A Passion for Color: The Railroad Paintings of John R. Signor

Tuesday, February 21, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

Register Here

In our next free online program, John Signor will showcase his spectacular paintings of the American rail industry, with a focus on western lines. Best known for his books and bird’s-eye view maps; John will relate his journey from a high school student through various attempts to depict his passion for trains. He started by creating art in various media and culminated in a transition to oil paints nearly forty years ago. He will regale those who influenced the path of his career and the lessons he has learned along the way.


Blessed with a natural ability, John Signor always dreamed of being an artist and pursued that direction through college. He was working as a freelance graphic designer in San Francisco in 1974 when his career took a turn and he was hired out with Southern Pacific as a Brakeman/Conductor. John’s interest in railroading and his efforts as a researcher, writer, artist, and cartographer merged over time and he went on to author more than a dozen books on western railroad history and contribute to many other books and periodicals.


This event is free.

This presentation will be recorded and be made available on our YouTube page, www.youtube.com/railphotoart




Citrus Belt Retrospective. Painting by John Signor

History of the Beer Line, in-person lecture by John Kelly – Pilot Project MKE

Wednesday, February 8, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), in-person lecture
Event runs from 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Pilot Project MKE is the latest stop for the traveling photography exhibition Milwaukee’s Beer Line. The exhibition will be on view in the taproom from January 23 to February 15.

On Wednesday, February 8, local historian John Kelly will deliver a history of the Beer Line. The event starts at 6:00 pm and the lecture begins at 7:00 pm. Pilot Project will be hosting beer specials and 15% of the proceeds made during the event will be donated to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.   

Pilot Project: 1128 N 9th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233

The exhibition Milwaukee’s Beer Line was curated and produced by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. Since statehood, beer has played an integral role in the growth of Wisconsin’s industry while bringing Milwaukee national fame. What might be less obvious, but no less important, was the profound role that rail transportation played in this story. The traveling photography exhibition Milwaukee’s Beer Line narrates the rise, fall, and rise again of Milwaukee’s beer industry through the eyes of the Milwaukee Road’s Beer Line, a branch line that serviced the city’s three biggest breweries – Schlitz, Pabst, and Blatz – in the mid-century.

This event is free to attend


Learn more about the Center for Railroad Photography & Art:

Learn more about Pilot Project:




Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey, collection of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Abbey-01-148-07

The Lady Engineer and the Train: Remembering Olive W. Dennis and The Cincinnatian

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

Registration Closed

Join Sharon Harwood in an immersive experience aboard the first run of the B&O’s Cincinnatian passenger train in January 1947. City officials, press, and railroad executives gathered for ribbon-cutting ceremonies in Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and the Washington, D.C., Union Station as the B&O Railroad presented its new daylight luxury streamliner. The Cincinnatian would become one of the most admired trains of its era, remembered even today for its beauty and amenities. The onboard experience was the creation of a remarkable civil engineer, Olive Wetzel Dennis. In this presentation, historian Sharon Harwood will detail her contributions to the B&O Railroad as a ‘real railroader’ and take us on the inaugural run of this remarkable train.

Sharon A. Harwood is a retired educator and administrator from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. Pursuing her interests in railroad history, she now reaches out to railroad historical societies and community groups presenting information about the life and achievements of Olive Wetzel Dennis, Engineer of Service on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad 1920-1950.


The event is free. A recording of this presentation WILL NOT be posted publicly. Registrants are encouraged to view this presentation live.




The Cincinnatian was designed by Olive W. Dennis and put into service in 1947. Courtesy of Underwood Archives/Getty Images.

The Role of Technology: 2023 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program

The 2023 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program theme is The Role of Technology. This year’s theme will explore how technology has shaped—and continues to inform— how railroads operate, look and perform across time, place and season. Photographers are encouraged to visually interpret the theme expressing how technology impacts the evolving nature of railroads.  

Participants are welcome to submit up to 3 images in either color and/or black-and-white format. Digital and film images are acceptable. However, film images should be submitted as scans in JPG format with one side of the image at least 1500 pixels. Digital manipulation of the images is acceptable but not required.  


Submission deadline: May 1, 2023

Awards notification: August 1, 2023

Learn more: www.railphoto-art.org/technology-awards/

Metra Bi-level Cab Car – Push Pull Technology, 2015. Photograph by Todd Halamka.

