- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; New edition edition (September 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0810982013
- ISBN-13: 978-0810982017
- Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 0.5 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Last Steam Railroad in America Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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The last two parts of the book are dedicated to the Abingdon Branch that has been abandoned since 1977. One section is in color and is mostly daylight while the black and white section is mostly at night. Both are superb. The rural views along the Abingdon branch are unique and beautiful. Often the trains and tracks are almost background compared to the rural scenery. I purchased a used copy at a very reasonable price and was simply thrilled by the quality of the book itself and the photographs.
Much has been said about Link's night photography, but thousands of words cannot do these photos justice. If Ansel Adams was the preeminent photographer of Yosemite and nature in B&W, Link is nearly his equal on the other coast in documenting people and their machines. His black and white night shots are so good that you don't even WANT to see them in color. Nevertheless, the book contains some exquisite color daytime photography; Link wasn't limited to either medium. And while many have commented on how Link set up these night shots, it is very difficult to convey how much setup was involved. We're talking about many hours of studying the scene, placing lights, running wires with many banks of lights powered by the heavy storage batteries of the time, illuminating entire streets or a hundred yards of track for a single shot. When a massive Y-6 roared through town with 10,000 tons of coal behind it, there were no do-overs. Either he had prepared properly or not. The evidence shows that he knew his trade. These are spectacular photos, their kind not to be found anywhere else.
In the past I have bought entire collections of train photos just for one single photo by O. Winston Link contained inside. When I saw this collection of nothing BUT Link's photographs I didn't stop to read the reviews. I used "One-Click" and had it in my hands in 3 days. It is simply one of my favorite books of all time, in any category. It's a rare chance to own masterpieces of the graphic arts.
One further detail: the endpapers of this book (front & back) consist of a night shot of a single locomotive with a crew on board and on the ground in front of it. I think I remember it saying that it was a compilation of 7 shots. I am an amateur photographer with years and years of darkroom experience, but I honestly don't know how he printed that picture so flawlessly such that 7 photos comprise a full-length print in crisp detail and perfect night-time lighting with no visible seams. What can I say? The man was a master.
The Last Steam Railroad was a nostalgic look back at a railroad hoby that age has taken from me and explained a lot about why my favorite 35mm camera was made the way it was. Even without these personal connections, the photographs and the writing in this book explain a lot of things about railroading that I did not know before.
I am glad I bought it and I am glad I gave a copy to a nephew who used to be a dining car waiter.