Steve Patterson: 2017 Fred A. and Jane R. Stindt Photography Award

Portrait of Steve Patterson (24K)

Steve Patterson


Steve Patterson, Arvada, Colorado, received the award for a significant body of work making an outstanding contribution to the photographic interpretation of North America's railroading. Patterson was born and raised in East Tennessee where the Clinchfield was his hometown railroad and the storied ET&WNC wasn’t far away. One of his first jobs was a morning newspaper route four and a half miles long on his bicycle. For each new customer he could find, the Knoxville Journal  would give him a free 620 snapshot camera. No one ever told or instructed Steve that trains were to be photographed, it just came as natural to him as a duck taking to water. But he found those cameras very useful with their little plastic handle hanging on his bicycle handle bar chasing after a train, or when one fell off a boxcar roof, just pick it up and keep on shooting.

His railroad photography never slacked or waned, it has always been a part of his life’s mission. Since 1954 he has known Joe (McMillan) and they have traveled the earth together, or sometimes it is Steve and his wife of 48 years Maxine, whom he met through Joe. Steve acquired his first 35mm camera in 1956, and since then has gone through six Pentax cameras, a Graflex 4x5, a Koni-Omega, 3 Nikons and 4 darkrooms (due to moving so much). He aims a Nikon today and still has a Mamiya 645 encased on a shelf.  

He has written and illustrated several magazine articles as well as one book, and at last count his photographs have appeared in 145 railroad books.  

A year after graduating East Tennesee State University, he began a career with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway at Topeka in March 1965, and retired from its successor BNSF in March 2007 with 42 years of service. He and Maxine settled down in Arvada 38 years ago and Joe and Nickie McMillan followed them next door 22 years ago. There is an intercom system between and in the two homes.

The full citation will appear in Railroad History.


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