R&LHS scholarships benefit aspiring young railroaders

Written by William Vantuono, editor-in-chief, Railway Age
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Railway & Locomotive Historical Society announces scholarship winners

Three aspiring young railroaders are among the recipients of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s inaugural scholarships, which are named in honor of the R&LHS members who generously made these scholarships possible. The awardees are graduate and undergraduate university students studying aspects of railroad history and operations.

Three aspiring young railroaders are among the recipients of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society’s inaugural scholarships, which are named in honor of the R&LHS members who generously made these scholarships possible. The awardees are graduate and undergraduate university students studying aspects of railroad history and operations.

Lee Evans

A George W. Hilton Hilton scholarship was awarded to Lee Evans, who is pursuing a Master of Science in civil engineering – transportation at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. Evans has extensive experience in railroad museum operations and now aspires to a career working for a railroad.

Katherine Teipel

A Bruce R. Ward Scholarship was awarded to Katherine Teipel. She holds a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Alabama and is returning there to start work on a Master of Science degree in the same field. She completed an internship with WSP USA as a rail design intern. Teipel seeks to become a professional engineer, and among her interests is the development of high-speed rail.

Michael Begany

An Edward Myers Scholarship was awarded to Michael Begany. He is pursuing an undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in rail transportation engineering at Penn State Altoona Campus and seeks to become a railroad operations manager.

Thomas Blampied

A second George W. Hilton Scholarship was awarded to Thomas Blampied, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Toronto. His doctoral research is focused on the impact of the Ontario Northland Railway on Indigenous communities.

These four awardees were selected from a field of 10 applicants. Each scholarship is worth $3,000. The panel selecting them comprises three members, two of whom represent academia and two of whom also are members of the R&LHS board.

George W. Hilton was an economics professor at UCLA, and also an accomplished historian, writing a number of books on railroads and ships, including The Ma & Pa (Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad), Great Lakes Car Ferries, and The Night Boat. Readers of Trains magazine in the 1960s frequently came across his articles, as he was a favorite of then-editor David P. Morgan. A longtime member of the R&LHS, Hilton died in 2014 at age 89.

Bruce R. Ward (1934-2010) was a California engineer who worked for Lockheed Corp., and was a live-steam model railroad enthusiast, steam historian, and photographer. A member of R&LHS, he was also a 46-year member of the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum. He traveled the world in search of steam locomotives to photograph, visiting Canada, Mexico, England, Denmark, Germany, France, and South Africa.

Edward T. Myers of Matteson, Ill., a member of R&LHS for more than 35 years, had been editor of the trade journal Modern Railroads magazine (which Railway Age acquired in 1991) for 25 years, retiring in 1980. He died in 2003 at age 89.

More information on the 2021 R&LHS scholarship awards cycle, and about the organization itself, can be found on the website www.rlhs.org.

In related R&LHS news, The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society awarded two research fellowships:

  • The Center for Railroad Photography & Art, for a project to examine the role of videography in railroading, a $2,500 award as the recipient of the 2020 William D. Middleton Research Fellowship. Middleton (1928-2011), a prolific author and photographer, wrote more than 20 books and 700 articles, and was a long-time Railway Age Contributing Editor.
  • Historian and professor Roger Grant, for research into the role of the railroad station agent-operator, a $2,250 award as the recipient of the 2019 John H. White, Jr., Research Fellowship.

The Middleton grant to CRP&A will support the research, writing, and curation of a new multimedia project titled Railroads and the Moving Image. Beginning in the 1880s, as motion picture technology developed and improved, individuals began to turn their cameras toward the rails to create increasingly dramatic footage. Railroads and the Moving Image will examine the evolution and production of railroad videography and its place within the realm of railroad imagery.

This project will consist of two segments: a two-part written feature by journalist Justin Franz in CRP&A’s quarterly, Railroad Heritage, and an online exhibition. The written piece will examine the rise of videography in recent years, featuring interviews with a number of contemporary railroad filmmakers. The second part of the story will be an oral history of Pentrex Media Group, a railroad video production company founded in 1984 that, during the final two decades of the 20th century, became one of the most prominent video content producers within the hobby. An online exhibition site, accessible from the Center’s website, will serve as a companion piece to the written feature. Franz will collaborate with CRP&A Executive Director Scott Lothes and the CRP&A staff to identify significant examples of railroad videography for inclusion in the online exhibit.

The White award will support Grant’s ongoing work on a book manuscript about a now nearly bygone occupation—that of the local station agent-operator, once essential to American transportation. For more than 125 years agents, who once numbered in the tens of thousands and at times working with “trick” operators, became widely known and respected community fixtures. The job required technical skills; the most daunting one for decades required mastery of sending and receiving Morse Code.

“At small or average stations, which constitute 90% of the entire number maintained by carriers,” observed the 1925 issue of The Station Agent’s Blue Book, “the local agent is the only company representative known to the people of the community.” The public, R&LHS noted “experienced multiple contacts: planning itineraries; purchasing tickets; sending and receiving carload freight, LCL or less-than-carload shipments, express shipments, and handling commercial telegraph messages. At best, [the public] likely had only a vague notion of how agents were hired and trained, how they participated in critical train control and how they conducted other railroad functions.”

Coverage will include the role of the agent’s wife, the decline and disappearance of agents, and the multiple legacies they left behind. This portion will feature the published word, films, and artifacts, which range from depot structures to railroadiana.

R&LHS is a Section 501(c)3 non-profit educational group, the oldest railroad history organization in North America. Founded in 1921, it publishes a journal, Railroad History, twice a year, containing articles on technical, operational, social, and cultural aspects of railroad life. It also names annual winners in various award categories for outstanding scholarship in the fields of books, articles, photography, and senior achievement. R&LHS also has 10 local chapters, ranging from New York to California. The Southern California Chapter won renown as long-time custodian of Union Pacific Railroad Big Boy 4-8-8-4 locomotive No. 4014, which UP reacquired and restored to operational status in 2019 as the world’s largest operating steam locomotive. Railway Age first reported on the Big Boy in its October 4, 1941 issue, and also covered 4014’s restoration in 2019.

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