Center Book Features Outstanding Beebe/Clegg Photography

Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, a new book from the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, tells about how partners Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg introduced railroad photography and the world of railroading to wide popular audiences. The authors, John Gruber and John Ryan assisted by Mel Patrick, bring the best of their photographic work together in one book for the first time, using high quality duotone printing.

The 224-page book goes on sale for $59.95 at the Center’s Conversations conference April 13–15 at Lake Forest (Illinois) College. Copies may be ordered on the Center’s website and will be shipped immediately after the conference. A traveling exhibit is in the works.

Beebe (1902–1966) was known for the three-quarters or wedge of pie perspective in his photography. Clegg (1916–1979) introduced a more innovative outlook, boosting creativity for both of them. Their photographs shine in this new book, produced with the best of modern digitization, design, and printing techniques.

Beebe and Clegg met at a party in Washington, D.C., in 1941. Beebe already was an established author and newspaper reporter. He wrote a column, “This New York,” about the city’s Cafe Society for the New York Herald Tribune and had three railroad books under his belt. He and Clegg established a lifelong personal and professional partnership. Their openly gay lifestyle, at a time when it was not generally accepted outside New York City’s upper crust, did not seem to interfere with their ability to obtain cooperation from railroad officials, promotional support from the news media, or profitable book sales.

After service in the navy during World War II, Clegg quickly learned photography and traveled with Beebe across the country. The two made photos and gathered information for their books, which hit a high point with Mixed Train Daily. Following its release in 1947, they started incorporating other photographers in their books.

They left the east behind in 1950, moving to Virginia City, Nevada, and continuing their writing and publishing venture. Together, they purchased rights to the historic Virginia City newspaper, the Territorial Enterprise, and served as editor and publisher. Beebe wrote the column “This Wild West” for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1960 until his death.

Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photography Legacy includes 222 images from the California State Railroad Museum Library and Archives, all scanned from negatives and carefully cleaned and checked, revealing surprises. Many are previously unpublished. In ten of Clegg’s photos Beebe shows up in a corner. In their books, Beebe was cropped off, so these previously published photos have a new perspective. In addition to the CSRM collection, 36 images come from other sources.

In her introduction, Ann Clegg Holloway, Clegg’s younger sister, fondly recalls traveling with “Chuck” and Lucius in their private cars. She enjoyed a celebraton of the publication of Mixed Train Daily with champagne and elegant food on a mixed train of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad, featured in “Life Goes to a Party” in the country’s leading pictorial weekly. The family assisted in the book project and provided photos of Chuck and Lucius for the publication. Ann and her husband, John Ennis Holloway, donated the Beebe/Clegg collection to the California museum. Earlier, Beebe and Clegg donated their first private car, the Gold Coast, to the museum, where it is on display today.

The book through eight chapters traces Beebe and Clegg’s life and times together, their visual influences, short lines, narrow gauge lines, Nevada and the Virginia & Truckee, and their photography. “Their legacy is larger than the publications they produced, for they demonstrated that railroads serve America as an icon of its experience,” the authors conclude.

Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, a hardcover, 8.5×11-inch, 224-page book, published by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art in 2018, is on sale for $59.95.
Lucius Beebe, left, and Charles Clegg pose along the tracks of the Southern Pacific narrow gauge in the Owens Valley of California in the 1940s. Courtesy of the California State Railroad Museum, BC3411