Amtrak’s Washington, D.C. Ivy City locomotive maintenance facility in 1980 which serves the southern end of the Northeast Corridor and Washington Union Station. In the middle is one of the former Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 all-electric locomotives, designed and built specially for the NEC. Nearly indestructible, the fleet of locomotives were built from 1934 to 1943, so in 1980 the GG-1 pictured would be between 37 and 46 years old. Of the 139 of these brutes built, they would last until their final run in 1983. Sixteen are preserved as museum pieces.
By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation; March 15, 2023
Just to refresh your memory and make sure the extraordinary talents of Roger Puta are recognized, here is the introduction from the original column about his work from January 23, 2023:
What a gift good photography is for those who live in a world of trains. Even so-so photography can be great if just the right moment is captured in an image.
There are multiple dozens of unsung heroes of railroad photography merrily clicking away either on traditional film, digitally and even with a handy cell phone when a camera isn’t nearby.
This space has previously, happily made use of the outstanding online resource for photography, Wikimedia Commons. It is a general repository for all types of photography on all types of subjects, well beyond passenger and freight trains. Photographs placed on Wikimedia Commons are available in the public domain for use without copyright royalties.
The late Roger Puta was a railroader and prolific photographer; he passed away at a too-young age in 1990. He worked for the Santa Fe Railway as well as the Western Pacific. He traveled all over North America photographing trains of all sorts as well as transit. Included in his photos are train stations and other railroad facilities and infrastructure and a smattering of people, both railroad employees and passengers.
Mr. Puta’s photographs run the spectrum from “chance, spur of the moment shots” to some which were purposely taken. No matter what his camera’s subject matter, Mr. Puta’s photo composition was superb, and his ability to capture everyday events for posterity are his legacy for generations to come. His photography began in the waning days of a pre-Amtrak and pre-VIA Rail Canada world and continued through the first two decades of Amtrak and VIA. The transitions he captured are stunning.
Many would agree Mr. Puta’s work rivals that of railroad photography legend O. Winston Link.
In this space, we celebrate Roger Puta with just a tiny sample of his over 5,200 photographs available on Wikimedia Commons thanks to the thoughtfulness of his literary heirs and lifelong friends. The world is indebted to Mr. Puta and those still alive who have made his magnificent photograph collection available for all to enjoy.
Roger Puta in 1981 on a locomotive cab ride in Canada. The engineer of the train took this photo.
This is the brief biography of Roger Puta on WikiAlpha:
“Roger Puta (pronounced “PEU tah” – it’s Czech) was a prolific photographer who specialized in taking photos of trains, mass transit, railroad infrastructure (especially signal systems) and general architecture. Puta was born in 1944 in Berwyn, Illinois, and moved to Naperville, Illinois when he was five. He attended St. Procopius Academy, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and Northwestern University, where he earned a master’s degree in transportation.
“Roger was commissioned as an Unrestricted Navy Line Officer on October 24, 1968. After serving in the US Navy during the Viet Nam war, Roger returned to Chicago and worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, a job that provided him the opportunity to travel, and to continue his avid hobby of taking train and transit photos. In 1971, Roger went to work for the Western Pacific Railroad in San Francisco, and was later a partner, with Richard Twining, in ‘Scenic Hyway Tours,’ a tour bus company.
“After his untimely death in 1990, Roger left his vast collection of color slides to his childhood friend and literary heir Mel Finzer, who made the decision to place Roger’s photos in the public domain, and they have subsequently been very widely reproduced. Another childhood friend, Marty Bernard, has scanned and digitized close to ten thousand color slides, and put them online on the flickr photosharing website. Finzer and Bernard’s only request to re-users of Puta’s photos is that they credit him when they re-use them.”
Most photos have a date when they were taken; some do not. A few do not have a location identified. For those photos lacking “data,” just enjoy the gift of the photography.
An Atlantic Coast Line Railroad locomotive in 1963 at Union Station in downtown Atlanta, The Fulton National Bank and Bank of Georgia buildings are prominent in the background. Atlanta Union Station was built in 1930, but closed in 1971 and was demolished in 1972. Note the “Radio Equipped” logo on the side of the locomotive. In 1963 radios in locomotives and for train and engine crews were still a big deal.
