Ogle Winston Link (OWL)

Updated: 8/30/2023

Ogle Winston Link is widely recognized as having created some of the best photographs of steam locomotives in the world. He photographed the locomotives of the Norfolk and Western during the late 1950s which were some of the most advanced American locos ever built. Most of his photos were taken at night with a large number of flash bulbs. The results are truly stunning.

It turns out that I have a personal connection to O. Winston. Some time in the 1950s he met my Grandmother (Valerie Audrue) and fell in love with her. Unfortunately because both Winston and Valerie died many years ago and I never thought to ask her about the relationship, since I was young and didn't know about this at the time, the details of the relationship are not known to me. I will try to guess what happened. In 1955 my grandmother graduated from College. I believe that she met Winston after this but I have no idea how they would have met each other. I know both of them were living in New York at the time. After meeting her he took her on a couple of dates but I don't believe he ever succeeded in courting her. He had a strong desire to marry her, but she refused his advances, mostly because the age gab between them was about 20 years. I don't know if he offered to do it free of charge, or if Valerie's Father payed him, but however it happened as an awkward consolation he photographed her wedding (June, 5th 1960). He was distraught that she would choose another man as evidenced by him insulting her, while simultaneously still praising her, in love letters which he sent after her wedding. He had divorced from his first wife by the time he met her so maybe he was sending letters to cope hoping that she would do the same to her first husband, but that never came to be. I have included the letters he wrote to her that I have possession of below. I think he would have been delighted to know that the grandson of Valerie is carrying forward his torch.

When Winston learned of the Norfolk and Western's plan to transition entirely to Diesel power between 1955 and 1960 he devoted that time to documenting as much as he could in audio, video, and images of the remaining fleet of locomotives. The executives of the Norfolk and Western gave their blessing to carry out this work, yet he was not successful in persuading them to save two of each class of N&W locomotive for preservation. His love of locos went so deep that he purchased his own, a Canadian National 4-6-0 453 which he spend quite a lot of his money to restore. Unfortunately restoration work on it was never completed. It was at one point cosmetically restored and put on static display. Unfortunately today it sits derelict in Goshen, VA. The current status of Canadian Pacific 453 can be found here.

Winston played an extra role as a Steam Locomotive Driver in the 1999 film October Sky. He is in the cab of Southern Mikado 4501 which had its road name changed to Norfolk & Western for the scene. The clip he is featured in can be found here

There is a myth floating around that O. Winston Link Saved Norfolk and Western 611. The truth of the matter is explained here.

I can't risk posting any of his works or portraits on this website as they are still copyrighted and in print. When I learn they have entered the public domain I will post his photos in a gallery. Until then here are links to different website galleries of his images: Portraits OR Photographs


Trains That Passed in the Night

Dreams In Steam

Winston's Private Loco:

Candian Pacific 453 on Static Display

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Letter's sent to my Grandmother:

Love Letter #1 (June 3rd, 1960): I think Winston handed this to her the day of the wedding, two days later, which would explain why the stamp hasn't been canceled by the post office

Love Letter #2 (August 2nd, 1960)

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Christmas Card (Probably 1960)

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