Heart of the country: Andrew Moore explores America’s Dirt Meridian

Andrew Moore's Dirt Meridian is an aerial survey of the American landscape along the 100th parallel, the line of longitude that takes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. For the most part, this is spectacular open landscape, often dismissed by coast dwellers as 'Flyover Country', the great sweeps of flat farmland and prairie that no-one deems important enough to visit, let alone drive through.

Andrew Moore’s Dirt Meridian is a survey of the American landscape along the 100th parallel, the spectacular open landscape often dismissed by coast dwellers as ’Flyover Country’
Andrew Moore’s Dirt Meridian is a survey of the American landscape along the 100th parallel, the spectacular open landscape often dismissed by coast dwellers as ’Flyover Country’
(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Andrew Moore's Dirt Meridian is an aerial survey of the American landscape along the 100th parallel, the line of longitude that takes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. For the most part, this is spectacular open landscape, often dismissed by coast dwellers as 'Flyover Country' – the great sweeps of flat farmland and prairie that no-one deems important enough to visit, let alone drive through.

Moore's journey runs the length of this north-south line, and was chronicled with a combination of traditional large-format landscape photography and a specially developed aerial survey, using a wing-mounted digital camera to gain a unique perspective on the landscape, thanks to the flying skills of Doug Dean. The project has been ten years in the making, during which time Moore has befriended and photographed the lives of many communities living along the line, as well as the drama and majesty of the countryside they inhabit.

At times it is a dusty, bleak working landscape, with the ruins of past lives all too visible. At others, the contours rise dramatically, and farmland is backed up tight against natural splendour. But mostly, this is a prairie and desert landscape, arid and flat, scoured by dust storms with little rainfall or respite. The 100th meridian remains geographically and psychologically significant, a demarcation that splits the US in two. For all the decades of progress that have followed since the railroad first bisected this countryside in the 19th century, the people who live here and who stand before Moore's camera are still very much pioneers, far removed from our everyday experience. These images convey a strong sense of atmosphere, place and personality, a heartland that is strangely detached from the rest of the country on either side of it.

Sandhills Blizzard, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013

Sandhills Blizzard, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

The line of longitude takes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas – great sweeps of flat farmland and prairie that no-one deems important enough to visit, let alone drive through

The line of longitude takes in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas – great sweeps of flat farmland and prairie that no-one deems important enough to visit, let alone drive through. Pictured: Coyote Den, Las Animas County, Colorado, 2014

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Schoolhouse on the China Pasture, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013

Schoolhouse on the China Pasture, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2013

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Moore's journey runs the length of this north-south line, and was chronicled with a combination of traditional large-format landscape photography and a specially developed aerial survey, using a wing-mounted digital camera to gain a unique perspective on the landscape. Pictured left: Thorne House Interior, Jones County, South Dakota, 2014; right: Capa Hotel and Bathhouse, Jones County, South Dakota, 2014

Moore’s journey runs the length of this north-south line, and was chronicled with a combination of traditional large-format landscape photography and a specially developed aerial survey, using a wing-mounted digital camera to gain a unique perspective on the landscape. Pictured left: Thorne House Interior, Jones County, South Dakota, 2014; right: Capa Hotel and Bathhouse, Jones County, South Dakota, 2014

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Uncle Teed, Sioux County, Nebraska, 2013

Uncle Teed, Sioux County, Nebraska, 2013

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Left: Grazing by Igloos, Fall River County, South Dakota, 2013; right: Potash Plant Remnants, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013

The project has been ten years in the making, during which time Moore has befriended and photographed the lives of many communities living along the line. Pictured left: Grazing by Igloos, Fall River County, South Dakota, 2013; right: Potash Plant Remnants, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

The Yellow Porch, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013

The Yellow Porch, Sheridan County, Nebraska, 2013

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Left: Chalk Hills, Custer County, South Dakota, 2014; Right: Along the Bad River, Haakon County, South Dakota, 2014

At times it is a dusty, bleak working landscape, with the ruins of past lives all too visible. At others, the contours rise dramatically, and farmland is backed up tight against natural splendour. Pictured left: Chalk Hills, Custer County, South Dakota, 2014; right: Along the Bad River, Haakon County, South Dakota, 2014

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

School District 123, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2012

School District 123, Cherry County, Nebraska, 2012

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

Left: Roughneck Housing, McKenzie County, North Dakota, 2013; Right: Red Road Rock, Dunn County, North Dakota, 2013

These images convey a strong sense of atmosphere, place and personality, a heartland that is strangely detached from the rest of the country on either side of it. Pictured left: Roughneck Housing, McKenzie County, North Dakota, 2013; right: Red Road Rock, Dunn County, North Dakota, 2013

(Image credit: Andrew Moore)

INFORMATION

Dirt Meridian by Andrew Moore, $50, published by Damiani (opens in new tab)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.