Revisiting My Top 10 Railroad Photography Books

May 5, 2013 Travis Dewitz

Revisiting My Top 10 Best Photography Books for Photographers

My last post with of my Top 10 Railroad Photography Books for Photographers was 100% based on my own collection of railroad books which I have recently added to. In that collection I have many railroad books that span topics such as documentation, history, photography, locations, specific railroads, etc. As a railroad photographer, I find myself gravitating towards the books in my collection that have amazing and inspiring images. That Top 10 Railroad Photography Book List received many comments from well-respected railroad photographers suggesting books that I may be interested in that they have in their collections. Some of these books included in the comments were, A Time of Trains, Wheat Kings, Starlight on the Rails, Trackside Maryland, The Mohawk That Refused To Abdicate, Boston & Maine, The Call of Trains, Requiem For Steam, Rails, Night Train, Northern Light, The Electric Way across the Mountains, Never on Wednesday, and Rites of Passage: A Canadian Railway Retrospective. So I searched Amazon for some of these titles and picked a few of the suggested books up plus added a few others I found that I thought would be good. This supplement includes 10 more railroad photography books that I think are worth buying to add to your own collection.



The Electric Way Across the Mountains
 by Richard SteinheimerBuy From Amazon Photograph

Don’t let the cover of this book fool you. I would never buy this book based on the cover but it is well worth the price for your collection. The book is a mix of documentary photography and incredible (artistic) photographs. If you like mountains, Steinheimer, or the Milwaukee Road, you should own this book.  Read Customer Reviews




Growing Up With Trains II by Richard Steinheimer and Ted BensonBuy From Amazon Photograph

I would also recommend this book. It isn’t one of my favorites but is full of many great railroad images. It is an older book, so the print reproduction isn’t the greatest. I also do not like the small images with some pages containing up to three images. I think the book would have been stronger if 25% of the images were excluded leaving more room for the stronger compositions.  Read Customer Reviews




Portrait of the Rail by Don Ball, Jr.Buy From Amazon Photograph

If you can get this book at the right price, go for it. There are stellar images in this book but there are many more roster type compositions in between the shots that count. Just because I’m not a roster shot type of guy, don’t let this review discourage  those that are, this book would be well worth adding to your collections.   Read Customer Reviews




Requiem for Steam by David PlowdenBuy From Amazon Photograph

Do you like railroad photography? Do you like art? Well, if you answered yes to both of those questions, you will love this book. Amazing photographs, artistic compositions and vision. This is a large and thick book that you will have to make room for on your bookshelf if you claim to love railroad photography.  Read Customer Reviews




Backwoods Railroads of the West by Richard SteinheimerBuy From Amazon Photograph

I would love to see this book reprinted with todays printing and paper quality. The great imagery of Steinheimer still shines through even the page quality is lacking and dull. Richard has captured many scenes of small steam locomotives working the grades of mountainous landscapes. The book is a mixed bag of many different subjects and locations.    Read Customer Reviews




The Last Steam Railroad in America by O. Winston LinkBuy From Amazon Photograph

Do you love O. Winston Link’s famous steam works? This book isn’t that. I feel the images in this book far surpass his well-known photographs. The book is a must have for any steam locomotive fan filled with scenes of the past. This book also a large selection of his color photographs as well.    Read Customer Reviews




A Time of Trains by David PlowdenBuy From Amazon Photograph

A book full of railroad scenes of the past that many of us would die for to see in person. Many of you I am sure have purchased a DeLorean  and filled the trunk with garbage in an attempt to try to get there once you hit 88 mph. Many of you are laughing to yourselves right now since this idea has at least crossed your mind.  Read Customer Reviews




Wheels Rolling – West by Dave Styffe and Ted BensonBuy From Amazon Photograph

If you like railroading of the west, Ted Benson, or you know Dave Styffe, you need to own this book. Great images, and great reproduction for an older book. The only thing I wish was different in a perfect world would be a larger format for me to fall even deeper into these images.   Read Customer Reviews




