Researcher’s lecture will follow Steinheimer’s train trip to Park City
Discussion will focus on historic photos
Researcher and historian David Nicholas has a love for trains that stems from his childhood in New Jersey.
He grew up next to railroad tracks that cut right through his grandparents’ property and came within 30 feet of their home.
“I have fond memories of walking along the tracks and waving at the engineers,” Nicholas said during an interview with The Park Record
The Park City Museum researcher and contributing writer to its Way We Were column that runs in The Park Record will share his locomotion admiration when he presents a free visual lecture called “Dick Steinheimer’s Train Adventure” from 5-6 p.m. on Monday, March 20, at the Park City Museum, 528 Main St.
The presentation will cover the late and renowned train photographer Richard Steinheimer and the pictures he otook in the winter of 1953 when he traveled from Ogden to Park City.
“I will talk about Dick’s photos, but also a little bit about his life,” Nicholas said. “I will go through all the pictures I have that Dick took on that journey.”
Nicholas said he will discuss between 25 and 30 photographs that are part of the Shirley Burman Collection.
“Shirley is Dick’s widow,” he said. “I got in touch with her a few years ago and we struck up a correspondence.”
Nicholas got in touch with Burman through his subscriptions to Trains and Classic Trains magazines.
“Dick’s work has been frequently highlighted in those magazines over the year,” Nicholas said. “And quite a few years ago, I read an article about his visit to Park City that was written by Shirley. Several years later, I read that Dick’s health was in significant decline and that he had passed away in 2011, so I reached out to Shirley through the magazines to strike up a correspondence with her.”
Nicholas was interested in purchasing some Steinheimer’s photos and learning about his visit to Park City.
“Shirley told me that when Dick came to Park City, they weren’t married,” Nicholas said. “She said he was 24 years old. And at that stage in his photographic career, [he] didn’t keep good records.”
The lack of information only pushed Nicholas to dig deeper in his research.
Nicholas eventually learned Steinheimer and his friend Don Sims photographed Union Pacific steam engines in Ogden in February in 1953.
“Dick paid to ride the Park City local from Ogden to Park City,” Nicholas said. “Along the way, the train made various stops and Dick would get off the train, walk around and take pictures.”
One of the stops was in Echo.
“There are a series of pictures of the station and some beautiful photos of a Challenger Series Union Pacific Engine, running down the hill after pushing another train up and over the hill,” Nicholas said. “These pictures show how the station in Echo was an important stop on the Union Pacific Transcontinental Cruise line.”
When Steinheimer arrived in Park City, he took pictures of the train while it moved cars at the Judge and Ontario loading stations.
“He also walked around town and took pictures of people and different structures,” Nicholas said.
Steinheimer’s photos show Park City at a very trying time in the town’s history.
“This was the only time he visited Park City, and at that time, Park City was a dirt-poor town,” Nicholas said. “If it wasn’t already classified as a ghost town, it soon would have been declared a ghost town by Summit County.”
The photographs captured quite a few landmarks that people can see today.
“The Union Pacific station depot, which is now Zoom restaurant is one of them,” Nicholas said. “The Silver King aerial tramway, which wasn’t operating at the time because it shut down during a strike in 1951, is also seen in the collection. You can see the lower towers and ore buckets very clearly in some of the pictures, which are all for sale from Shirley.”
After the stop in Park City, Steinheimer took the train to Keetley, a ghost town now submerged by the Jordanelle Reservoir, and then rode it back to Ogden.
“A part of the presentation will be about Keetley, which of course, is now underwater,” Nicholas said.
In addition to the historical significance of the photographs, Nicholas will talk about Steinheimer’s photographic know-how.
“I remember the first time I saw these pictures,” Nicholas said. “I thought they were amazing, and a friend of mine who is an accomplished photographer has marveled at Dick’s compositions.”
Nicholas will also talk about Steinheimer’s life and other occupations.
“Some other interesting aspects about Dick are the fact that he was an early Silicon Valley entrepreneur, working for Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel and Ford Aerospace,” Nicholas said. “He also did public relations in various marketing positions, and he was a poet.”
Steinheimer submitted articles and photographs to Klambach Publishing that published Train magazine.
“He took something like 28,000 negatives over the course of his photographic career, which started when he was 16 in 1946,” Nicholas said.
A few years ago, Nicholas began writing and researching for the Park City Museum and has had 30 or 40 articles published.
“Three or four years ago, I wrote a series of the Way We Were columns for The Park Record and used Dick’s photographs to show what we could see in town,” he said.
“So, to do this presentation is an honor.”
Researcher and historian David Nicholas will give a presentation about photographer Dick Steinheimer’s train travel from Ogden to Park City in 1953 from 5-6 p.m. on Monday, March 20, at the Park City Museum, 528 Main St. The free event is open to the public. For information, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org.
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