Railroad Photography Competitions 2009 – 2015 Click on thumbnail to enlarge image, view caption and use slideshow options. To return to this page click on the image background The Center for Railroad Photography and Art, Madison, Wisconsin, creates “programs that build the public’s understanding of railroading in America’s past, present and future”. It archives some 200,000 photographs, curates exhibitions, publishes books and operates an annual AWARDS photography competition open to all. The 2009 theme sought images exploring a white to black lighting range. Under a bright mid-day sun this unique British locomotive is being absorbed by the soot blackened Grosmont Tunnel on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.71000, the Duke of Gloucester, was built by British Railways in 1953 and remained the sole example of a proposed Class 8 Pacific locomotive fleet. Here, some reflections of its many admirers are caught in the brush painted gloss black of its smoke deflectors. In 2009 there were 275 competition entries of which 14 gained awards. An additional 21 had “Judges also liked” recognition, including this pair. It was my beginner’s luck, and an achievement that I’ve not replicated. The California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento hosted an exhibition of the thirty-five photographs as it does each Award year.Visiting family in the USA I’ve been able to travel through Chicago where a particular interest has been the architectural photography shown in other Galleries. Railways are ever present in the city centre Loop as distant and closer sounds of wheels rumbling and keening on tracks elevated above city streets. There must be few cities where one can drink coffee at a sidewalk café and watch trains passing a few feet overhead or ride them at fourth floor level through such incredibly varied architecture. In late afternoon sunshine this train is heading west along Lake Street.I sought to illustrate how these trains are as dwarfed in this urban canyon land as they are in the rugged mountain landscapes of the far west. A close parallel would be with AMTRAK’s California Zephyr as it twists and climbs through the canyons of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada en route from Chicago to San Francisco. In evening sunshine this train is approaching the Lake Street Bridge over the South Chicago River on its way to the western suburbs.I rarely include people in compositions but they were an essential element in these images glimpsing the operational work involved in operating steam locomotives across the day. The London & North Eastern Railway built thirty-five of these streamlined A4 Pacific locomotives between 1935 and 1938. Following retirement by British Railways in 1966, the Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust has operated and maintained 60007, named after its designer. In Grosmont depot it’s being checked, coaled and watered before collecting coaches forming the first service of the day to Pickering, the line’s southern terminus.The single-track Whitby & Pickering Railway was completed in 1836. The York & North Midland Railway acquired the line in 1845, doubled the tracks, replaced horse power with steam locomotives and built a fine new station at Pickering. The route eventually became part of the nationalised British Railways in 1948. Closed in 1965 the line was reopened in 1973 as the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. 80135 was built by British Railways in 1956, retired in 1965 and withdrawn from NYMR service in 2008 for rebuilding. Around midday these young volunteers clean and oil the running gear under the protection of a “Not to be moved” sign.49395 is the only survivor from a batch of London & North Western Railway freight locomotives built from 1921. It was withdrawn in 1964 and is now part of the National Collection at the National Railway Museum in York. End-of-day routines include the dust and grit generating shovel removal of ash from the smokebox.Richard Steinheimer was a superb photographer whose work spans many aspects of American railroading from dramatic western landscapes to the smallest of details in place and time. Published in 2004, A Passion for Trains is a classic of black and white railway photography. The Tanfield Railway is a preserved remnant of a once extensive network of colliery and industrial railways in north-east England and seemed an appropriate and parallel inspiration. Here, a damp and mist shrouded day enhanced the smoke and steam created by this small tank locomotive.The foreground locomotive, No 20, was built for the Furness Railway by Sharp Stewart & Co in 1863. Sold to a steelworks in 1918 and retired in 1960 and its restoration was completed 1998. It’s the oldest standard gauge locomotive in steam in Britain. Beyond is Bellerophon, an industrial locomotive designed by Josiah Evans, built at the Haydock Foundry in 1874 and visiting from its home base on the Foxfield Railway in North Staffordshire. The immaculate