Riding the Rails
The R5 is SEPTA's name for what used to be the Paoli Local, originally, the commuter train from Center City Philadelphia out to Paoli along the Main Line. These days you can take the R 5 from Thorndale to Doylestown. Today it is called the Paoli/Thorndale Line.
Here's a link if you would like to read about the history, development and evolution of the Philadelphia & Columbia Railway and the Paoli Local: www.lowermerionhistory.org/texts/first300/part08.html
Train photography is a well-established tradition in the history of photography. The works of Otto C. Perry and O. Winston Link in the United States; Ivo Peters, H. Gordon Tidey and the Rev. Eric Treacy in the United Kingdom, W. W. (Bill) Steward in New Zealand; and Carl Bellingrodt in Germany are a few of train photography’s trail blazers.
Like a dream that cannot quite be remembered, my train photos play with time. These are not the decisive moment, but, rather, an interval with no measure. The present becomes a blur reaching back and extending to the future all in the same an instant. Momentarily disoriented we are in touch with flashes not completely forgotten.
Travel by train has an important place in my childhood memories. I remember my first train trip as my first great adventure. I was in the first grade and my parents and I traveled all the way from Newark, New Jersey to Hollywood, Florida by train. Those were a magical 24 hours that opened my young eyes to new people, experiences and places.
About the same time as my initial train explorations (the early 1950’s) Walker Evans wrote in Fortune that, “He who travels by rail. . .clangs and shunts straight into his own childhood.” This is certainly true for me. These days, I can’t even ride the local commuter train without thinking back to my early initiation. Train travel, like a time machine, hurls us back into our past. The receding track points back in time and space -- the past, present and future are one.
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