about about search support browse contact

Conquering a Stubborn Switch (editor's title)

Laura Pendly
Brakeman Laura Pendly puts all her strength into throwing a stubborn switch on a cold morning in Arizona in February 1985, so a Santa Fe work train could take a siding. Another photo from the series appears in "Women in Railroading," edited by Shirley Burman for Railroad Heritage No. 17, 2007.

While women always were a part of the railroad workforce, their numbers soared during both world wars and again in the 1980s. This image proves that women are capable of heavy work in adverse conditions.

The photograher used a medium-blue sky to silhouette several shots of Pendly struggling with the switch. Her dark blue jeans and red jacket in the middle of the frame contrast with the bright silver paint on the signal equipment to the left. Pendly's posture lends both motion and pattern to the image.
Source Shirley Burman
Coverage Spatial, Arizona; Temporal, 1985
Rights Shirley Burman, Sacramento, California
Date Created 1985
Resource Type
Extent 35 mm
People: Name
Depicted Railroad
Location Arizona
Depicted Occupation
Creator Description Shirley Burman, a photographer and photo-historian, dropped out of high school in 1952 to join the Women Marines, where she found romance, was married, and ultimately became the mother of five children. In 1972, she earned a bachelor's degree in art from the University of California, David, and began a career as a photographer and illustrator. She collaborated on the book Whistle Across the Land (1983), has created two traveling exhibits about women in railroading, and is widely published.
Collection Shirley Burman Collection
Or, go to the Search Page
You can search the photos and collections using the links at the top, or log in to use the Forums and other features of the site.
Create a Login
Forget your password?


Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
and Trainmen

Brotherhood's Relief and Compensation Fund
California State Railroad Museum
Center for Railroad Photography & Art
Cleveland Memory Project (CSU)
Kalmbach Publishing Co.
Lake Forest College Special Collections
McLean County Museum of History
Museum of the Rockies Photo Archive
Norfolk Southern Corporation
North American Railway Foundation
New York Transit Museum
Oakland Museum of California
Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

  About Copyright © 2013 Center for Railroad Photography & Art
Major support provided by the North American Railway Foundation