When Did Railroad Photography Become Trendy?

Railroad photography was trendy long before engaged couples and high school graduates thought to use train tracks as rustic backdrops in photo shoots.

Locomotive photography was actually spurred by the first and last spikes ceremoniously driven into the Union Pacific Railroad in 1869. The extraordinary rail system stitched Utah, Omaha, and Sacramento together. It also offered safe passage to and through the rugged terrain of the of the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.

Union Pacific Photographers: the original influencers

Like most people of the era, photographers were fascinated with the Union Pacific. But fascination alone didn't compel every photographer documenting the groundbreaking advance in transcontinental travel. Many photographers who covered the development of the Union Pacific had been commissioned by the railroad company to publicize the way it would revolutionize American travel. In this way, Union Pacific photographers were among the nation's first influencers.

Photographers instilled the desire to see in person the wonders reproduced on a stereo card or in a print and the railroads offered the means to reach them.

-Library of Congress

Beyond documentation, the photos published in a wide range of mediums were central in acquiring financial support from banks, shareholders, and Congress. But the railroad companies weren't the only ones benefiting from the deal. The railroads were like a gift to photographers!

The railways were a boon to photographers, as well, offering easier access to previously inaccessible areas and facilitating transport of cumbersome equipment and supplies needed to produce the images. Railroad companies would be recurrent patrons of photographers through the nineteenth-century as additional lines were built to traverse new routes across the country and connect to existing networks.

-Library of Congress

Union Pacific Rethinks Railroad Photos

More than 100 years later, however, Union Pacific has a radically different stance on railway photography. To be honest, it makes total sense to us!

Scroll on to see why in the gallery below. 

11 Reasons You Should Never Take Photos on Idaho Railroad Tracks

Taking photos of and on train tracks has been a popular for over a century!

Clients and photographers alike adore the edge and interest they bring to a shot. But what of the risks involved with taking photos on train tracks?

It's rarely talked about, yet photo shoots on railways are one of the most dangerous settings a photographer and client can choose.

Scroll on for 11 surprising reasons you shouldn't take photos on Idaho train tracks (or anywhere for that matter).

8 Tips to Make the Most of Your Hiawatha Bike Trail Adventure

The Hiawatha Bike Route is one of America's most celebrated and explored rail-to-trail journeys! Located on the Idaho-Montana state line, the 15-mile bike route appeals to people of all ages and abilities. Below are our best tips to help make your Hiawatha Trail experience a magical adventure!
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