Collections from the UK’s National Railway Museum

Presented Ed Bartholomew 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023
12:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

Available on YouTube

Ed Bartholomew is Lead Curator at the National Railway Museum in York, England, where he has worked since 1995, having joined as Curator of the Photographic Collections. His role at the NRM includes the curation of the museum’s collections, ranging from archives to objects. He is particularly interested in the impact of railways on the landscape, their visual representation in photography, art and posters, and the promotion of railways through publicity and marketing.  His publications include Railways in Focus (with Michael Blakemore) an account of the National Railway Museum photographic collections (Atlantic Transport, 1998).

Photography grew up alongside the mechanized railway, and Bartholomew’s talk will showcase the NRM’s photographic collections from their origins to the present day, encompassing 170 years of photography. It will illustrate the breadth of the collection, with examples of the official photographs that documented the work of railway companies and advertised their services, alongside images by many skilled enthusiasts, who spent hours at the lineside in search of the perfect shot.


This event is free.
This presentation will be recorded and be made available on our YouTube page,





Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway’s steel foundry at Horwich works in 1919. Image by a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway photographer. Credit: Science Museum Group

All-star photographers to headline Rio Grande narrow gauge book

We’re thrilled to announce the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s next hardcover book, Rio Grande Steam Finale, to be released October 1, 2023.

In the 1950s and 1960s, many of the nation’s greatest railroad photographers journeyed to southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico to document the final years of the Denver & Rio Grande Western’s spectacular narrow-gauge railway. They were driven by a fever for which there was no cure: the chance to photograph half-century-old trains operating on rails spaced three feet apart, the last remnants of an empire.

Drawing from thousands of images of the Rio Grande narrow gauge in the Center’s archive, this book gathers the finest work on this rich subject by Tom Gildersleeve, John Gruber, Victor Hand, Don Hofsommer, Jim Shaughnessy, Fred Springer, Richard Steinheimer, and Karl Zimmermann. Inside Rio Grande Steam Finale you’ll find a stunning gallery of black & white and color images, lavishly presented and many published for the first time, covering the narrow gauge from Alamosa to Chama, Durango, Farmington, and Silverton.

The trains are captured in furious action, climbing steep mountain grades, crossing high trestles, winding beside rivers, and traveling vast flatlands. Thundering steam locomotives billow plumes of smoke, some doubled together at the head end and some assisted by rear helpers placed ahead of timeworn cabooses; they’re seen from trackside, from hilltops, from pacing cars, and from inside the cab. Exquisite scenes at day, night, and dusk capture the railroad people, engine houses, rolling stock, lineside structures, and magnificent scenery that shaped the Rio Grande’s legendary narrow gauge system.

Engaging essays by Hofsommer and Zimmermann, both of whom experienced the narrow gauge first-hand in the 1960s, provide context and personal insights. Extensive captions add context to the stories of the photographs, which trace the pattern of typical train operations of the era. The book concludes with a chapter of color images of today’s Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Edited by Scott Lothes and Elrond Lawrence, the 10×10 book includes a map by David Styffe and nearly 200 outstanding photographs. The book will sell for $60. Pre-order information will be announced in August on our website and on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Cover photo: Denver & Rio Grande Western locomotives 497 and 487 hammer up the four percent grade to Cumbres, Colorado, under a dramatic sky at Windy Point on October 3, 1967. Photograph by Victor Hand

Inside the Ronald C. Hill Collection

Presented by Heather Sonntag, with special guests Jeff Brouws and Tim Tonge

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

YouTube Link

After spending nearly 15 months processing the Ronald C. Hill Collection of approximately 27,000 items including color transparencies, negatives, and prints, Heather Sonntag sees Ron Hill as “the whole rail-fan package.” Join us to hear how Heather first learned about railroad photography through Ron’s impeccable camera work that spans 60 years from 1957 to 2018. She will provide an overview of Ron’s long career in heritage train preservation, book publishing, darkroom printing, and rail-fan tripping. Also focusing on his color slides, Heather will showcase Ron’s tremendous “roadside railroad photography” (coined by Jeff Brouws) from the Center’s Visual Heritage Archive, celebrating the many zingers along the mainlines and narrow gauge tracks in Ron’s beloved Rocky Mountain West and elsewhere across North America.

