Belleview, Iowa, March 31, 1996.
My old boss at Pentrex Publishing, Don Gulbrandsen, encouraged my photography along the Mississippi by describing the whole experience as the ‘Spirit of the River.’ While for me the main attraction was the railroads; the towns, scenery, boats and barges, locks and wild life (mostly birds of the feathered variety), which made for added interest.
Between 1994 and 1996, I made numerous trips to the Mississippi River Valley, largely working between Savanna, Illinois and La Crosse, Wisconsin and the corresponding towns on the Iowa-side.
I often traveled with Tom and Mike Danneman, Dean Sauvola, Tim Hensch and others, who added their perspective to the Mississippi Valley. While Burlington Northern (BNSF after September 1995) was the busiest line, whenever possible, I focused on the other railroads, namely Canadian Pacific’s Soo Line and Chicago, Central & Pacific.
The vast majority of my photography from these trips has never been seen, save for the occasional slide show in the 1990s. The other day, on request from a regular Tracking the Light reader, I opened a blue Logan Box filled with cardboard-mounted chromes that is labeled ‘Midwest 1990s,’ and contains some of my Mississippi River highlights.
Some of the photos are classic views, others are more interpretive. At the time, I was aiming to expose scenes that captured the railroad in its environment, often with a greater emphasis on the environment than the trains.
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