John Elder Robison posted today about trains. He went into extensive detail about the different tracks and how they had changed over the years. He showed us some really keen stone bridges that have held up for a hundred years.
John loves trains. He shows us the practical side of those wonderful beasts, and his post triggered my own memories of trains.
Sometimes, when I'm awake in the darkest hour of a hot summer night, I hear a train's call as it passes through town. It's a spacious and lonely sound. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only one who hears it.
When I was young, I often wondered where it had gone, and where it was going. When I was about thirteen years old, I heard a distinctive whistle, different from the usual deep-throated blare of a freight train's diesel horn. I ran outside and looked down the street. A white cloud of steam rose above the trees, and I knew it was a steam train.
I jumped on my bike and sped down my street and around the corner. Two blocks away, the steam engine paused at the train station on Davis Drive. It was huge, black and shiny. I stared at it with awe, then remembered that my sister and brother hadn't seen it. I rode back home to tell them, but by the time we all trooped back, it was gone. I hoped to see it again throughout that summer, but had to accept that it was a one time deal. Perhaps it was being delivered to some museum.
Years later, I kept my brother-in-law company while he volunteered to restore an old track line for the South Simcoe Railway. He was a train nut with an extensive model train set and antique conductor outfits which had once belonged to his grandfather. He even hosted a half-hour video for children, featuring old cartoons with train themes.
After a lot of hard work, the Tottenham Steam Train took to the rails, and I took my kids for several day trips on it.
There's something seductive and sexy about a steam train. Its curves and lines hide the hardness and power underneath all that metal. Its insides are all soft and frilly, with gold-fringed curtains and brocade upholstery. Imagine yourself in an overstuffed bench, watching a stranger at the end of the car, or perhaps diving under the bench to avoid a gun-slinging train robber.
If you wrote a train story, what would it be?