Trains that Passed in the Night: Photographs by O. Winston Link

Hot Shot Eastbound, Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956Photograph by O. Winston Link and copyright W. Conway Link.

January 7 through February 17, 2013; lecture by Thomas H. Garver, Link’s former assistant, on January 10, 2013. Purdue University Galleries, Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, 552 West Wood Street, West Lafayette, Indiana, 765-494-3061. The exhibition recognizes the railroad work of O. Winston Link, a Brooklyn, New York, native and commercial photographer who became well-recognized for his complex images of factory and industrial plant interiors. For Link, the steam railroad was a vital ingredient to “the good life” in America, an essential part of the fabric of our lives. It is this quality—of life, not machinery—which he captures so artfully in his photographs, showcasing the final years of steam railroading on the Norfolk & Western Railway—the last major railroad in America to operate exclusively with steam power. The broad appeal of Link’s photographs is derived not so much from the images of the steam locomotives themselves (although they are regarded as some of the best), but from the way in which their inclusion expresses the photographer’s deeply felt respect for the quality of life that the steam railroad reflected and supported for so many years in the United States.

Elegant Corrosion: Photography by Colin Winterbottom

Photograph by Colin Winterbottom.

July 1 through October 31, 2012. Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Exhibition included in normal park entrance fee of $7. Corrosion is the trace of history across the face of its artifacts. Decades of rain, dew, and oxygen against the steel and iron giants dotting the Steamtown NHS rail yards have left their marks on the behemoths in the form of rust, stains, and peeling paint. Some see these marks as scars, degrading the mighty engines and hefty cars to useless relics; effacements that prove their obsolescence. Others look closer and find beauty in the corrosion. Using macro-photography camera lenses, photographer Colin Winterbottom has enlarged the smallest details in the decay to the point of abstraction. Isolating the textures, patterns, shapes, lines and colors from the wider context of the rail yard, the photographs take on a very different quality. The viewer’s mind often tries to create context for the images, a process that is as engaging as the photos themselves.

Along the Line: 1930s Railroad Photographs by John W. Barriger III

June 23 through August 26, 2012. Ford Center for the Fine Arts at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. The exhibition features thirty-four black-and-white prints of photographs made by John W. Barriger III (1899-1976), whose deep love for railroading led him to create one of the most far-reaching photographic surveys of the nation’s railroads ever undertaken. Most of the photographs in the exhibition focus on the 1930s, when Barriger led the railroad division of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a federal agency that oversaw loans to railroads during the Great Depression. After World War II, Barriger served four different railroads as president, continuing to photograph while advocating for “super-railroads.” For his myriad contributions to the industry, the National Railroad Hall of Fame in Galesburg, Illinois, inducted Barriger into its pantheon of leaders on June 23, 2012. The Center, the Hall, and the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library in St. Louis worked together to present this exhibition.

American Railroad China: The J.W. Christopher Railroad China Collection

June 29, 2012, through March 3, 2013. National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Exhibition from one of the world’s most extensive and exclusive collections of vintage railroad dining car china. Collector Jay Christopher grew up riding trains from his home in Chicago to visit relatives in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and his fond memories of the dining cars from the those trains sparked his interest in collecting china from railroads throughout the country. “It got a little out of hand,” he said with a laugh at the exhibition’s opening breakfast on June 28. The National Railroad Museum is showcasing some 600 of the approximately 6,000 pieces in Christopher’s collection. In addition to full place settings and serving dishes from dozens of railroads, highlights include such rarities as an 1880s plate from one of Fred Harvey’s restaurants, and a plate used on the “Delmonico,” the first railroad dining car, which operated on the Chicago & Alton. There are also menus, uniforms, linens, special children’s pieces, and more. Visit the National Railroad Museum’s website for more information.

Union Pacific’s 150th Anniversary

Multiple exhibitions in Omaha, Nebraska, and throughout the country in honor of Union Pacific’s 150th Anniversary. On May 11, a new exhibition opens at the Union Pacific Museum in Omaha. Photographs by A.J. Russell will be on display June 30 through September 16, 2012, at Joslyn Museum of Art, 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha.