Thursday, March 13, 2008

Take the Train

Yesterday I took a drive down by the Ohio River. The West Virginia side of the river near Parkersburg is paralleled by railroad tracks. Tracks used by trains carrying coal and chemicals to here and there.
Years ago when I was maybe two or three years old my family lived with my Grandparents. The train track was right in front of the house. My Mom said we could ride to “town.”
I was too young to remember that; but my eighth grade class rode the train all night to tour Washington, DC. It was exciting to sit and watch the landscape go by. I remember at some point during the night we pulled into a station and we waved and smiled at the people on the platform. There was so much to see. I know I barely slept that night for fear of missing something. However, the following night after touring DC all day the sound of the cars on the tracks and the rocking gently lulled me to sleep.
It was the only experience of train riding I ever had and those particular kind of slow moving train rides have long since disappeared. Oh, you can board a restored train and take a little trip of a few miles or so but the same ambiance just isn’t there. It’s not like being in the moment and sharing the day to day life of the people around you.
Imagine if you could turn back time and hop a train ~ where ‘round the bend’ would you go?

7 comments:

Karen said...

What a lovely memory! I've only ridden the train a few times, but I vividly recall a Girl Scout Troop trip when we took the train from Battle Creek to Kalamazoo--such excitement for midwestern girls!

fireflynights said...

You have a good eye for composition in your photos.

Our farm had a freight train track running through it and I really hated it. Not the trains, but the fact that you never knew who might be walking along the tracks through our property at any hour of day or night. And, every time I wanted to ride my horse on the back part of the farm I had to get off, unlock two gates, cross the tracks, and get back on.

From time to time in Virginia we have steam train excursions and I went on one years ago from Alexandria to Charlottesville and back. It was a fun day.

You are fortunate in West Virginia to have a number of excursion railroad companies and many of them have full day trips. There's a list of them at this link: http://www.wvdot.com/4_railways/4b4_touristrail.htm

Carletta said...

Karen: Excitement is the word. I lived in a very small town and going to a big city by way of a rickety old train was an amazing journey.

fireflynights: Yes there are many excursions. Cass Scenic Railroad even has a caboose stayover at the top of the mountain - it's that day to day train experience that is missing - the everyday life
that was so much more than a "tourist" ride.

Rue said...

Would I go go?? Heck yes! I used to ride on the train with my grandpa all the time and we also used to take the train to San Diego. I wish that they would have been the old coal burning engines, but even though it was Amtrack, it was still a whole lot of fun :) I love the sound of the trains where we live at night. We can hear them as we drift off to sleep.
Thank you for the childhood memory,
Rue :)

Wendy said...

I have never been on a train ride but I too live right up the road from a train station so we hear and see trains everyday!! I often try to envision what it must have been like to live here in the 1800s. Thank you carletta for welcoming me to the community I look forward to getting to know all of you better!!~Wendy

Old Wom Tigley said...

This bought back memories again for me, we would jump a train as it slowed for the nearby signals. We would go where ever the train went and then jump one back.. these were safe days then... The trains were Steam or the early diesel engines. As a child I was allowed to play by these tracks, I would place an old copper penny on the lines and the trains would squash it flat, sometimes 3 trains would be neededto get in as flat as I wanted it to be... I would then cross the small field behind the house and take this penny home to my mum and dad and tell them I'd made then an ashtray... Mum or Dad would then give me more than a penny to spend on sweets.
Can you imagine now letting your own child play anywhere near train lines.. I can't ha!

kenju said...

In college, I rode a train from Charleston to NYC and loved it. In Italy and France in 2006, we took a train from Rome to Florence to Zurich and on to Paris. It is a lovely way to travel and I wish that train travel would come back to its for mer glory here in the US.