As a locomotive engineer for more than a quarter-century, Alan Nash has spent innumerable hours traveling the vast landscapes of Wyoming, rail and firmament unfurling before him. 

Rail lines extend into the horizon. (Alan Nash/@alannash59)

Nash is also a photographer, a hobby that dovetails well with his employment. A huge perk of the job, he says, is the front-row seat it offers to the region’s vast country and unpredictable skies.  

While smoke from summer wildfires enhances the light, photographer Alan Nash said, he’s “not sure it’s worth all the destruction.” (Alan Nash/@alannash59)

“It’s the biggest joy my job with the railroad brings me,” he wrote in an email, “would I rather be in bed? Not really!”

A graffiti-covered boxcar rests on the rails. (Alan Nash/@alannash59)

Nash snaps striking images of life in coal country, capturing conveyors and railcars silhouetted against blazing clouds and trains rounding bends.

A coal train rounds a bend as a cumulonimbus cloud turns orange on the horizon. (Alan Nash/@alannash59)

But he also makes images not related to coal, capturing arresting scenes of lonesome structures and skies strewn with sorbet clouds or golden ribbons. 

Cumulonimbus clouds mushroom in the sky behind a building near Shawnee. (Alan Nash/@alannash59)

“The draw to the sky is that it is NEVER the same,” Nash wrote. “The anticipation of what is to come every morning and every evening is exciting to me.”

Wyoming’s sky puts on another show. (Alan Nash/@alannash59)

The only thing these scenes have in common, he said, “is that they are always breathtaking … even when there’s not a cloud in the sky … breathtaking.”

​​Do you have a striking photo of summer in Wyoming? Submit high-resolution entries to WyoFile’s Summer Snap Challenge by emailing them to editor@wyofile.com under the subject line “Summer photos.” Be sure to tell us when and where the images were taken. We’ll gather the images and publish our favorites through the summer.

Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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  1. BEAUTIFUL PICTURES OF A WORLD THAT WILL SOON BE A MEMORY. THERE HAS BEEN HUGH CHANGES IN THE CLIMATE FOR MILLIONS OF YRS PERIODS OF DROUGHT AND RAINAT ONE TIME GLACIERS COVERED MOST OF NORTHEREN AMERICA A MILE HIGH EXTENDED TO NEAR JEFFERSON CITY MO GLOBA WARMING HAS ALWAYS BEEN HERE

  2. Beautiful photographs of the part of Wyoming where my late father grew up, around Lost Springs. He always talked of the beauty of the “green grass covered rolling hills”. Your photos only enhance the beauty of this area. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. These are fabulous photographs! I hope someone will decide to mount an exhibit–everyone should see them.
    Bravo, Alan Nash, for transcending the life of a locomotive engineer: an artist in the cab.

  4. Mr. Nash has taken some arresting and spectacular photos! What a treat to enjoy them and read the story! As a kid, I felt the same way about the ever-changing beauty of such an open sky. Although I don’t reside in Wyoming anymore, I appreciate getting to stay in touch with it through work like this. Thank you!!