Riding the Rails

Railroad, Kenya, Africa, 1964

Even though coal trains and oil trains are currently giving trains a bad name, particularly for the young, my own emotional associations with them still attract my photographic eye. Trains, despite current and past sins, are still deeply embedded in American consciousness. During the era when I was growing up, the late 40s and the whole of the 50s, and before, trains were the way people got places. They ran fast, they ran on time, and one could count on comfort when taking a trip on one. Of course at some point in the 50s air travel and speed came to the fore, and the cachet of the passenger train began to fade. Freight started to take precedence over people, the trains became less reliable, less on time, and much slower.

Regardless of their fade into obscurity, some of us, at least those of us of more mature years, still harbor romantic memories of trains. In my case, even the rails without the trains attract my eye. . . something about the precision of shining, sometimes gracefully-curving steel, juxtaposed against dry grass sidings, converging into infinite distance, reminding us, even when surrounded by isolated and silent rural countryside, that civilization exists somewhere; but here, we’re alone.

Caboose, Bellingham, 2005

Our current exhibit in Mindport’s gallery features railroad photographs by Kevin Jones, and several examples of rare S-gauge model trains that have been collected by Mindport’s Exhibit Manager, Bill Lee. Please note that these trains are not currently operating.

Kevin Jones