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Terry Toedtemeier

Burning Railroad Tie, Burlington Cut near Catherine Creek, Klickitat County, Washington
1987, printed 1988
selenium-toned gelatin silver print
8 5/8 x 18 7/16 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist

Twentieth-century progress has not altered this view along the Columbia River, so popular with nineteenth-century photographers. Toedtemeier makes the scene his own using his uncanny sense of incident: a smoking railroad tie that seems to have ignited for no apparent reason and the hulking shadow of a rock monolith cast onto the side of its neighbor.