Auction Details

Here is a Collection of Vintage Steam Train Sounds & Slides by Vinton Wight. Included in this collection are about 500 35mm slides, at least 85 reel-to-reel tapes, 5 LP records, and assorted documents. 

In the late 1940's Vinton Wight recognized that steam trains were on the way out and that diesel would soon replace them. He set out to record the wonderful sights and sounds of steam trains that would be lost forever. So great were his audio recordings that Smithsonian Folkways Recordings published some of his work (the 4 LP's are included in this auction). These recordings can still be purchased, but only on CD or cassette).

Here's what is in this collection:

The Slides: There are about 500 slides. Most were taken in the early 1950's as he was making his recordings. Most are mounted on the red Kodachrome mounts. Most have the date and a description on them. Most are shots of trains but I found some depots, snow sheds, cabooses, rail yards, etc.

The Tapes: There are 85 tapes that are marked as train sounds and another 25 that could be more train stuff but I'm not sure. Most of these include lists of exactly what, when and where was happening. He even wrote narratives for some that read like an adventure story. On some of the lists he's notated which individual sound tracks were published. 

The Papers: There are newspaper clippings featuring Vinton Wight as the subject. There is an original photo that also appears in one of the newspaper stories. There are lots of notes and handwritten papers documenting the tapes.

The LP Records: All four of his Smithsonian Folkways published LP records are in here. Plus there's another Union Pacific picture record that he has work on.

I'm going to go into more detail alongside the photos below.

This lot is presently stored in a climate controlled environment offsite. If you have questions ask early so I'll have time to investigate the answer and respond.

See condition section and photos.  Ask questions if you have them.

Please check my other auctions for similar items.

Condition: Various, again I'll go into more detail alongside the photos below. See photos and further descriptions below.


Please wait for the images to load.  It's worth the wait!

BELOW: The slides lot.






BELOW: 100 glass mounted slides.





BELOW: Here is an example of 5 of the 500 slides. I don't have a slide scanner so I took several slides to Costco to scan them for me. I didn't know it but they crop them top and bottom by default. If you want to see the others I had scanned click here (warning! contains 70+ images).





BELOW: Some examples of how these are labeled.


BELOW: While those above were being scanned I went through the whole lot to make certain that all 500 slides were train related. I discovered that there are some slides going back to the mid-1940's and some into the early 1960's. The bulk of the lot is early 1950's though.

Note: I "scanned" the following by placing the slides on a light box and holding my digital camera over them. Quality and contrast may not be so good because of this.


BELOW: The whole lot of recordings on reel-to-reel tape. Note that many of these are labeled "copies". I believe this is because he dubbed the track of each railroad (or even individual trains) onto their own tapes. There are several that are marked "original."


















BELOW: These are the 4 albums published by Smithsonian Folkways. All in great condition.



BELOW: Here's an awesome Union Pacific picture album that has some of his work on it.









BELOW: Here's a stack of paper items.







BELOW: The photos above didn't turn out so great so I scanned some of them. Note how he wrote "Folkways" next to some of the tracks. Most of his work is unpublished!


BELOW: Note the word "Dague" toward the bottom. That is who his partner was on the Union Pacific album. Six of the 11 tracks on this tape were not published.








BELOW: The original photo used in this article is included.