Daily Post: Railcar Graffiti

Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.

Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.
Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.
Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.
Sayre, Pennsylvania, August 2010.

Watching trains today, it seems that graffiti is omnipresent. Hardly a freight passes without heavily tagged cars in consist.

Railcar graffiti isn’t a recent phenomena. Traditional chalked tags have appeared on cars for generations. I recall photographing a tag that read ‘Edward Steichen knew’ back in the mid-1980s, and I first noticed spray-painted graffiti on the New York Subways in the 1970s.

Yet, the proliferation of large colorful spray-painted murals and haphazard spray tagging has only become widespread on mainline trains in the last couple of decades.

While freight cars are the most common canvases, I’ve see locomotives and passenger cars tagged as well.

Nor is the phenomena isolated to the United States. Train graffiti is a worldwide occurrence. I’ve photographed heavily tagged trains in Poland, Belgium, and (wouldn’t you guess?) Italy! (Among other places).

Almost every photographer I’ve met has an opinion on graffiti.

Would you like to leave a comment? Tracking the light is interested in your opinion(s). See the comments section toward the bottom of the page.

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Tomorrow: Tracking the Light features a summer morning Norfolk Southern’s former PRR at Cassandra, Pennsylvania. Don’t miss it!

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3 comments on “Daily Post: Railcar Graffiti

  1. A Touch of ” American Art ” !

  2. DAVID CLINTON on said:

    I hate to see graffiti! It’s vandalism and disgusting. And I think it’s terrible to see it “glorified” with decals made for model trains!

  3. As an owner of cars, the graffiti artists mostly disregard the stencils, data blocks and car marks which costs us to remark the cars. But I have to admit, there are some really good ‘tags’ out there! Dan

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