J. Craig Thorpe's interest in rail and art dates from his formative years in Pittsburgh, PA.
His grandfather regularly took him on train and streetcar rides, and with his parents, he often
lingered to watch the nightly passage of the Baltimore and Ohio's famed Capitol Limited.
The imagery of those experiences shaped the foundation of a career.
Thorpe studied at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University
with a BFA in Industrial Design. Following a short stint in the US Army Transportation Corps, he
worked for architects and landscape architects in Virginia. After graduate school in New England,
Thorpe moved to Seattle, WA. In 1985 he began free-lance architectural illustration.
When Amtrak featured his painting of the new Olympia, WA station on its 1993 corporate calendar,
Thorpe's rail art began to be recognized nationally. While Mr. Thorpe still does architectural
illustration and historical rail art, his specialty is contemporary railroading. He is often
commissioned to show future rail infrastructure and transportation options thereby helping to
shape public perception and policy. All his work reflects the ethic that rail transportation
enables the stewardship of land, resources and community.
His clients include General Electric, the White Pass & Yukon Route, various state transportation
departments and Amtrak. Notable among his Amtrak commissions is the 2008 commemorative art for
the centennial of Washington D.C Union Station.
Most of Mr. Thorpe's published works are oil-on-canvas, but many of his conceptual rail pieces use
rendering techniques of pencil, ink and watercolor. His art has appeared in Arizona Republic,
Denver Post, USA Today, National Parks Magazine, Alfred Runte's Allies of the Earth: Railroads and
the Soul of Preservation, and other books, newspapers and journals.
Mr. Thorpe serves on the Executive Committee of the Issaquah (WA) Valley Trolley, new rail line
east of Seattle and works as a consultant with various organizations dedicated to helping
formulate and implement rail policy. He occasionally volunteers as an interpretive guide on the
Cascade Mountain portion of Amtrak's Empire Builder. Mr. Thorpe is also often asked to speak on
the themes of railroads, art and their relationship to landscape and community preservation.
His wife and three grown children also enjoy travel by train.
The works of J. Craig Thorpe are available for purchase at the
Silver Rails Gallery at
109 South Gex Street, La Plata, Missouri 63549, in
Silver Rails Country or online at
The painting of the Amtrak Empire Builder is also the image featured on the Amtrak themed
party supplies that can be purchased at
Click here to view
the Amtrak party supplies featuring this image.