Photographer explores historical dividing line of the Western frontier

Andrew Moore's new series, "Dirt Meridian," might seem like a radical change in focus from his last series, "Detroit." But there are more similarities than might first appear in his images of a once-great-city in decline and the landscape of the 100th meridian, the longitudinal line which runs through North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Like Detroit, this area was once at the leading edge of the U.S. economy. The historical dividing line between the East and the West, the area's population briefly surged as settlers moved west. In both series, Moore uses architecture and aging relics from another era to explore the history of the area.

ABOVE: The Yellow Porch, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013

According to Moore, “Whatʼs remarkable about the 100th meridian is that as the very center line of this country, the absolute divide between East and West, it teeters between being lost in time, so to speak, yet at the same moment itʼs highly affected by large scale global forces, such as climate change, energy exploration, resource management, and food production."

ABOVE: Homesteaders Tree, Cherry County, 2011

The house pictured here is a mail-order house from a 1911 Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue. "Rockfaced Wizard" refers to the block-making machines that Sears sold so customers could fabricate their own blocks. "In this case," according to Moore, "the blocks were made on site, as the sandy soil in the Sandhills was perfect for making these handmade concrete blocks."

ABOVE: Sears Roebuck No. 52, Rockfaced Wizard, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013

Moore started photographing the area from the ground in 2005 but in 2011 he began making aerial images, eventually rigging a camera on the strut of the plane which he could trigger from the cockpit.

ABOVE: First Light, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013

Moore's series focuses mostly on the section of the "Dirt Meridian" that crosses the panhandle of Nebraska, which he calls "one of the most beautiful but unvisited parts of the lower 48 states."

ABOVE: Cash Meier Barn, Shadbolt Ranch, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2012

Moore says that while working on this series for nearly eight years he "had an extensive group of friends out there, including ranchers, farmers, Native Americans, poets, artists, trappers, crop dusters and story tellers who all helped me learn to see how the landscape itself told the history of the region."

ABOVE: Uncle Tweed, Sioux County, Nebraska, 2013

Buckboard Wagon, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013
"Dirt Meridian" is on display at Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York City through Feb. 22, 2014.