The first railroad system in the US opened as the Baltimore and Ohio railroad in 1830. Between 1850 and 1860, the railroad way exploded, with people and freight running all over the place. The railway dominated transport until the 1960s and 1970s, when automobiles and semi-trucks took over. Though we still live in the era of tractor-trailers and planes being the main freight transportation, trains still move millions of tons of freight a year, not to mention thousands of passengers.
I love old railroad tracks simply for the questions they create, and the photos they star in. Sometimes, looking back at the pictures of the railroad tracks just deepens the sense of wonder.
These two photos, taken in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, are my two of my favorite pictures from my railroad photo collection. I love using this style - getting right down to the level of the tracks not only for the great angle, but also so that a random train doesn’t spoil your photography with a trip to the hospital. Removing color from the photos adds to a sense of antiquity. I don't use anything fancy; the only effects I use are the ones iPhoto gives me - no photoshop or any other computer program.
If you see a set of tracks, stop and think about them for a moment. Think back to a time when they were used. Wonder about where they go. Then, maybe, you'll get the same sense of wonder I get from them.
I never research the tracks I photograph. Somehow, it seems like it would diminish the mystique and antiqueness of this piece of America's past.