In pictures: The empty railways of America

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    West from Oacoma, South DakotaImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption West from Oacoma, South Dakota

    One of photographer John Sanderson’s earliest memories was family road trips to Pennsylvania from his home in Manhattan, New York.

    While on one of these trips, 13-year-old Sanderson discovered the delight of taking pictures when shooting the Strasburg Rail Road and its historic steam engine.

    Returning to the subject of railways in adulthood, he rebelled against his younger self and this time chose to photograph American railroads devoid of trains.

    Fuel transfer station, New Windsor-on-Hudson, New YorkImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Fuel transfer station, New Windsor-on-Hudson, New York
    Tower at diamond crossing, Walkerton, IndianaImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Tower at diamond crossing, Walkerton, Indiana
    Early morning, Stony Point, NYImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Early morning, Stony Point, NY

    This, he believed, allowed the pictures to focus on the surrounding context of architecture and landscape rather than simply the temporary presence of a train.

    He said, “The proximity of the railbed to the environment, I later discovered, was a perfect way to explore America’s national character.”

    NA Tower, Martinsburg, West VirginiaImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption NA Tower, Martinsburg, West Virginia
    Helme Snuff Mill, Helmetta, New JerseyImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Helme Snuff Mill, Helmetta, New Jersey
    Steel Mill landscape, Cleveland, OhioImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Steel Mill landscape, Cleveland, Ohio

    The photographs capture everything from urban to rural environments, from the highest mountain ranges to the smallest towns.

    Landscapes from the eastern to western states vary from high rise buildings, to grain silos and open fields.

    Mainline out of town, Columbus, OhioImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Mainline out of town, Columbus, Ohio
    Depot, White Lake, South DakotaImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Depot, White Lake, South Dakota
    Passage, Downtown Columbus, OhioImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Passage, Downtown Columbus, Ohio

    At times, Sanderson deliberately abandoned the typical vanishing point perspective of the tracks, instead producing horizontal views of the buildings that run alongside the tracks.

    “As the project grew,” he said, “shooting from this angle started to make so much sense because many of these places were built in lateral alignment with the railroad.”

    Park Avenue Tunnel Cut, New York CityImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Park Avenue Tunnel Cut, New York City
    Coaling Tower, Marion, OhioImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Coaling Tower, Marion, Ohio
    Clearing Storm, Medicine Bow, WyomingImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption Clearing Storm, Medicine Bow, Wyoming

    He appreciated the quietness of the tracks, as opposed to the more frequently documented roads of America.

    That is, he said, “until a 100 car-long freight train rumbles into the scene”.

    View of Manhattan from Kearny, New JerseyImage copyright John Sanderson
    Image caption View of Manhattan from Kearny, New Jersey
    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-40341771

    Photographs by John Sanderson.

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