built in 1949-1950 at the N&W shops in Roanoke, Virginia. The Class A locomotive,
first introduced in 1936, was a simple articulated locomotive that had two engines,
front and rear, both of which used steam at the same 300-psi pressure. The locomotive
had 70-inch driving wheels, and was capable of speeds up to 80 mph. In 1980 Link
noted in the book Ghost Trains that the Class A locomotive was, in his opinion, the
most beautiful engine ever built.
Winston Link was a young practitioner of an old photographic tradition, one still much
used, hut which now commands little public notice. He developed a strong personal
style within the technique of using cameras that were usually fixed in place, mounted
on heavy tripods and using large negatives, typically 4 x 5 inches in size. The dynamic
qualities of photographs made this way came through their careful planning: the precise
placement of the camera, and equally careful placement of the lighting sources, with
people and objects also being arranged with an eye for the final effect. Photographs
using this technique were (and still are) made by the millions for advertising and
While this manner of photography is still widely used, we have come more often to
think of photographic "truth" through another aesthetic, one created by photographers
using small hand held cameras. Sometimes described by the generic term "street
photography" photographers who work in this way usually move rapidly and invisibly
through their surroundings, making images using only the light available and leaving the
environment untouched and unchanged.
Not only did Winston Link use a different photographic technique, his motivations were
I made this way too hard. And I was born in Staunton, Va. Betty Chambers
YES!!! TOUCHDOWN FOR THE ANGELS...man these girls are good...I played
around with this Sunday night for 2 hours-took them-solo-15 minutes.."Hey this was
easy" they said, "just type in PHOTOGRAPH/DRIVE IN/TRAIN"...duh??? who's
teaching who here!!!! Rick/Ashley/Jina
I had seen this picture previously, and it looked like the kind of picture that would have
appeared in Life Magazine. As it turns out, there was a fairly famous "drive-in movie"
picture by Margaret Bourke-White, the famous photographer, and while Googling for
Bourke-White an "drive-in", I stumbed upon a St Petersburg Times article that
mentioned the Link picture. Andy Hoh
I remember seeing this picture before about a staged photograph. I can’t remember
where or when though. Yes, steamed up just about captures it. Of all the drive-in
movies I went to see, I now regret ignoring the movies the most! I have never heard of
O. Winston Link before either, but as you say a great photographer of steam engines
would need a bold name. Here’s a link telling about Link paying the couple $10 to sit in
the convertible. That’s probably why they didn’t looks at the lights. http://www.
smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The_Big_Picture.html. Fred Stuart
Thanks for the hint! I was on the right track searching drive in photos - I just wan't
looking at the right sites. The name of the movie took longer to come by but I got it!
After completing the last quiz, I submitted a trivia note about Link's photo to IMDB
[Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com] for the Battle Taxi image. Tim Brixius
I was lucky on this one-found the same picture almost immediately. No, I knew
nothing about the photographer before the quiz, but I did find him interesting to read
about. Learned something new as I usually do from your quizzes and did look at some
of his other works. I agree that he has a most appropriate name. Now I will have to
check out the name you gave the file. Have a good day. Margaret Waterman
The REALLY confusing part of this exercise?? I looked up the map of Iaeger, WV. The
train tracks go every *imaginable* direction!! So figuring out the direction using the
map was utterly useless to me. Marjorie Wilser
I didn’t know about Winston Link but I only did a few searches to find the
information. The railroad museum in Roanoke , Virginia is an hour from where I grew
up. The next time that I am Virginia I will have to go there. Did you get to see the
other pictures that he did? Very interesting information about him and his work.
Bet you thought I had given up. No, sometimes, one should wait awhile and try again
with a fresh idea. I love this guys work. He didn't give up on getting the photo right. I
couldn't give up on finding his work. Judy Pfaff
I am familiar with O Winston Link’s photography. Great stuff, especially considering
the fact that he was using flash bulbs and only one chance to get the shot! It would be
hard enough to properly light the train, let alone the foreground showing other
activities. I saw a print of his Swimming Pool at Welch, West Virginia at the University
of Nebraska’s Sheldon Art Gallery this past summer. Another great photo!
