Where did my love of photographing trains come from?

Where did my love of photographing trains come from?

Road trips don’t always have to be somewhere far away or a long number of days on the road. As most of you know I’m pretty much hooked on trains! As such, I hit the road usually at least once a week to search for new and different train photos for my Facebook page, online sales store and also my website.

So, where did my addiction to photographing trains come from anyway?

PCC & St. Louis Railroad, Conover, Ohio

Well, I can’t really say for sure, but I’ve told my sister April and others that I think it comes from when we lived in Conover, Ohio, about a block away from the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, then commonly referred to as the Panhandle Route, which was was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system. Of course I was only about 2 when we moved from there, so my sister and others say I couldn’t remember trains from that young an age. As for me, who knows for sure.

It possibly came from our mom’s brother who was my Uncle Willard Moore, who was a yardmaster at the then L&N Railroad’s Atkinson Yard here in Madisonville, Ky. I can’t however say that I ever recall going out to the yard to visit him there, but here again I was still young. I do remember walking the spur line that went to downtown Madisonville which came out to the bulk oil plant that ran alongside of the Government housing projects where I grew up most of my young years. We’d hike the tracks to downtown which was the center of the universe for a young kid back in the day when downtown was the happening place.

L&N Depot, Madisonville, Ky – (West Ky NRHS Photo Archive Photo from the Harold Utley Collection)

I recall passing the L&N depot when I’d walk this line with my brothers or friends. Can’t say I remember any passenger trains stopping there then, but I know they did when I was a kid.

I guess I can truly say that I recall the most when this addiction began of photographing trains, at least that I can remember for sure, was in Germany!

I had just finished a graduate course in Photojournalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University in 1978 where the US Air Force had sent me for training to be a Photojournalist (PJ) where I worked with Combat Camera until I retired in 1995. My first duty assignment was at Rhein Main Air Base, just outside Frankfurt Germany. This is where I met the Grant Family. Norm was our photo maintance man and he along with their son Dale and his wife Gloria, were all into trains and we struck up an instant friendship that carried us pretty much through our whole lives. Norm recently passed away, but I’m still good friends with Gloria and Dale (who is an engineer for BNSF Railway now).

Jim Pearson watches a maintenance operation from the cab of a German Steam engine outside Frankfurt, Germany in 1979. (Photo by Norm Grant)

I can remember to this day our train trips to downtown Frankfurt’s main train station where we’d spend countless hours photographing trains from the platforms there. I guess then Germany and Europe in general was the place I fell in love with photographing trains. During all my travels, in the three years I was stationed in Germany, I always included photographing trains somewhere, on a regular basis.

After I left Germany and was assigned to Norton AFB in southern California where that love of photographing and chasing trains didn’t change at all and has continued through today.

People say why and I say why not! LOL Everyone’s got a hobby of some sort and this one has served me well over the years by taking me to places I might never of gone and allowing me to make friends with fellow railfans from around the world.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! So, expect to see a few train pictures here from my travels!

Me changing film at Lepzig, East Germany during an photo assignment in the area after the fall of the Eastern Block walls and fences. (Photo by Jose Lopez Jr.)


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2 thoughts on “Where did my love of photographing trains come from?

  1. You take some of the best photographs of trains I’ve ever seen. I was a amateur photographer in the army, but I never took pictures of trains. I was from a RR family. You didn’t take pictures of them. You worked on or around them! You have a gift Jim. Keep it up.

    Ed Dowdy
    Fithian IL

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