Emil Albrecht Photos
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This page was last updated on April 2, 2016.
Emil Albrecht Photos -- A collection of online photo albums, with over 3900 images from more than 100 rolls of 35mm film, hundreds of medium-format negatives, and hundreds of 5x7 prints. A few albums include multiple rolls due to the photographs being taken on the same day, in the same location.
Emil Albrecht's photography dates back to the 1930s, and he continued to take photographs into the late 1980s, until his death in 1988. He is known for his railroad photography, but he was equally talented as an artist. He traveled throughout northern Utah and neighboring states capturing railroading as he saw it. Emil was an artist who saw the world as a collection of details; and he used his camera to record those details.
Many first saw Emil's work because of a book published in 1985, called Emil Albrecht's Union Pacific Small Steam Power, it included 244 of Emil's black and white photographs. (PDF; 114 pages; 68MB, with permission of copyright holder)
Other photographs taken by Emil have appeared in numerous publications afterwards. Most of his photographs were of Union Pacific subjects, but he also took numerous photos of D&RGW, Western Pacific and Southern Pacific in Utah. His 60 years of photography is a valuable visual record of railroading in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
Emil was born on September 22, 1910 in Derendingen, Switzerland. His parents were Emil Albrecht and Anna Schneider. He and his family, including three younger brothers, arrived in New York on January 27, 1925, on board the ship Albert Balin. He was 15 years old when the family arrived. The family settled first in Montpelier, Idaho, then within a year moved south to Nibley, in Utah's Cache Valley.
Emil had three younger siblings, all brothers: Robert (1912-1985); William (1917-1994); and Werner (1920-2007).
Emil was living in Nibley with his parents and three brothers when the 1930 U.S. Census was taken. After marrying Eveleen Rasmussen in 1940, they moved to Logan, where they lived at 264 East 1st North. It was to remain their home until Emil's death in 1988. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940, and was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, serving from 1942 to 1945. Eveleen died on December 9, 1972, at age 64.
Emil was drafted in June 1942 and was inducted into the U. S. Army at Fort Douglas, Utah, in July 1942. He served as a Draftsman assigned to the HQ (G-3) Section of the 71st Infantry Division when it was activated on July 15, 1943 at Camp Carson, Colorado. After being reorganized in 1944 at Fort Benning, Georgia, the 71st arrived in the European Theatre on January 26, 1945. They were part of the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. The 71st was assigned to occupation duty after VE day in May 1945. Emil departed his overseas station on November 6, 1945 and arrived back in the U. S. on November 13th, and was released from active duty on November 20th. He returned home to Utah in late November 1945. There are eight rolls of 35mm photographs showing railroading in the Columbus, Georgia, area (mostly Central of Georgia) while Emil was stationed at nearby Fort Benning during 1944.
Emil died on November 27, 1988, at age 78, and was buried in the Logan City Cemetery.
The following comes from the book "Emil Albrecht's Union Pacific Small Steam Power", published in 1985:
Emil Albrecht was born Sept. 22, 1910, in Derendingen, Solothurn, Switzerland, where he grew up, attended school and worked for a year as an apprentice in a factory that made "all kinds and sizes of metal bolts."
May 1926 brought a big change for the Albrecht family. Emil, his parents and three younger brothers emigrated to the United States, more specifically, to Montpelier, Idaho. It was here that Emil's fascination for trains, and particularly for the Union Pacific, was kindled. To quote Emil, "I was fascinated by them because they were and are so much larger than any I had ever seen before."
Since the Albrechts were Mormons, they wanted to be closer to a temple, so later in 1926 they moved 50 miles south to Logan, Utah, some 30 miles north of Ogden.
Shortly after the move to Logan, Emil started to work for a local dairy farmer, earning enough money to purchase his first camera from Sears & Roebuck -- a 616 box "Brownie."Later came a 127 camera, then a folding Kodak 616. Many of the photos in this book were taken with the Kodak 616, which Emil still owns.
U.S. citizenship came to Emil in the spring of 1940. In June of 1942 he was drafted by the U.S. Army and spent three and one-half years in an infantry division, where he "was thoroughly Americanized." During the time Emil was in the service, he continued his interest in railroading. Whenever he could, he photographed trains while stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, Fort Benning, Georgia, and in France, Germany and Austria.
Returning home after the war, Emil continued his love affair with railroads, adding a new 620 camera and using it and the 616 until he obtained the 35mm Nikon cameras he uses today.
Besides his interest in railroads, Emil has a great love of art and is an accomplished artist, having painted a number of beautiful railroad scenes.
Emil also has enjoyed the support of his family as he pursued his affection for railroads. He was married to his first wife, Eveleen, in 1940. She passed away in 1972, and in 1973 Emil married his present wife, Phyllis. Both of these fine ladies not only tolerated but encouraged Emil's railroad photography efforts. Says Emil, "Both of these women have been supportive of my favorite hobby of railroad photography, and I am very appreciative of that."
Not only is Emil appreciative, but so too are the editors of this book, and hopefully also the readers. Without the support of these ladies, Emil might never have recorded the moments in history which we have gathered in this book. Our sincere thanks to Emil for his superb photographic efforts through all the years since he first began photographing railroad subjects in 1930.
The following comes from a brief narrative written by James Ehernberger and published by the Union Pacific Historical Society in the Spring 2004 (Volume 18, No. 2) issue of their magazine The Streamliner:
Emil Albrecht, was born in Switzerland in 1910, and along with his family, emigrated to the United States in 1926. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He lived most of his life at Logan, Utah. Cache Junction -- on the Ogden-McCammon UP line, about 15 miles from Logan -- was one location where Emil spent a lot of time photographing UP main and branch line motive power. Emil died on November 27, 1988. His 60 years of photography is a valuable visual record of railroading in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.