I am glad that I was able to get it right. I live in the town that I grew up in and it has a
very busy railroad track that runs through it. You do just get to the point where it is
just another background noise. I remember when I moved to Texas for a few years. I
had such a hard time sleeping because I guess I missed the "background noise" of the
trains. I have always lived like two blocks from the tracks, so it wasn't like they were
in my living room as the woman sitting on her sofa! I managed a very small motel here
in town when I first moved back to town and lived in a house right on the property
which only had a road in between the house and the tracks. It was simply awful the
noise! The house shook and you couldn't hear yourself think even. The amount of
freight being shipped by train now is unbelievable. I am back to living a couple of
blocks away again-- home sweet home. I love my close-but-not-too-close trains.
Karen Kay Bunting
Yeah, that was pretty cool, I liked that interactive photo too. He really took his work
seriously! And he put so much work into it. I guess people that love their work do
that. Debbie Sterbinsky
In my earlier days I spent a lot of time hanging around railroads and attempting model
railroading. I had seen quite a few of his photos. I never knew his first name was Ogle
- a great name for a photographer. Dave Doucette
The photo is remarkably clear, and I did read about all the work Link did to get it just
right. I am glad you mentioned that the scene from Battle Taxi was pasted in later. I
thought I saw a train in the rather pixilated part of the on screen scene. I thought that
was a really bizarre touch to the photograph to see a train, hear a train and watch a train
on the movie.
I only went on a couple of drive-in dates as they were declining in popularity during my
dating days. I remember going to see Dr. Zivago which is my favorite all time movie.
I had seen it in a surround sound bigger then life movie screen when it first came out.
I talked Dave into going to the drive-in to see it. The screen was so far away that it
looked like a postage stamp. The screen in this photo is smaller viewing wise then
people have in their living rooms with HD tvs. But, there was OH so much more to the
drive-in experience then watching the movie. Thanks for the memories. Judy Pfaff
Fun puzzle for a snowy afternoon (Bend, Oregon has 9" so far and it's still snowing
hard.) Sandy Thompson
I do love trains! I used to live in a little house a few blocks from the tracks - every
single thing rattled & shook whenever a train came through! But I don't think I'd want a
train coming right by my front window. Still, as you say, it's amazing what a person
can get used to. I do think Link's photos are great and it's really interesting to think
about all the time & effort he took to set them up. Wonder what he'd think of
everyone taking photos any old time and place now with their phones.
M. Diane Rogers
This is a very interesting site: http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2004/winter/garver-
last-days-steam/ So interesting to see the first photo with his night flash equipment. It's
great to see "behind the scenes" so to speak! Can you imagine all his gear set up at the
drive-in? I have looked at a number of his photos of the trains. They make me miss
traveling on trains in NJ and then between NJ and Alabama to see my relatives and then
between NJ and Iowa when I was in college. Memories! Memories! Grace Hertz
|After a brief glance at the photo, and I mean a
_really_ brief glance... I guessed the photo was
taken facing east, so the train was going west.
My reason: we had two drive-ins in town. Both
of them had screens facing west. Don't know
why, unless it was not making folks look into the
setting sun as the dusk movie began playing.
But I had no idea about photographer or the
movie. Even if I recognized the photographer I
wouldn't recognize the movie: I didn't go to any
before about 1960. But THEN....
Waitaminnit! AHA! Googling "photo of train next to
drive-in" gives me the Smithsonian page at
so that means that O. Winston Link, the
photographer, was working on the photo set-up
during the movie "Battle Taxi" at the drive-in
located in Iaeger, Virginia.
The full title of this shot is " Hotshot Eastbound
at the Iaeger Drive-In, Iaeger, West Virginia,
1956" - so I am wrong in my guess that the train
is westbound. Guess it mattered more that the
screen had room than the direction the screen
So: final answer <grin>
1. Train is traveling Eastward.
2. Photographer is O. Winston Link
3. Movie was "Battle Taxi."
At the Iaeger Drive-In Theater Willie Allen and Dorothy
Christian appear impervious to "Hot Shot" merchandise
speeding eastbound along the Pocahontas Division of the
Norfolk and Western Railway. This train is Time Freight
No. 78 running on a passenger train schedule hauling all
merchandise cars going east to Norfolk, Virginia. This coal
fired steam locomotive, No. 1242, was built in 1949-1950
at the N&W shops in Roanoke, Virginia. The Class A
locomotive, first introduced in 1936, was a simple
articulated locomotive that had two engines, front and rear,
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|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
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2. O. Winston Link
Bonus: Battle Taxi starring Sterling Hayden
Name of the Photo: Hot Shot Eastbound at the Iaeger Drive In
Iaeger, West Virginia, 1956
|Answer to Quiz #142 - January 6, 2008
with a 4 x 5 view camera, which was also becoming antique with the development of
35-millimeter photography, because he didn't trust the impromptu approach the new
format encouraged. And he took almost all his train pictures at night, when he could
engineer his scenes without the sun getting in his way.