Ronald C. Hill (1937-2023) recently passed away on January 23, 2023, at the age of 85. Ron gifted his collection to the Center, which spans from the 1950s to the 2010s and includes coverage from much of the United States, western Canada, and Europe. Read more about Ron’s tremendous legacy on our website:


Heather Sonntag joined the Center in 2020 as an associate archivist. She holds a doctorate in cultural history with a focus on 19th-century photography albums and a master’s of library and information studies from UW-Madison. She has interned with the Library of Congress, and also works as an assistant archivist of visual materials at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Jeff Brouws is a member of the board of directors for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and had been a friend to Ron Hill for over 50 years. He brings the Center knowledge of 19th and 20th-century photography and a broad background in publishing, with seven photography books to his credit. His photographs can be found in numerous public and private collections.

Tim Tonge is a member of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and knew Ron Hill since 1977 when he met him at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Tim was browsing the book section and admiring one in particular, which he voiced out loud to the man next to him. The stranger (and coincidentally author of that publication) said “thank you.” That began a 45-year friendship between Ron and Tim. The two have traveled together across California, New Mexico, and Wyoming as well as the CRP&A conferences.


This event is free.
This presentation will be recorded and be made available on our YouTube page,





Ron Hill at Tehachapi, California, in 1977. Photograph by Jeff Brouws


Canadian Pacific FM C-liner no. 4052 at Fernie, British Columbia, Canada, on August 20, 1966. Photograph by Ron Hill, Hill-21-02-17

Valentine’s Day Special – Join or renew to get a free issue of Railroad Heritage 2018:3

We love our members! This Valentine’s Day we want to celebrate the best part of our organization – YOU! Be one of the first 15 people to join or renew between February 7-14 to receive a special Valentine’s edition of our journal Railroad Heritage 2018:3. Join or renew at

*UPDATE: All issues have been taken, thanks for your support!

In this heartfelt issue, Kate Botkin regales readers on how she “married into” railroading. Her cover story What I Did For Love tells how she ultimately fell in love with railroad photography after marrying and traveling to more than twenty countries with her husband Bill Botkin. Kate’s skills grew and she became a talented photographer in her own right. Both Kate and Bill Botkin have promised their collections to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.

Other articles include:

  • Railroad Expressionism: Trains, loneliness, and hope in the art of Catherine Gibbs
  • Looking Again: After Promontory – How photographers have viewed transcontinental railroads
  • Inside the Exhibition: Wallace W. Abbey
  • Fashionable People Traveling By Train: The first modern Dutch railway posters
  • Out of the Archives: Metadata revisited: best practices and prioritizing 
Cover image: Jitong Railway QJ class 2-10-2 steam locomotive no. 6986 westbound at Yuzhoudi, China, at sunrise on December 14, 2004. Photograph by Kate Botkin

A Passion for Color: The Railroad Paintings of John R. Signor

Tuesday, February 21, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

Available on YouTube

In our next free online program, John Signor will showcase his spectacular paintings of the American rail industry, with a focus on western lines. Best known for his books and bird’s-eye view maps; John will relate his journey from a high school student through various attempts to depict his passion for trains. He started by creating art in various media and culminated in a transition to oil paints nearly forty years ago. He will regale those who influenced the path of his career and the lessons he has learned along the way.


Blessed with a natural ability, John Signor always dreamed of being an artist and pursued that direction through college. He was working as a freelance graphic designer in San Francisco in 1974 when his career took a turn and he was hired out with Southern Pacific as a Brakeman/Conductor. John’s interest in railroading and his efforts as a researcher, writer, artist, and cartographer merged over time and he went on to author more than a dozen books on western railroad history and contribute to many other books and periodicals.


This event is free.

This presentation will be recorded and be made available on our YouTube page,




Citrus Belt Retrospective. Painting by John Signor