Society

‘Come along and ride this train’

RR author, photographer at local depot on Saturday
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Railroad images in Texas don’t get more iconic than this as an MKT (Katy) train rolls through downtown Austin in 1954 Lamb photo. 
J. Parker Lamb photo from his collection ‘Steel Wheels Rolling’ Railroad images in Texas don’t get more iconic than this as an MKT (Katy) train rolls through downtown Austin in 1954 Lamb photo. J. Parker Lamb photo from his collection ‘Steel Wheels Rolling’ Come along and ride this train.

Come along and ride this train.

Cross the mountains, prairies, reservat ions, rivers, levees, plains.

Come along and ride this train.—Johnny Cash

World-renowned photographer J. Parker Lamb is coming to Rockdale Saturday as part of Tejas Fest and there was never any doubt where he would speak.

The restored International & Gre at Nor t her n Depot- Museum on t he cor ner of Milam and Main. Time, 2 p.m.

Dr. Lamb is the gold standard— well, maybe the “golden spike”—so far as train photography is concerned.


The subject was—what else?—trains as Lamb spoke, showed slides, at Texas A&M’s George Bush Library three years ago. The subject was—what else?—trains as Lamb spoke, showed slides, at Texas A&M’s George Bush Library three years ago. He has been taking photos of trains— color and blackand white—for the past 63 years. His first efforts were in 1949 when he was a high school junior. His latest will be published this July when his sixth book “Railroads of Meridian” rolls off the presses at The University of Indiana.

FUSION— For 38 years Dr. Lamb taught at The Universit y of Texas School of Engineering.

He continued photographing, and writing about, railroads during his tenure and told a railroad magazine he had found a way to combine the two disciplines.

Dr. Lamb said his goal was to “make technical subjects into artistic objects.”

He certainly accomplished that. Look at the photo of the train and the Texas Capitol at the top of this page.


Lamb’s latest book, on the railroad history of Meridian, MIssississippi, will be published in July. Lamb’s latest book, on the railroad history of Meridian, MIssississippi, will be published in July. MAGIC TIME—A native of Alabama, Dr. Lamb was born into a magical time, so far as train buffs are concerned.

Diesel was replacing steam in the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the romance and mystique of one giving way to the efficiency and sleekness of the other.

Dr. Lamb first photo- graphed railroads throughout the deep south, from New Orleans to Mobile.

After joining the U. S. Air Force, he was sent to Dayton, Ohio, where he caught the steam- diesel transitions on the New York Central, Pennsylvania R ailroad and the Baltimore & Ohio.

While doing graduate work, he went on to document the early diesel era in Illinois and North Carolina.

‘GEE WHIZ’—But don’t get the idea Dr. Lamb’s work has been only on the “gee whiz, look at the neat train” level, although obviously anyone can enjoy his photography on that plane.

While at UT-Austin he rose to become chairman of the Mechanical Engineering Department and associate dean of the College of Engineering.

During his academic career, Dr. Lamb made numerous research contributions in the areas of fluid flow and convective heat transfer.

His scholarly approach is also evident in his train writings.

Two of Dr. L amb’s work s, “ Evolut ion of t he A mer ic a n Diesel Locomotive” and “Perfecting the A mer ican Steam Locomotive” deal with the technological, economic and societal changes linked to the steam-todiesel transition.

Those books pinpoint the roles of leading engineers, whose innovations paved the way for critical breakthroughs.

They also note how the advent of the diesel locomotive profound ly affected everything f rom prof it s to gover nment regulations to the very livelihoods of railroad employees.

DEPOT DOINGS—In addition to Dr. Lamb’s appearance there will be other activities Saturday at the depot-museum.

Author Bill Harper will speak at 11 a.m.

He’s a former newsman who has written several books, most recently “ Second Thoughts,” covering presidents from Washington to Nixon and their appointments to the Supreme Court.

Harper also wrote “ Eleven Days in Hell,” the def initive chronicle of the 1973 Huntsville prison seige.

There will also be a blacksmithing demonstration at the depot forge, located just east of the main building, the depot model train room will be up and running and food vendors will be set up.

The depot- museum w ill be open from 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Saturday.


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