Of Light, Landscape and the Echo of Trains, presented by Todd Halamka

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
7:00 – 8:00 PM (U.S. Central Time), on Zoom
Registration closes on Monday, May 24 at 4:30 PM (CT)

Now Available on YouTube

A selection of railroad photography by Todd Halamka comprised of his image making Process, Natural Landscapes, and Urban Landscapes.


Todd Halamka, is a practicing architect and founder of Todd Halamka + Partners in downtown Chicago, and a member of board of directors at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. His focus on railroad photography began in 2011, combining his lifelong love of trains and the outdoors with his fascination for image making.

This event is free.


In the Process section of his presentation, Todd will show a continuing interest in how still images, put together in different ways, convey context, movement, and light to elicit viewer’s emotions at a deeper level. In this case it is -40 degrees on a brutally cold Moscow, Russia morning as a unit oil train climbs the Mockba River viaduct, presented as a sequential overlay of three still images, with a progression of transparency from background to foreground.

R&LHS Centennial

North America’s oldest railroad history organization—the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc. (R&LHS)—marks its 100th anniversary this year. Founded in Boston in 1921, the nonprofit R&LHS is among the oldest groups dedicated to the history of technology anywhere. Through its publications, ten regional chapters, and outreach programs, the group tells the stories of how and why railroads were and still are important.

The histories of R&LHS and the Center for Railroad Photography & Art are intertwined, with CRP&A’s principal founder, the late John Gruber, having edited the Society’s Quarterly Newsletter and often having contributed to its flagship journal, Railroad History.

In addition, R&LHS has long honored photographic excellence through its Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography Award. The award is given for a significant body of work over a long period of time, or a single photographic project or publication, making an outstanding contribution to the photographic interpretation of North America’s railroad history. Stindt (1911-1992) was a prolific California photographer and author.

Many of the Stindt honorees have been recognized by, or presented programs for, the CRP&A. Among these are Wallace W. Abbey, Frank Barry, Ted Benson, James A. Brown, Travis Dewitz, John Gruber, Victor Hand, Joel Jensen, Stan Kistler, Blair Kooistra, J. Parker Lamb, O. Winston Link, Greg McDonnell, Joe McMillan, William D. Middleton, Mel Patrick, Steve Patterson, David Plowden, Jim Shaughnessy, Richard Steinheimer, and Shirley Burman Steinheimer.

In recent years, members of the R&LHS awards committee have often presented the Stindt Award in-person at the Friday night banquet of the CRP&A’s Conversations conference. The CRP&A’s own publications have received other R&LHS book and article awards. Notably, Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography, received the 2015 George W. and Constance M. Hilton Book Award.

Through its William D. Middleton and John H. White Jr. Research Fellowships and other forms of sponsorship, the R&LHS generously supports the CRP&A’s Conversations conferences and other projects. Recently, those have included 2019’s “After Promontory: 150 Years of Transcontinental Railroading” and 2021’s “Railroads and the Moving Image.”

Articles in Railroad History frequently explore photography and other forms of visual illustration. Among them are pieces by the late John Gruber, principal founder of the CRP&A and its first president, and by Scott Lothes, president since 2013 and executive director since 2011.

