about about search support browse contact

Southern Pacific "Potato Train" at Dusk, 1985 (editor's title)

SP's Potato Train
Southern Pacific freight train switching out empty Pacific Fruit Express cars at Edison, California, at dusk on June 21, 1985. On the following day, the train will deliver the empty cars to the potato packing shed at Arvin for loading. The deep crimson sky is the result of lingering ash from the El Chichon volcano in Mexico, which had erupted over three years earlier on March 28, 1982. At the time of the photo, tensions exited between the railroad and the potato growers and packers due to an insufficient supply of cars to ship the harvest. The Southern Pacific had a long history of mixed relations with the agriculture markets it served, and was vilified under the name "Pacific & Southwestern Railroad" in Frank Norris's 1901 novel The Octopus. The photographer had hoped to sell a story on the harvest to the railroad, but did not due to the conflict. She did, however, receive a large crate of potatoes from the packing shed (but only after explaining that was not affiliated with the railroad).
Source Shirley Burman
Coverage Spatial, Edison, California; Temporal, June 21, 1985
Rights Shirley Burman, Sacramento, California
Date Created 1985-06-21
Resource Type
Extent 35mm
Depicted Railroad
Location Edison, California
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