“Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take…” (Wanderlust 1)

George Inness (American, 1825 - 1894 ), The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas, Washington, National Gallery, Gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers

George Inness (American, 1825 – 1894 ), The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas, Washington, National Gallery, Gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers

This view of Scranton, Pennsylvania, shows the new roundhouse of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. The painting was commissioned by the president of the railroad ca. 1856. I love the way the train is energetically pulling out of the roundhouse and up the hill, trailing a plume of steam. Most of all, I love the fact that it was painted in an era when the prospect of industrial progress made people celebrate, rather than picket for the snail darter.

“Travel” – Edna St. Vincent Millay

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistles shrieking.

All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming
But I see its cinders red on the sky
And hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take
No matter where it’s going.

More

  • My article on the history and significance of landscapes
  • The latest bio of Cornelius Vanderbilt, by T.J. Stiles, is a great read. Vanderbilt started his formidable energies from steamboats to railroads in the same decade that Inness completed this painting.
  • Want wonderful art delivered weekly to your inbox? Members of my free Sunday Recommendations list (email DuranteDianne@gmail.com) receive three art-related suggestions every week: check out my favorites from last year’s recommendations. For more goodies, check out my Patreon page.

About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.

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