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, www.youtube.com/railphotoart




Citrus Belt Retrospective. Painting by John Signor

History of the Beer Line, in-person lecture by John Kelly – Pilot Project MKE

Wednesday, February 8, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), in-person lecture
Event runs from 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Pilot Project MKE is the latest stop for the traveling photography exhibition Milwaukee’s Beer Line. The exhibition will be on view in the taproom from January 23 to February 15.

On Wednesday, February 8, local historian John Kelly will deliver a history of the Beer Line. The event starts at 6:00 pm and the lecture begins at 7:00 pm. Pilot Project will be hosting beer specials and 15% of the proceeds made during the event will be donated to the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.   

Pilot Project: 1128 N 9th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233

The exhibition Milwaukee’s Beer Line was curated and produced by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. Since statehood, beer has played an integral role in the growth of Wisconsin’s industry while bringing Milwaukee national fame. What might be less obvious, but no less important, was the profound role that rail transportation played in this story. The traveling photography exhibition Milwaukee’s Beer Line narrates the rise, fall, and rise again of Milwaukee’s beer industry through the eyes of the Milwaukee Road’s Beer Line, a branch line that serviced the city’s three biggest breweries – Schlitz, Pabst, and Blatz – in the mid-century.

This event is free to attend


Learn more about the Center for Railroad Photography & Art:

Learn more about Pilot Project:




Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey, collection of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, Abbey-01-148-07

Rio Grande Steam Finale: Narrow gauge railroad photography in Colorado and New Mexico

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, editors Scott Lothes and Elrond Lawrence gathered 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.

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.

  • Hardcover, 10×10 inches, 228 pages, more than 200 photographs and two essays
  • Endpaper map and elevation profile by David Styffe
  • $60 plus $5 for domestic shipping
  • International shipping is available; please inquire by email at info [at] railphoto-art.org

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

The Lady Engineer and the Train: Remembering Olive W. Dennis and The Cincinnatian

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
7:00 p.m. (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom

Registration Closed

Join Sharon Harwood in an immersive experience aboard the first run of the B&O’s Cincinnatian passenger train in January 1947. City officials, press, and railroad executives gathered for ribbon-cutting ceremonies in Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and the Washington, D.C., Union Station as the B&O Railroad presented its new daylight luxury streamliner. The Cincinnatian would become one of the most admired trains of its era, remembered even today for its beauty and amenities. The onboard experience was the creation of a remarkable civil engineer, Olive Wetzel Dennis. In this presentation, historian Sharon Harwood will detail her contributions to the B&O Railroad as a ‘real railroader’ and take us on the inaugural run of this remarkable train.

Sharon A. Harwood is a retired educator and administrator from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. Pursuing her interests in railroad history, she now reaches out to railroad historical societies and community groups presenting information about the life and achievements of Olive Wetzel Dennis, Engineer of Service on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad 1920-1950.


The event is free. A recording of this presentation WILL NOT be posted publicly. Registrants are encouraged to view this presentation live.




The Cincinnatian was designed by Olive W. Dennis and put into service in 1947. Courtesy of Underwood Archives/Getty Images.

The Role of Technology: 2023 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program

The 2023 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program theme is The Role of Technology. This year’s theme will explore how technology has shaped—and continues to inform— how railroads operate, look and perform across time, place and season. Photographers are encouraged to visually interpret the theme expressing how technology impacts the evolving nature of railroads.  

Participants are welcome to submit up to 3 images in either color and/or black-and-white format. Digital and film images are acceptable. However, film images should be submitted as scans in JPG format with one side of the image at least 1500 pixels. Digital manipulation of the images is acceptable but not required.  


Submission deadline: May 1, 2023

Awards notification: August 1, 2023

Learn more: www.railphoto-art.org/technology-awards/

Metra Bi-level Cab Car – Push Pull Technology, 2015. Photograph by Todd Halamka.