Union Pacific’s famed Domeliner City Of Los Angeles in February of 1971 was still a very impressive train. The last run would be on April 30, 1971 as the next day would be Amtrak Day, and the Armour Yellow City of Los Angeles was not included on the list of trains which became Amtrak trains.
The former Pullman Lounge under a dome on Union Pacific’s Domeliner City of Los Angeles in May of 1970, a year before Amtrak but a year and a half after the end of Pullman Company sleeping car services which were discontinued on December 31, 1968. Former member railroads took over operating their own sleeping and lounge cars.
Denver Union Station April 1971 sign advising passengers Union Pacific’s Portland Rose would be on Track 17. In less than a month Amtrak would be in business and the Portland Rose would be gone.
Denver, Rio Grande & Western’s Ski Train in January 1985. In 1983 the Rio Grande finally joined Amtrak 12 years after its inception and its mainline passenger equipment went with the deal. The company retained a heavyweight consist which it used to continue to operate the annual Ski Train movements separate from Amtrak.
Looking east toward the sunrise in Daggett, California in February 1984 with a westbound Santa Fe train headed away from the sunrise.
An array of Santa Fe Railway mainline signals in East Baca, New Mexico in October 1985.
Santa Fe Railway passenger station in La Junta, Colorado in December 1970, featuring a Christmas tree. This would be the last Santa Fe Christmas for the station; La Junta would be an Amtrak passenger train station in December 1971 serving Amtrak’s version of the Super Chief and El Capitan.
A Santa Fe locomotive leads an Operation Lifesaver train at Allensworth, California in 1987. The consist seems a “little bit of everything” including an Amtrak locomotive, two Superliners, one former Santa Fe Hi-Level coach in Amtrak colors, what appears to be one bi-level gallery car and two single level cars.
ABOVE and BELOW: Above, an eastbound Amtrak Southwest Limited in New Mexico, 1983, on the Santa Fe mainline. Below, another Southwest Limited in 1981; both photographs visually explain why the passing scenery of America from a train is both stunning and magnificent.
An eastbound, pint-sized Amtrak San Joaquin in the late afternoon at Port Chicago, California in September 1980.
Amtrak in Santa Barbara, California, 1987.
A road-weary Amtrak FP7A locomotive soldiers on in April 1976. The locomotive began its service life for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor in Seabrook, Maryland in 1987; an AEM-7 locomotive is pulling an unknown train and kicking up snow powder.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation owned 13 SPV-2000s, an updated version of the predecessor Rail Diesel Cars. Amtrak operated the SPV-2000s for New Haven-Springfield service. This car is sitting at New Haven in May 1982.
The Amtrak ticket counter at Saint Louis Union Station, January 1972 when Amtrak was less than a year old. Note the ticket office hours are 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM, daily. St. Louis was served by three daily Amtrak trains, the National Limited, Abraham Lincoln and Prairie State. When St. Louis Union Station was built, it was the largest and busiest train station in the world and its massive trainshed had the largest roof span in the world. During World War II 100,000 people a day passed through the station. The building is now a hotel and shopping area.
Burlington Northern passenger train directory at the former Great Northern Railway passenger station in Minneapolis, April 1971, just prior to the start of Amtrak. The station has since been demolished. Of the six trains displayed above (each train is separately displayed for arrival and departure times as well as eastbound and westbound), only the Empire Builder would survive into Amtrak. As one astute reader of this space has noted in the recent past, on April 30, 1971, all of these trains were mandated by the federal government as necessary for the public good and had to be operated, yet, somehow the next day, except for the Empire Builder, they were all unnecessary and expendable.
Caltrain, in San Jose, as operated by Southern Pacific Railroad in 1985. The original San Francisco peninsula area commuter service was called Peninsula Commute and began service in 1863. In 1985 the service would receive new and improved passenger cars and locomotives. Today, Caltrain is in the final stages of completely electrifying it mainline right-of-way and will again have all new passenger equipment.
