You’re rolling along, enjoying the scenery passing by outside your roomette and suddenly you’re crossing a river. Sometimes the train slows to cross. Sometimes the speed doesn’t lessen, almost as if the train hasn’t noticed there’s a river alongside us. I always notice. Here are a few shots of rivers taken from moving trains. For some, I had time to get set up—focus and frame. For others, there was only time to grab the camera, snap the picture, and the river was behind us. These are just the first few I came to in the disorganized collection of photo files which, I keep telling myself, I will get organized some day.
I might as well start with a river I can’t name. I do know the photo was taken from the Empire Builder and I think we were somewhere in Montana near Glacier National Park and heading east. I also remember it was damn cold!
This photo was taken a minute or so after the eastbound Southwest Chief had left Fort Madison, Iowa, and just as it was about to cross the Mississippi River on what is, at just about one mile in length, the longest swing bridge in the world. It’s a damn big river, too!
One of my most memorable trips was across the entire breadth of Canada, starring in Halifax and proceeding from there to Quebec City to Montreal to Toronto to Winnipeg to Jasper and, finally, to Vancouver. In this photo, VIA Rail’s train, The Ocean, has just started across the St. Lawrence River and, as you can see, it is an impressive body of water. Montreal awaits on the other side.
This photo was taken from a Norwegian train halfway through its 30-minute descent to the little town of Flaam. Several sections of this rail line are literally inside the mountain and there is one stop where tons of water cascade down the face of the cliff in a thundering roar and passes under the tracks At the bottom of the cliff, the little town of Flaam sits on the banks of a fjord. The water in the fjord is—as we say here in Hawaii—“freeze-ass cold”.And, at its deepest point, it’s more than 4,000 feet to the bottom.
In this photo, we’re heading west on VIA Rail’s premiere train, The Canadian, and that’s the Fraser River outside our window. An hour or two farther on this torrent is becomes a wide, gently flowing stream used by logging companies to float their freshly-cut trees downstream to saw mills, After cut into standars sizes, the lumber is loaded on flat cars and taken back west over three same track.
We were heading south out of Darwin on the Ghan when the voice of the on-board tour director crackled on the train’s public address system alerting us to the fact that in a few minutes we would be crossing the Finke River. He was back on the P.A. two or three more times with a count-down to what the tour director clearly thought was a big deal. Finally, we reached the Finke River and it was—as you can see—almost bone dry. Later, when I checked an encyclopedia, it was described as “a major intermittent river in Australia.”