Railroads & Locomotives Photography Tips Trains Photo Contest 2024: Power

Trains Photo Contest 2024: Power

By Bob Lettenberger | December 5, 2023

Presented in partnership with the National Railway Historical Society

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Trains Photo Contest 2024

Aerial image of train traveling around fall-colored mountain.
Brandon Fiume was the 2023 grand prize winner and received $1,000 for his aerial photo of Horseshoe Curve. The Allegheny Mountains near Altoona, Pa., presented a formidable challenge, as the rugged and unforgiving geography made construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad nearly impossible. The ingenious design of J. Edgar Thompson and hundreds of immigrants, working tirelessly with pickaxes, shovels, and wheelbarrows, culminated in the creation of Horseshoe Curve, which swiftly became an icon of railroading. Completed in 1854, Horseshoe Curve was the pinnacle of civil engineering for the Pennsy, allowing trains to traverse the mountains at a steady grade of 1.34% without the need for switchbacks. The railroad quickly became a major east-west transportation artery. Its significance was such that during World War II, Nazi Germany sent spies to the U.S. with the mission of destroying the Curve. The Pennsylvania held immense pride in this engineering marvel and instructed its crews to announce to passengers when they were rounding the curve, emphasizing its iconic status and remarkable achievement. Here, a westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train rounds Horseshoe Curve against the backdrop of a stunning autumn sunset on Oct. 15, 2022.

Trains Magazine and the National Railway Historical Society are pleased to present the 2024 photo contest. The NRHS is a nonprofit that promotes the interest and study of the railroad industry, a mission shared by Trains. The NRHS, which was established in 1935, is an excellent partner for a magazine that’s been around since 1940. Both groups celebrate railroad history and present-day operations. The two organizations believe that supporting and encouraging photography fosters a greater interest in the art and encourages creativity and further study of railroad subjects.

The 2024 contest theme is: Power

Power is a concept that applies to many aspects of railroading. You may immediately think of something strong, large and making a great deal of noise like a Big Boy rumbling over Sherman Hill or a set of diesels pulling a long freight up a steep Appalachian grade. However, power can be represented in many ways on the railroad. High speed passenger rail, locomotives slogging through a blizzard, a local trainmaster providing oversight are just a few examples of how the concept of power might be illustrated in a photograph. This year Trains and the NRHS are looking for your photographs that show how you interpret power on the railroad. Any era or type of railroading is acceptable.

As always, you can illustrate the theme however you like. We are seeking the most creative illustrations of power. Although examples are given here, these are far from the only ways power appears on the railroads. Find your illustration of power, but be ready to provide an explanation.

Photographs can be taken recently or decades ago as power has been a part of railroading since its beginning. Please submit no more than three high-resolution images (3,000 pixels on the longest edge). Do not alter your images beyond minor color corrections, burning, dodging and levels adjustments. Send JPEGs to TrainsContest@nrhs.com no later than June 1, 2024. Please include your full name and phone number. We do not accept mailed submissions.

Winners will be announced in the November 2024 issue of Trains.

Grand Prize

Winner will receive: $1,000 from the National Railway Historical Society

First Prize

Winner will receive: $500

Second Prize

Winner will receive: $250

Five Runners-Up

Winners will receive: a three-year subscription to Trains Magazine or equivalent Trains products

All winners will also receive a complimentary, one-year membership in the NRHS.


  1. Enter up to three (3) digital images at TrainsContest@nrhs.com.
  2. Contestants must include their name, a daytime phone number, email address, and basic caption information in the digital image’s metadata.
  3. All entries must be submitted by June 1, 2024.
  4. Winning photos will be published in November 2024 issue of Trains.
  5. Trains and NRHS reserve the right to retain electronic copies for future publication, use as a contest gallery exhibition on their respective websites, Facebook walls, X (formerly Twitter) feeds, other social media, or for public exhibition. In all cases, the photographer retains the copyright to the image.
  6. A committee of NRHS members and Trains staff will judge photos on a “blind” basis, meaning they will not know the identities of the entrants.
  7. Multiple prizes will not be awarded to any individual.
  8. Employees of Kalmbach Media Co., or their families are not eligible to enter. NRHS photo contest committee members and their families are not eligible to enter.
  9. By entering the 2024 Trains photo contest, you agree to share your name and contact information with the NRHS and Trains.
  10. Photographs of model railroads will not be accepted.
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