O. Winston Link


Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1914, O. Winston Link fell in love with steam railroads while a teenager, photographing them sporadically over the next 25 years. Yet it wasn't until 1955, on assignment for an advertising agency in Virginia, that his interest became an obsession. From 1955 until the railroad terminated steam operation in 1960, Link made at least twenty trips to places along the Norfolk & Western route, staying an average of  one week to ten days on each occasion.  Not only was Link obsessed by the steam as it travelled along the back roads of America, but he was fascinated by  peoples' interaction with the trains as it rolled past their homes, swimming pools and main streets.

Photographing mostly at night so he could control the light, Link spent hours setting up a  synchronized flash system of his own design so he could stop the motion of a speeding train. With permission from the N&W to photograph anywhere along its rail system and train schedules to pinpoint the exact moment of a trains arrival, Link planned his pictures carefully, photographing with 4 x 5" cameras which permitted only one sheet of film to be exposed at any given moment; a mishap meant replacing dozens of powder flashbulbs and trying again with the next train. Amazingly, Link rarely walked away disappointed -- he simply waited for the exact moment when all of the elements came together to create that perfect balance between man and machine.

The result of this boyhood passion is a body of work that freezes a specific time period when drive-in movies, swimming pools and river beds, small-town main streets and front porches were places of quiet entertainment. The enthusiasm with which Link pursued this project is forever preserved in these pictures, as we see a young couple at a drive-in watching a movie screen as a locomotive passes in the night; an older couple standing on their porch waving to the locomotive, as its steam paints a brilliant light against the pitch black sky; an old horse pausing at the tracks as an approaching train sounds its whistle, while the locals gather in the general store trading stories over cups of coffee.

The Last Steam Railroad in America presents previously unknown and unpublished black and white as well as color images taken more than forty years ago. Through this body of work, the viewer gains access to an America which no longer exists -- an America that may not have been fully aware of the changes that would sweep the country, rendering obsolete the steam locomotive as well as the many small towns lining its route.

All pieces in inventory are 16 x 20" gelatin silver prints printed by the artist. Pieces range in price from $10,000 to $12,000.

Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

O. Winston Link
Birmingham Special at Rural Retreat, VA, 1957
O. Winston Link
Hawksbill Creek Swimming Hole, Luray, Virginia, 1956
O. Winston Link
Hot Shot eastbound at Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956