Full Steam Ahead

The iconic railway images of O. Winston Link.

Photo courtesy of the O. Winston Link Museum

Between 1955 and 1960, renowned photographer O. Winston Link traveled the rails of Western Virginia capturing thousands of images of steam-propelled railway infrastructure and the rural life that bordered it. 

Today, the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke is home to the entire collection of Link’s more than 4,000 negatives, as well as 450 prints of his work. New artifacts acquired in February from a private collector include rare letters Link wrote to himself containing sketches of never-filed patent ideas for photographic equipment—such as a telescoping locking leg device for tripods and a clamp type flash reflector holder. 

The museum is housed in a former passenger station that served as the headquarters of Norfolk and Western Railway, now Norfolk Southern Corp., from which Link often departed on his trips to document the end of the steam era.

To experience the rails once traveled by Link, hop on the Norfolk and Western Class J 611 steam locomotive, restored to operation in 2015 by Roanoke’s Virginia Museum of Transportation. Or, check out day trips offered on the Buckingham Branch Railroad departing from Dillwyn Station in the spring, fall and Christmas seasons. RoanokeHistory.orgFireUp611.org, BuckinghamBranch.com

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