"Before the Flood"- Damar, Kansas in 1993
By Michael Boss
Alkyd on Panel
22" x 30"
From the Collection of Justin "J.J." Deges, Bogue, Kansas

During the early 1990s, I began keeping a photographic archive of Union Pacific's Plainville Branch. Photographs were taken between Plainville and Colby, Kansas. One specific slide was taken mostly south of Damar at rail mile marker 122. After looking the slide over, I thought "that is really a subtle image" and might turn into a nice Great Plains railway painting.

Damar, in Rooks County, Kansas was settled in the 1880s by French-Canadians and is home to the architecturally beautiful St. Joseph Catholic Church constructed in 1912. The church, seen from miles around, was one big plus for the painting.

One drive to take new images was more than helpful. Standing where I took the 1993 image, it was pretty much the same as twenty years ago. In 1993, both the new and old water towers were side by side. That bit of history was recorded in the painting.

1993 was the summer of rains which flooded some river banks in western Kansas and led to devastation eastward to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The rains wiped out the Plainville Branch track and eventually led to the abandonment of Union Pacific's longest branch line, deserting the towns across central and northwest Kansas from Salina to Colby.

At least the Red-tailed Hawk prevailed!