preparation emphasised their elegance of form and detail.At Merchandise Mart station a Brown Line train from Kimball heads over the twin deck rail-road Wells Street Bridge to complete a circuit of the Loop and return to its start in North Chicago. The text is a record I made of the on-board announcements made as the train completed its circuit above the street grid of The Loop. Recorded on an earlier visit, the words had changed and increased in number when this image was made in 2011. I’d like to have had time to work on street and architectural photography from the trains.This evening rush hour METRA train was climbing the gradient from the passenger platforms under the grandeur of the Chicago Union Station. Within seconds it was hauling a rake of double decked coaches over the level crossing on Canal Street as it headed for the western suburbs. During the morning and evening rush hours it’s fascinating to stand feet away to watch a great parade of trains parting the traffic flows on the street.Behind the camera in IMAGE 11 a long viaduct carries similar trains to and from the rebuilt Chicago & North Western Railroad’s 1911 terminal train shed and head house. Eight passenger platforms service trains standing on sixteen tracks within the building. The rails in the previous image curve under the bridge and cross Fulton Street where one can watch trains moving on multiple tracks on both levels. Here, an upper level locomotive negotiating a tight radius is reflected by the windshield of an SUV parked on the street below.I’d just arrived in Glasgow Central Station terminus in a London express on my way to Oban on the Scottish west coast. This suburban train and others were standing at the some fourteen sets of platform buffers in this grandly engineered Victorian train shed. I’ve always been fascinated by abstract painting in its many forms and just had to photograph some of their colours and forms. I framed for cropping to a square format, combining paint schemes, flexible gangway connections and other details as abstract images rather than documentation.Two narrow windows either side of the driving cab flank the flexible gangway connections fitted to allow individual standard three-car trains to be combined as one: visibility would seem to be limited. Again, I was interested in the mechanical details as framed by the painterly abstractions of the Scotrail livery. Britain’s controversial railway franchise system creates periodic operator turnover and subsequent changes to the styling and colour of the rolling stock.The forty-two miles long Border Counties Railway was constructed across the English border with Scotland between 1855 and 1862. A skewed bridge of five wrought iron spans set on paired cast iron columns crossed the River Tyne at Hexham, the line’s southern end. Concrete and masonry piers protected by heavy timbers underpinned the structure. River scour and flood damage caused problems from the outset and eventually forced the final closure of the bridge and line in 1956. The image is a pier detail showing one of the truncated columns, decaying cutwater timbers and hints of its central core.Four wheels carry this possibly early 20C wood-planked open goods wagon built on a timber chassis, all braced by ferrous sheet and bar. It’s part of an extensive collection of industrial steam and diesel locomotives with related rolling stock on the preserved Tanfield Railway. The line opened in 1725 as a horse-drawn colliery waggonway and is thought to be the world’s oldest continuously operated railroad: it’s been run as a ‘heritage’ line since 1970. Visitors are carried in four and six wheeled Victorian coaches on scheduled services across the year. Infrastructure developments complement the rebuilding of locomotives and rolling stock largely by volunteers.The single-track Whitby & Pickering Railway was completed in 1836. The York & North Midland Railway acquired the line in 1845, doubled the tracks, replaced horse power with steam locomotives and built a fine new station at Pickering: its iron and glass train shed roof was removed in 1950. Working from the preserved original plans a replica was installed in 2012. I photographed it then in the pristine black, grey, yellow and red paints now darkened by locomotive smoke and steam: this is a 2015 colour image. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has operated a very fine and expanding preservation enterprise since 1973.Much of the present Waverley Station in Edinburgh was built by the North British Railway between 1892 and 1902. Extensive operational alterations and structural restorations were completed in 2014. The pristinely repainted Victorian ironwork of the train shed now supports some 28,000 panes of reframed new glass: these access gantries running on rails across the ridge and furrow glazing are supplemented by walkways. In low early morning sun this view from the George lV Bridge across the station offers glimpses of the original engineering structures supporting the new works.