Conversations 2020: cancelled

With the rapidly evolving situation of the coronavirus/COVID-19 and the CDC’s recommendation not to hold gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art has come to the difficult decision to cancel Conversations 2020.

Please know that we will gladly refund all registration fees for both the conference presentations and dinner options. We have decided not to offer rollover rates for next year’s conference due to our fiscal-year accounting as well as the uncertainty of next year’s expenses and fees. Please send an email to or call Hailey Paige at 608-251-5785, extension 103. We should be able to issue refunds via Paypal promptly; refunds by check will take more time and we ask for your patience.

If you have already made a hotel reservation at the Hilton Garden, Residence Inn, or another local hotel, please note that you will need to cancel these reservations. Contact information for the Hilton Garden and Residence Inn:

  • Hilton Garden: (847) 735-8374
  • Residence Inn: (847) 615-2701

We will bring as many of this year’s scheduled presenters as possible to Conversations 2021. We expect next year’s conference to take place at Lake Forest College at roughly this same time of year. Stay tuned for more details to come.

Thank you so much for your understanding of this unprecedented situation and your enthusiasm for our community. We look forward to getting everyone together next year under better circumstances.

The staff and board of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art

We’re moving!

We are enjoying a time of expansive growth at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, and we head into the new year heading for new and much larger offices in Madison, Wisconsin. Over the next few weeks, we will be moving out of our three-room suite at 313 Price Place and into an eight-room suite at 1930 Monroe Street. In addition to providing us with the room we need to grow, the move is also something of a homecoming for us. Our original offices were located right down the street at 1914 Monroe. We look forward to returning to our roots while reaching ever higher.

During the move, we ask your patience as we will need extra time to respond to your requests. We look forward to being in touch with you as we settle into our new space, and we hope you will come visit.

Our new address, effective January 17, 2020:

Center for Railroad Photography & Art
1930 Monroe Street, Suite 301
Madison, Wisconsin 53711

Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey

2020 Conferences

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art will host two conferences in 2020:

Conversations 2020

Conversations Northeast

  • September 19
  • University of Connecticut at Storrs
  • Registrations open June 1

We hope to see you at one or both of them!

Samuel Phillips will share his photography of contemporary railroading in Appalachia at Conversations 2020.

The Center Honors John Gruber (founder, 1936-2018) with local exhibition Faces of Railroading at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin

Faces of Railroading: The Making of Madison and Dane County is currently on display in the Art Court at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin from August 6, 2019 to January 26, 2020.

The exhibition looks at the historic role railroaders played in the development of Dane County, Wisconsin, home of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. Through historic and contemporary photographs, the exhibition creates a visual conversation about the significance of railroad workers and how railroads impacted the structure of Madison’s neighborhoods, creating both physical and cultural spaces.

Special attention is given to railroader neighborhoods and their geographic proximity to the railroad yards. The exhibition takes a focused look on the individual workers, the unsung heroes of the rail lines, and highlights the importance of the industry in the growth of the city of Madison, Dane country, and the surrounding service area.

The exhibition was curated and heavily features the work of John Gruber, founder of Center for Railroad Photography & Art, who died on October 9, 2018. His influence on the field of railroad photography is impossible to overstate, from his own black-and-white work beginning in the 1960s to his 2018 book that reexamines the lives and photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg. Classic Trains magazine dubbed him a “provocateur of railroad photography” in a 2014 profile by Kevin Keefe.

The exhibition also features photographs by Henry Koshollek, Richard Gruber, Robert Eineke, and William D. Middleton, plus images from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek

Don Furler’s Lehigh and New England Railroad

A new album from our Donald W. Furler Collection is available online. This selection features a small but mighty anthracite hauler, the Lehigh and New England Railroad, and includes this view of 2-10-0 steam locomotive no. 403 leading a seventy-car freight train east through Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Gap in 1946. View the gallery here:

Donald W. Furler Collection Overview

  • Gift of Alan G. Furler
  • Approximately 7,000 images, mostly 5×7 black-and-white negatives
  • Digitization complete
  • Portraits and action views of steam locomotives from the 1930s to 1950s
  • Extensive coverage of steam operations in the northeastern United States