Railroader and photographer Alton Lanier passes

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Railroader and photographer Alton Lanier.
David C. Lester
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Transportation professional and well-known southeastern railroad photographer Alton B. Lanier has died. He was 72 when he died Friday after a long illness.

After receiving a degree in transportation from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1967, he spent two years in the U.S. Air Force, receiving an honorable discharge in 1969. Then, Alton began his career with Southern Railway working in engineering and transportation supervisory service. He continued in this role for 10 years, including time at Illinois Central Gulf and the Rock Island. He also received a master’s in business administration in management from Memphis State University in 1976.

For the following seven years, he worked as an inspector with the Bureau of Explosives at the Association of American Railroads and became an expert on the handling and transportation of hazardous materials. He taught first responder courses to public service and transportation personnel. Then, he spent two years as an Assistant Training Specialist at Texas A&M University at College Station, training public service and industrial professionals on the handling of hazardous materials.

He continued his hazmat work with the Boeing Co. as an Environmental Controls Administrator, where he spent six years. In 1996, Alton began a three-year stint at EnSafe, Inc. in Memphis, working as a consultant for the firm’s aviation and ground transportation clients. Alton wrapped up his career in 2011 after two years as the Environmental Manager for the Memphis International Airport.

Alma Jo, Alton’s wife, died in 2003 after nearly 32 years of marriage. Four children and extended family survive Alton.

Alton was an avid railroad enthusiast and particularly enjoyed following the Southern Railway and Norfolk Southern steam programs. He was a contributor to Trains magazine and wrote Southern Railway In Color, Vol. 2 published in 1999 by Morning Sun Books. The only thing that met or exceeded Alton’s interest in railroading was his passion for University of Tennessee football.
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