Sunday, September 21, 2014

There's Just Something About a Train

Photo by Evan Brandt
Mike Schreiber of southern Ohio is one of those
people lucky 
enough to have his life revolve around trains.
I can't explain it, but it's true.

There is just something about railroads.

The country was built by railroads, but it it not an experience common to my generation.

I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and there was a train to Manhattan about once an hour.

I rode it often, and didn't think much about it.

I was surprised and disappointed when I moved to Pottstown to discover there was no similar service to Philadelphia.

I was fooled by the Security Plaza train station.

But I've also never taken a long trip on a train, despite the fact that for generations in America, it was the only way to get anywhere.
Photo by Evan Brandt
Be honest, don't you want to just jump on board
and go somewhere?

Pottstown is a car town and American has become a car nation. We like the idea of leaving when we want, arriving when we want, stopping when we want. It appeals to our sense of independence.

Trains are more of a communal experience. We all wait on the platform for the same train; we're all ride to together, accommodating each other in little ways. Nobody's screaming infant is in our car if we don't want them there.

The equivalent these days is air travel, which few view as a romantic experience the way we look at trains.

And for a sub-set of Americans, trains are the only way to go.

I've written a story in today's Mercury about those people (click here to read it) and, I must confess, after covering the auction of the Greenbrier Express's assets Thursday, visiting the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke dozens of times while visiting family; and reporting on the Colebrookdale Railroad's Secret Valley Line Project, I'm beginning to wonder it I'm not one of them.

Here's a video of one.

(Click here to see Kevin Hoffman's photos from that auction. The slide show contains a few too many photos of yours truly, but hat's between me and Kevin. Ignore them if you can)

They have very specific knowledge about a wide range of things I suspect the rest of us know nothing about and, I will confess again, that makes me curious and feeling a little bit like I've been left out of
Photo by Evan Brandt
Among the secret specific knowledge of train people are a seemingly
innate knowledge of that things like this are for.
something. Because they all seem quite happy about their secret knowledge.

And let's face it, most of the best James Bond movies (and murder mysteries) involve a train journey.

However, it seems like quite a commitment and I'm not sure I have the time to devote to it. But I will remain fascinated nonetheless.

Anyway, along those lines, here are the photos I Tweeted during the auction Thursday. I hope you enjoy them.

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