By Natasha Anderson
The North Carolina Transportation Museum (NCTM), in Spencer, presents the work of photographer Jeffrey Stoner, on display in the museum’s main meeting room beginning January 12 in conjunction with the opening of the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance’s annual conference. The exhibit consists of more than three dozen of Stoner’s railroad images and will remain on display for several months.
“We hope that Jeffrey’s photographs will help drive home the point to our many visitors that the trains and rail cars seen on display once rode the rails performing various functions, and were not always museum pieces,” says the NCTM collections manager Xavier Klonowski.
The images are printed on metal and are predominantly black and white. All feature steam engines and range in size from 16” x 24” to 24” x 36”. Railroads shown include Norfolk and Western, Southern Railway and Albany and Eastern. Many of the photographs appear to be straight out of the early to mid-1900s, with antique cars on the streets and people in period attire.
“These scenes were created in coordination with the railroad companies,” says Stoner. “For instance, the photograph Tracks Through Time was captured during an amazing group effort in which the residents of the Academy Square neighborhood in Lebanon, OR, antique car owners and the Albany and Eastern Railroad transformed Academy Square back to the 1940s for a small group of photographers.”
Though Stoner has been intrigued by trains since riding them from Harrisburg, PA to Philadelphia as a child, and listening to his grandfather’s stories of working for the Canadian National Railway, he didn’t begin photographing them until 2012. “One of the first images I made was in Cass, WV, of a large Shay steam engine roaring down the track toward me,” he says. “The smoke was billowing, the whistle blowing and the ground vibrating. I was hooked.”
The NCTM was once home to Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast. Historic structures include Barber Junction Depot, an authentic train station built in 1898 that serves as the museum’s Visitor Center. The Bob Julian Roundhouse is the largest remaining roundhouse in North America, and is home to locomotives, passenger rail cars and a full-size replica Wright Flyer.