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.
- 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.
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