AMTRAK DOUGLAS GRITZMACHER
My grandfather did not like to fly. So when he visited us from his Wisconsin home he took the train. When it was time for him to return home, I would accompany him onto the train platform and watch with envy as he boarded. I liked the idea of traveling from an early age and doing it via a train seemed heavenly.
That opportunity finally came while I was in college and decided to spend a holiday break in New York City. It was on the other side of the country and provided a great excuse to take the train. For three days I sat on the train’s upper deck and watched the landscape go by as the car gently swayed like a baby’s crib. I went to sleep each night to train whistles and the thack! thack! sounds of the wheels racketing along the rails. I never slept better.
I liked it so much I took it again the next year. And again that spring. And again two winters later. And again the following summer. And again … well, I’ve lost count. But it all added up to a lot of time to kill, so often I broke out my camera to capture some of the experience and what I love about it. I was also motivated by posterity—I’m amazed that cross-country train travel has managed to survive in the 21st century. My own grandkids likely won’t have the chance to accompany me to a train platform as I did with my grandfather. With these images, at least I can give them a sense of what it was like.
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