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Published October 10, 2022
The Union Pacific Railroad has been a staple of Wyoming’s history since 1867 and helped establish it as a state. Now, a University of Wyoming student is showing that it is not an artifact from a bygone era, but it is still an important industry today.
Vanta Coda III, the recipient of the 2022 Larsh Bristol Photojournalism Fellowship, spent the summer photographing the legacy of the Union Pacific in Wyoming and understanding its modern-day importance. Coda will give a public presentation about his experience at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, in Room 506 of Coe Library. This will be followed by a viewing of his photos in the library’s third-floor gallery. The show will be available to the public through Dec. 2.
The Larsh Bristol Photojournalism Fellowship is an annual award for UW students to support strong visual storytelling projects. It is named in honor of Larsh Bristol, a UW journalism alumnus who died in 2006.
Having a father who worked for the railroad, Coda’s inspiration for his presentation, “Wyoming’s Heritage to the Rails,” came from a place of childhood wonder. He saw the beautiful stories encapsulated in the railroad and the people who help it function.
“I wanted to show people that the railway is still here and still positively impacts people,” Coda says. “It is not just about the trains. It is about the people who work behind the scenes on the railroad who are not recognized enough.”
During the summer, the environment and natural resources, and communication major from Duluth, Minn., focused on capturing moments and experiences from the eyes of Union Pacific workers and enthusiasts.
“Places like old town sites will be with us forever, but people move like the wind, so they will not always be here,” he says. “I took it upon myself to shed light and talk to as many retirees as possible while also looking toward the future of the railroads.”
The Larsh Bristol Photojournalism Fellowship has been hosted by UW’s Department of Communication and Journalism since 2008.
“Vanta’s presentation showcases the quality photojournalism that Larsh Bristol stood for and moves it into the 21st century,” says Department Head Cindy Price Schultz. “The public can see these photos for themselves in the library for the next six weeks, so they can see the impact of the railways in Wyoming.”
For more information, email Price Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.