Jack Delano railroad

If you're a rail fan like me, you may have already heard about the fantastic railroad photography exhibit at the Chicago History Museum. If you're not, never fear: you'll be converted to the ways of steam, wyes, roundhouses and the other ways of railroading when you step inside this well curated exhibit. 

This elaborate production was created by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and the Chicago History Museum and it brings together the wonderful photos of Jack Delano, along with numerous activities, installations, and more. 

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The story behind these photos is also quite intriguing. Delano worked for the Office of War Information (OWI) during World War II and he documented everything from farms in Vermont to the bustling African American communities on the South Side. During his time with the OWI, he captured over 3,000 images, and the lion's share of them happened to be focused in and around the bustling rail yards in the Chicagoland area.

Jack Delano photography

Through the exhibit, visitors can take in the stories of railroad employees, such as ticket agents, engineers and repairmen. It's a remarkable tour through the dynamic and fascinating world of railroading at its peak in Chicago. As a bonus, visitors can see contemporary portraits of the folks in these original photos, photographed by Jack's son, Pablo Delano. 

All told, it's an amazing experience, and of course, visitors will want to explore the rest of the Museum as well. Whatever you do, don't miss the Chicago dioramas on the first floor. My personal favorite is the Sauganash Tavern as it looks so darn inviting amidst the snow-covered Wolf Point. 

PS: You can also preview some of the photos in the exhibit via this Flickr site.  

Photos: "No Known Restrictions: Train Yard in Chicago" by Jack Delano, 1942 (LOC) by pingnews.com via flickr; "Jack Delano - Freight train operations on the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa" via Wikimedia Commons