19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest The American Experience
Shelter from the Storm

This photograph is of the Immaculate Conception Church in the town of Montrose, Nebraska--now a ghost town. The church was built in 1887 and was in use until 1973, mostly as a mission church. This area of Nebraska is remotely populated and I did not see a single vehicle or a single person on the drive to and from Harrison. The dirt roads over the Pine Ridge are very steep and winding, so a four wheel drive is pretty much a necessity. As I approached the church I could see the storm clouds rolling in from a distance and I anticipated the dramatic scene that was about to unfold in front of me. After I captured the scene, the rain began to fall and I took shelter in the church. When the rain subsided, I got back in my SUV and headed back to Harrison. However, the dirt roads had already turned to mud and I found it impossible to stay on the road. After my SUV slid off the road and got stuck twice, I walked several miles in futility, looking for a ranch or hoping someone would drive by. There was no cell coverage in this extremely remote region of Nebraska. The front brought in colder air and the afternoon temperature on this late June afternoon was in the low 50s. Hours later, I eventually got myself free and made it into Harrison. Shivering and caked with mud, I entered the general store where the clerk confirmed my initial fear. If I hadn't freed myself it might be a couple of days before someone would find me. Despite this experience, I still believe the shot was worth it.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 06.2021
Date Uploaded: 11.2021
Photo Location: Montrose, Nebraska, United States of America
Camera: Canon EOS R5
Copyright: © Joseph Giitter