Monday

70 Years Spans These 2 Images

Serendipity is defined as "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way" (1).  About a week ago I came across a reference to one of my early photographs while online.  The image was of the old El Paso and Southwestern railroad line I took while flying the abandoned rail line looking for old town sites and sidings.  The reference was on the website "SHORPY "always something interesting"".  The post entitled "South by Southwest" was of an image taken in 1938 by Dorothea Lange a depression era photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) during the depression documenting the plight of citizens struggling with the depression and dust bowl.  Best known for her image of Florence Owens Thompson (another serendipitous coincidence?) entitled "Migrant Mother", Dorothea visited Rodeo during the summer of 1938 where she captured this image below.

Now fast forward 70 years and I'm flying about 50 feet off the ground along the old abandoned railroad north of Rodeo NM looking for old towns (specifically Apan NM) and sidings to document and I see an image so snap a photograph.  I submit it to Google Earth and it is accepted and published.  Not quite languishing in obscurity, the image has picked up over 11,000 views since being published in 2009, the image was rediscovered by someone investigating Dorothea Lange's 1938 image.  After some back and forth trying to figure out where Lange was positioned to take her image (I thought perhaps she climbed a signal pole) I found another photograph with a hint.  This additional image has a shadow in the lower left foreground indicating the photograph was taken from the old bridge over the rail line on Highway 80 just north of Rodeo NM.  After the railroad ceased, the highway was realigned and the bridge removed.  So 2 photographers, 70 years apart, looked at the same scene while perched above the landscape, saw something interesting, and captured an image.  One more clue in the search to understand "how people see".  Clearly, time is not a component in this equation.


railroad tracks in the desert
1938 looking north along the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad from Rodeo NM towards Antelope Pass in the Peloncillo Mountains.  Note the rail bed is wide along this stretch of tacks with room for 2 sets of rails.  Image by Dorothea Lange.
2009 looking north along the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad from Rodeo NM towards Antelope Pass in the Peloncillo Mountains.  Image by BAlvarius.
1938 looking north along the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad from Rodeo NM towards Antelope Pass in the Peloncillo Mountains.  Note the shadow in the lower left indicating the location.  Image by Dorothea Lange.
1. Google search for "Serendipity".

Addendum: 
1.  Dorothea Lange's images are courtesy of the Library of Congress
2.  Just to show that time has slowed in the Bubble here is an image from 2011 of a steam locomotive passing Steins NM along the northern segment of the east/west rail line.

The Union Pacific steam locomotive 844 passing Steins NM in 2011.

4 comments:

  1. Yeah, wow, toad boy, that someone was me.

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  2. Yeah, wow, toad boy, that someone was me.

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    Replies
    1. and who are you? pdxrailtransit? and who are you? pdxrailtransit
      just in case double words is magical or something.. . . .

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  3. Your quite right pdxrailtransit and thank you for the heads up. I finally finished the posting this morning and got it up. I think an interesting view is a timeless thing but with the low population density after Dorothea captured her image in 1938 it was only in 2009 that someone was in a similar position and saw the same image of the landscape.

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