Engines and railroads featured in Gil Bennett’s paintings for the 2022 edition include:
Cold Morning and Hot Freight – 1970, Penn Central Railroad
The calm of a bitter cold morning is broken by the rumble of three Penn Central GP-40s hustling a hot freight westward toward Chicago. The sun is just starting to rise as the first of many hot freights head west, racing the sun to Chicago.
Frozen Hogs – 1905, Southern Pacific Railroad
Train 204 is blasting up grade, behind two “hogs,” the nickname for 2-8-0 locomotives. The train has just passed the small outpost of Metataurus, UT, as it climbs toward Promontory Summit.
Winter Blues – 1973, Delaware & Hudson Railroad
A trio of Delaware & Hudson U30C’s glide along Lake Champlain on a snowy, overcast New England day. It’s March, and winter still has hold on upper New York as RW-6, known as the Paper Train, hustles south with a group of trailers on the head end.
Spring Snow at Mears Junction – 1949, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad
A light snow falls as 497, a K-37 2-8-2, takes a caboose hop to the top of Marshall Pass in Colorado. The locomotive will then pick up a string of empty stock cars and head back to Salida, CO, to load cattle for summer grazing in the Colorado mountains.
Distant Thunder – 1963, Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific GTEL (gas turbine electric locomotive) 21 lugs a long freight up-grade on the “new” Harriman line over Sherman Hill.
Leaving on Time – 1942, Utah Idaho Central Railway
It’s a June morning and the wind off the cold water of Willard Bay adds a bite to the air. It is 9:48 a.m. and train #8 is on time and ready to depart at 9:49 for the sprint to Ogden, UT. Interurban cars 502 and 602 are loaded with passengers and mail heading to the Great Salt Lake valley.
Top of the Pass – 1969, Great Northern Railway
The train is pulled by an SD-45, plus one of the new F-45s in the sky blue GN scheme, and a GP-35. The train is rolling along at 10 miles per hour as it crests the 1.1% grade. This will be the last year for Great Northern Railway before its merger with the Burlington Northern in 1970.
Mixed Freight at Orleans – 1942, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 4976, a 2-8-2, was a regular on this train in the 1940s. Train 147 was a daily-except-Sunday train that ran from St. Joseph, KS to Oxford, NE picking up cars of grain, dairy and dry goods, as well as passengers and mail.
Just another Small-town Afternoon – 1938, Great Northern Railway
In 1932, the Great Northern Railway built three huge 2-8-2 Mikado locomotives. The locomotives had 69-inch drivers with a boiler that produced 5,100 horses with a tractive force of 78,000 pounds. It was really a 2-8-4 boiler attached to the frame of a 2-8-2!
Park City Local – 1940, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad
In 1898, the Rio Grande Western took over the line and eventually changed the track to standard gauge, and reduced the maximum grade to 4%. Trains to Park City hauled lumber, salt, coal, and food goods. Trains to Salt Lake City hauled silver ore and ice.
Lincoln-Designed but never Built – 1932, Union Pacific Railroad
The locomotive was never built, but this is how it would have looked. Lincoln 9807 pulls the first section of Train 22, the Los Angeles Limited, as it hits a steady 50 m.p.h. while climbing the Wasatch grade on a cold November day.
The Last Baldwin – 1952, Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad
In 1949, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad needed new motive power for heavy mine trains. Baldwin Locomotive works received the order for ten H-6 locomotives (2-6-6-2 compound articulated Mallet type) numbered 1300-1309. These were the last steam locomotives Baldwin built for the United States market.
About the Artist
Gilbert Bennett has been painting professionally since 1984. An avid rail fan from the age of 2, Gil has a lifelong love for the subjects he paints—trains. Gil’s grandfather was a freight agent for the Chicago & North Western Railroad and traveled extensively by train, at times with Gil’s father in tow. Hearing about the rail travel their father took, a fascination for trains was kindled in Gil and his brother. At the age of 4, Gil was taking pencil to paper, drawing what he liked most. His talent for drawing grew over the years, but it was channeled more toward architecture, and his drawings of trains took a back seat to his studies. It was not until 1983 that, on a whim, Gil took an oil painting class at the University of Utah. Of course, the first thing he attempted to paint was a train. From that time, Gil started painting trains to pay for his college tuition. In 1987, Gil also picked up watercolors and has painted in both watercolors and oils ever since.
After graduating from the University of Utah with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Gil put school on hold before going back to get his master’s degree in architecture. It was during this time that he was commissioned to do 30 paintings for a company in Minneapolis, mostly of railroad subjects. Since then, Gil has been painting steadily and has developed a long list of clients. While at times Gil has painted wildlife, landscapes, Western art, and portraits, he prefers to paint trains. His paintings have graced book and magazine covers, articles, calendars, and Christmas cards. In 1999, Railway Reflections, a history of railroads in Utah illustrated by Gil’s paintings, was published. Currently, Gil lives with his wife and four sons in Saratoga Springs, Utah. He is the most prolific railroad artist working today, sought out by private collectors as well as national corporations.