Airports often act as the front door of a city, where most visitors enter and see the place for the first time. But for smaller cities and towns, the train station is that front door.
I recently took a few big train trips across parts of the U.S. – east from my house in Los Angeles through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, then north through Mississippi and the tip of Tennessee into Memphis. While I wasn't able to get off the train at every (or hardly any) stop, I could try to get a feeling for what a place was like when the train pulled into the station.
Below are some crudely constructed panoramic photographs of what it looks like in many of the small and not-so-small towns and cities along the way. (I missed some stations because I was asleep. Also, other cities along the way were left out because some of my already mediocre photography was just not worth sharing.)
Pulling into town, you get a slightly more full picture, but it was fascinating to take in the immediate surroundings of the train station – be it a historic downtown or a barren parking lot – as indicative of a city's character.
Lordsburg, New Mexico
Deming, New Mexico
El Paso, Texas
Lake Charles, Louisiana
New Iberia, Louisiana
Hammond, Louisiana (other side of the tracks)
Yazoo City, Mississippi
Photo credit: Nate Berg