October 2009 Article

This Month's Article - October 2009
I'm taking a break this month from my
Search for N&A Locomotives
to do some California Dreamin'

Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg did a great service to the Nelson & Albemarle Railway by traveling along the line and publishing the tale of their trip in the book, Mixed Train Daily.  While the book was published in 1947, the actual trip to visit the Nelson & Albemarle Railway was made in January 1946.  I found this out by some interesting research and following some general curiosity on my part.  Making the journey, as it were, to the middle of Virginia winter from New York City and having no certainty of the outcome of a single photograph that would end up on a single page of the book, made me wonder just how many snaps of the shutter Charles Clegg made while "on the property".  I could write an entire dissertation on the exploits of Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg, but let it suffice to say, that others have already done this and well enough that I shouldn't expand it more.  They ended up out West; writing, photographing, and enjoying life.  When Charles Clegg died in 1979, his family inheirted his treasured prints and negatives of exploits that could only be fully known by seeing the journey through his camera's lens. Of the many photographs taken during trips to visit far-flung shortlines, narrow-gauge, and nearly-defunct railways, only a limited number would ever make it into publication. After more research, I found that the entire lifetime of negatives and prints from Charles Clegg made their way to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California (at 111 "I" Street) in 2000 in a combination of purchase and donation (see http://www.csrmf.org for more information).  Secured from Ann Clegg Holloway and her husband John E. Holloway of Washington DC, the collection includes more than 11,000 photographs and over 4,000 original b&w negatives!
Now, I also knew that Charles Clegg was a serious photographer and that selecting a photograph at time of exposure was not the process for preparing a book in the late 1940's. He must have done what many of us would have done in that same situation, in that same space in time, with that same technology available in 1946.  He shot a roll of film.  And on top of the contact prints developed from that roll, written either by Lucius Beebe or likely Charles Clegg himself, are notations on the value placed on each photograph, highlighting the flaws or features.  As a reference only, I have provided thumbnail images of those contact prints with notations.  The photocopy showing these contact prints was shared by the museum so that I could select which photographs to order for prints.  I'm doing the same here so that you can view your choices and order directly if so desired.  Looking at the many photographers that visited the N&A over the years, it's interesting that only this series includes some lesser scenes (i.e.: chickens on the tracks) and views.  Even August Thieme's amateur film used in the Steam Locos on Industrial and Short Lines, Volume 2 video (DVD available from http://www.historicrail.com/) didn't include station scenes or views of the engine house in Schuyler (yes, I checked with the production company of Historic Rail - all film of the N&A provided by August Thieme was used in the video!)  What was of really good interest was the photo of Schuyler's depot/general store in one view.  Tying that together with an overall view of the rail layout through Schuyler was interesting and points out the stub track that one locomotive was on at the time the shutter was snapped.  I'm using that print to help build a mock-up of the depot/general store during this upcoming Chicago winter.  
Remember it is never our intention to violate copyright on any photograph, so contact the California State Railroad Museum at http://www.csrmf.org//pdf/Library%20photo%20form%202006.pdf using the form to request a 5x7 or 8x10 of the photos noted by their negative number as their title in the Index Spreadsheet to N&A Photos by Charles Clegg available as an attachment below.  (As soon as permission is received from the museum, thumbnail images will be made available in the Image Repository accessed by the link in the sidebar.)  I believe only 1 photo in the Nelson & Albemarle series does not have a negative.  The pricing for these photos is very reasonable at $12 for 5x7 and $18 for 8x10.  Without a negative those prices jump to $27 and $33 respectively.  Postage & handling is $5.00 for each $50.00 (10%) of an order.  Now, I'm not trying to sell photographic prints here, but the detail on each of these photographs in the 8x10 format is excellent.  Imagine how many of Charles Clegg's photographs, never published, might exist of a modeler's favorite rail line!  It's obvious that any Nelson & Albemarle Railway modeler could benefit from these photographs taken in 1946 showing that slice of the N&A captured forever on film by Charles Clegg.  
**See the Index of Photos Below in Attachments** 
Please note any comments on "This Months' Articles" in the comments section either on the MAIN page or in the sidebar archives section.  Copyright 2009 - Nelson & Albemarle Railway Historical Society.
Rob Peters,
Oct 8, 2009, 2:43 PM