Rio Grande Secret Places Series by R.C. FarewellBuy From Amazon Photograph

The best book series you could own if you love the Rio Grande or their ex-routes through Colorado and Utah. I own Volume One: The Tunnel District and Volume Two: Ruby Canyon and the Desert. Volume Two is my favorite of the two photographically speaking. These books are full great images, maps, and incredible images.   Read Customer Reviews




Outbound Trains by Jim BoydBuy From Amazon Photograph

Do you miss the very colorful era of railroading before all of the mergers. This book will bring tears to your eyes then as most of the color photographs in this book are of railroads that are no longer with us. Full of freight and passenger trains and mainly all diesel locomotives but a few steam locomotives are included.   Read Customer Reviews


Also see Part 1 – My Top 10 Railroad Photography Books for Photographers


My railroad photography website and link to my latest railroad photos are at

 All of My Top Ten Photography Lists

Travis Dewitz Powerlines Portrait Thumb

Through the creative lens of Travis Dewitz; he demonstrates time and time again how much splendor can be extracted from the interplay of the industrial world around us. In the most unusual and unexpected places Dewitz showcases images that embody the forgotten beauty of railways, factory floors, the rolling smoke of steel mills, and the cities that are built around them. He brings a certain magic as he invokes the very souls of these once-glorious industrial areas; his captures overflow with inspirational energy. Click here to view his personal series.

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Travis Dewitz

My name is Travis Dewitz and I am from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. My specialty is commercial photography with a love for expressive portraits. My work is Conceptual, Emotive, Editorial, Surreal and Eclectic. I am passionate about fashioning new worlds through photographs as I extend my visions beyond the realm of the camera. I have incredible vision, which you can see in all of my photos.

Comments (10)

  1. Dennis A. Livesey

    Travis, do you like fine wine? Jazz? Exotic cars like Bugatti or Cord? Well, then you also understand some things are an acquired taste. So understand when book lovers go into a trace when the words like gravure positives, on white Mohawk eggshell finish paper, printed by Donnelley are said. What your modern eyes perceive as old and inadequate printing methods were in fact were the best possible for a commercial book. Kalmbach went all out in making the best quality book to adequately display Steins work. The resulting $20.00 price, perfectly in sync in the world of art images and art books, caused most railfans to faint since most rail books were about $10.00 Thus this great book was a HUGE flop! Kalmbach was GIVING them away to new subscribers within a year. Stein was apparently devastated with the failure.

  2. Travis, this is another fine list, and anyone who wants to add to their collection could do well to start here to help them decide what to consider. Between your two lists I have 13 on my shelves, and I’m sure this is true for many others – simply because these books are such high quality. The Mohawk that Refused to Abdicate was mentioned by some people on your earlier list – I agree this is a book well worth investigating. Hastings’ photography is outstanding and the match between his visual style and Morgan’s words is impeccable. This is probably the only railway book I will lend to people who don’t have much interest in trains, simply because it is so engaging, and its style is so strong it is not just a train book. I’ll also second an earlier suggestion about Brouw’s and Delver’s Starlight on the Rails. It is a magnificent collection of images.

    Interesting to see Backwoods here since it’s the one I’m most ambivelent about. Despite it’s high reputation, I just never engaged with it.

    To add an international perspective, Colin Gifford from the UK is well worth trying to hunt down in second hand markets. Black and white, there is nothing pretty about his work but it is powerful and evocative. A must-have in my view is The Lure of Japan’s Railways by Naotaka Hirota. To think this book was done after just 6 months on assignment for his newspaper employer – remarkable! His style is quite different to the rail photographer norm.

    A favourite of mine is When Steam Was King, by WW Stewart which charts the development of New Zealand steam. There are many outstanding images in this book taken from the 20s and 30s, in a style that anyone who likes Delano, Steinheimer et al will enjoy. And he could paint and write as well!

    Finally I’ll put in a word for two series of Australian books – Heavy Metal and Famous Last Lines. Both series are collections of images taken on the international pursuit of steam by three photographers during the 70s and 80s. They are imaginative, cover a lot of the world and have a sense of humour running through them that is very rare in this field.

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