Railroads constituted a major role in the history of the United States, supporting westerly expansion and furthering the tide of the young country’s Manifest Destiny—the 19th-century doctrine for some that the expansion of the US throughout the American continents was both justified and inevitable. The coming of the railroad through the Mojave in the 1890’s made mining and ranching profitable for a time, and the Kelso Train Depot, constructed in 1924, was a rail stop and quarters for train crews.
My Mojave Rail collection documents, through representational and abstract images, current railroad operations within the Mojave National Preserve. But more than that, Mojave Rail celebrates the vision of the original railroad magnates and their willingness to brave harsh and unforgiving climate and lonely locale, to build the mighty rail lines that still function today. For some, rail evokes nostalgia for the pioneer days, emotion for gazing out at the slowly passing countryside, at a time when crossing the continent was a multi-day undertaking, not simply a few hours spent in a cramped seat on an airplane. Rail lines also have a sense of motion, and my images help convey that motion through long exposures, whether day or night, and emphases colors that lie just below the surface, which some may not see during their short passages through the Mojave.