Welcome to Lake States’ On-Line Photo Archive. Here you will find over 110,000 images, searchable by keywords, grouped into Collections by photographer or donor, with most further subdivided by railroads and/or subject matter. Our goal is to make these collections available to researchers for the benefit of preserving and learning about railroad history.

  • Prints or downloads may be purchased for private personal use only through our on-line archive. “Private personal use” is defined as a private individual’s use in a private research setting, and may be displayed or presented in private programs if they are NOT posted on the internet, social media, recorded, or otherwise re-transmitted or broadcast.
  • DO NOT purchase images from SmugMug for publication use. Scans for publication use are sold separately by special order directly from Lake States using our Permission Request Form. Authors and Editors, click HERE for details.
  • LSRHA makes no warranty of Copyright ownership. Determination of copyright is the responsibility of the user.
  • LSRHA does not re-distribute or otherwise transfer our collections to other organizations.
  • Any other copying, selling, sharing, displaying, public exhibition, or any distribution via email, uploading to internet sites, or social media is prohibited.
  • We do encourage sharing of links to our Photo Archive and its individual images.
  • All proceeds go directly to supporting the LSRHA’s archive/archival supplies/mission.

PLEASE NOTE: Our web host’s printing service forces a crop to full bleed of the paper size you select when ordering prints. Images with a wide aspect ratio (e.g. 116, postcard) will require cropping off the ends of the image. Unfortunately we cannot change this but suggest as an option to order a larger 8×12 print to minimize the crop or order a smaller 4×8 print and crop out the top and/or bottom (which often is a benign sky or foreground). When you click on “Buy Photo,” select Paper Prints and a paper size menu, you will color bars appear on top and bottom, or the sides of the image. These indicate part of image that will be cropped off the paper. After you select the exact size of paper, you can adjust the area to print (see below) by moving the Printing Area Mask. Also, the printing service is not able to print metadata on the photographic prints. We strongly recommend that if you wish to retain this information, you copy it yourself when you receive your order. The same is true for digital downloads. A monogram will be located in the lower right-hand corner of all prints and downloads. Lastly, the Personal Photo License language on SmugMug’s site is superseded in its entirety by the bulleted list above.


Each photo scan has a filename that contains specific information regarding that image. We also embed many photos with additional keywords identifying objects seen in the photos.

An example of the filename “2009.026.01.13142–ritzman 5×7 neg [Casey Jones]–C&NW–steam 4-8-4 H-1 3008 on freight train action–DeKalb IL–1942 0102” and how to interpret its metadata:


Metadata keyword searches may be done within individual collections or globally across the entire site. This is controlled by the page from which you conduct the search. The search bar is located at the upper righthand corner of the page. Examples:

  • To search globally across all collections, perform the search from the main archive page
  • To search only within a specific collection, start at that collection’s home page
  • To search only within a gallery, start at that gallery.

See individual collection descriptions for details on the scope of metadata for the individual collections. Examples of keywords would be railroad initials (e.g. C&NW, CMStP&P) or subject matter (e.g. depot, roundhouse, coal chute, water tank, wigwag, signal, boxcar, steam, action, passenger). For an index of keywords used, click here. Searches may even be made for specific dates (years), locations (city or state), and film formats–any word that is contained in the image filename. Metadata keyword searches can be refined by adding more than one keyword. For example, to search for every water tank on the C&NW in Wisconsin, you would enter “C&NW water tank WI” in the search bar.


Prints ordered on-line:

  • 4×8: $9.25
  • 5×7: $8.75
  • 8×10: $10.00
  • 8×12: $11.50
  • 8.5 x 11: $12.00

Downloads ordered on-line:

  • 1 Mpix: $6.00
  • 4 Mpix: $10.00



revised 2/24