Railroads and Photography: 150 Years of Great Images
The Nevada Northern Railway Museum has been selected as a venue for the Center For Railroad Photograph & Art's traveling photographic exhibition. This exhibition, "Railroads and Photography: 150 Years of Great Images," opens at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum on November 1st in the ground floor of the Transportation Building. Not only was the Museum selected as a venue but also there are two photographs included in the show of the Nevada Northern Railway.
The theme of the exhibition examines the close relationship of railroading with the growth of America. Steel rails, the "iron horse," and the railroader made much of the country's development possible. Scarce indeed is the American whose family tree does not include a railroader or whose life has not been influenced by the railroad.
Railroad companies employed photographers to record the building of the eastern and western railroads and opening of the West. Artwork commissioned by the companies played an equally significant role in American life. Today an ever-increasing number of artists and photographers portray the romance, history, and continuing development of railroading.
The Center for Railroad Photography and Art recognizes that important, frequently overlooked relationship. Artists and photographers over the years have produced a vast number of visual images, which capture the importance and excitement of American railroading. The center's goals are preservation and presentation of railroad-related photography and art. We are committed to interpreting high-quality images to the public in a variety of traditional and nontraditional ways.
The exhibition recognizes that railroading and photography grew up together. Only a few years separate the beginning of US railroading in 1827 and the first photographic image--and the iron horse soon became a favorite subject.
A decade after railroading gained a toehold in America, Louis Daguerre invented the first practical photographic process. Samuel F. B. Morse, a painter better known for his telegraph code, brought the daguerreotype to the US in 1839. An undated view of the 1848 locomotive "Tioga" is among the earliest American railroad photographs and is included in the exhibition.
Railroads pioneered the field of industrial photography, first as a way to record their locomotives and later to promote travel by rail. Beginning in the 1930s, impressive photo books brought new attention to rail photography. Through the years, the tie between railroading and photography has remained strong, maintained by professionals, railroad companies, and skilled amateurs alike.
These examples of railroad-inspired creativity only hint at the 150-year legacy of thousands of talented men and women. The outstanding images suggest how deeply railroading has affected our culture, our visual heritage, and our daily lives.
Railroading was an agent of change and a powerful tool. With it, men and women reshaped the continent and made our modern existence possible. Those same Americans used and enjoyed photography both for personal creative expression and as a powerful tool for change and development. The camera and the locomotive grew up together.
Jointly, railroading and photography permit us to look back over the last century and a half and realize how far we have come. But some things do not change. It is safe to assume that for as long as trains rumble through the landscape, folks at trackside will capture the moment with an image.
We thank the Donnelley Library, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois, for sharing photographs in the Munson Paddock Collection, and photographers who contributed to the exhibition.
The center, incorporated in 1997 as a nonprofit Wisconsin organization, has received 501(c)3 status from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Donnelley Library at Lake Forest (Illinois) College serves as the center's archive. A journal, Railroad Heritage, is mailed to donors of $40 or more a year, of which $10 is reserved for a subscription. Send gifts to P.O. Box 259330, Madison, WI 53725-9330.
The exhibit is open for public viewing Wednesday through Mondays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum's Transportation building.
Our traveling exhibition, "Railroads and Photography: 150 Years of Great Images," opened in 1999 at Railfair at the California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, and moved to Altoona, Pennsylvania; Madison, Wisconsin; Lake Forest, Illinois; Champaign, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Temple, Texas; and Carson City, Nevada, and Lisle, Illinois.
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