Railroad Empire across the Heartland: Rephotographing Alexander Gardner’s Westward Journey (University of New Mexico Press, 2014) is a book that allows the reader to look back and forth across a span of almost 150 years. In 1867, famous Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner, a Scottish immigrant, photographed the building of the eastern division of the Union Pacific Railway across Kansas. In Railroad Empire, those locations are now paired up with 21st Century photos taken by John Charlton. Such comparison is known as the process of “rephotography”, whereby the same place is photographed with a significant time period in-between images. Doing so allows a visual assessment of change.
The photographs in Railroad Empire across the Heartland are accompanied by discussion from Professor James Sherow of Kansas State University. Sherow is a history professor with a specialization in the environmental history of the American West. As indicated in promotion for the book, Sherow discusses such topics as changes in land-use in the grasslands area of the West.
Photographer John Charlton has worked for the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas. His photos in the 224 page book are matched up with 90 of Gardner’s, replicating the same location and time of day of the first shots.
Additional book and ordering information for Railroad Empire across the Heartland: Rephotographing Alexander Gardner’s Westward Journey can be found at University of New Mexico Press.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)