The Addendum

Recent publications update

The Portland Switching District Project: An Overview (NRHS Bulletin, Spring 2011)

Fresh from the post and the printers: the “Portland Switching District Project: An Overview” in the National Railroad Historical Society Bulletin

It’s been a busy spring, and there’s a few more publications to add to the list. First up: “The Portland Switching District Project: An Overview,” in the Spring issue of the National Railroad Historical Society Bulletin. This is a short text and twelve photos from the series. Unlike the recent show, this article contains images from throughout the switching districts of the Portland area. Many thanks to Bulletin editor Jeff Smith for helping this one fly. Although you cannot find the publication on a newsstand, you can purchase them as back issues directly from the NRHS here for $4, which is a great deal.

I shouldn’t pass on from this topic without also noting that the remainder of this issue is taken up by two great articles by photographer and thinker Jeff Brouws. The first of these is an article on the railroad as landscape, and is illustrated with numerous of his own photographs, along with those of other talented photographers such as Keith Burgess, Wayne Depperman, John Fasulo, Phil Hastings, my friend Scott Lothes, Greg McDonnell, Kevin Scanlon, and the late Richard Steinheimer.

This last name brings up some sad news. If you are a follower of railroad photography, you likely already know that Richard Steinheimer, known affectionately as “Stein”, died on May 4th. The Center for Railroad Photography and Art has been running a tribute to the man on its web site. In addition, in cooperation with Trains Magazine, the Center is running a two part collection of remembrances of the man by other railroad photographers. My own contribution will be up in part two, but for now, I encourage you to read part one, and gather a glimpse of how much the man meant as a photographer, and to those who were fortunate to known him personally, as a human being.

Also while I’m on the subject, I have never taken the time to sum up the Center’s 2011 “Conversations About Photography” conference. The event took place in the middle of last month, and I was privileged to be a part of making it happen. The conference is without question the most interesting rail photography event in North America, and well worth attendance. This year, one of my main tasks was to “live-cast” the event on the Center’s Facebook page. If you’ve been thinking of going, visit there and scroll back to mid April for a bit of flavor of what it’s about. And before I move off this subject, thanks to everyone at the Center — and especially to John Gruber — for including me as part of the team!

For the May, 2011 issue of Trains, I wrote a news story on the continuing efforts of Portland’s Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation to construct a permanent museum complex near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Also in May, I wrote the lead editorial for Railfan & Railroad Magazine’s issue on Amtrak 40th anniversary. My piece, titled “Amtrak against all odds” examines the nation’s rail passenger carrier today, and makes the case that contrary to conventional wisdom, it has been a brilliant success, as it has held the line against politics and kept the American passenger train from disappearing forever.

For June publications — which in the strange world of publishing has been on the newsstands for two weeks now — the theme is Tacoma, Tacoma, Tacoma. Trains ran a piece on Tacoma’s Union Station, what may be the greatest railway architecture Cinderella story in the Pacific Northwest. This story for Trains focused on the Herculean efforts of those who restored the station, and includes interview material with Jim Merritt, an architect who, in the process of working on the station restoration, undertook some of the craziest stunts I’ve heard of in the name of historic preservation. For Railfan, I produced a smaller story on the importance of the station to the Tacoma community; this one can be viewed online, and includes interior images of the facility, which is now a federal courthouse.

I’ve also been writing a lot of op-eds for the front-of-book in Railfan, filling in after the death of Editor Emeritus Jim Boyd, who previously penned the space. Following the Amtrak column were two more, the first on the mixture of craziness and historic importance that railfanning sometimes plays, and the second on the value of spending time photographing railroads that are more rural and obscure.

Lastly, I have a small feature coming up in Railfan on the Tacoma Link streetcar. The article will be part of the magazine’s Tacoma-focused July issue, in honor of the NRHS national convention in Tacoma from June 20-26.

It’s been a busy spring!

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