“.. a knot of interrelated problems requires a network of solutions.”
William C. Thompson, project manager for the Association of American Railroads
What is the Ghost Train Project?
A Proposal for a Public Art Awakening about Trains and Transportation
Trains are a powerful means of transportation that have influenced all of our lives and redefined the American landscape. They have been and still are agents of change which shape and feed the nation. From industrial cities to homesteads, the railway system has influenced our world, creating connection and separation. The presence and absence of trains continues to impact our lives and public art installations are an opportunity to reveal and refresh narratives through varied points of view, both ethereal and interactive .
Whatever form it may take, “the Ghost” is here to entertain and educate us on our journey through the past, the present, and the future. As a passenger revisiting this lost era, the public are encouraged to share, react, respond and contribute to the experiences.
Who wants to get on board?
We are actively seeking collaborators of all sorts.
The Ghost Train Project is interested in working with the artistic and larger business communities who acknowledge the power of trains and their ability to spark economic development and create new community dynamics.
Contact us if you are interested in trains and our ideas. Let’s see what we can create together, as artists, benefactors, and audiences, hopping on and off the creative track along the way. Our collaboration will be the major fuel behind The Ghost Train Project.
We will get the train rolling, your participation will keep it going.
Pictured above right: Wave Form interactive installation / by Artist Collaborator Josh Miller, Kutztown University
Let’s bring stories to life through the imagery and language of trains.
Inspired by the New York Highline Park where the idea for the project first germinated, Reading PA became our main junction station. The Ghost Train Project is planning appearances “real” and “virtual” to begin the conversation about the impact of transit on our lives. We’re researching opportunities for three more US “high line” stations to be added to our project mission – and “Ghost Games” to be played in the future.
As we pick up speed, we may expand anywhere along the vast rail network at points relevant to the project’s history and “the Ghost” of the railway system. Are there more stops to discover and surprises to come?
The history of the rails is rich and checkered. Their current status often goes unnoticed or is mysteriously unknown. Exploring trains through experiences, memory, and imagination, we plan to use varied arts and media – moving between the seen and unseen, the understood and the misunderstood, the temporal and the timeless.
Next stop, Missoula Montana…
Pictured above left: Photograph by Sahar Coston-Hardy
Art Credit: Moving Sculpture by Janet Echelman
Ghost Train Project Backstory
Artist and entrepreneur Jane Runyeon, architect Valerie Boom, and lighting designer and past cattle rancher Lynn Redding, gathered on the High Line in New York City in April 2014 after a guided tour with Lynden B. Miller (author of Parks, Plants and People ) to discuss their immediate impressions of the interplay between the newly created gardens and original infrastructure. That day began the ongoing dialogue about missing the enormous impact of freight trains and their scale in the urban and wild landscapes – We have been discussing creative ways to reintroduce the Iron Horse ever since.
Many walks and talks later, THE GHOST TRAIN PROJECT started to materialize.
In 2018, the three of us created 24 collages together. We each started 8 pieces individually, passing them along to the next person (like the surrealists did), so we could be involved in the beginning, middle, and end of the visual conversation. We were inspired by different kinds of train cars and their contents, the coupling and uncoupling of rail cars, the effect of the rails on the landscape and communities, and the growth of transportation and how it changes. These collages are our visual touchstone with titles like, Leaving the Station, Pushcart Parade, and Now you See it.
“Sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right station.”
–The Lunchbox film directed by Ritesh Batra
pictured above right: All Aboard Collage
First Artist: Lynn
Second Artist: Jane
Third Artist: Valerie
History of the Railway
Where are the trains and their infrastructure?
Since 6th century BC in ancient Greece, the concept of a rail system has been ever evolving. In the 1800’s, the first U.S. steam locomotives grew to a network of trains crisscrossing the country. Negotiating land barriers and company boarders, independent railroads sprung up to deliver freight, passengers, and revolutionized the postal system.
Major railroads, such as the Reading Railway Company, were among the most prosperous corporations in the United States until after World War II. Then, America began turning away from coal as its major fuel. While the U.S. and the railroads reduced or eliminated their dependence on coal, container shipping allowed for lower cost systems to feed globalization, changing the face of production and distribution and redefining the importance of railways.
Major rail lines, including those serving Reading PA, filed for bankruptcy by the 1970’s, leaving communities large and small to fill the void, withering alongside their railroad remains and the ghost of prosperity. Controversies swirl with the ambiguities of today’s transportation goals and the value of the rails. Train service continues to move and idle, evolve and decay, and transform entirely.
Our first collaboration with Josh Miller
at Saucony Creek Brewpub and Franklin Street Rail Station in the winter of 2020.
What is on the ghostly horizon?
Reading-to-Philly rail could bring $1B boost to region
County officials push southern Montana passenger rail effort
Who We Are
We Steam Ahead:
Jane Runyeon Lynn Redding Bethany Daigle
Music inspired by the Railway………
……… Collaborator David Goddess, a musician who lives on Tenth Avenue in NYC, was inspired to write the song
“Last of the West Side Cowboys”
after he learned about the 1850’s ordinance requiring a man on horseback to precede and follow every train as it made its way up and down the city streets.
Check out the Shorewood Ghost Train in Wisconsin designed by Marty Peck.
The People Chronicles has produced podcasts about
The Ghost Train Project
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