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Edition #43, December 1, 2006

A&M At Night

Photographer: J.P. Bell

                                                        Photo by J.P. Bell

A&M At Night

On 10 June 2006, the Fort Smith Trolley Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas had its annual fundraiser, an evening dinner trip on the passenger train of the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad. The train departed from the southern end of the line at Van Buren, Arkansas and traveled through the Ozarks to the small mountain community of Winslow, Arkansas. Passengers enjoyed a catered dinner on board the train. Some patrons bought premium tickets and enjoyed a sit-down dinner in the A&M's new lounge car. The passengers, numbering some 200, were allowed to get off the train and listen to a concert by the Dan Bailey Jazz Ensemble in Winslow's city park right next to the railroad.

The train returned to Van Buren after sundown. High school drama students entertained the onboard guests as the train traveled the return trip.  When everyone had left the depot and volunteers from the museum cleaned the train, the drama students stayed around to discuss their roles as entertainers on board the passenger special. The soft glow of incandescent lights from the coaches bathed the students at the end of the Van Buren depot platform in soft romantic light on a warm southern evening. The magic of passenger trains at night lives on along the A&M railroad.

This photograph was made with a Nikon D70 on a Bogen tripod. As the year 2006 comes to an end, digital photography seems to have vanquished film in all realms but the arena of black and white fine art. My only concern is whether there will be computers around in 10 or 20 years which can read those CDs, DVDs, and hard drives on which we so blissfully store our digital photography today. Digital photography is just too easy with the instant gratification we can experience in this new world without Kodak yellow and Fuji green cans of film. We stand to lose a lot of visual history if our faith in microchips fails us.

J.P. Bell
Fort Smith, Arkansas

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