An outbound Southern Pacific Railroad commuter train leaving downtown San Francisco in November 1984 using bi-level equipment, a huge improvement over ancient heavyweight commuter cars.
In 1967 Southern Pacific Railroad’s Coast Daylight was still a popular and important train. Here, it’s waiting to leave downtown San Francisco for its daytime run to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, later renamed Los Angeles Union Station.
By 1966 when this photo was taken in Decatur, Illinois, the Wabash Railroad had been absorbed into the Norfolk and Western Railway two years before and cars of the last version of the Wabash Cannon Ball were being switched from the former Wabash Blue Bird dome streamliner.
ABOVE and BELOW: Also in 1966, Norfolk and Western’s Wabash Cannon Ball is departing Decatur, Illinois.
It’s not a trolley, and it’s not a train. It’s an electrified combine interurban car in downtown South Bend, Indiana in January 1964, handling both passengers and large package/small freight shipments. The Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad lives on today in an expanded capacity, but only as a freight railroad hauling cars behind diesel locomotives. The passenger side has grown and prospered as NICTD, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, a public agency which operates a fleet of modern electric interurban trains between Millennium Station in downtown Chicago and South Bend International Airport. The commuter system is still referred to as the South Shore Line.
A Chicago, South Shore and South Bend electric freight locomotive and train in Chicago in 1964. The freight side of the South Shore Line is now owned and operated by the Anacostia Rail Holdings Company, and all of its freight train locomotives are diesels.
The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Danville-Chicago Flyer at Steger, Illinois, November 1965.
A “modest” freight station at Holcomb, Illinois on the Chicago Great Western Railway in this undated photo. Burlington Route tracks are in the foreground. The Chicago Great Western would disappear into the Chicago and North Western Railroad in 1968.
A random scene at Griffith, Indiana in January 1965 on the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway.
Two Bangor and Aroostook Railroad trains meet east of Oakfield, Maine, February 1970.
A Bangor and Aroostook Railroad freight train at Caribou, Maine, February 1970.
Looking up close and personal at a Central of Vermont locomotive from the vestibule of a New Haven Railroad parlor/observation car on an excursion train in 1968 in Connecticut.
New York Central System’s Southwestern Limited at Indianapolis Union Station in the mid-1960s. Indianapolis, Indiana was the first city in the world to create a union station in 1848. Indianapolis Union Station originally opened in 1853 and has been rebuilt three times since then. Today, the station building is used for commercial office space and a hotel is part of the complex. The remaining Amtrak train which uses Indianapolis Union Station is the tri-weekly Cardinal.
A heavyweight New York Central System passenger train consist departs the Coraopolis, Pennsylvania passenger station in 1965.
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s revived Diplomat at Akron, Ohio in the late 1960s. The second version of the Diplomat operated between Chicago’s Grand Central Station and Washington Union Station via Gary, Akron, Youngstown and Pittsburgh and operated from 1964 until 1968. The train carried Pullman sleeping cars, coaches, a diner and a dining-lounge car plus head-end traffic.
ABOVE and BELOW: Kansas City Union Station in July 1967, grand exterior and even grander interior. The terminal opened in 1914 and its peak passenger service was in 1945 with 678,363 passengers using it that year. Railroad restauranteur and entrepreneur Fred Harvey made a huge commitment to Kansas City and when the new terminal was opened, Fred Harvey’s Harvey House restaurants were part of the complex, with 170 Harvey employees working in the restaurants. On the first day the terminal opened, the Harvey restaurants served over 5,000 meals, and their popularity with both locals and travelers remained for decades. In addition to the restaurants, Fred Harvey operated a string of specialty stores and shops in the terminal including a 24-hour book store, drugstore, perfumery, toy store, and gift shop. Some have argued that the combination of Fred Harvey restaurants and shops inside Kansas City Union Station constituted America’s first true shopping center or indoor mall, according to Fred Harvey’s biography, Appetite for America by Stephen Fried.
