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

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