Buffalo Gap, South Dakota. Population 136, 91.3% white, 7.1% Native American. One closed cafe, one used goods shop, dormant homes and streets. When this young girl passed, I was as startled to see her as she was me.
This fueling station in Valley Falls, Oregon, lies at a windy crossroads of three highways. When the owner stepped outside with me for a portrait, her dog approached, and an onlooker peeked through the door. Valley Falls is described by the U.S census as a "populated place," which is not quite a town. This is the only spot to fuel up and get something like groceries for a long while.
A Last View
As if still waiting to cross the railroad, this old car in Shoshoni, Wyoming at one time met with bullets. About 650 people live in this town, which has few businesses left and no markets or eating spots that I saw. To my surprise there was a small library, and I went inside. A teenager sat in front of a computer with headphones, and a weathered looking man sat at another computer terminal, with a well worn cowboy hat resting on top of it. We started talking and I learned he was a rancher. He said he was open to an impromptu interview, so I turned on a small camera, and keeping our voices low, we started talking. After hearing about the hard economic times he'd experienced and his work raising and selling cows, I asked what he knew about the experiences cows have in the ranching-slaugher-breeding cycle. After a long pause during which his face went into contortions, he slowly put on his cowboy hat, smiled, asked me not to use what we had just recorded, and wished me well.
In Northeastern Colorado, when I paused on this two lane road, I wondered if Dave might be looking back at me.
Shoshoni, Wyoming. Population 649 at time of the last 2010 census, 91.1% white, 5.1% Native American. Named after the Shoshone tribe, the town is 3.58 square miles. This was originally a mining and railroad town, and the primary industry now is ranching. The mural depicts Geronimo.
Poem for Geronimo
Shoshoni, Wyoming. This poem by Buddy Wakefield has been stenciled beside the mural of Geronimo pictured in previous slide.
Powder River, Wyoming
Powder River, Wyoming. Population 51, 100% white. This post office has been in operation since 1904. Here, the median income for men in 2010 was $41,786, and for women $13,750 .
Grafton, West Virginia
Grafton, West Virginia. Population 5,164 at 2010 census, 97.1% white, less than 1% of other races. The main industry has been railroad. Mother's Day was founded here. The juxtaposition of a closed gas station and lonely, waiting figure fit my impression of the town in general during the one day I was there. It's quiet railroad and streets, businesses and homes, seemed as exhausted as the woman pictured here.
The Loneliest Road
Somewhere in Nevada. I photographed this rider while driving along Highway 50, a seemingly endless two lane route through vast, desolate terrain. The Highway 50 sign accurately reads "The Loneliest Road in America". I had not seen another car, person or animal for a long time when this figure rose like an apparition into view. When we looked at each other I felt as if I had intruded on a pensive and peaceful passage with my roaring jeep and wave.
On Highway 50 in Nevada I whizzed past this scene, then wondered what I'd just looked at, and made a u-turn to find out. The Great Pyrenees guard dog beside the water tank never looked away from the dead sheep visible to the left in the foreground. I saw no other sheep or animals as far at the eye could see. No trees, dirt roads, structures or signs of inhabitance. Just this dog, with a trough of water.
Western Nevada, off Highway 50. Noting the Great Pyrenees guard dog watching over a long-dead sheep in the distance, I found this scrap of warning on the ground near the barbed wire fence. It details the potential danger to pets of coming across lethal traps and poisons distributed across these lands by USDA's Wildlife Services. They are intended for predators who might harm sheep.
Seats of Change
This chair outside a home in Three Wells, Texas suggests a person looking out at a road of fast moving cars. The idea of a front stoop where you might greet passing neighbors is contrasted with the fact of a two lane highway here. When thinking about our shared world with other species, this sense of being cut off from one another, yet still wanting to connect, is palpable.
Eudora, Arkansas. Population 2269, 89.3% black. While driving through town, I noticed this fellow standing at the very edge of his yard near the curb, smiling toward the street and slightly swaying. As I drove slowly past, his smile brightened, so I paused, and then he waved in my general direction, so I stopped and turned off the car. A few words in, I quickly realized he was blind. After I explained what I was doing, he asked if I would take his picture, and mail a printed copy to him through the US mail. Before I could answer, a young woman came hurrying out of the house behind him and politely asked me to move on.
Hunt Club Dogs
In Smoaks, South Carolina, these hunting dogs were alone in the Smoaks Hunting Club compound, and the volume of barking was high.
In Eudora, Arkansas, when I smiled at the warm faces of this couple, and they stopped their car and smiled back. We laughed together at the moment, and they wondered what I was doing. When I brandished a camera, they invited this picture.
Fleming, Colorado. Population 426 in 2010 census. 96.7% white, 2.3% African American, and remaining Native American, Hispanic and Latino. Town size is .5 miles. Female median income $14,063, male median income $25,417.
Fleming Town Hall
In Fleming, Colorado, this town hall stood like a stubborn survivor in a surrounding community with few businesses and little appearance of life.
In western Colorado I came upon this ghostly relic.
In western Nevada, a tethered dog stood outside a Native American souvenir shop.
Haxtun, Colorado. Population 481. 97.15% white, 2.04% Hispanic/Latino, .5% Native American, .1% African American. Median income was $19,519 for women in 2010 census, and $31,190 for men. The primary industry is agriculture.
Holyoke, Colorado. Population 2,213 at 2010 census. 89% white, 20.3% Hispanic/Latino. In 2010 the median income for males was $30,500 and $17,455 for women. Primary industry is agriculture.
Morning in a modern day ghost town.
Mingus, Texas. Population 235 at 2010 census, 89.84% white, 10.57 Hispanic/Latino, .41 Native American. The town sprung up in 1881 with the Texas & Pacific Railroad, and was best known for serving alcohol when surrounding towns were dry. Since then the phrase "going to Mingus" has meant going to buy liquor, or tie one on.
Maclean, Texas. Across the northeast border, on Route 66. In 1909 the town started as nexus for agriculture, railroad and oil industries. In 1984 the town was bypassed by Highway 40, and went into economic decline. The 2000 census reports a population of 830, 96.87 white, 2.17% Hispanic/Latino, .6% Native American. Women had a median income of $20,000 and men $26,667.