A 16-city tour of America, from an Amtrak seat.

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

Alpine, Texas

 Houston, Texas

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana

New Iberia, Louisiana

Schriever, Louisiana

Hammond, Louisiana

Hammond, Louisiana (other side of the tracks)

McComb, Mississippi

Brookhaven, Mississippi

Hazelhurst, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

Yazoo City, Mississippi

Greenwood, Mississippi

Photo credit: Nate Berg

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A young girl winces from the sting as she receives the polio vaccine in 1954.
    Life

    How Mandatory Vaccination Fueled the Anti-Vaxxer Movement

    To better understand the controversy over New York’s measles outbreak, you have to go back to the late 19th century.

  2. A photo of a closed street in St. Louis
    Equity

    The Curious Tale of the St. Louis Street Barriers

    Thanks to an '80s mania for traffic calming, the St. Louis grid is broken by hundreds of bollards and cul-de-sacs. Critics say it’s time to get rid of them.

  3. Design

    A New Plan to Correct a Historic Mistake in Pittsburgh

    A Bjarke Ingels Group-led plan from 2015 has given way to a more “practical” design for the Lower Hill District. Concerns over true affordable housing remain.

  4. A photo of shoppers on University Avenue in East Palo Alto, California, which is flanked by two technology campuses.
    Equity

    An Island of Silicon Valley Affordability Says Yes to More Housing

    East Palo Alto is surrounded by tech riches, but that hasn’t necessarily helped longtime residents, who welcome a state law mandating zoning reform

  5. Life

    How to Inspire Girls to Become Carpenters and Electricians

    Male-dominated trades like construction, plumbing, and welding can offer job security and decent pay. A camp aims to show girls these careers are for them, too.