oh link! roanoke, va

O. Winston Link self-portrait

The mystique of trains plays a large role in borderland culture.  Here, a museum lovingly rose from Roanoke’s former Norfolk & Western passenger terminal, with an amazing photography collection that captures the dying years of America’s last steam railway.

O. Winston Link, a commercial photographer from New York, had a passion: steam trains.  He self-financed his documentary project, from 1955-1960, during 21 trips to Roanoke, which blossomed into a city a century ago at the intersection of two rail lines.  Capturing many images at night, he brought his studio outdoors with hundreds of yards of cables for lighting.  This is my kind of man!

His collection was ignored for nearly 20 years, until the 1980’s brought international exhibitions and two published works.  In 2000, Link began negotiations with Roanoke, personally choosing the museum’s siting at the defunct passenger terminal.

Not only a beautiful homage to the past age of steam trains, his 2,000 images represent the most important photographic series taken of the region.

About Ben

Ben Batchelder has traveled some of the world's most remote roads. Nothing in his background, from a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies at Harvard to an MBA from Wharton, adequately prepared him for the experiences. Yet he persists, for through such journeys life unfolds. Having published four books that map the inner and exterior geographies of meaningful travel, he is a mountain man in Minas Gerais, Brazil who comes down to the sea at Miami Beach, Florida. His second travel yarn, To Belém & Back, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. For more, visit www.benbatchelder.com.

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