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Transportation, Railroad Train, Art, Locomotives, John Rogers, Vintage Watercolors, c. 1950s


John B. Rogers (1906-1985)
[Locomotives, Past and Present]
[Strasburg Railroad Steam Locomotive in Winter]

American: c. 1950s
Watercolor on paper, laid on cardboard
Locomotives: Signed lower right, artist’s stamp verso, 21 x 28 inches
Strasburg Railroad: Signed lower left, 19.25 x 29 inches, image; 20 x 30 inches, overall
$3,900, the pair

Two Pennsylvania railroad watercolors of trains by John Rogers, a painter known for his railroading subjects. One contrasts a steam locomotive, soon to become obsolete, with a diesel-electric locomotive just behind it on parallel tracks in a train yard, typical of the transition that occurred in the 1950s. The red, keystone-shaped logo on the steam locomotive identifies it as belonging to the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is viewed from head on, a puff of steam rising from one side and the top.

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The other painting depicts a side view of a steam locomotive traveling past a snow-covered rural town on a sunny winter’s day, trailing an impressive plume of steam. Birch trees are in the foreground and low mountains in the distance. The engineer, who can be glimpsed inside the train, is apparently ringing the bell. The tender car bears an applied printed oval emblem “Strasburg Railroad 1.” Located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the Strasburg Rail Road is a short line railroad — only 4.5 miles long — chartered in 1832. It ceased operations as a passenger and freight transportation railroad in 1957, but was purchased by a group of local train enthusiasts and reopened the following year as a tourist attraction, which it remains today.

John Rogers was a watercolorist and illustrator based first in Brooklyn and later in Nassau County, Long Island. He studied at the Art Students League in New York, and became known for his landscape paintings of industrial, marine, rail and rural subjects. His most prolific period was between the 1940s and 1970s, when he participated regularly in exhibitions of several groups, notably, the American Watercolor Society, the Salmagundi Club, and the Brooklyn Society of Artists, the latter of which held their exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum. He also exhibited at the National Arts Club and Grand Central Art Gallery. Rogers also produced illustrations for PM, The New York Times and Today magazine and undertook commissioned work for corporate clients such as Bethlehem Steel. A popular teacher of watercolor painting, he also authored the instructional book Watercolor Simplified (1962). Rogers was active in the Art League of Nassau County, which honored his legacy with a major exhibition in December 2012.

Condition: Each generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Each laid on cardboard, probably as issued, apparently stable and not affecting the watercolors. Some light mat burn in outer margins from former matting, can be rematted out. Winter with notations in pencil in lower margin: “Richmond Hill 1837 3” [illegible].” Printed oval emblem “Strasburg Railroad 1” applied to painting, as issued.


Alvey, Suzie. “Art League of Nassau County Hosts John Rogers Memorial Art show.” Malverne-West Hempstead-Lynbrook Patch. 4 December 2012. (4 February 2013).

Gilbert, Dorothy B., ed. Who’s Who in American Art. New York: American Federation of Arts and R.R. Bowker, 1959. p. 483.

“The Strasburg Rail Road Today.” Strasburg Rail Road. (1 March 2013).

Additional information


20th Century