Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back on Track



It took a long time for train service, discontinued in 1959, to come back through our town. If you want some nostalgia and the story of why the train disappeared, you can read here, but without going into detail today, the old train right-of-way cut down the middle of towns, through backyards and across main streets. Suffice to say, it took years of fighting by those for and against, until the line was re-activated three years ago.

So a train gliding about a mile down the road from me, albeit an echo to memory, is still new, and I watch in awe when I catch one of the monster engines that trundle through at regular intervals. My ears perk up at the moan-and-toot combo of the occasional whistle that breaks our quiet zone, and no matter how long the delay, I inhale when the bells clang, the lights blink and gates drop in front of my car. When I sit at a cherry table at the library one day a week, I crane my neck to look out the window as a rumbling vibration telegraphs the arrival of an out bound express passing fifty yards away, and a half-hour later on its return to the city.

For the longest time, it seemed that my fascination was all about steel and power and muscle, and for sure that plays into it. But it is also something more—something mystic and intriguing about this mode of transportation. The cut where yellow and beige trees line the tracks is a seam sewed into the city—a bloodline. Like a capillary, our little branch bleeds into a major network of veins— steel rails that slip people like so many neurons and electrons, to the next town over, and the next—to a metropolis of art, culture, activity, education. It offers a certain freedom to know that all I have to do climb the steps to an inbound shuttle and settle on a leather seat, to take a ride beyond my ordinary place, outside my regular parameters, to the pumping heart of things, and then perhaps, beyond.

The train offers so much more than simple commuter convenience. When I’m stopped at a crossing and gaze down the rails it becomes clear that along with the burnished gold of passing autumn foliage, imagination lines those new tracks too.



8 comments:

glnroz said...

I have only ridden a train one time, and truthfully an auto is more comfortable, but the "majic" of the dining car and the experience of a sort of primitive travel were a great backdrop for me and my middle daughter to go to Washington DC (Girl Scout trip.)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've ridden trains in England - it's a great experience.

Colette said...

I love living close to a train that can take me to the city!

Mary said...

As a youngster I rode the train as often as others rode a bus. I wish the U.S. had a better rail system in place.

Bish Denham said...

Ahhh trains. Love them. The train come through our little down, but no longer. In our yard is a tie we got from the last of the track that was pulled up. What was once the station house is now a quain restaurant called Rails.

jbchicoine said...

I used to ride the Long Island Rail Road to NYC every morning, but I think what you've described is something entirely different--at least it feels more nostalgic and full of wonder in your telling of it. All I really remember were dazed faces buried in newspapers and magazines, numbed in a hypnotic rhythm--and I don't mean the rhythm of the railway ...

KarenG said...

I love trains. Being from the midwest, where freight trains were common, the sound of the trains would put me to sleep at night. I miss them.

Helen Ginger said...

I've ridden a train once, I think. I'd love to go again through some scenic area like the Rockies. I think that would be a great trip.