Did You See This?

America by Train

A simple phone camera creates a beautiful travelogue of the continental U.S.

A great way to fill time when you’re traveling is to imagine the stories of the things you see through your window, whether you’re on a plane, in a car or bus, or on a train. What is that shape down there? Who’s in that the warmly lit house, and what are they doing right now? The longer you look, the more connected you start to feel.

In the lovely video aboveTom Harman aimed his iPhone camera at the outside world as he traveled from New York to San Francisco by train in September. The result is a soulful American travelogue that captures the breadth of the country’s natural and human-made diversity. The music, by Mùm, certainly helps.

From the opening shots traveling northward alongside a pair of speedboats on the Hudson River to a view of the Pacific Ocean beyond the city by the bay, day rolls into dusk and then night, and then back to morning. Water towers, farms, and bridges go by, and homes, so many homes. Roads disappear into the distance under wide-open skies. The Rockies. Rivers and streams sparkling in the sun.

Some of these scenes practically beg your imagination to fill in the blanks. Others look like places we’ve seen in movies, especially out west. Mostly, we want the train to stop so we can just stand there in the middle of it all and just breathe.