The New York Times has an amazing piece in their travel section about a transcontinental train ride taken (and written about) by Andy Isaacson. It’s really worth a read.
Isaacson shares some stories and observations from a jaunt across America by rail. Spanning from New York to California, his expedition brings him in contact with remarkable people and out-of-the-way places. He describes a sort of Amtrak-camaraderie which can’t be found traveling by plane:
With every uptick in gas prices, Americans in general are thinking less about driving. With each degree of global warming, trains become even more sensible. And with each new surcharge and each new item of clothing one is required to remove to board an airplane — and with every small-town commercial airport and cabin amenity that vanishes forever — the rails beckon. Last year, Amtrak set all-time ridership records.
Train routes are about connecting — and appreciating — the points in between, the country’s negative spaces, those places that urban dwellers might deride as “middle of nowhere.”
Abraham Lincoln’s idealism about the first transcontinental railroad’s forging national unity may have been bound up in political pragmatism and economic ambition, but a core sentiment remains true: as a train crosses borders, the boundaries between its riders dissolve. Those crosshatched lines on the map stitching the country together are also a metaphor. I witnessed community and saw everybody cherishing it.
(Photo by Andy Isaacson)