California Rails is a collection of railroad
photographs from the archives of the UCR/California Museum of Photography. I chose
this project because my family has a history of involvement with
the railroad industry. My
grandfather was a doctor for the Union Pacific Railroad in
Walla Walla, Washington. My
husband's grandfather worked on a donkey engine used to move
logs in the Sierras at the very time Harry Pidgeon was photographing
that industry. One great-grandfather was a train conductor based in Oakland, California.
Another (Fedot) went
from Russia to Harbin, Manchuria to work on the Chinese Eastern
Railroad, a part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
I have ridden across the country and back
on Amtrak and have fallen asleep to the rhythmic rocking of the
rails. I can attest to the romantic and nostalgic feelings many
of us have for trains. Whether it is the tiny toy train that
we played with as children or the giant locomotives that roar
through our cities to criss-cross the continent, trains remain
a favorite fascination of children and adults alike.