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A Link to railroad heritage

Museum's exhibit of photographer's train art opens with family fun

Museum's exhibit of photographer's train art opens with family fun

July 09, 2006|by MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN

A plume of smoke billows from the throat of Engine No. 2 as it rumbles during the night across a bridge in Arcadia, Va.

In the shallow waters below, a young boy is fishing, oblivious to the train's air compressor pistons that surely are hammering out a loud rhythmic beat.

It's the 1950s, and the dramatic, black-and-white photograph captures a nostalgic period in American history.

It is one of many images by O. Winston Link - known for his nocturnal photography of steam trains and railroad towns - currently on exhibit at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

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The exhibit, which opened last week, served as inspiration Saturday for the annual family arts festival at the museum.

With a theme of "Riding the Rails," the event featured a variety of activities, most train-related.

There was a children's story hour with a train theme, a video on the life of O. Winston Link, a train art workshop and several lectures by guest speakers, including Robert Tracey Sr. and Bill Knode of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, and retirees from the Western Maryland Railway.

"This community has strong ties to the railroad," said Amy Blank-Rowland, museum educator with the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. "We thought it would be a great idea to coordinate this year's festival with the photography exhibit."

With the large number of train buffs in the area, Blank-Rowland said she was expecting a good turnout for the event.

"We'll have a lot of families. But I expect we'll have a lot of railroad enthusiasts, as well," she said. "We've been advertising the festival since April at railroad-related events, and we've received publicity, not only locally, but in the Baltimore area. So I think we should have a pretty big crowd today."

Mike Stemvold of Frederick, Md., was among the train enthusiasts who attended the festival and was pleased with the array of activities.

"I've loved trains ever since I was a little boy," Stemvold said. "Events like this just make my day."

After touring the Link photography exhibit, Stemvold planned on sitting in on all of the lectures.

"I never get bored listening and talking about trains," he said.

Mary Wheeler of Hagerstown brought her two grandchildren to the festival for "a day of fun," but soon found herself drawn to the railroad history and memorabilia on display.

"My dad worked on the railroad when I was growing up in North Carolina," Wheeler said. "This brings back so many memories."

In addition to railroad-related activities, outside courtyard offerings included face painting, origami and balloon sculpture.

The O. Winston Link exhibit, "Arrested Motion: 1950s Railroad Photographs," will continue through Sept. 24.

Blank-Rowland said that while Link was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he has a connection to this area. His family originally is from Shepherdstown, W.Va., where he is buried.

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