Springer Exhibit Comes to Galesburg
“Trains Around the World: the Railroad Photography of Fred Springer” was exhibited in Galesburg during the community’s annual Railroad Days Festival. The exhibit features 20th century railroading on all six inhabited continents. The images offer a global view of an industry in transition from steam to diesel power, from shrinking passenger traffic, and ultimately from a revitalization of freight and intermodal traffic.
Springer (1928-2012) began taking railroad photographs in the 1940s in the mountain railroads of New Mexico and Colorado. His geographic reach of railroads continually expanded until he had covered most areas of the world.
Curated by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, the exhibit came to Galesburg after its debut at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas. Springer’s extensive photographic collection was donated to the Center upon his death, including 7,500 black and white negatives and 50,000 color slides taken from the 1940s to the 2000s.
The Center is a not-for-profit education and arts organization located in Madison, Wisconsin. Its mission is to preserve and present significant images of railroading. The Center has become America’s foremost organization for interpreting the intersection of railroad art and culture with America’s history and culture.
Springer was a native of Washington, D.C., and grew up in Houston, Texas. He graduated in 1949 in engineering from Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, Missouri, and worked for Mobil Oil Corporation and subsidiary companies from 1949 until retirement in 1985. He began taking railroad photographs in the 1940s on the mountain railroads of New Mexico and Colorado. He continued to photograph US railroads for the rest of his life.
In the 1960s, Springer began traveling the rails outside the country with several trips to Mexico and many other destinations around the world. After retirement, he visited almost every country in South America and Europe plus South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Syria, Australia, and New Zealand.
Springer’s photography has been published in books by Mallory H. Ferrell on the Rio Grande Southern, West Side Lumber, and mixed trains down South; Richard Dorman on Colorado/New Mexico narrow gauge lines; James Ehrenberger on narrow gauge in Colorado; Steve Goen on the Santa Fe, Katy, Frisco, and Southern Pacific; plus Trains and Railroad magazines.
A young Mr. Springer, circa 1963.
Mr. Springer in his later years.