  • A photo essay on the disappearing semaphores of BNSF’s Raton Subdivision, by Richard Koenig, RRH 221, Fall-Winter 2019.
  • C.H. Caruthers, 1847-1920 – A Pioneer of American Locomotive History and Illustration, by John Ott, RRH 219, Fall-Winter 2018.
  • Altoona and the Penn Central Image, Dark paint and red ink, a look at official locomotive portrait photography from the steam age to Penn Central, by Dan Cupper, RRH 217, Fall-Winter 2017.
  • Gordon S. Crowell: At 90, a photographer looks back on his wide-ranging portfolio, by John Gruber, RRH 216, Spring-Summer 2017.
  • American Railroads and Sponsored Films, A wide-angle view, 1940-1955, by Norris Pope, retired editorial director at Stanford University Press, RRH 215, Fall-Winter 2016.
  • A Spy? No, Just a Photographer (Lucius Beebe), by John Gruber, RRH 214, Spring-Summer 2016.
  • Chicago: Colorful, creative posters and a 1920s multimedia campaign, by John Gruber and J.J. Sedelmaier, RRH 213, Fall-Winter 2015.
  • Gordon Parks’ Images of Washington Union Station. A wartime crossroads viewed through perceptive eyes, by Tony Reevy, RRH 212, Spring-Summer 2015.
  • Photographer Jack Delano’s trip west on the Santa Fe Railway in 1943. John Gruber has ferreted out the human stories behind the pictures, RRH 211, Fall-Winter 2014.
  • John Gruber looks at William Henry Jackson’s work for railroad clients – much of which was used to promote rail travel to scenic destinations. Also, Scott Lothes of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art previews an exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, focusing on the human side of photographer Jack Delano’s World War II-era work for the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information, RRH 210, Spring-Summer 2014.
  • Photographer Frank Barry documents the last days of Mexican steam and he writes about his adventures in another culture. His photos are often arrestingly beautiful, and his experiences are delightfully amusing, like something from “Innocents Abroad.” RRH 209, Fall-Winter 2013.
  • John Gruber gives us a retrospective on Andrew J. Russell, photographer of the Civil War and of the Union Pacific Railroad construction. Gruber shows that Russell’s work was a business development tool for UP and continues to be a useful historical resource–topics that scholars often ignore. RRH 208, Spring-Summer 2013.
  • Tony Reevy continues Railroad History’s “Artist of the Rail” series with a profile of photographer Jack Delano, RRH 201, Fall-Winter 2009
  • Art in the Age of Steam: An unprecedented museum exhibition shows how railroads changed the world that the great artists saw, RRH 199, Fall-Winter 2008.

Many of these publications are available as back issues from R&LHS at rlhs.org, or free for members of JSTOR (Journal Storage), a digital archive that serves many libraries and universities. Access to JSTOR is also a benefit of R&LHS membership.

All of us at the CRP&A heartily wish our friends at the R&LHS a very happy 100th birthday. Here’s to another century of telling the profound and moving stories of railroading.

“Celestials,” film premiere and discussion, hosted by the Chinese Historical Society of America

Saturday, May 8, 2021
3:00 – 6:00 PM US Central Time [1:00 – 4:00 PM Pacific]

View Panel Discussion

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art invites our members to participate in a special premiere of the film Celestials, hosted by the Chinese Historical Society of America on Saturday, May 8th, 2021 via Zoom.

During the late 19th century, the term ‘celestial’ was a pejorative used to insult Chinese immigrants and laborers. Ironically, while there was discrimination towards Chinese workers in the United States, American developers depended heavily upon the work of Chinese immigrants, particularly when it came to the building of the transcontinental railroad.

The documentary film Celestials showcases six years of collaboration between Stanford University and the Chinese Historical Society of America to explore the lives of the Chinese railroad workers who built the transcontinental railroad.

The film explores the links between the Chinese workers and their ancestral homes in Kaiping, China through groundbreaking archaeological research. It paints a composite portrait of workers through oral histories collected from their descendants. And it examines the 150-year struggle for Chinese Americans to obtain national recognition for their contributions to American history.

CHSA invites CRP&A supporters for a screening of Celestials, followed by a panel discussion with Stanford Professor of Archaeology Barbara Voss, Award-Winning Local Historian Connie Young Yu, and Director and Producer, and past Conversations conference presenter, Barre Fong.

To learn more about the Chinese Historical Society of America, or to make a gift in support of today’s event, visit: https://chsa.org/support/




Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, with Mel Patrick and John Ryan

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
7:00-8:00 P.M. (U.S. Central), on Cisco Webex

Now Available on YouTube

Mel Patrick and John Ryan, authors of Beebe and Clegg: Their Enduring Photographic Legacy, have teamed up to present on one of the most legendary pairings in American railroad photography. Patrick and Ryan will present a more in depth view of their research, including the work contributed by the late John Gruber, to discuss Beebe and Clegg’s pioneering approach to railroad photography.