Emil Albrecht's photography dates back to the 1930s. It should be noted he was equally talented as an artist, as well as a photographer, and the shutters of his cameras operated continuously through the steam era and into the 1980s. Both photographers (Russell and Albrecht) were legends of their own era, and each must be recognized for their accomplishments. However, it wasn't until the recent years when Emil Albrecht's name finally became known. And this happened to come about simply because of a book published in 1985 of views taken by Emil covering the small steam power of the Union Pacific Railroad. Of course, many other views have appeared in numerous publications afterwards. His favorite railroad was, without a doubt, the Union Pacific, but when the opportunity came along he did not fail to include the D&RGW, Western Pacific and Southern Pacific in Utah.
Inducted on June 27, 1942 (drafted)
Entered active duty on July 13, 1942
Military occupation: Draftsman
Assigned to Headquarters, 71st Infantry Division, G-3 Section (Operations and Plans)
Continental service: 2 years, 6 months, 20 days (to January 26, 1945)
Foreign service: 9 months, 18 days (to November 6, 1945)
Served in Rhineland and Central Europe campaign; occupational duty after VE day in April 1945.
Highest rank: Technician 4th Grade (Wikipedia article about U. S. Army ranks)
Arrived U. S. on November 13, 1945
Released from Active duty on November 20, 1945
Scanning The Photos
I first became aware of Emil's photos back in 1968, when Dave England presented a set of 24-inch wide prints of Union Pacific steam and turbine locomotives to the Golden Spike Model Railroad Club in Salt Lake City. The prints were displayed at the club's layout on the Utah State fairgrounds.
I met Emil Albrecht in the summer of 1968, when Dave England introduced us during the last run of Union Pacific's Cache Valley Local mixed train, running between Cache Junction and Preston, Idaho.
Several of Emil's photos were used in 1997 in the first edition of my Ogden Rails book. By the time the second edition was published in 2005, most of Emil's black & white negatives had passed into the collection of James Ehernberger, and permission was received to re-use the same photographs.
In January 2012, I received a group of more than 100 rolls of Emil's 35mm black & white negatives. Each of the rolls of negatives is tightly rolled, and the negatives each have varying degrees of scratches, from moderate to severe. On an irregular basis, several scanning tests were attempted, with the goal being to identify the best workflow to scan and present these astonishing images. Finally, in early October 2013 time was set aside to get started on the scanning project.
Scanning started on October 10, 2013. By the time the project was completed on December 14th, a total of 105 rolls with 2,339 images had been scanned. All of the images can be viewed among 83 separate online photo albums, with a few albums encompassing multiple rolls due to the photographs being taken on the same day, in the same location.
The following was posted to Trainorders.com on November 5, 2013:
These rolls of 35mm film are in rolls that snap back like a steel spring. Since I received them in January 2012, I have tried several remedies to take the curl out them, but none worked. The negative holder for my Plustek 8200i film scanner has openings for six images, with a cover that is hinged at one end, and a snap closure at the other. I wear cotton gloves, and hold the roll up to the light and unroll six images. I then cut a strip of six images off of the full-length roll, one strip at a time. I have to carefully hold each strip in the holder, and carefully close the cover. I then adjust the position of the strip within the holder, averaging the amount of image that is visible, since they do not line up perfectly, meaning that the spacing of the images as they were taken in a 1940s-era camera do not match the perfect spacing of the Plustek negative holder. I use canned air to blow off any dust or lint that may have attached itself.
I use Vuescan and scan the negatives at 2400 ppi and 16-bit gray, with no color balance or correction, and manual cropping. I have tried 3600 ppi, but I get artifacts in the scan, and the light grays in the sky get blown out as pixelated white blotches. I have learned that this is because on the Plustek, anything higher than its native 2400 ppi, is interpolated, or "upsampled." You can see this on some of my earlier scans, but it's not bad enough to make me want to re-scan.
Each scan takes about one minute to preview, crop, and scan. I then use FastStone Viewer to straighten the image, then set the levels manually (no "auto" anything), tweaking the gamma and contrast as needed. The finished scan is then re-sized to 5000 pixels width, which is the National Archives standard, then saved as uncompressed TIFs. Each finished file is about 16MB. The images in the SmugMug online albums are converted to full-sized JPGs, at 100 percent quality. For the images I share on TO, I re-size them to 150 ppi and 900 pixels wide, then save them as JPGs.
After I scan the negatives, they are placed in a snack-size Ziplock bag, after I use a Sharpie to write the roll number and a description on the bag. Each roll came rolled in a paper wrapper on which Emil wrote the information and date. I scan this piece of paper as a label, which is uploaded with the images to the online albums. This paper sheet is placed in the Ziplock bag, and the bag is sealed.
Now you know the rest of the story.
Eight additional rolls were discovered recently and sent to be added to the larger collection. Scanning of these eight rolls began on March 24, 2016, and finished on April 2, 2016, adding 205 images to the online albums.
The rolls came with little more than a roll number, and a basic location and date. To maintain a basic story of what was being photographed, each roll is presented in the same sequence that Emil shot them.
This series of photographs by Emil Albrecht are a great resource, when taken as an overall body of work and regardless of the physical condition of the negatives themselves. Considering the subject and the time frame, they are a wonderful snapshot of railroading at the time, and show the locomotives, cars, trains, railroaders, and surroundings, all in context. They are a record of railroading through Emil's eyes.
Emil Albrecht (Rescanned)
(Read more about the effort in 2019 to rescan hundreds of Emil Albrecht negatives)