Provenance: In 1991 O. Winston Link decided to produce a limited edition, larger scale portfolio of his most popular images. He made these 20×24″ prints by his own hand in his home darkroom in Mt. Kisco, New York. It is estimated that only between 40 to 50 prints of this image were ever produced in this extraordinary size. Soon after he began this project his then-wife, Conchita Mendoza Link, began stealing a large number of signed prints from her husband. These prints were hidden away from 1991 until they were discovered in June 2003 in a storage unit in Pennsylvania. This print comes from this same group of prints that were recently recovered from Link’s ex-wife, Conchita Mendoza Link. She was recently convicted on theft charges, as well as attempting to sell stolen goods, and has been returned to prison. She spent almost five years in prison on a previous (similar) conviction. This print is stamped in ink au verso by the Link Estate Trustee with “The Story Behind This Print”, separating its importance from other O. W. Link prints. The provenance is made more interesting by Conchita’s effort to change the date of some of these prints from 1991 to 1990, a date when she was still involved with Winston and his work. A letter of authenticity from the Link Estate accompanies the print.
About the Image: At the Iaeger Drive-In Theater Willie Allen and Dorothy Christian appear impervious to “Hot Shot” merchandise speeding eastbound along the Pocahontas Division of the Norfolk and Western Railway. This train is Time Freight No. 78 running on a passenger train schedule hauling all merchandise cars going east to Norfolk, Virginia. This coal fired steam locomotive, No. 1242, was built in 1949-1950 at the N&W shops in Roanoke, Virginia. The Class A locomotive, first introduced in 1936, was a simple articulated locomotive that had two engines, front and rear, both of which used steam at the same 300-psi pressure. The locomotive had 70-inch driving wheels, and was capable of speeds up to 80 mph. In 1980 Link noted in the book Ghost Trains that the Class A locomotive was, in his opinion, the most beautiful engine ever built.
Interesting Facts: Link used a total of 43 flash bulbs, all fired simultaneously to achieve this magnificent result. Winston once stated, “Since I could only see the headlight of the locomotive in total darkness, I did not know until the flash was fired that I had captured this prize.” The couple in the foreground sits in Winston’s 1952 Buick convertible. He also used this car in another well-known 1956 image, “Sometimes the Electricity Fails”. The image on the movie screen is from the 1955 motion picture “Battle Taxi”, which was being shown that evening. It is interesting to note that according to Tom Garver (Link’s former agent), Link had tried to produce this image in July of the previous year, but multiple problems with his equipment resulted in no useable images.