Denim Inspiration: 60s Railroad Photography


We came across this photo collection through the Red Wing Shoes blog: A Swan’s Wing Dyed in Red. It’s a collection of photos taken of the Great Norfolk and Western Railroad in the late 50s-early 60s by renowned photographer of over 60 years George Zimbel, better known for his iconic photos of Marilyn Monroe.

Zimbel says of the photos:

“One of my first industrial jobs was a commission to photograph the Norfolk & Western Railroad. This historic railroad had a great tradition and I was very excited, but wary, because I had to shoot in December.

I concentrated my coverage on the movement of coal from the mines of Virginia to the port of Norfolk where it was loaded on ships for worldwide destinations. This involved racing trains along service roads, climbing towers, buzzing a train in a Cesna, shooting from a boat in Norfolk Harbor, and of course riding in diesel engines.

I believe the finished work was used in the 1961 Norfolk & Western Railroad Annual Report. The original prints were destroyed in a fire at my studio in 1966. These scans are references for my plan to reprint the portfolio archival”

The images are great historical references and examples of late 50s railroad workwear.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.