Coal hoppers in snow in Williamson, W.Va. Kahler deliberately took photos for his book at the “bleakest time of the year.” PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID KAHLER

Railroad photographer focused on ‘bleakest time of the year’

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Photographer and architect David Kahler will talk about his photography book, “The Railroad and the Art of Place,” at the Southwest Harbor Public Library on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m.

Kahler’s book contains 100 black-and-white images taken over the course of six years while visiting working railroads during the worst weather conditions around southern West Virginia’s coal country. The book is first about art, with railroads second.

“Because I felt strongly about black locomotives and coal cars, I settled upon the medium of black-and-white photography in the bleakest time of the year – one week each year in the middle of February when we faced ice storms, snow, rain and fog,” said Kahler, who started taking photographs of railroads when he was 13 using a simple box camera.


Before becoming a registered architect, Kahler taught basic design for three years at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois after completing five years at Syracuse University in undergraduate school and two years at Princeton University as a graduate student.

He began his career with KahlerSlater Architects in Milwaukee, Wisc., where he worked for 40 years. He designed the Milwaukee Art Museum addition in 1975 and served three years as the president of the board of trustees. During the 2001 addition, he was the architect of record, working closing with Santiago Calatrava.

In 1997, he became the vice chairman of the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, based in Madison, Wisc.

Books will be available for sale and signing. Two framed photographs will be available for purchase at $250 each. Call the library at 244-7065.

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