To do that, he had to devise his own flash system. Link
would mark a train's path with lanterns, and then map
out where to set out flash reflectors. Each reflector,
which held up to 18 flashbulbs, was wired to a portable
supply of batteries and condensers. When the train hit
the right spot, Link pushed a button to fire the bulbs
and, 35-thousandths of a second later, released the
camera shutter. The system wasn't without its quirks—
since the bulbs were wired much like Christmas lights, a
single broken wire or faulty bulb could knock out all the
others in the circuit.
|How Marjorie Solved This Week's Puzzle
|railroad was still the essential element which stitched together Winston Link's personal
vision of this good life in America.
Read biography, click here.
|1. What direction is the train traveling?
2. Who was the photographer?
Bonus: What is the name of the movie shown on the screen?
Note: This is not as hard as you think. Give it a try. Hints available. Just ask.
|Thanks to Deb Pritchard for suggesting this quiz.
multiple problems with his equipment resulted in no useable images.
Note: Link's flash washed out the movie screen. He inserted the image of the airplane
One summer night in 1956 in the
coal-mining hamlet of Iaeger, West
Virginia, a stranger walked up to Willie
Allen at the drive-in. "Excuse me, sir," he
said, "how would you and your date like
to watch the movie from my convertible?"
"What's the catch?" Allen, then a
23-year-old Army corporal on leave from
Fort Campbell, Kentucky, recalls asking.
|Comments from Our Readers
much as though he'd been given an assignment—but he'd
given it to himself." With the railroad's blessing, Link
roamed the heart of coal country, taking pictures of trains
and the communities they served. He spent countless hours
and more than $20,000 of his own money (more than
$145,000 today) on the project, calling it quits just a few
weeks before the last Norfolk and Western steam engine
made its final run on May 7, 1960.
But Link's investments of time and money only begin to
measure his devotion to the project. He insisted on working
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Mr. Rick's Quiz Angels -Ashley Hicks and Jina Yi
Fred Stuart Teresa Yu
Andy Hoh Tim Brixius
Margaret Waterman Marjorie Wilser
Delores Martin Jerry Vergeront
Sarah Herbener Kim Musser
Judy Pfaff Beth Long
Dan Schlesinger Charles Minchew
Stephanie Shaw Karen Kay Bunting
Anna Farris Evan Hindman
Robert E. McKenna Sharon Martin
Mike Swierczewski Debbie Sterbinsky
Grace Hertz Stan Read
M. Diane Rogers Gary Sterne
Mary South Corey Condit
Dave Doucette Bill Utterback
Skip Brott Elaine C. Hebert
Don Schulteis Jim Kiser
Brian Kemp Kelly Fetherlin
JoAnne Craig Sandy Thompson
Mike Dalton Richard Murray
Tom Tullis Joe Ruffner
Lexie Condit Diane Burkett
Joshua Kreitzer Dave Richardson
Sheri Fenley Cari Thomas
Tom Tollefsen Gina Hudson
Zach Chambers Betty Chambers
Special Note: The name of the file was a hint to the answer. Right click on the
picture, then on the dropdown menu click on Properties. If you ar using a MAC this
might not work. In this case, just download the image and see what name comes up.
