Truckee Donner Railroad Society to host ‘Contemporary Views Along the First Continental Railroad’ |

Truckee Donner Railroad Society to host ‘Contemporary Views Along the First Continental Railroad’

Courtesy Richard Koenig

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Most Truckee Tahoe residents and visitors are somewhat aware of the First Transcontinental Railroad and its contribution to our history. We’ve noticed the remnant snowsheds and tunnels visible from Interstate 80 and possibly the fire lookout above Cisco.

But what else remains and how does it look today? The Truckee Donner Railroad Society is pleased to sponsor a free presentation, “Contemporary Views Along the First Continental Railroad” by Richard Koenig to answer that question. The presentation will be Saturday evening, May 18, 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the New Airport Terminal at 10356 Airport Road.

Although there are some comparison shots (with those by Alfred A. Hart, the official photographer of the Central Pacific), Koenig describes the effort as something more akin to archaeology. Both panoramic and single-frame images are featured. To make the large file digital panoramic images, he uses a special tripod head that allows him to take many successive images that are then “stitched” together on a computer.

Having photographed nearly the entire line, he tends to look for, and linger, where the steel has been pulled up — those portions of the line abandoned for less steep or curvy alignments.

He enjoys the calm of those deserted areas most, as that is where one can, through modern absence, find it most easy to imagine a 19th century presence.

Professor Koenig, an associate professor at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Mich., teaches photography and art. In 2010 he began a long-term project making a comprehensive series of photographs along the original route of the Transcontinental Railroad between Sacramento and Omaha.

His stated goal is “to give the viewer as strong of a connection as possible to this 19th century engineering marvel through the remaining visual evidence of the human altered landscape.” Nearly three years in, Koenig plans the project to continue through May 10, 2019 — the sesquicentennial of the driving of the Golden Spike.

The Railroad Society is sponsoring the presentation in line with our mission to educate the public about the railroad history in the Truckee area. We believe it will be of general interest as well as to photography, history and railroad buffs. The presentation is free, however donations to help cover the expenses will be appreciated.

Truckee Donner Railroad Society

The mission of the Truckee Donner Railroad Society is to perpetuate the study and advancement of knowledge of working railroads in the Truckee Donner area with the goal of building a railroad museum to preserve and share what we have learned. Visit

Truckee Railroad Museum

The Truckee Railroad Museum is located next to the historic railroad station in downtown Truckee. This adds historical significance to the area, as the caboose is from the Southern Pacific Railroad and was used in the area. Paint for the caboose matches the original SP paint scheme. Inside the museum are stories, pictures, recreations, and railroad artifacts depicting the impact of railroads in the formation and development of Truckee. The First Transcontinental Railroad, Logging Railroads, and Tourism by Rail all played an important part in Truckee’s history.

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