Triggering severe nostalgia and denoting adventure, mystery, and glamour, the passenger train is still portrayed as the most romantic mode of transportation in history. But what does long-distance travel by train really add up to today? In 2005, after quitting not only a successful museum job, but a profession, writer A. N. Devers bought a 30-day rail pass and circumnavigated the United States (and a bit of Canada), disembarking and visiting over a dozen towns and cities, finding that the passenger car was at once adventure and a nightmare – the promise of self-discovery and renewal via train trip was only a daydream. Instead she emerged from her 8,111-mile journey with a close view of the America’s crumbling infrastructure and a decaying communities alongside the tracks. The train, it turns out, is a portal, to what might have existed if the America’s rails hadn’t been sold off and bought out.