Conversations 2016



Overland Limited in Wyoming, by Lucius BeebeUnion Pacific westbound freight train climbing Wyoming’s Sherman Hill in the 1940s. Photograph by Lucius Beebe, courtesy of the California State Railroad Museum, and from John Gruber and John Ryan’s presentation about the lives and photography of Beebe and Charles Clegg at Conversations 2016.
Review of Conversations 2016

The Center’s annual Conversations conference sold out for the third consecutive year, with 180 attendees coming to Lake Forest College, thirty miles north of Chicago, from thirty-seven different states and four foreign countries. The weekend included lively social hours, stimulating discussions, and a diverse lineup of informative, engaging, and entertaining presentations. Friday featured an opening reception banquet with live music by Charlie Castner and Ron Flanary, and a photography exhibition by John Sanderson.

Saturday’s full day of presentations began with Wendy Burton and Kevin Keefe discussing their new book, Railroad Vision, followed by artist J. Craig Thorpe’s engaging look at concept art. Tony Reevy shared photographer Jack Delano’s trip across the Santa Fe from his recent book about Delano, while Ron Hill gave a retrospective of his black-and-white photography. Sanderson presented his railroad landscapes, and Steve Patterson concluded the with a lively look back at his career as both railroader and photographer. A reception followed in the college’s elegant Glen Rowan House with print and book sales and signings.

Todd Halamka kicked off Sunday morning with his stunning color photography from around the world, and then Steve Barry provided an introduction to drones and railroad photography. Emily Moser shared her photography and reflections from “Riding the Harlem Line and Beyond.” Alan Shaw offered a look at Australia’s quirky railroads, while John Gruber and John Ryan wrapped up with the weekend and a detailed look at the lives and photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg.

For an interesting look, or rather listen, of the conference check out this sound piece made by friend of the Center, Richard Koenig.

Mark your calendars now for Conversations 2017, April 28-30 at Lake Forest College.

Cheyenne in the 1960s, by Ron HillTwo Union Pacific eastbound freight trains, led by “big blow” turbine X-15 and U50 no. 42, wait to enter the yard in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on April 3, 1965. Photograph by Ron Hill

City of New Orleans, by J. Craig ThorpeOil on canvas painting showing the Pullman Rail Journeys addition to Amtrak’s City of New Orleans by 2016 presenter J. Craig Thorpe

Milwaukee Road in Montana, by Steve Patterson
Milwaukee Road “Little Joe” electric no. E71 leading an eastbound freight train at Cyr, Montana, on August 9, 1973. Photograph by 2016 presenter Steve Patterson


Friday, April 8 (Glen Rowan House, 5:30–9:00 p.m.)

  • Reception with photography exhibition by John Sanderson
  • Dinner in Calvin Durand Hall of the Mohr Student Center

Saturday, April 9 (Chapel, 8:30–5:00)

  • Wendy Burton and Kevin Keefe
    Railroad Vision
  • Ron Hill
  • Steve Patterson
    Which one: a railroader or a railfan?
  • Tony Reevy
    Jack Delano: Across the Continent on the Santa Fe
  • John Sanderson
    Railroad landscapes
  • J. Craig Thorpe
    Painting the possible: rail concept art
  • Reception, Glen Rowan House, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 10 (McCormick Auditorium, 9:00–1:00)

  • John Gruber and John Ryan
    Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg
  • Emily Moser
    Riding the Harlem Line and beyond
  • Alan Shaw
    Australia’s quirky railroads
  • Steve Barry
    Drone Photography
  • Todd Halamka
    Of light, landscape, and the echo of trains