Ted Benson

Modesto native son and longtime resident Ted Benson is well known for his images of the SN diesel era, but that is only a small part of his career as a photojournalist, including a long tenure at the Modesto Bee, and for numerous articles and several acclaimed books that focused more broadly on the railroads of the west. His published works include “Echoes Down the Canyon, A Western Pacific Journal: 1968-1986”, (Westrail, 1987) and “One Track Mind: Photographic Essays on Western Railroading" (Boston Mills Press, 1999). His efforts to capture the final two decades of Western Pacific freight operations between the Bay Area and Sacramento produced a unique written and photographic history of the SN diesel era during the transfer of responsibilities to the WP, and finally to the Union Pacific. This is evident by his images of steel shipments via the “SN Detour” at Pittsburg, toxic chemical transport at Nichols, and the delivery of bombs to the Naval Weapons Station Tidal Area at Port Chicago. His images of the Conaway Ranch east of Woodland are all that remain to document the rail operations through this important reclamation district that for decades has divided developers, environmentalists, farmers and local government. His SN-related photographic efforts may be found in Jim Harrison’s “Sacramento Northern Gallery” and the recently published “72-82: Western Pacific's Final Decade” (White River, 2014 ), of which he is a co-author.

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