Sunday, January 6, 2008

Chasing Trains and History

........................................I come from a family of railroad buffs. I recall being a child at my grandmothers home in the small town of Collinsville, Alabama. Her home sat about 3 blocks from the train tracks. When one would hear the whistle of the engine down the road, we (cousins, parents, aunts uncles) all immediately stopped what we were doing and ran down to the tracks to wave to the engineer. It was a tradition. You didn't think about doing it, you just did it. Many family members were very involved in all things railroad, be is as a hobby of model rail roads, reading about trains, collecting, and even one or two that ended up working for the railroad. I loved to lay in bed at my grandma's and drift off to sleep to the sound of that train. Some people would say they could never sleep to that, but there was always something comforting about that howl. I guess that I love where I live now...I can hear it from my house as the train runs through downtown Helena.
I sit and think of all the hostory the trains have made. The towns that became that because of the railroad, the livelyhood of a town with a train way back when. It was once one of the only means for some to visit far off relatives. It was and still is a means to deliver goods that make our world function, yet they are hardly thought of or appreciated.
Yesterday when my mom and I were in Tuscaloosa we went to the big train trestle so I could photograph it. It is a mighty trestle and it goes over the Alabama River. It is very long. As I walked a short bit of it I couldn't help but think of the movie, Stand By Me (one of my very favorites) when the boy is killed by the train. Needless to say, I didn't venture out to far for fear of getting caught mid track. I would've loved to have gotten the better shot though. As one ages, safety outweighs the thrill of getting the perfect shot. Mom and I ventured onward through Northport and came upon the Historic Train Depot. It was closed so we did not get to go inside but we walked around outside and looked.
Sadly, I think interest in trains is not shared by youth of today. It has been replaced by finer technology. Though there is something haunting yet hypnotic and historical and so free about a train. I recall the day that I found out that cabooses would not follow behind the train and it seemed though it was that day that was the end for all train interest for today's modern world. It was wrong then and it still is. Children today don't even know, much less appreciate what a caboose is. And so, I photographed a piece of history that will one day be lost forever.

Alabama - Ride The Train lyrics
Words and Music by Teddy Gentry
Orange Blossom Special, the Wabash Cannonball, the Chattanooga ChooChoo, this hobo's seen 'em all. I've watched the Sante Fe lay her smoke against the sky and listen to oldNumber three rollin' through the night.
Chorus:Ride the train. Ride the train.Anywhere I'm going I ride trains.Sleepin' in a boxcar when it rains.Ride the train, ride the train.
Southern Pacific, the Overland Express and up ahead the coal cars of WestVirginia's best.And Oklahoma's Frisco, the biggest one of all. I've listened to the Silver Steed's lonesome midnight call.
Chorus Ride the train. Trains.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent write-up on the T'town trip. You are just so good with your writing and photo's!!! You make me a proud mom.
I love you