One of the great innovations in a sea of great things accomplished during the Franklin Roosevelt administrations was the formation of the Farm Security Administration, a division of the government established to help farmers through the devastating Dust Bowl and Great Depression.
A subset of the FSA was a photographic unit which was set up to document the progress made by the FSA (and provide, I am sure, for some much-needed good news, a hearts-and-minds campaign).
This division was headed by Roy Emerson Stryker, who wound up with the greatest and most beautiful photographic history ever assembled in the United States.
There were about 77,000 images made, and I recall reading (somewhere) that the total budget for the Stryker group for the years 1936-1942 was about $100,000, meaning that each completed image cost just over a dollar apiece.
So far as art funding by the government is concerned, that about the best it has done.
It’s a bumpy ride, and it takes over an hour to go 12 miles.
But the trip from Shixi to Huangcunjing in rural Sichuan is one of the last regular passenger steam train services in the world – and a lifeline to locals, who could not travel to nearby towns without it
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Villagers ride a local coal powered steam train at a station in the town of Shix
A railway engineer preps a coal powered steam train before departing Shixi.
On an island some 29km long and 8km wide, with its west side bordering the Caribbean Sea and its eastern side facing the Atlantic Ocean, history moves forward – albeit slowly and shakily – in the form of the Saint Kitts Scenic Railway.
Dubbed the “last railway in the West Indies” and one of the few of its kind, the narrow gauge railway loops travellers 29km through verdant jungles, over canyon-spanning steel bridges and along the island’s rocky coast.
Christopher Columbus discovered the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis in 1493, during an exploration to the New World.
Some say he chose to simply name it after his likeness (the isle is more formally known as Saint Christopher Island).
Others maintain that he thought it resembled the shape of St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, carrying the Christ child on his shoulder.
Whatever the case, the discovery spawned battle upon battle between the British and French over the colonisation of the islands, which were home to fresh water, large salt deposits and – above all – fertile soil.
Ffestiniog Railway, Snowdonia. The Ffestiniog winds its way from Porthmadog through more than 13 miles of stunning countryside.
Waterfalls cascade and streams froth down mossy rock sides. Swathes of deep green grass soar on one side while valleys dip spectacularly on the other, affording the chance to look down on treetops far below.
Sharp bends in the line offer splendid views of the engine as it chugs onward and upward to Blaenau Ffestiniog, where there’s a chance to travel on an even smaller train into a former slate mine.
The slate-waste landscape at the top of the line makes a fascinating contrast with the natural beauties below.
It’s a cemetery for trains, for locomotives. And it’s so big that it looks as though all of the trains in South America were moved to Uyuni, Bolivia, to chug their last chug.
Filled with hollowed out bodies that have completely rusted over and other remains, the “Great Train Graveyard” can be found on the otherwise deserted outskirts of Uyuni, a small trading region high in the Andean plain.
Uyuni has long been known as an important transportation hub in South America and it connects several major cities.
In the early 19th century, big plans were made to build an even bigger network of trains out of Uyuni, but the project was abandoned because of a combination of technical difficulties and tension with neighboring countries.
The trains and other equipment were left to rust and fade out of memory.
Most of the trains that can be found in the Graveyard date back to the early 20th century and were imported from Britain.
In other places in the world, the mighty steel trains would have held up better.
The salt winds that blow over Uyuni, which hosts the world’s largest salt plain, have corroded all of the metal.
Without guards or even a fence, these pieces were picked over and vandalized long ago.