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.

Impossible Railroad: San Diego & Arizona Eastern

Through March 2013. San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park. Opening reception on March 23, 2012, from 6:00-9:30 p.m. Featuring Richard Steinheimer’s photographs of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad. The exhibit is compiled and curated by Shirley Burman Steinheimer and honors the museum’s John Rotsart, a long-time supporter of the Steinheimers. Along with the exhibit, the reissue of Impossible Railroad to DVD will go on sale. In this updated version, there will be a new segment featuring Steinheimer’s images and interviews with Ted Benson and Shirley. Steinheimer passed away on May 4 of this year. A legend among railroad photographers, he leaves a tremendous legacy. The quality and quantity of his work were immense, befitting his towering height—6 feet 6 inches. You can see a small selection of his work on

Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden

Central Vermont Railway locomotive no. 707, White River Jct., Vermont, 1957. Photo by David Plowden.Photo copyright David Plowden.

September 23 through December 11. Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering, 1025 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The exhibition features 30 photographs from Plowden’s new book, Requiem for Steam, all made by the photographer in his digital darkroom and rivaling his gelatin silver prints for visual impact. Railroads, and particularly steam locomotives, were among Plowden’s first subjects, and many of the photographs feature American and Canadian steam operations from 1954 through 1960. Plowden has continued to document the railroad landscape, and the latest photograph is from 2004, although the photographer is quick to note, “There’s nary a diesel in sight!” Plowden will give a presentation and book signing on Friday, October 21. The exhibition is sponsored by the Center and will be ready to travel in 2012. Contact Scott Lothes (scott [at] for more information about booking the show for your museum or gallery.

Rail Travel Writing and Photography Workshop

October 16-21, 2011, Depot Inn & Suites, La Plata, Missouri (on the route of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief). A Rail Travel Writing and Photography Workshop for railfans, journalists, writers, bloggers and camera fans of all skill levels. The workshop is sponsored by the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation Silver Rails Gallery and will be taught by two noted TrainWeb field reporters—Carl Morrison, a widely published professional photographer, and Henry Kisor, author of Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America. Participants will learn skills in photographing and writing about train travel, including on-board and trackside shooting, gathering information and interviewing crew and passengers, tailoring stories to specific audiences and publications. A welcome reception is on Sunday evening, October 16, and classes will be held Monday through Thursday mornings, giving plenty of time to write and go out into the field with camera and notebook in the afternoons. There will be a wrapup party Thursday evening, October 20. Tuition is $125 for all five days; special hote and rental car rates are available.