American Railroad China: The J.W. Christopher Railroad China Collection

June 29, 2012, through March 3, 2013. National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Exhibition from one of the world’s most extensive and exclusive collections of vintage railroad dining car china. Collector Jay Christopher grew up riding trains from his home in Chicago to visit relatives in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and his fond memories of the dining cars from the those trains sparked his interest in collecting china from railroads throughout the country. “It got a little out of hand,” he said with a laugh at the exhibition’s opening breakfast on June 28. The National Railroad Museum is showcasing some 600 of the approximately 6,000 pieces in Christopher’s collection. In addition to full place settings and serving dishes from dozens of railroads, highlights include such rarities as an 1880s plate from one of Fred Harvey’s restaurants, and a plate used on the “Delmonico,” the first railroad dining car, which operated on the Chicago & Alton. There are also menus, uniforms, linens, special children’s pieces, and more. Visit the National Railroad Museum’s website for more information.

Union Pacific’s 150th Anniversary

Multiple exhibitions in Omaha, Nebraska, and throughout the country in honor of Union Pacific’s 150th Anniversary. On May 11, a new exhibition opens at the Union Pacific Museum in Omaha. Photographs by A.J. Russell will be on display June 30 through September 16, 2012, at Joslyn Museum of Art, 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha.

2012 Conference Took Attendees Home and Around the World

Railroading from a home-town perspective to railroading from an around-the-world perspective captivated attendees at the Center’s tenth annual Conversations about Photography conference, April 13-15 at Lake Forest College. The importance of close-at-hand experience to railroad art was emphasized by Tom Fawell of West Chicago, whose paintings derive from his early exposure to them in his backyard. While Henry Posner III held listeners spellbound with his photographs and stories of railroad activities from around the world. On Saturday a near record 157 attendees (160 is the record) participated. Other speakers were Shirley Burman Steinheimer, Bill Botkin (who also exhibited photographs that elicited high praise), Steve Crise, Christian Goepel, Drake Hokanson, Joel Jensen, Clark Johnson, Richard Solomon, and Chris Starnes. Sponsors were Lake Forest College, the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (a first-timer), Trains and Classic Trains magazines, Canon, and Railfan & Railroad magazine. Visit the conference page for a more complete overview. The next conference will be held April 12-14, 2013, at Lake Forest College.
Friday Night Reception

Fred Springer Dies

One of America’s leading rail enthusiasts and philanthropists, Fred Springer, died in Santa Fe on April 18 at the age of 83 after a long illness. His family notified friends with an email whose subject line reads “The last train has departed.” The announcement included “words of John Wesley that Fred lived by (and lived up to, though he never thought so himself), ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can!'” The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society recently awarded Springer its 2011 senior achievement award, and a few months ago Springer and his wife, Dale, gave the Center his 87,500 railroad photographs along with a substantial sum to ensure they will be properly processed, housed, and described in a publicly accessible database. The images will be available for research at Lake Forest College’s Donnelley and Lee Library in the archives and special collections. Springer’s photographs range from the 1940s to a few years ago. See our feature on Trains Magazine’s website.

Springer Receives R&LHS Award

Fred Springer has been awarded the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s 2011 senior achievement award for his contributions to writing, preserving, and interpreting North America’s railroading history. A few months ago, Springer gave the Center his railroad photographs—about 80,000 color slides and 7,500 black-and-white negatives—along with a substantial donation (his wife joined in this element of the donation) to process them for public access and to house them in archivally correct materials. Springer started making railroad photographs in the 1940s in Colorado and New Mexico, and quickly fell in love with narrow-gauge lines. See our feature on Trains Magazine’s website.