|Blair Kooistra, Fort Worth, Texas, received the award for a significant body of work making an outstanding contribution to the photographic interpretation of North America’s railroading. He was born in 1960 in Chicago and grew up in Denver and Salt Lake City. His family moved to the Seattle area in the late 1970s and he received a B.A. degree in journalism from Western Washington University in 1984. He began working for newspapers while still in high school and spent his first ten years after college as a photojournalist for newspapers in Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. In 1994, he changed careers and became a train dispatcher for the Burlington Northern Railroad—now the BNSF Railway.
He has photographed railroads extensively since high school and his work has been widely published. He has 15 articles in the Trains magazine index and was among photographers recognized in its 50th anniversary issue (November 1990). When living in the state of Washington, he specialized in the Milwaukee Road and Burlington Northern. He is known for his coverage of the Milwaukee Road’s Pacific Coast Extension, such as a photo essay on “Milwaukee Road across the Saddle and Cascade Ranges” (Trains, June 1979) and BN’s Inland Empire (CTC Board, June 1994). His color work concentrates on Utah and intermountain west railroads from the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is author, with two others, of Crossroads of the West, a Photographic Look at Fifty Years of Railroading in Utah (Pentrex,1998). He remains active as a photographer, concentrating on shortlines and heritage railroading. He traveled twice to Australia where there is still access to facilities and railroaders. “Overall Kooistra’s work is among the most significant railroad photography of the post-steam era,” writes Scott Lothes, president of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art .
The full citation appears in Railroad History, Spring-Summer 2016.