 1921, the nonprofit R&LHS is among the oldest groups dedicated to the history of technology anywhere. Through its publications, ten regional chapters, and outreach programs, the group tells the stories of how and why railroads were and still are important.

The histories of R&LHS and the Center for Railroad Photography & Art are intertwined, with CRP&A’s principal founder, the late John Gruber, having edited the Society’s Quarterly Newsletter and often having contributed to its flagship journal, Railroad History.

In addition, R&LHS has long honored photographic excellence through its Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography Award. The award is given for a significant body of work over a long period of time, or a single photographic project or publication, making an outstanding contribution to the photographic interpretation of North America’s railroad history. Stindt (1911-1992) was a prolific California photographer and author.

Many of the Stindt honorees have been recognized by, or presented programs for, the CRP&A. Among these are Wallace W. Abbey, Frank Barry, Ted Benson, James A. Brown, Travis Dewitz, John Gruber, Victor Hand, Joel Jensen, Stan Kistler, Blair Kooistra, J. Parker Lamb, O. Winston Link, Greg McDonnell, Joe McMillan, William D. Middleton, Mel Patrick, Steve Patterson, David Plowden, Jim Shaughnessy, Richard Steinheimer, and Shirley Burman Steinheimer.

In recent years, members of the R&LHS awards committee have often presented the Stindt Award in-person at the Friday night banquet of the CRP&A’s Conversations conference. The CRP&A’s own publications have received other R&LHS book and article awards. Notably, Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography, received the 2015 George W. and Constance M. Hilton Book Award.

Through its William D. Middleton and John H. White Jr. Research Fellowships and other forms of sponsorship, the R&LHS generously supports the CRP&A’s Conversations conferences and other projects. Recently, those have included 2019’s “After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading” and 2021’s “Railroads and the Moving Image.”

Articles in Railroad History frequently explore photography and other forms of visual illustration. Among them are pieces by the late John Gruber, principal founder of the CRP&A and its first president, and by Scott Lothes, president since 2013 and executive director since 2011.

  • A photo essay on the disappearing semaphores of BNSF’s Raton Subdivision, by Richard Koenig, RRH 221, Fall-Winter 2019.
  • C.H. Caruthers, 1847-1920 – A Pioneer of American Locomotive History and Illustration, by John Ott, RRH 219, Fall-Winter 2018.
  • Altoona and the Penn Central Image, Dark paint and red ink, a look at official locomotive portrait photography from the steam age to Penn Central, by Dan Cupper, RRH 217, Fall-Winter 2017.
  • Gordon S. Crowell: At 90, a photographer looks back on his wide-ranging portfolio, by John Gruber, RRH 216, Spring-Summer 2017.
  • American Railroads and Sponsored Films, A wide-angle view, 1940-1955, by Norris Pope, retired editorial director at Stanford University Press, RRH 215, Fall-Winter 2016.
  • A Spy? No, Just a Photographer (Lucius Beebe), by John Gruber, RRH 214, Spring-Summer 2016.
  • Chicago: Colorful, creative posters and a 1920s multimedia campaign, by John Gruber and J.J. Sedelmaier, RRH 213, Fall-Winter 2015.
  • Gordon Parks’ Images of Washington Union Station. A wartime crossroads viewed through perceptive eyes, by Tony Reevy, RRH 212, Spring-Summer 2015.
  • Photographer Jack Delano’s trip west on the Santa Fe Railway in 1943. John Gruber has ferreted out the human stories behind the pictures, RRH 211, Fall-Winter 2014.
  • John Gruber looks at William Henry Jackson’s work for railroad clients – much of which was used to promote rail travel to scenic destinations. Also, Scott Lothes of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art previews an exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, focusing on the human side of photographer Jack Delano’s World War II-era work for the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information, RRH 210, Spring-Summer 2014.
  • Photographer Frank Barry documents the last days of Mexican steam and he writes about his adventures in another culture. His photos are often arrestingly beautiful, and his experiences are delightfully amusing, like something from “Innocents Abroad.” RRH 209, Fall-Winter 2013.
  • John Gruber gives us a retrospective on Andrew J. Russell, photographer of the Civil War and of the Union Pacific Railroad construction. Gruber shows that Russell’s work was a business development tool for UP and continues to be a useful historical resource–topics that scholars often ignore. RRH 208, Spring-Summer 2013.
  • Tony Reevy continues Railroad History’s “Artist of the Rail” series with a profile of photographer Jack Delano, RRH 201, Fall-Winter 2009
  • Art in the Age of Steam: An unprecedented museum exhibition shows how railroads changed the world that the great artists saw, RRH 199, Fall-Winter 2008.

Many of these publications are available as back issues from R&LHS at rlhs.org, or free for members of JSTOR (Journal Storage), a digital archive that serves many libraries and universities. Access to JSTOR is also a benefit of R&LHS membership.

All of us at the CRP&A heartily wish our friends at the R&LHS a very happy 100th birthday. Here’s to another century of telling the profound and moving stories of railroading.

