Virtual Conversations: Return to Copper Country

Our first presentation for Virtual Conversations is “Return to Copper Country: Rediscovering the railroads of Clifton and Morenci, Arizona,” by Scott Lothes. View it now on YouTube.

The copper mining region of far eastern Arizona is home to spectacular railroading and intriguing industrial history. Lothes, the Center’s president and executive director, became fascinated with the area during a college internship in 2000. He recently returned and was pleased to discover that, like a good wine, they have grown even more interesting with time.

Lothes became the Center’s full-time executive director in 2011, after serving on its staff part-time since 2008. In 2013 he succeeded John Gruber as president and editor of the Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage. He is a regular contributor to Trains, Railfan and Railroad, and other railroad publications, with more than fifty bylined articles and some 500 photographs in print.

Learn more about Virtual Conversations, the Center’s first-ever online conference.

Arizona Eastern Railroad train 203 emerges from Tunnel 1 and is about to enter Tunnel 2 on the steep climb out of Clifton, Arizona, on March 9, 2020. The train is hauling copper concentrate milled at Freeport-McMoRan’s Morenci Mine, the largest copper mine in North America. Photograph by Scott Lothes

Virtual Conversations

Railroads connect us across time and space. And in these unprecedented times, we could all use a few more (socially-distanced) connections.

We hope you will connect with us on Saturday, April 18, when the Center for Railroad Photography & Art hosts our first-ever online conference, Virtual Conversations.

We had planned to host our annual Conversations conference over the weekend of April 17-19 at Lake Forest College, just north of Chicago. On Monday, March 16, we made the difficult decision to cancel that event. But our community still has so many stories to tell and images to share, and digital technology provides us more ways to connect now than ever before. So the show will go on!

Please save the date of April 18. Virtual Conversations is a free event, open to anyone who wishes to join. We will send more details as the day draws closer.

Register to receive email updates, and stay tuned here as well as on Facebook and Instagram.

Palouse Falls, Washington, 2011. Photograph by Scott Lothes

Conversations 2020: cancelled

With the rapidly evolving situation of the coronavirus/COVID-19 and the CDC’s recommendation not to hold gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art has come to the difficult decision to cancel Conversations 2020.

Please know that we will gladly refund all registration fees for both the conference presentations and dinner options. We have decided not to offer rollover rates for next year’s conference due to our fiscal-year accounting as well as the uncertainty of next year’s expenses and fees. Please send an email to or call Hailey Paige at 608-251-5785, extension 103. We should be able to issue refunds via Paypal promptly; refunds by check will take more time and we ask for your patience.

If you have already made a hotel reservation at the Hilton Garden, Residence Inn, or another local hotel, please note that you will need to cancel these reservations. Contact information for the Hilton Garden and Residence Inn:

  • Hilton Garden: (847) 735-8374
  • Residence Inn: (847) 615-2701

We will bring as many of this year’s scheduled presenters as possible to Conversations 2021. We expect next year’s conference to take place at Lake Forest College at roughly this same time of year. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Thank you so much for your understanding of this unprecedented situation and your enthusiasm for our community. We look forward to getting everyone together next year under better circumstances.

The staff and board of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art

We’re moving!

We are enjoying a time of expansive growth at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, and we head into the new year heading for new and much larger offices in Madison, Wisconsin. Over the next few weeks, we will be moving out of our three-room suite at 313 Price Place and into an eight-room suite at 1930 Monroe Street. In addition to providing us with the room we need to grow, the move is also something of a homecoming for us. Our original offices were located right down the street at 1914 Monroe. We look forward to returning to our roots while reaching ever higher.

During the move, we ask your patience as we will need extra time to respond to your requests. We look forward to being in touch with you as we settle into our new space, and we hope you will come visit.

Our new address, effective January 17, 2020:

Center for Railroad Photography & Art
1930 Monroe Street, Suite 301
Madison, Wisconsin 53711

Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey

2020 Conferences

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art will host two conferences in 2020:

Conversations 2020

Conversations Northeast

  • September 19
  • University of Connecticut at Storrs
  • Registrations open June 1

We hope to see you at one or both of them!

Samuel Phillips will share his photography of contemporary railroading in Appalachia at Conversations 2020.