Conversations 2018: April 13–15



Photographer William G. Gordon’s work from the end of steam in Appalachia was featured at Conversations 2018. In this view, Buffalo Creek & Gauley no. 14 leads Baltimore & Ohio coal cars past a harvested field in Cressmont, West Virginia, in December 1960.

2018 Conference Wrap-up

The Center’s annual Conversations conference had a capacity crowd for the fifth consecutive year. 175 attendees came from 28 states and four other countries. You can download the program (20.9 MB PDF file) or click the tab above to view photographs from the conference. We are still working on details for the 2019 conference. We will post them here when they are available. In the meantime, mark your calendars for Saturday, September 22, for Conversations West, a one-day, regional event at the California State Railroad Museum. Registrations will open in June.

2018 Information

Location: The campus of cosponsor Lake Forest College (campus map), thirty miles north of Chicago. Learn more about the City of Lake Forest online or download the PDF overview.

  • As in recent years, we will begin with a reception and dinner on Friday evening featuring live railroad-themed music by Lake Forest College’s faculty band. The reception begins at 5:00 in the Glenn Rowan House, with dinner service commencing at 6:30 in Calvin Durand Hall.
  • Saturday will feature a full day of presentations, lunch, and a reception with drinks and appetizers. The day begins at 8:30 in the Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel. Doors open at 8:00.
  • Sunday will conclude the weekend with additional presentations from 9:00-12:30 in the McCormick Auditorium of the Johnson Science Center. Doors open at 8:30.

Your Photographs: After purchasing your tickets, please send one of your recent photographs, preferably from the past year, for inclusion in a presentation of attendees’ photographs at the conference. Send one JPEG image file, either 1920 pixels wide or 1200 pixels high, to info [at]

Patrons: If you feel strongly about the conference, consider becoming a patron (use the Paypal link above). Patrons help offset travel costs for presenters, and the thirty patrons of Conversations 2017 also provided funds for scholarships in 2018. Patrons are recognized in the program and receive free tickets for all print raffles.

Scholarships: Up to four scholarships, funded by conference patrons, are available for young, new, and/or emerging photographers and artists to cover ticket prices, two nights of lodging (double occupancy), and partial travel expenses to and from the conference. New for 2018 is a panel discussion on Sunday morning where each of the docents will have the opportunity to discuss their work and answer questions. Because this is the first year for the panel, docents from previous years were eligible (and encouraged) to apply again. The deadline was December 31, 2017; applicants will be notified of their status by February 1, 2018.

Please let us know in advance if you have any special dietary needs, and we will make every effort to accommodate them.

Hotel rooms are again available at:

Use these links or mention the Center when you call to receive our special rate, which will be available until March 24 or whenever the block of rooms has been filled.

Acclaimed railroad artist John Austin is coming from England to present his work.

Dates and Times

  • Friday, April 13, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 14, 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 15, 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


  • Wallace W. Abbey’s photography by Kevin P. Keefe and Scott Lothes
  • Award-winning British painter John Austin
  • Robin Coombes on British heritage railways
  • McNair Evans on his Guggenheim-backed project featuring Amtrak passengers and workers
  • Donald W. Furler’s photography, by his son, Alan Furler
  • End of Appalachian steam by William G. Gordon
  • John Gould’s advertising art, including his work for General Electric, by Matt Kierstead
  • George Hiotis on the Baltimore & Ohio’s last staffed signal towers
  • William B. Stewart on early 20th century commercial railroad photography
  • Docent panel, moderated by David C. Lester