Ogle Winston Link (December 16, 1914
– January 30, 2001), known commonly
as O. Winston Link, was an American
photographer. He is best known for his
black and white photography and sound
recordings of the last days of steam
locomotive railroading in the United
States in the late 1950s. A commercial
photographer, Link helped establish rail
photography as a hobby. He also
pioneered night photography, producing
several well known examples including
Hotshot Eastbound, a photograph of a
steam train passing a drive-in movie
theater, and Hawksbill Creek Swimming
Hole showing a train crossing a bridge
above children bathing. He was named
for two of his maternal ancestors: the
twentieth Speaker of the United States
House of Representatives John Winston
Jones and Pennsylvanian Representative
different from street photographers His
interest, in all his work, was to create as
precise and careful a record as possible of
the scene being photographed. Using lessons
he learned from his commercial advertising
photography, Link had less interest in
documenting life as he found it than in
creating images of life as he (or his clients)
might wish it to be. Thus in his railroad
photos, Link built a record that not only
documented the locomotives and trains
themselves, but emphasized the benefits of
the railroad to the life of the communities
through which it passed. He was, in his way,
preparing and executing an advertising
campaign for the "American Steam
Railroad," and the good life in the United
States which it supported. In many of his
photographs the passing train is incidental to
the activity in the foreground, be it buying
groceries, taking a swim or herding cows.
Yet, even in the background, the steam
All they had to do, the stranger said, is sit in the car until the train passed. "I'll give you
$10," he added.
Allen and his date, Dorothy Christian, took the deal, and the stranger took their picture.
Thus O. Winston Link produced one of the most elegiac railroad pictures in a series he
had begun some months before.
Link, who died in 2001 at 86, was a New York City-based photographer of technical
prowess and a traditionalist bent. "Winston really appreciated the old, if it was solidly
crafted and made," says Thomas Garver, who was Link's assistant and longtime friend.
While on assignment shooting an air conditioner factory in western Virginia in January
1955, Link photographed a night train on the Norfolk and Western Railway. Within
hours after he had developed the image, he began hatching a plan that would consume
the next five years of his life: documenting the last days of steam-powered locomotion
in the United States.
"Winston wanted to capture this before it was all gone," says Garver. "It was very
Interesting Facts: Link used a total of 43 flash bulbs, all
fired simultaneously to achieve this magnificent result.
Winston once stated, "Since I could only see the headlight
of the locomotive in total darkness, I did not know until the
flash was fired that I had captured this prize." The couple in
the foreground sits in Winston's 1952 Buick convertible. He
also used this car in another well-known 1956 image,
"Sometimes the Electricity Fails". The image on the movie
screen is from the 1955 motion picture "Battle Taxi", which
was being shown that evening. It is interesting to note that
according to Tom Garver (Link's former agent), Link had
tried to produce this image in July of the previous year, but
|The Simpsons Parody
on O. Winston Link
The plot involves Homer
helping Moe the bartender
commit insurance fraud by
stealing his car and parking
it on the railroad tracks so
it will be destroyed. On the
way, Homer sees that one
of his favorite films, Hail to
the Chimp, is playing at the
drive-in theater and decides
he has time to watch it
before the train arrives. Of
course, he falls asleep, and
wakes up just as the train
The artists on The
Simpsons had quoted a
photograph from 1956
named Hotshot Eastbound.
The only reason I even
spotted the visual reference
in the first place was
because the story behind
the picture was in the
December 2005 issue of The
Smithsonian Magazine. The
photographer’s name was
O. Winston Link, and he
chronicled the end of the
steam locomotive era.
Not only was I correct, but
there is a detail I hadn’t
spotted last night: there’s a
jet in the same orientation
on the drive-in screen in
both versions. The
Simpsons shot is about a
quarter-second behind the
photograph, but as you can
plainly see they’re
|This picture window was installed to make
a room with a view. Trains don’t bother
cats, dogs or people in spite of nearness to
the main line, Shenandoah Division. The
engineer of this train has Christmas dinner
with the owners of this Virginia dwelling
and expresses the possibility of No. 2
leaving the tracks to continue on a straight
line through the house. The residents of
this home have a tomato canning business,
construction business, chicken farm
(12,000 population) and run a general store
where no one pays his bills. The store is
seldom opened and at no scheduled time
does it open. Probably, the store does not
pay. The owner of this residence, Mrs.
Hester Fringer, always treated us to a
delicious fried chicken dinner whenever we
worked in this area which was as
frequently as possible as there were a lot of
good locations here. Behind his house she
had a natural spring fed from the
mountains. Mrs. Hester Poulis and her son,
George are in this photograph. Outside the
house, Train No. 2’s wheels are showing,
so it is close to 7:11p.m.