Wyoming from the Rails was the title of my first photography exhibit, which took place at the Betty Rock Café in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in October 2003.
Through color and black & white images I sought to show the rails and the often-overlooked Wyoming landscape over which they run in a more impressive and striking light.
I discovered after moving to Wyoming in 1994 that those sections of the landscape over which the rails had been laid were unpopular to say the least. Natives and tourists alike tended to travel through as quickly as possible to get somewhere else.
My research suggested this behavior may be a carryover from mid nineteenth century literature and reports that portrayed a less than flattering image of the area. When Samuel Bowles, a newspaper editor from Massachusetts, traveled through southern Wyoming over the recently completed rails of the transcontinental railroad in 1868, he wrote:
"[We] rode over rails laid straight as an arrow across what was a high, rolling, desert country, with scarcely any vegetation but the rank, coarse sage brush, and the soil of a fine, alkali-laden dust, the view of which generated a memorable pain."
This kind of reporting wasn't exactly what Wyoming boosters were seeking.
Responding to this present-day and historical attitude challenged me. The insults and disregard for the landscape prompted me to take a closer look. In turn, through travels and research, I've found an abundance of flora, a surprising variety of geology, an interesting history, and many signs of economic and technological change. I've tried to use this physical and cultural backdrop with my own style of train photography to present a refreshing view of Wyoming ... from the rails.