John W. Barriger III’s Depression-era Photography

On June 23, 2012, the National Railroad Hall of Fame in Galesburg, Illinois, inducted John Walker Barriger III (1899-1976) into its pantheon of leaders in honor of his myriad contributions to the industry. Barriger III achieved high acclaim for his leadership of federal transportation agencies and of railroads themselves. Unusually for a top executive, one of the tools Barriger III used in making decisions and prophesies was none other than photographs he made himself of railroad infrastructure. So successful was he in helping to cure the industry from the 1920s into the 1970s that he became known as “the doctor of sick railroads.” And now at least some of the 60,000 diagnostic railroad photographs he made, both for his own pleasure and as x-rays of the industry, can be considered more than tools. They can be considered art. The Center, the Hall, and the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library in St. Louis presented an exhibition of Barriger’s photography at the Ford Center for the Fine Arts at Knox College in Galesburg over the summer. The exhibition will appear in the future at the Barriger Library.

Along the Line: 1930s Railroad Photographs by John W. Barriger III

June 23 through August 26, 2012. Ford Center for the Fine Arts at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. The exhibition features thirty-four black-and-white prints of photographs made by John W. Barriger III (1899-1976), whose deep love for railroading led him to create one of the most far-reaching photographic surveys of the nation’s railroads ever undertaken. Most of the photographs in the exhibition focus on the 1930s, when Barriger led the railroad division of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a federal agency that oversaw loans to railroads during the Great Depression. After World War II, Barriger served four different railroads as president, continuing to photograph while advocating for “super-railroads.” For his myriad contributions to the industry, the National Railroad Hall of Fame in Galesburg, Illinois, inducted Barriger into its pantheon of leaders on June 23, 2012. The Center, the Hall, and the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library in St. Louis worked together to present this exhibition.

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