Milwaukee Road’s Morning Hiawatha, passing Lake Pewaukee, Wisconsin, August 1966.
A healthy-sized Milwaukee Road Morning Hiawatha at Lake, Wisconsin, January 1966.
Kansas City Southern’s Southern Belle at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in 1967. Note the Illinois Central passenger train consist in the background; possibly the Panama Limited.
Southern Railway’s Royal Palm waiting to depart from Cincinnati Union Terminal in 1963.
Southern Railway’s Birmingham Special passes through Alexandrian, Virginia in 1969. Note the huge string of front-end mail and express cars on this train.
Central of Georgia locomotives on a storage track at Atlanta Terminal Station in 1963. Like Atlanta Union Station, Terminal Station was closed in 1970 and demolished in 1972. Built in 1905, the station served Central of Georgia, Seaboard Air Line, and the Atlanta and West Point railroads. Atlanta’s only surviving train station is Peachtree Station which was built as a suburban commuter station by the Southern Railway. Peachtree Station today serves Atlanta’s only intercity train, Amtrak’s Crescent.
A GO Transit commuter train in Toronto in September 1979. The passenger cars were first developed by UTDC and would become familiar to Metrolink passengers in Southern California, Altamont Corridor Express passengers in Northern California and Tri-Rail passengers in South Florida among other locations. Over 700 of these cars are in service in North America today.
Ontario Northland Railroad’s two passenger trains, the Polar Bear Express and at the far left, the Northlander, in Cochrane, Ontario, November 1978.
An Ontario Northland Railroad mixed train sits at Latchford, Ontario’s depot in September 1965. The train has both a combine car and caboose.
A heavyweight Ontario Northland Railroad coach rests in a coach yard in 1978.
The Cariboo Prospector/Cariboo Dayliner of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway/BC Rail at Prince George, British Columbia in 1969. This service ran from North Vancouver to Prince George from 1956 to 2002, and made connections at Prince George to service between Jasper, Alberta and the seaport of Prince Rupert provided by Canadian National Railway. All of the BC Rail passenger service was provided by RDCs, including trains of several of them in a consist all working together over the striking and mountainous terrain of British Columbia. BC Rail passenger service was discontinued when the province-owned railroad was leased to CN.
A classic, undated photo of a lonely RDC on the equally lonely plains of Canada at Wakaw, Saskatchewan.
It still looks like a set of Canadian National Railway RDCs at St. Bruno, Quebec, but the date was 1979 and VIA Rail Canada was two years old.
The VIA Rail Canada overnight train to Montreal at Senneterre, Quebec in 1980.
Canadian Pacific Railway’s Canadian at the station in North Bay, Ontario in 1971, six years before VIA Rail Canada would be formed. The original CP Canadian was an all purpose-built Budd Company stainless steel, perfectly matched consist which is extant today on VIA Rail’s Canadian. The same CP Budd equipment was used in the 1976 Silver Streak movie, appearing as the fictional Amrail, filmed in Canada.
An eastbound VIA Rail Canada Canadian near Stephen, British Columbia in 1982, on the original Canadian Pacific Railway route. VIA Rail was formed in 1977, and, like Amtrak in the early years, was often a colorful combination of equipment from both CP and Canadian National Railway not yet blended into VIA Rail’s color scheme.
In 1982 a westbound VIA Rail Canada Canadian on the original Canadian Pacific Railway route at Stephen, British Columbia.
A VIA Rail Canada version of the famous Canadian on the original Canadian Pacific Railway route at Field, British Columbia in 1982. The stainless steel equipment is former Budd Company CP equipment built for the Canadian while the blue and yellow equipment is former Canadian National equipment, some of which may have been used on CN’s Super Continental, operated on today’s VIA Rail Canadian route. Many believe the former CP route of the Canadian is far more scenic and dramatic than the current CN route. Rocky Mountaineer uses much of the former CP route between Vancouver and Calgary, Alberta.
A westbound VIA Rail Canada train in Ontario, 1980. The blue and yellow equipment was mostly former Canadian National Railway equipment moved into VIA. Note the CN locomotive just before the first passenger car.