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.
Virginia S. Fesunoff