Howard Fogg

Described for decades as the world’s foremost railroad artist, Howard Fogg’s fascination for railroading began early, and he sketched his first train when only four years old.

After graduating from Dartmouth College with honors in 1938 with a degree in English Literature, Howard attended the Chicago Institute of Fine Arts to pursue editorial cartooning, although he also painted, which is where his talent ultimately led him.

“The Inevitable Winner”
February 21, 1940 cartoon by Howard Fogg
Courtesy of Richard Fogg

Drafted into the Army in 1941, Howard was assigned to the 4th Armored Division at Watertown in upper New York State. But the Army Air Corps needed pilots, so Howard requested a transfer. He received basic flight training at Parks Air College in St. Louis, primary training at Vance Airbase in Enid, Oklahoma, and finished his schooling at Foster Field in Victoria, Texas.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant in November 1942, Howard’s first flight assignment was at Westover Field in Springfield, Massachusetts. There, he flew P-47 Thunderbolts under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Avelin P. Tacon Jr.

The Westover assignment allowed Howard to travel regularly to New York City, where he courted Margot Dethier, daughter of a Belgian concert violinist. On April 10, 1943, Howard and Margot were married at the Madison Avenue Church in New York City. On October 1, 1943, he traveled to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey to await his transfer overseas.

With the 359th Fighter Group based at USAAF Station 133 in East Wretham, northeast of London, Howard flew 76 combat missions. As chronicled in Fogg in the Cockpit, his wartime diary offers a unique and personal perspective into the life of a fighter pilot with the Army Air Forces during World War II.

Major Robert Wallace, Lieutenant Howard Fogg,
and Major John Fitzpatrick, with P-47
February 8, 1944 photo for Dartmouth Alumni Magazine
Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library

Well respected for his leadership skills whether flying escort or strafing trains, Howard was also tasked with teaching young pilots how to fly, both in England and upon his return to the United States. During his combat tour his commanding officers also relied on him to accurately and swiftly plot numerous missions.

Although principally concerned with his experiences as a pilot, it is inevitable that Howard's love of railroading and his enthusiasm for painting is also reflected in Fogg in the Cockpit.

Captain Fogg painting a P-47 shooting down an Fw 190
April 14, 1944 photo courtesy of Anthony C. Chardella
Archived by Char Baldridge, Historian,
359th Fighter Group Association

Howard completed his combat tour in September 1944 and was discharged from the Army in August 1945. He was awarded the Air Medal with three clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross with one cluster.

In November 1945, Howard met with a family friend, famed public-opinion pollster Elmo Roper. When Howard described his career goal, the pollster laughed and said, “I’ve heard everything now!” But Roper stopped laughing long enough to contact Duncan Fraser, President of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO), and Fraser made the decision that launched Howard’s artistic career. Hired in 1946 as ALCO’s new company artist, Howard began painting their locomotives in the livery of prospective customers.

At an ALCO gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Lucius Beebe, a journalist with the New York Herald-Tribune, sought out Howard. Beebe was considering leaving New York to pursue writing and publication of railroad books. A long-term relationship was born, with Beebe buying a number of paintings over the years. In 1947, Beebe’s book, Mixed Train Daily, was the first of many to use a Fogg painting on the cover.

With commissions from individuals, authors, publishers, railroads, and related industrial firms flourishing, in 1957 Howard ended his formal agreement with ALCO, although he continued to paint periodic commissions for them for a number of years.

Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 electric locomotive
Referred to in his diary entry of October 2, 1943
1974 painting by Howard Fogg
Image courtesy of Leanin’ Tree, Inc.

At the height of his artistic career, when the waiting list for one of his paintings was measured in years, Howard mentioned to his son Richard how honored he was to have been selected to fly at President Roosevelt’s interment. In his typical modest fashion, Howard said, “you could tell which plane was mine, it was the one slightly out of formation.” But Howard rarely flew out of formation, either in his plane on that long-ago day in 1945, or throughout his life. He married the woman he loved. He and Margot raised three fine sons and sustained numerous life-long friendships. And Howard succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in the artistic career he envisioned in 1938.

Magazines featured Howard and his work. Limited edition prints were issued. Jigsaw puzzles, porcelain plates and mugs, playing cards, calendars, and greeting cards featured his art. His illustrations graced the covers and contents of multiple railroad books. In later years, books were written about him and his artwork, including Fogg and Steam by Frank Clodfelter, Howard Fogg and the Diesel Image by John J. Scala, and most recently The Railroad Artistry of Howard Fogg by Ronald C. Hill and Al Chione.

Richard Kindig and Howard Fogg
with Union Pacific Railroad
800 class #8444, La Salle, Colorado
July 28, 1979 photo courtesy of Richard Fogg

On October 1, 1996, Howard Fogg lost his battle with cancer at the age of 79. A few months later his ashes were scattered along the Union Pacific railroad tracks at Sherman Hill in Wyoming by his sons Richard, Peter, and Howard III. A high-speed freight train thundered through soon after.