Saturday, November 5, 2011

Goodwill and Good Luck on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

From Joe Viger:

Goodwill and Good Luck Runs the Railroad

Duluth is a cool town. It sits on the shore of Lake Superior, the largest lake in the world. Gitche Gumee. This photo of Duluth screamed Backside to me. I’m not exactly sure why. So, even though I made the image several weeks ago, I still hadn’t posted anything to the blog.

I’m still not clear on why it’s an image from the Backside. I have my theories.

Maybe it’s a Backside image because train yards are rare today. We like days gone by. Maybe it’s because even before I hit town I had "The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald" buzzing in my head. A melancholy song about Lake Superior that evokes images we like here on the Backside… wrecked tools of industry and the stories of people who are part of real working America.

Maybe it’s because bustling downtown Duluth -- the beautiful Canal Park, convention center and the arena where the National Champion University of Minnesota Duluth hockey team faces off -- is barely a quarter mile from where I made this image. The train yard seemed a world apart from the Duluth most visitors experience. The side of a place most folks don’t see is classic Backside subject matter.

Quite likely the two messages in the image are meaningful… Goodwill and "Is this your lucky day?" Many photographs and stories that have appeared here on the Backside speak to hopes, dreams and luck… good and bad.

What do you think? Give me your sense of this picture as the Backside of America.

1 comment:

  1. All of your points are good ones, Joe. Trains and train yards bring to mind hobos and travel freedom. People don't ride trains that much (and the gov't. isn't helping, but don't get me started on that), never mind even thinking about freight cars. In so many places trains like this are hiding in plain sight. There's a big yard on the outskirts of Boston that I bet most commuters never give a second thought to.

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