While stationed on Long Island to conduct secret war research for the U.S. government during World War II, O. Winston Link started snapping photographs of the Long Island Railroad tracks behind his lab. Eager to capture large-scale railroad pictures at night, he built his own customized flash equipment. After the war, Link harnessed that creative curiosity by spending five years photographing the Norfolk and Western Railway, the last large steam-powered American railroad. From his 20 trips to the railway's tracks in four states, Link collected 2,400 pictures.
His work didn't garner attention until the 1980s, when he published his first collection of railroad photos in the lauded book Steam, Steel & Stars. The West Virginia Historical Society continues to preserve his legacy with the O. Winston Link Museum, which showcases Link's Norfolk and Western project while filling in its historical context. Throughout seven galleries, patrons hear the sounds of bustling locomotive engines, adjust the lighting of an interactive diorama's photograph, and ogle Link's original photographic equipment, including flashbulbs, power boxes, and super power boxes. The museum underscores its edifying galleries with a plentitude of tours, workshops, and ongoing photography programs.
As a center for the visual arts, we encourage a free exchange between the making of art, the display of art and the interpretation of art. Our programs endeavor to explore creativity from inspiration to presentation with the goal of engaging and intriguing our audiences.
In the 1850s, the Norfolk & Western Railway made its way to Big Lick, Virginia, transforming the sleepy town into a locomotive hub of the south. The Virginia Museum of Transportation walks visitors through this industrial change with its historic steam and diesel engines, cabooses, model trains, and rail collection, which features more than 50 pieces of rolling stock, including some of the most advanced Roanoke-made steam engines ever built in the Norfolk & Western Class J-611 and Class A-1218. Railway exhibits recount the exploits of the industry’s most renowned names and provide an opportunity for visitors to hop aboard an actual diesel locomotive and complain loudly about the lack of complimentary peanuts. Additional engine-powered attractions include a century’s worth of automobiles and the recently reopened Wings Over Virginia Aviation Gallery collection.
Rivermen's New River rafting trips guide amateurs and avid aquanauts alike through some of the most scenic whitewater rapids of New River Gorge National River. Reverential rafters can drink up hearty eyefuls of the gorge and its abundant wildlife, weathered bluffs, and recognizable bridge, as seen on the West Virginia state Pog and quarter. The upper river excursion (4–6 hours, $124) traverses canyons on relatively mild waters punctuated by a few easy rapids. Easily navigable by group raft or inflatable duck (a kayak-like vessel that holds 1–2 people), the upper trip makes an enjoyable introduction to whitewater for families, beginner to intermediate rafters, and adolescent Loch Ness monsters. The lower route (4–6 hours, $134) quickens the pulse with more than 25 rapids, as well as tranquil pools and the requisite breathtaking scenery. Both tours will stop to provide lunch.
Old Salem Museums & Gardens whisks visitors to the cozy streets of a reconstructed 18th-century Moravian town that encompasses 100 restored and reclaimed buildings and expansive, pristine gardens. As they stroll through the 90-acre homage to early Americana, visitors can interact with hands-on activities, such as the German paper-cutting art of Scherenschnitte or the colonial tradition of libeling a governor with accusations of actually governing. Old Salem's horticultural marvels include the Miksch Garden—a living illustration of Moravian subsistence farming—and the Family Gardens of Salt Street, which demonstrate the innovative practice of seed saving. In addition to year-round attractions, special exhibits rotate through town, celebrating momentous occasions, notable people, and game-changing presidential pets. After traversing the grounds, visitors can peruse souvenirs at a number of gift shops or sidle into Winkler’s Bakery for a piece of renowned Moravian sugar cake.
Surrounded by the carefully clipped hedges of a formal garden, Reynolda House Museum of American Art lets visitors contemplate canvases in the stately surroundings of a turn-of-the-century tobacco baron's mansion. Armed with personalized membership cards, members gain free admission to the museum’s permanent collection, which includes works by Mary Cassatt and Georgia O'Keeffe. Gorge hungry eyes on the soulful iron-horse portraits of railroad photographer O. Winston Link, on display until June 19, or pick up pointers from the Modern Masters from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (October 7–December 31). Reynolda House will be the two nomadic exhibitions’ sole stop in North Carolina this year before wandering off in search of new adventure.