Jim Shaughnessy Essential Witness is a comprehensive overview of this well-known image maker’s sixty years of activity as a railroad photographer. Starting in the late 1940s, Shaughnessy began documenting in earnest the rapidly changing railroad scene in the northeastern United States. His interests and travels also took him to other areas of the country to document the Rio Grande narrow gauge in Colorado, the UP Big Boys in Wyoming, and various locations in Canada. His timing was perfect: he was there to record the dramatic transition between the steam and diesel eras as well as document and record for posterity the workers behind the machines operating in the depots, roundhouses, and back shops of the American railroad environment. Lucius Beebe once described Shaughnessy as a “…master in the massive effects of black and white.”
Included in the book are some 150 duotone photographs taken between 1948 and 1970, with emphasis on the 1950s and 1960s. Images include landscapes, cities, and towns; action shots of formidable trains barreling down the tracks; snaps of weary railroad workers; nighttime photos of shadowy enclaves within the rail yard; and many more. Shaughnessy’s photographs offer a stunning portrait of Americana through a transportation lens.
Jim Shaughnessy is an American photographer. He lives in Troy, New York.
Kevin P. Keefe
Kevin P. Keefe is a journalist and former publisher and editor of Trains magazine. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.