|“Requiem for Steam: The Railroad Photographs of David Plowden” will be on display September 1 – December 9. The exhibit features 30 meticulously crafted black and white photographs all taken by David Plowden. Plowden is widely acknowledged as one of America’s great landscape and industrial photographers.
Plowden first pointed a camera, his mother’s box Brownie camera, down a railroad track in 1943 when he was eleven years old. For the next sixteen years Plowden photographed steam locomotives at every opportunity. He earned a degree in economics from Yale University with the hopes of working in railroad management, spending a year as an assistant to the trainmaster on the Great Northern Railway in Minnesota. At work, he learned railroading and rode trains, then used his days off to photograph some of the GN’s last steam operations. He worked as an apprentice to photographer O. Winston Link and studied with Minor White and Nathan Lyons before striking off on his own. In 1959-60, he pursued the end of steam on the Canadian Pacific Railway, having been granted open access to the entire system. His devotion took him to the most far-flung reaches of the CPR’s Atlantic Region where he quite literally bore witness to some of the last breaths of steam on North American mainlines.
The photographs in “Requiem for Steam” preserve the living beauty of his beloved locomotives while continuing to show the railroad’s presence in the ever-changing American landscape.The Center for Railroad Photography & Art (www.railphoto-art.org), David Plowden, and the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum have collaborated to present this exhibition.
Central Vermont Railway Extra 464 North Meets Extra 472 South, Amherst, MA 1954. Photograph copyright David Plowden, courtesy of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art