Virtual Conversations 2022

Saturday, November 19, 2022
11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom / 9-12:30pm PT / 12-3:20 pm ET

All recordings available on YouTube

Virtual Conversations returns on Saturday, November 19 with a loaded half-day roster of exceptional presenters.

This event is free.


Brice Douglas, “More Than Just a Train” | 11:15 am CT

Douglas’ presentation will take the audience behind-the-scenes of what it means to be a “boomer,” a seasonal railroad worker that takes jobs across the US. Along the way, he’ll also take a closer look at the remnants of the Milwaukee Road Lines West forty years post-abandonment and offer a glimpse of the Alaska Railroad, which is preparing for its 100th anniversary in 2023. Douglas will showcase the people and machinery that keep the wheels rolling up north in the Last Frontier.

 Brice Douglas is a fifth generation railroader, currently working for the Alaska Railroad as a conductor.  At only twenty-eight years old, he has spent the last decade as a “boomer” working seasonal train service jobs on railroads throughout the United States. He enjoys photography, backcountry camping, and documenting history. He has a special passion for the two-lane roads that crisscross rural America as well as his beloved dog that travels everywhere with him – Miss Montana Red.


 CRP&A Collections Update | 12:00 pm CT

Archivist Adrienne Evans will present updates on the Railroad Heritage Visual Archive, featuring new accessions and recent progress on processing the John Gruber, John Illman, David Mainey, Henry Posner, and Jim Shaughnessy collections. Associate Archivist Heather Sonntag will join her later on in the presentation to discuss processing highlights from Richard Steinheimer’s phenomenal slides and prints.


Emily Moser, “Sweden’s Colorful Cave Stations” | 1:00 pm CT

Many transit systems have introduced public art to their stations, but none may be as notable as the 65.7-mile-long Stockholm Tunnelbana, known as “the world’s longest art exhibition.” A remarkable 95 percent of the system’s stations have some type of art found within, but the most well-known are the brightly painted cave stations, whose unique designs have become a signature of the Tunnelbana.

Emily Moser has a lifelong passion for railroads and their environment, especially stations and their architecture and artwork. As an amblyope born with diminished visual acuity, her work focuses on the camera as an alternate eye, capturing the world in HDR and long exposures, beyond what a human eye would be capable. Moser has traveled the world in her pursuit of interesting subjects, from Japan’s cat trains to the partially abandoned railway running through the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, and has operated the railroad themed blog “I Ride the Harlem Line” since 2008. She plans to publish a book on the definitive history of the New York and Harlem Railroad “one of these days.


Andrew Lynch, “Mapping the Underground and Unseen City” | 1:45 pm CT

Join Lynch as he walks us through how he puts together one of his highly detailed track maps. These maps combine an incredible number of historical sources with on the ground surveys. The idea is not to show just what exists, but to tell a story about how a city has evolved over time. “The number one question I get about these maps is about how I make them. I don’t like to really talk about it because I think people will think I’m insane.” Take a trip into his insanity by going down the rabbit hole in “Mapping the Underground and Unseen City.”

Andrew Lynch is a self-taught cartographer of almost twenty years. He has been fascinated with the unseen sides of cities for most of his life, focused on unbuilt projects, abandoned lines, and lost futures. Lynch began his obsession as a teenager, exploring and photographing abandoned buildings and underground tunnels. He taught himself how to draw maps as a way to describe what he was learning and soon found a rich history of alternative futures that remain unrealized. Today, Lynch documents these layers of history in his Geographically Accurate track maps of the transit networks of various cities. He is also the co-founder of the QueensLink project, a dual transit and parkway concept to reuse an abandoned rail line in Queens, New York City.








The last Milwaukee Road train through Shonkin, Montana is long gone, but a few relics remain, including an elevator and a semi-restored depot. Photograph by Brice Douglas.


Scott Sayre, a 31-year old ATSF trainman and aspiring artist, is painting a watercolor trackside at Orwood, California, on January 30, 1985. Photograph by Richard Steinheimer.


Rådhuset (1975, Sigvard Olsson)
Like an underground archaeological dig, Rådhuset imagines the fragments of Kungsholmen island’s history descending through the ground and appearing in the cave, such as the base of the chimney from a long-gone factory appearing next to the modern escalators. Photograph by Emily Moser.


Andrew Lynch uses a variety of modern and historic maps to track changes in the urban landscape and discover lost pieces of history to be added to his maps.