Born: January 15, 1918
Died: January 2, 2007 (Age 88)

Several newspapers have published nice stories about Gil’s life that you can read here on the web:

  • The Waukesha Freeman published an excellent front-page story entitled: “Railroad’s ‘Picasso’ captured history of trains“.
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an obituary on January 5th-7th and then a story about Gil’s life entitled “Reid Had a One-Track Mind For Trains”on January 7th.
  • This Richmond, Ind based newspaper published this tribute to Gil from the perspective of his childhood hometown: “Railroad artist developed his passion as a Richmond youth“.

Kalmbach publishing (Gils former employer and publisher of several Railroad magazines) ran a story about Gil’s life in the April 2007 edition of Trains Magazine.

Close friend of Gil, Chris Burger, wrote this emotional memorial for the Center For Railroad Photography & Art website

John Gruber and George Drury submitted these pieces to the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Newsletter – Winter 2007 (

The following biography is based on an article, “Artist Gil Reid,” published in “Railroad Heritage,” magazine, spring 2000, submitted to AskART by the author, John Gruber. Gruber is president of the Center for Railroad Photography and Art, editor of its magazine, contributing editor of Classic Trains, and recent editor of Vintage Rails:

(reprinted with permission from John Gruber)

The favorite paintings this artist created are based on his boyhood experiences with steam locomotives [VIDEO], especially the 1930s in Indiana. As an adult, he established a studio in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, near the Canadian Pacific Main Line [VIDEO].

He has done numerous calendars for Amtrak from 1977 through 1993, and as a result traveled to many interesting locations for subject matter [VIDEO]. However, most of his paintings are from memory, but for detailing on special items such as locomotives, he paints from photographs.

Before World WAR II, he worked for Montgomery Ward in Chicago doing paste-up for catalogs and creating advertising brochures. He took the elevated to work, which he enjoyed. He attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts for two years and formed a close friendship with artist Howard Fogg [VIDEO].

Reid’s reputation caught on from December 1940 when he began line-drawings of locomotives in “Trains” magazine. In November, 1941, he joined the Army and met writer Ernie Pyle, who mentioned Reid’s skills in his book “Brave Men.” This attention brought Reid special attention and commissions.

After the war, he continued to do much illustration, and in 1956, moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he became a staff artist for Kalmbach’s “Trains” magazine, blending “historic accuracy with drama” and adding a family tie [VIDEO]. In 1978, he left the magazine to paint full time and has continued into his later years.

“Reid jokes that he has a multi faceted personality with one interest, railroads. That accounts for the amazing strength of his artistic endeavors for some 60 years. It’s a proud record of contributions to the railroad artist tradition.”

As is mentioned in the above biography, famous WWII war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote about Gil in “Brave Men”:

Lieutenant Gilmore Reid came from 846 North Hamilton, Indianapolis. His dad ran the Purtiy Cone and Chip Company, which made potato chips. Young Reid was an artist and also a railroad hobbyist. He studied railroads with the same verve that some people show in collecting stamps. He once did a painting of a freight train at a small midwestern station, and when he got word overseas that it had been printed in color in a railroad magazine he felt he’d practically reached the zenith of his heart’s desire.

Gil Reid was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society in 2001.

In addition to the above, Gil has been featured in several Rail-fan publications including the following:

Noonday Water Stop
Trains, June 1943 page 21
reproduction of painting plus bio of Gil Reid

D&TS engine servicing
Trains, October 1947 page 21
Detroit & Toledo Shore Line at Toledo in Gil Reid’s artwork

The wonderful trains of Thomas Wolfe
Trains, June 1964 page 24
quotations from Wolfe and art by Gil Reid

She’s still the Super
Trains, April 1974 page 29
photos of Super Chief and Amtrak Super Chief; Gil Reid’s calendar painting

Once upon a time in Trains: Quite cleverly (we thought)
Trains, July 1978 page 51
Gil Reid’s drawing of a fan trip; March 1962 issue

Trains, February 1992 page 30
Gil Reid painting of Homewood, Illinois

Once upon a time in Trains: DPM’s wish come true
Trains, January 1997 page 61
Gil Reid painting of J-3a Hudson at speed

Profile: Artist Gil Reid
Railroad Heritage, Spring 2000 page 20
biography of Gil Reid

GI with a paintbrush
Classic Trains Magazine, Winter 2001 page 48
Gil Reid’s drawings and painting of Italian railroads in 1944

“As a young lieutenant stationed in Italy, future famous railroad artist Gil Reid documented the rail scene in that war-torn country.”

PRR historical society honors Gil Reid
Trains, August 2001 page 25
Reid has been painting trains for more than 70 years

Collectible Classics: MTH Railking Pennsy K4s Pacific
An 0-27 beauty for the new century
Classic Toy Trains 03/16/2001
by Roger Carp

“All we had to do was follow Gil Reid. This distinguished rail-road artist, whose work has been featured in Trains magazine since its inception in 1940, knows Pennsylvania Railroad class K4 Pacific steam locomotives the way you or I know the car we drive to work…”

Tracks Ahead, Program #103 “Visit with Gil Reid, a Wisconsin based railroad artist as he works in his studio”

Classic Trains Winter 2006-2007 issue.

The Christmas Card Magic of Gil Reid,” by Chris Burger, December 2006 issue of Trains magazine

April 2007 of Trains and Model Railroader magazines – Gil Reid obituary stories

A Portrait of Two Artists By: Don Meyer (Manager, Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society)