I have long been fascinated by the American Road Trip. Brought up on a literary diet of Kerouac, Steinbeck and Pirsig and then aspiring to the photography of those photo wanderers Frank, Friedlander and Shore, I had always wanted to experience the back-roads of rural America.
A couple of years ago I decided to go to one of the quieter parts of the US: North Dakota. On my way through immigration at Chicago’s O’Hare, the security officer asked me where I was going onto. ‘North Dakota’, I replied. ‘I have never known anyone to travel onto there’, he retorted, ‘No-one goes to North Dakota!’
Part of my reason for going to ND was to link into a photography opportunity afforded by Tillman Crane. The derelict farms in the region each have a story. To photograph these farms you need the permission of the landowners. So one week of my month’s stay was spent in the wonderful company of Tillman and his group of photographers all who seemed to know each other from previous sorties.
But I had other reasons too. I had read about the railway town of North Dakota named after English railway towns, reflecting on the origins of the railway builders themselves. I had read about Rugby being the centre of the North American continent. I had read about the Scandinavian and German origins of the most recent settlers there and their Lutheran leanings.
So what follows is a selection of my impressions of my trip through the northern parts of ND, the counties of Rolette, Towner and Bottineau bordering Canada. The pictures are expressed in different idioms reflecting how I saw their subjects.