COVER SIDEBOX- Winston himself: Portrait of the artist

O. Winston Link; the "O" stands for Ogle

Born: December 16, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York

Died: January 30, 2001, outside a train station (really!) in Katonah, New York. Driving to a doctor's office, he pulled over and suffered a heart attack.

Trained: As a civil engineer

Hint o' future: Served as photo editor of both the student newspaper and the yearbook at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn

Career: Public relations; commercial photography

Inspiration for shooting trains: During WWII, he worked as a photographer at a secret military lab adjacent to the Long Island Railroad.

Inspiration for shooting N&W steam: On assignment in Waynesboro in 1955, he learned that America's last steam railroad would soon go diesel.

Art: Reportedly never considered himself an artist

Effort: 1955-60, over 20 trips totaling 270 days

Equipment: Large-format camera and extensive self-designed lighting systems, often using hundreds of flashbulbs and up to 3/4 of a mile of cable for a single shot

Cost: About $125,000 out-of-pocket in current dollars

Cooperation: N&W president R.H. Smith allowed unlimited access.

Audacity: N&W once sent a loaded passenger train back 10-20 miles so Link could get a better shot.

Acclaim: Slow in coming

Request: That a museum bearing his name open in Roanoke, historic home of the Norfolk & Western Railway

Books: Steam, Steel & Stars (1987); The Last Steam Railroad in America (1995)

Cameo: As a locomotive engineer in the 1999 boy-and-his-rocket movie, October Sky

O. Winston Link (left), his lights, and an early assistant named George Thom