Photographing 4 Years Hopping the Rails of America

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Hopping trains across the country is one of those ideas which harkens back to Great Depression era days of meager means and distant travels in search of something better. Forgetting the hardships of those now distant times, we often look at the hobo life as one of complete freedom – a romantic era now gone. But, it’s not gone for all: there are still people hopping trains across the U.S., seeking adventure and finding it on the backs of freight trains as they roll down the long steel rails.


Mike Brodie took to the rails back in 2004 after being given a Polaroid camera. With no formal training he spent the next four years traveling the country under the moniker “The Polaroid Kidd” and amassing a collection of photographs that speak of unbridled adventure. Brodie recounts the beginnings of his journey:

“But I needed to find out for myself. Two weeks later I was gone, witnessing my new world wizz by, especially at dusk, then darkness as I watched the sum of all the city lights cast my silhouette across the pine trees of the Florida panhandle. This was it, I was riding my very first freight train. And soon, what would begin as mere natural curiosity and self-discovery would evolve into a casting call of sorts, taking photographs of my newfound friends.”

Surprisingly, as quickly as he picked up his passion for photography, Brodie left it. He currently works as a mobile diesel mechanic and though he no longer makes photographs, his artful legacy continues to live on. Twin Palms Publishers has recently released a book of his works under the title A Period of Juvenile Prosperity.

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