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About Me: David Schauer

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[G2:1644 n=1 size=320]My passion for railroads started like most other young boys with a Lionel H.O. gauge train set at Christmas that featured a Great Northern FA diesel. Helping stoke that early interest was the fact I was born and raised in a wonderful place to see railroads at work – the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. During my formative railfan years in the late 1970s no less than five major railroads serve the terminal plus a transfer railway in Superior that still operated with diesels painted in Great Northern colors. The hours spent walking near the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range’s vest-pocket Endion Yard in eastern Duluth as a pre-teen is what sold me on being a Missabe fan for life.

An early interest in Duluth’s Lake Superior Railroad Museum lead me to friends that shared similar interests. The hours I spent volunteering at that fine museum only helped my appreciation of local railroad history. Listening to local historians and museum volunteers Frank A. King and Wayne C. Olsen was a gift I can only appreciate more as I grow older. It was through gentlemen like Frank and Wayne plus other museum members that I learned about railfan photography and with my father’s trusty Nikkormat FT 35mm camera began taking Kodachrome slides of railroads in 1980.

After graduation from Duluth Central High School in 1982, my interest shifted from the modeling aspect of the hobby to rail photography and history. During my years at the University of Minnesota in Duluth I tried to get out on weekends and between classes to photograph major changes that were occurring in the Twin Ports.

After earning a college degree, I entered the field of advertising and marketing, spending two years in Duluth and then two years each in Colorado and Montana working for an advertising agency. Those four years in the Rocky Mountain region allowed me to photograph railroads in different areas and I soon developed a love for Montana’s Marias Pass, an area I still try to visit every fall. After being transferred to Minneapolis in the mid-1990s I focused on railroading in the Twin Cities. I also met my wife Laura in Minneapolis and with us both being from Duluth, we relocated back to our hometown in 1998 to start a family.

Now back in Duluth, I have picked up where I left off in the early 1990s and try and take our children (twin daughters Teresa and Gretchen and son Gus) out with me on weekends to photograph the local railroading scene. In the year 2007 I shot roughly 80% digital using a Nikon D2X body with various Nikon lens. I still have a traditional yearning so I keep a Nikon F100 loaded with Fuji Provia 100F slide film. A Pentax 645 medium format camera is also in my camera bag for special occasions.

My philosophy on railroad photography is primarily a desire to capture today’s scene for future historical perspective. I’m also energized by the artistic possibilities of the railroad environment as captured through a camera lens. Living in northeastern Minnesota provides ample opportunity to capture railroads in all four seasons, and surprisingly, my favorite time of the year is January and February, when clear and cold high-pressure weather systems with low warm sun angles produce crisp and colorful images against fresh snow. The steaming of iron ore pellets is also a unique side benefit of cold weather railroading in my backyard.

I see myself continuing with the hobby well into my golden years, body and mind willing. As railroading changes, there are always new opportunities to photograph those changes. To be sure, we lose some railroads and equipment to mergers and age, but now is a great time to be trackside with regional and shortline railroads adding infinite variety plus with mainline railroads bursting at the seems with traffic. Enjoy!