Railroad photography fans swamped the California State Library on Tuesday, trying to get seats to a free showing of photographs documenting Sacramento’s role in building the first transcontinental railroad in the mid-1800s.
Due to an overwhelming response, there are no remaining seats left for Wednesday’s “Building the Central Pacific Railroad: A Photographic Journey.” More than 170 people are on the waiting list, state library officials said.
“We’ve always know there are a lot of railroad fans in Sacramento, but it’s amazing how many are interested in railroad history. This is the biggest turnout we’ve had in three years,” said Kimberly Brown, communications director.
A gallery of the photos is on The Sacramento Bee’s website.
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Wednesday’s event, part of the “A Night at the State Library” series of free monthly lectures, will feature longtime Sacramentan and historian Mead Kibbey showing a small portion of 400 glass-plate photographs that document construction of a Western leg of the transcontinental railroad. The photographs were taken between 1863 and 1869 by Alfred A. Hart, a Sacramento photographer hired by the Central Pacific Railroad Co. to document the railway’s construction between the capital and Promontory, Utah.
Some of Hart’s photos, taken in 3-D formats on glass negatives, are available for viewing on a stereoscopic photography website, Phereo.com. The State Library is converting more than 10,000 of its 3-D slides into digital formats that can be viewed by anyone online at Phereo.com.
The library has booked a second railroad-related event on May 20 that will feature a talk and discussion by the filmmaker of “The Hidden Wonder of the World: The Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento to Donner Summit.” The documentary, produced in 2011 by former KCRA-TV journalist Bill George, traces what’s left of the original 1800s railroad ties that were laid between Sacramento and Donner Summit.
Call The Bee’s Claudia Buck, (916) 321-1968. Read her Personal Finance columns at sacbee.com/claudiabuck.