Sisters play in a river after church in Grantsville, Maryland. The March 1998 story followed the path of the United States' first highway.

Sunday Swim

Sisters play in a river after church in Grantsville, Maryland. The March 1998 story followed the path of the United States' first highway.
Photograph by Melissa Farlow, Nat Geo Image Collection

31 vintage images from the Nat Geo archives that take you back in time

While browsing the archives for this month’s roundup, I gravitated towards images with a common theme: travel. Instead of curating dream vacations, though, I decided to dig a little deeper. What does travel mean to different people?

In Lynn Johnson’s photo from our special 2010 issue about water, a group of Gabra women walk five hours a day hauling water in heavy jerry cans in northern Kenya. Far from leisure travel, this daily trek shows what women could achieve in their communities if they had easy and immediate access to water. 

On July 16, 1969, Otis Imboden photographed President Lyndon Johnson watching the launch of Apollo 11 at Kennedy Space Center. Although more people have climbed Everest than have been to space, the launch was an important step on humanity’s journey to achieving space travel.

The way we travel is also changing, as innovators research emerging technologies that could make it more sustainable. Robert Clark’s 2007 photograph for a story on biofuels shows bags of algae hanging outside a power plant near Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, researchers hoped the green scum could soak up carbon dioxide while producing thousands of gallons of biodiesel fuel each year. 

Whatever travel looks like to you, these photos reveal the dazzling variety of ways humans move through the world—and beyond. 

Breann Birkenbuel is the editor for Photo of the Day. Melody Rowell writes and researches the captions.

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