“Celestials,” film premiere and discussion, hosted by the Chinese Historical Society of America

Saturday, May 8, 2021
3:00 – 6:00 PM US Central Time [1:00 – 4:00 PM Pacific]

View Panel Discussion

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art invites our members to participate in a special premiere of the film Celestials, hosted by the Chinese Historical Society of America on Saturday, May 8th, 2021 via Zoom.

During the late 19th century, the term ‘celestial’ was a pejorative used to insult Chinese immigrants and laborers. Ironically, while there was discrimination towards Chinese workers in the United States, American developers depended heavily upon the work of Chinese immigrants, particularly when it came to the building of the transcontinental railroad.

The documentary film Celestials showcases six years of collaboration between Stanford University and the Chinese Historical Society of America to explore the lives of the Chinese railroad workers who built the transcontinental railroad.

The film explores the links between the Chinese workers and their ancestral homes in Kaiping, China through groundbreaking archaeological research. It paints a composite portrait of workers through oral histories collected from their descendants. And it examines the 150-year struggle for Chinese Americans to obtain national recognition for their contributions to American history.

CHSA invites CRP&A supporters for a screening of Celestials, followed by a panel discussion with Stanford Professor of Archaeology Barbara Voss, Award-Winning Local Historian Connie Young Yu, and Director and Producer, and past Conversations conference presenter, Barre Fong.

To learn more about the Chinese Historical Society of America, or to make a gift in support of today’s event, visit: https://chsa.org/support/




The Railroad and the Art of Place: An Anthology

The imprint of the railroad on the North American landscape remains indelible across space and time. A handsome hardcover book from the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, The Railroad and the Art of Place: An Anthology, examines the industry’s history and physical presence to match its status as an economic or cultural force. Noted editors and authors Jeff Brouws, Alexander Craghead, David Kahler, and Kevin Keefe have assembled the work of 25 contemporary photographers who explore the post-industrial railroad landscape beyond the mere portrayal of passing trains. Narrative essays by many of the photographers offer historical context and deeply personal insights into what drives their art.

In The Railroad and the Art of Place: An Anthology, readers experience a rich world of isolated prairie towns, once-grand railway terminals and small-town depots, imperious mountain main lines, sprawling locomotive facilities, congested factories and steel mills, and lonely grade crossings. In every image, the emphasis is on exploring the broader railroad environment — its architecture, its sense of place, its essence, its feeling.

Produced to the highest standards and featuring 230 color and black-and-white photographs, this deluxe 372-page book is printed on heavy stock and portrays a storied industrial culture in an entirely new context. Generously funded by the Kahler Family Charitable Fund.

$60 plus $5 for domestic shipping, hardcover, 11×11 inches, 372 pages, 230 photographs

International shipping is available; please inquire by email at info [at] railphoto-art.org

Cover of the book "The Railroad and the Art of Place: An Anthology"

Digital Excerpts

Railroad Heritage, Spring 2021: Masters, Sullivan, Jordan

Savor of the work of two supremely talented graphite artists whose work falls a century apart. Frank Bird Masters illustrated railroad fiction stories in the early twentieth century with dramatic drawings that appeared regularly in national magazines. Gregory P. Ames brings Masters’ work back into print with an in-depth look into his life and art, which includes an unexpected trove of cyanotype photography. Kate Sullivan, a contemporary artist from Boston, revels in eastern Europe’s steam locomotives, which she portrays in vivid drawings that get at the essence of these dynamic machines. Join native New Yorker Richard Jordan III for a tour of the beauty and tragedy that is Buffalo Central Terminal in this issue’s “Art of Place” feature.

Adrienne Evans, our archivist, shares more about cyanotypes in her “Out of the Archives” column, which also introduces the newest members of our archives team. In “Art of the Railway Poster,” Arjan den Boer presents the Art Deco influence on Germany’s Mitropa services. Inga Velten shares the Center’s early history in an interview with Bonnie Gruber, widow of our principal founder, John Gruber. We also present our annual Honor Roll with great thanks to our 2020 donors, who helped us thrive in a challenging year.

$7.95, 84 pages, color and b/w

Railroad Heritage 64: Spring 2021

Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, with Mel Patrick and John Ryan

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
7:00-8:00 P.M. (U.S. Central), on Cisco Webex

Now Available on YouTube

Mel Patrick and John Ryan, authors of Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, have teamed up to present on one of the most legendary pairings in American railroad photography. Patrick and Ryan will present a more in depth view of their research, including the work contributed by the late John Gruber, to discuss Beebe and Clegg’s pioneering approach to railroad photography.

Mel Patrick is a Chicago native who moved to Denver in 1972. He received the 2011 Railway & Locomotive Historical Society photography award for lifetime achievement in railroad history. Patrick made synchronized night flash pictures from 1968 to 1973.

John Ryan is a skilled photographer whose work has been recognized by Railfan & Railroad Magazine in 2004 for its cover contest and in 2008 for its center spread contest. A railroad historian, he is also co-author of SLC at 100, a history of the San Luis Central Railroad in Colorado.

This event is free.
Beebe titled it “On the Outside Iron” but provided no details about this steam freight train on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s electrified main line in Maryland. Today, this is Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor. Photograph by Lucius Beebe. Collection of the California State Railroad Museum, BC3528.