|Three rail fans pose during a 1930s photo charter.|
The name of the man who took the first picture of a locomotive or train has been lost to history, and it is unknown whether he made that image for personal pleasure or for commercial reasons. Whoever he was and whatever his purpose, though, he kicked off a hobby that would endure for a century and a half and would create thousands of participants on every continent where railroads operate. In this post, we'll take a brief look at the history of taking pictures of trains.
Railroads and photography both have technological ancestors that stretch back roughly to the 17th century, and both began to come of age in the first half 19th century. Railroads in Europe and the United States were built at a frenzied pace between the 1820s and the 1860s and soon composed a network of hundreds of miles in each continent. The new method of transportation revolutionized patterns of work and travel and made it practical to deliver mass-produced goods to markets beyond the immediate vicinity where they were produced.