Both the tracks of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway and a narrow, nearly parallel section of the Rio Grande River snake through the landscape, carving a path through the inhospitable landscape. A solitary figure sits in the left foreground, looking across the tracks; his presence could urge viewers to contemplate the effect of "progress" on the terrain. Such thoughts open up the subjects of industrialism and the uniquely American history of westward expansion.
Embudo, located between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Taos, is home to one of the few railroad stations remaining from the 1800s. Though train travelers no longer stop there, the building now operates as a restaurant.