Mel Patrick is a Chicago native who moved to Denver in 1972. He received the 2011 Railway & Locomotive Historical Society photography award for lifetime achievement in railroad history. Patrick made synchronized night flash pictures from 1968 to 1973.

John Ryan is a skilled photographer whose work has been recognized by Railfan & Railroad Magazine in 2004 for its cover contest and in 2008 for its center spread contest. A railroad historian, he is also co-author of SLC at 100, a history of the San Luis Central Railroad in Colorado.

This event is free.
Beebe titled it “On the Outside Iron” but provided no details about this steam freight train on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s electrified main line in Maryland. Today, this is Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor. Photograph by Lucius Beebe. Collection of the California State Railroad Museum, BC3528.

Call for Submissions: Continuity & Change – Photographs of Railroads in the 21st Century

We’re looking for images that capture the essence of rail transportation in the 21st century. What does contemporary railroading look like? What aspects of rail transportation remain evergreen, recognizably connecting our world with the world of the past? What is new, exciting, different, hopeful, or full of promise? What has been irrevocably altered, or what is about to be? And, just as importantly, how do photographs help us see this world? 

We’re working on a book that answers these questions. We’re looking for photographs of railways in one of five subject categories:

  • Scale, distance, and landscape are important characteristics that help define railroads in North America, whether it is the size of locomotives and equipment, the length of trains, or the expansive natural landscapes they traverse. Show us how railroads struggle with the natural landscape, or how they compliment it. Give us images of trains 24/7/365, in every kind of weather, and every kind of landscape. 
  • Work on the move. What does the path of commerce look like? How does cargo originate, how does it get where it needs to go? Who does the work? Which commodities are fading, which are going strong? Show us what the railways do, what they carry, how, and who makes it all move. 
  • Passenger railroading. From Amtrak at fifty years old, to the subways, commutes, and light rail trains that knit together North American cities, to new passenger rail systems under construction coast to coast, show us images that capture what passenger railroading means. We welcome images from any kind of service, especially when they show how vital passenger trains are to everyday life. 
  • While we are primarily looking for photographs from North American locations, we’re also interested in images of international exchange. We’re looking for photos made anywhere in the world that help put North American railways and rail practices in a global context, or help illustrate how the products that North American trains carry are part of a worldwide network of trade. 
  • The Holdouts. Is that old hometown railroad still running? The “Rust Belt” may be rusty, but what is still alive? Show us those surprising survivors, those anachronisms that still hang on, the things that are on the way out, and what’s about to disappear. 

We’re interested in photography that communicates the present moment as elegantly as possible. We’re open to a wide variety of styles, from unusual perspectives to unusual techniques, to straightforward approaches. What matters is that your photos, in the spirit of photojournalism, tell us stories about railroading now. We would especially like images that could not have been in any other time than our own, whether because of the subject, or the way they were made, or both.

You may submit up to twenty (20) images in total that fit one or more of these themes. You may wish to submit a broad sample, or a selection that tightly focuses on a single subject; What matters most is the quality of the images and how well they respond to one or more of the themes above. Images must have been made in or after the year 2000, and we especially prefer images made since the Great Recession of 2008. For full consideration, please get us your submission by April 2nd.

Submission Process

To participate, please submit the following materials to submissions@railphoto-art.org:

  • Up to twenty (20) images
  • Basic captions with location, date, and basic information
  • Optional supplemental text with additional caption information, context, or anything else you think we ought to know about about how your photographs respond to the themes. 
  • Contact information: Your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number

Electronic submissions only. Files can be sent via email, Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc.

Captions, optional supplemental text, and contact information may be sent in a document (Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or PDF) or in the body of an email.

Images should be high-resolution jpegs with a pixel dimension of at least 3000 on one side. 

Send all submissions by April 2, 2021 to submissions@railphoto-art.org

An autorack train speeds past the Gerald Grain Center on the outskirts of Archbold, Ohio, in August 2019. Photograph by Francis Byrne.

The Center will publish selected images in a future book project, and may also use images in its journal, Railroad Heritage, online, or in another appropriate format. The Center reserves the right to retain electronic copies for future publication, use on website, Facebook and other social media, or for public exhibition. In all cases, the photographer retains the copyright to the image.