Highlights from the Thomas F. McIlwraith Collection

We’ve recently posted an album of highlights from the Thomas F. McIlwraith Collection. Shot primarily while McIlwraith was a PhD candidate at UW-Madison, the collection includes great documentation of the Milwaukee Road and Chicago and North Western in the Midwest during the 1960s. In this McIlwraith photograph, one of the Milwaukee Road’s Skytop observation-lounge cars brings up the rear of the “Morning Hiawatha” passenger train as it departs Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for Chicago on Saturday, November 12, 1966. The car is passing under “tell tales” (hanging wires used to warn workers riding car tops) for the Menomonee River drawbridge, visible at right. View the whole album here: https://railphoto-art.org/collections/mcilwraith/

Thomas F. McIlwraith Overview

  • Gift of Thomas McIlwraith
  • 848 color slides
  • 1957 to 2006
  • United States and Canada


Victor Hand’s Erie Lackawanna Railway

A new album from our Victor Hand Collection is available online. This selection features the Erie Lackawanna Railway and includes this image of passenger train no. 1203 at West End (Jersey City) New Jersey, on May 26, 1966. You can visit the gallery page here: https://railphoto-art.org/collections/victor-hand-collection/

Victor Hand Collection Overview

  • Planned Gift of Victor Hand
  • Approximately 46,000 images, mostly black-and-white and color negatives, many of the 4×5 and medium format size
  • Digitization in progress; approximately 25% complete
  • Portraits and action views of diesel and steam locomotives from the 1950s to 2000s
  • Extensive coverage of diesel in the United States, extensive coverage of international steam operations in approximately 36 countries, including France, Mexico, Spain, Germany, South Africa, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and others


John Gruber, 1936-2018

John Gruber, founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, died on October 9, 2018. His influence on the field of railroad photography is impossible to overstate, from his own paradigm-shifting black-and-white work beginning in the 1960s to his 2018 book that reexamines the lives and photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg. Beyond his own luminous work, Gruber shined a spotlight on other notable photographers while also encouraging young and emerging practitioners. Classic Trains magazine dubbed him a “provocateur of railroad photography” in a 2014 profile by Kevin Keefe. There would be no Center without Gruber’s vision and tireless efforts, and all of us here stand always on his shoulders. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek

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2019 Conferences

Save these dates for our 2019 conferences. The schedule is different than usual due to the sesquicentennial of the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad and programming related to our After Promontory project.

Conversations Transcontinental will be held March 29–30, 2019, at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art in Provo, Utah, in conjunction with the opening of our After Promontory exhibition. Registrations will open on January 2, 2019.

Conversations 2019 will be held September 13–15, 2019, at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, thirty miles north of Chicago. Registrations will open on May 1, 2019.

Check back here for more details, including information about possible additional events in conjunction with other venues hosting our After Promontory exhibition.

Friday Night Reception

Beebe & Clegg second printing

Our most recent book, Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy by John Gruber and John Ryan assisted by Mel Patrick, sold out its initial printing in just four months. The second printing is now available and with a cover price of $65; we will offer the original price of $59.95 through the end of the calendar year.

The book tells about how partners Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg introduced railroad photography and the world of railroading to wide popular audiences. The authors bring the best of Beebe and Clegg’s photographic work together in one book for the first time, using high quality duotone printing. A companion exhibition opened on September 21, 2018, at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, where it will be on display until March 31, 2019.