By 1880, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway had an operating depot in the City of Topeka, Kansas. For roughly the next 120 years, that depot was manned daily by a ticket agent until Amtrak went to a five day work week for the agent. During the days when the Santa Fe operated the depot, trains like the California Limited, Grand Canyon, Antelope, Kansas Cityan, and Scout all made stops at Topeka, along with many nameless trains known only by a number. The number of trains would decrease in the years leading up to the inception of Amtrak. When Amtrak began operating over the Santa Fe, trains like the Super Chief, El Capitan, and Texas Chief all made stops in Topeka during the early years of Amtrak Service.
1933 – 2018
In 1959, a third grade boy borrowed a train book from the school library and sat down to enjoy it in the school cafeteria. Soon special pictures filled his imagination.
There was a nocturnal image of the 1852 train shed in St. Albans, Vermont, displaying a immense Central Vermont Mountain locomotive . . . Read more
Waking a steel horse from her slumber
The morning of July 16, I got up with the sunrise to the sounds of a local radio station’s morning show. The sun had not even risen above the horizon, but there were already some wispy clouds illuminated in a magenta color. I had no time to waste; I had an 8:00 a.m. rendezvous with my friend Ross Gochenaur at the Strasburg Railroad enginehouse. Ross has worked for the Strasburg Railroad for twenty years as an engineer, fireman, and shop worker. Today, however, I would get to observe and photograph the hostling of the engine pulling the railroad’s hourly train for the day.
Staying connected to trains helps me stay connected to my father and the good times we shared around the tracks.
Salem, New York, has always been a special place for me, and the former Delaware & Hudson Washington Branch that ran through here played a big role in that.
Railroading was a major industry in the town going back to the mid 1800s. A roundhouse and large repair facility were once located off to the right of the tracks near the white buildings. Now an historical marker tells part of the story of this sleepy spot where the old depot sits. Jim Shaughnessy goes into fascinating detail in his book Delaware and Hudson, which I recommend highly. Read more
On a hot summer evening last month, I stood beside the turntable at the East Broad Top Railroad and tried to imagine what it was like to work there.
It was hard work. It was dirty, heavy, often dangerous work. It was work done to feed a family and put kids through school. It was long hours six days a week. It was coming home at the end of the day blackened with grime and coal dust. Even for the workers who loved the railroad, there was nothing romantic about it. It was hard work. Read more
Earth Day 2018, Pittsburgh and environs
In April 2018, my friend George Hiotis and I made a fourteen-day, 2,300-mile journey from my home in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, to Chicago and back. We had a GREAT time.
Ostensibly, we made the trip for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art conference, but we spent most of a week before and all of a week afterwards on the road. I came back with 4,200 pictures—crazy, right?—and George brought home more than 5,000. We photographed at something like seventy-five locations, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia, from before dawn until long after dark on most days. We stumbled on some astonishing places and buildings in addition to the dozens that George had put on the initial itinerary, developed through scads of research in the months before the trip. We also met some memorable people, a few of whom I photographed. I had set out on this trip determined to overcome my self-consciousness about photographing strangers, and you will see some of the results here. Read more