The Railroad Photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg

The Railroad Photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg

Tony Reevy, foreword by Jim Shaughnessy
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/01/2019
Format: Hardback 150 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03667-4
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Bon vivant, railroad historian, photographer, pioneering food critic, chronicler of New York’s café society, and noted newspaperman, Lucius Beebe (1902–1966) was an American original. In 1938, with the publication of High Iron: A Book of Trains, he transformed the world of railroad-subject photography forever by inventing the railroad picture book genre. In 1940, he met creative and life partner Charles Clegg (1916–1979), also a talented photographer. Beebe and Clegg produced an outstanding and diverse portfolio of mid-twentieth century railroad-subject photographs. Beebe, sometimes with Clegg, also authored about forty books, including many focused on railroads and railroading.

The Railroad Photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg brings their incredible story and best photographic work together. Providing an extensive biographic introduction to Beebe and Clegg, author Tony Reevy presents a multi-faceted view of the railroad industry that will appeal to rail enthusiasts as well as those interested in American food culture, the history of New York City, and LGBT studies. The Railroad Photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg is an indispensable history to the work of two men who forever changed the way we see and experience American railroads.

Author Bio

Tony Reevy has written several books, including The Railroad Photography of Jack Delano and O. Winston Link: Life Along the Line, in addition to poetry and short fiction. He is Senior Associate Director of the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He resides in Durham, North Carolina.


“Railroad photography as we know it today could not have developed and thrived were it not for Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg. The two are household names for anyone interested in railroads, from the most obscure and destitute short line to the most luxurious and ornate private passenger car. Tony Reevy turns the camera around to bring the two men behind the camera into a sharper focus in this long overdue book.”
 — Jim Wrinn, editor of, Trains Magazine

“In The Railroad Photography of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, Tony Reevy gives us a deeper glimpse into the histories of these two fascinating and colorful pioneering giants of rail enthusiast photography and publishing. Unlike previous books, Reevy also discusses, and sets the context for, Beebe and Clegg's long-term romantic relationship amidst New York City's rarefied Cafe Society. Playing a vital role within the nascent gay community during the 1930s and 40s, and protected by their wealth, these two gentlemen were "out" before it was safe or fashionable to be so. Additional information about their cohorts, like Jerome Zerbe and Ivan Dmitri, enlivens the text and makes for interesting speculative turns about artistic influences and matrices; how did Beebe and Clegg forged their styles, individually and collectively? On the pictorial front this book is also a marvel. Printed in lush duotone and arranged in imaginative chapter groupings, the broad array of photographs displayed within (many previously unpublished) will give aficionados of railroad photography renewed appreciation for the Modernist aesthetics and graphic strategies Beebe and Clegg employed when making their images. Reevy also analyzes their work through a broader societal lens then previously attempted by historians of railroad photography. This book is long overdue. I highly recommend it.”
 — Jeff Brouws, coauthor of, Railroad Vision: Steam Era Images from the Trains Magazine Archives

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Table of Contents



Foreword by Jim Shaughnessy


1. The Three-Quarters Shot

2. A Modernist View of the American Railroad

3. Railroaders

4. The Railroad in Its Environment

Appendix: Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg: Technical Details of Their Photography