Photo series highlights railroading in 1950s-1970s southern California

Gordon Glattenberg, right, talks about his passion for photography with friend, photographer and co-author Tom Gildersleeve at the SCV Historical Society's presentation on their book "Southland." Ryan Mancini/The Signal
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Photographers Gordon Glattenberg and Tom Gildersleeve presented photographs from their new book “Southland: Southern California Railroading in the Golden Age of Kodachrome” at the Saugus Train Station on Saturday.

Organized by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, the presentation featured the book’s 345 photos from Glattenberg, Gildersleeve and their late collaborator, photographer William “Hank” Mills. Each of their photographs were all taken across southern California between 1950 and 1976.

Gildersleeve said the photos were “the result of a misspent youth” to laughs from the audience.

“I have kind of a personal philosophy,” Gildersleeve said. “I’ve seen an awful lot of historical pictures that are black and white, and you know you can see what it looked like. But when you see it in color, suddenly it feels like your there.”

Photos were taken of the Southern Pacific and other railroading companies, making their way through San Diego, Cima, San Bernardino, Cajon Pass and even familiar spots to SCV residents, including Saugus and Canyon Country. Some of their photography required strenuous hiking and waiting over several hours for the right shot.

“Southland” maps out 345 different photographs taken across southern California by Gildersleeve, Glattenberg and their late friend William “Hank” Mills. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Both men explained their love of photography and trains. Gildersleeve was driven to photography after receiving his first color camera, while Glattenberg started shooting photos while in college. He said traveling kept him more motivated to take pictures.

“I look at what I did then and it was kind of a struggle,” he said. “I would shoot at 250th of a second, and by today’s standards that’s really slow. You can’t really stop the trains that well. Nowadays with a digital camera, a thousandth of a second is pretty comfortable.”

Alan Pollack, president of the historical society, said bringing Gildersleeve and Glattenberg to present their work coincided with the society’s speaker series, which is conducted throughout the year.

“Anything in history is fair game,” Pollack said. “But my favorite talks are those that relate to the local area here. Certainly, the train history in the Santa Clarita Valley here is very prominent, and so it’s an appropriate talk for having here and certainly in the historical Saugus Train Station.”

He hopes people walk away from the presentation learning more about the state’s history, and even the history of Santa Clarita to some extent.

To grab a copy of “Southland,” visit the historical society’s gift shop.

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