Archives and Preservation resources

We hosted an archives and preservation Q&A with Adrienne Evans, our archivist, on Tuesday evening, May 19. Adrienne fielded dozens of questions about our collections and best practices for the archiving and preservation of analog as well as digital photographs. More than 130 people tuned in live, and you can watch a recording of the session on our YouTube channel.

Adrienne also prepared a list of resources that you can download here. We are already planning another online presentation about archives and perseveration as well as additional online programming throughout the summer. Stay tuned for details!

Virtual Conversations: Beautiful Fragility

Our next presentation for Virtual Conversations premieres on YouTube at 8pm Central Time on Friday, April 17. “Beautiful Fragility: Railroad Cinematography in the Pacific Northwest,” is an interview with filmmaker Camron Settlemier of Marcam Productions about his quarter-century quest to record the dying branch lines and short line railroads of the Pacific Northwest.

While still in college, Camron got his first video camera to capture the last summer of the Southern Pacific In Oregon. For the next thirteen years he put all available time, money and resources to pursue his interest in railroad videography, capturing some of the most vulnerable and interesting short lines and branch lines in the Pacific Northwest. They include the Camas Prairie, Saint Maries River, and Port of Tillamook, all which are now out of service. Camron is also known for professional Steam Videos, first working with Goodheart Productions, and later forming his own video company, Marcam Productions. In 2007 Marcam Productions was the first to release a steam railfan video in the US on High Definition Blu-ray, the “Legends of Steam” series. Today Camron subsists in his hometown of Albany, Oregon, and dreams of inventing a time machine to go back to a period of time worth videoing.

Learn more about Virtual Conversations, the Center’s first-ever online conference.

The Saint Maries River Railroad hauls logs to the mill in Saint Maries, Idaho, along its namesake river in October 2006. Photograph by Camron Settlemier

Virtual Conversations: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to CRPA

If you’re missing a good railfan road trip right now, you will not want to miss our next presentation for Virtual Conversations, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to CRPA,” by Oren Helbok and George Hiotis. See it now on YouTube.

For the past few years, George and Oren have turned their trips to the Center’s annual conference in Lake Forest, Illinois, into extended photography expeditions through the Northeast and the Midwest. While seeing trains was their initial goal, they found so much more, and they will regale you with some of their favorite stories and photographs in their presentation.

Helbok was born in the Bronx in 1965 and ran away from a steam locomotive the first time he heard one, at age two, but he very quickly turned around. Oren learned the technical aspects of film photography from his father, John, and spent twenty-five years in darkrooms before raising children and then going digital. Now running a non-profit arts organization in central Pennsylvania, Oren lives closer to more active steam locomotives than he could in any other place in the U.S.

Hiotis is a professional photographer who saw the beginning of his career by borrowing the family camera to take pictures of trains. He made his very first picture at the Jersey Central station in nearby Westfield in the mid-1950s, and his interest advanced beyond the hobby stage in the early 1970s. He has nurtured a great passion for railroads, in both their mechanical and human aspects, most often aiming for an unusual representation. He has won two grand prizes and one second prize in the Trains magazine photo contests.

Learn more about Virtual Conversations, the Center’s first-ever online conference.

This photograph by Oren Helbok shows a South Shore Line commuter train passing through Michigan City, Indiana, on September 16, 2019.

Virtual Conversations: Mikado’s Farewell

Our next presentation for Virtual Conversations is “Mikado’s Farewell – China’s Last Steam Railroad,” by Travis Dewitz and Todd Halamka. View it now on YouTube.

Dewitz and Halamka made a two-week winter visit in 2018 to photograph steam locomotives at a remote coal mine railroad in China, located 2700 kilometers northwest of Beijing. Scott Lothes moderates a discussion between them about their trip, photography, and experiences.

Halamka is a practicing architect and founder of Todd Halamka + Partners in downtown Chicago. His focus on railroad photography began in 2011, combining his lifelong love of trains and the outdoors with his fascination for image making.

Dewitz is a photographer based out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He has been published or featured in National Geographic, Trains magazine, Bakken Business Journal, Un-Sung Magazine, Vogue Italia, Cinamagic, Child Model Magazine, International Contemporary Artists Vol. XII, Amtrak brochures, Volume One, and Railfan & Railroad magazine. He is also the author of Blaze Orange – Whitetail Deer Hunting in Wisconsin.

Learn more about Virtual Conversations, the Center’s first-ever online conference.

A worker at the SanDaoLing coal mining railroad in northwestern China walks past a JS-class 2-8-2 steam locomotive in 2018. Photograph by Travis Dewtiz

Virtual Conversations: Return to Copper Country

Our first presentation for Virtual Conversations is “Return to Copper Country: Rediscovering the railroads of Clifton and Morenci, Arizona,” by Scott Lothes. View it now on YouTube.

The copper mining region of far eastern Arizona is home to spectacular railroading and intriguing industrial history. Lothes, the Center’s president and executive director, became fascinated with the area during a college internship in 2000. He recently returned and was pleased to discover that, like a good wine, they have grown even more interesting with time.

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. He is a regular contributor to Trains, Railfan and Railroad, and other railroad publications, with more than fifty bylined articles and some 500 photographs in print.

Learn more about Virtual Conversations, the Center’s first-ever online conference.

Arizona Eastern Railroad train 203 emerges from Tunnel 1 and is about to enter Tunnel 2 on the steep climb out of Clifton, Arizona, on March 9, 2020. The train is hauling copper concentrate milled at Freeport-McMoRan’s Morenci Mine, the largest copper mine in North America. Photograph by Scott Lothes