Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A million steps....

Any time I see a railroad, I have a yearning to walk it....and the view above, well almost the view above....I have looked at hundreds of times as I walked home from school. As have all my brothers and sisters. The biggest part of our walk home from school was on these tracks. Our grade school was a block or two from these tracks, and when we went to high school, we still had to walk down to Arthur to catch the bus.

Now, for me, I never had near the distance my brothers and sisters walked...I don't think I had a mile walk...maybe 3/4's of a mile, but I bet the walk for my brothers and sisters, was at least two miles before we moved from the old home place to the new house. They had a path through weeds...so I just know their feet had to start the day out wet. And if it rained too much, they could not get across the creek....

This is the new and updated railroad...when we walked it, it was not rock, but cinders, etc that filled in between the ties. I suppose there is a name for that, but I don't know what it is, unless it would be called the bed of the tracks. My socks always had coal dust in the wrinkles...it was a coal train that went up and down this track. It went up it once, and back down. No more, no less. Maybe every now and then there was something extra....and in the summer, they had a steam engine that gave people rides up to Cumberland Gap, maybe on to Middlesboro, KY, and back to Knoxville. Just one trip a summer. None of us ever got to take it...I don't even know if anyone else wanted to.

One of the things we sometimes did was try to walk the rail home without falling off. I don't know about everyone else, but I know I never quite accomplished that feat. I made it once or twice with only falling off once or twice...but I know that was the best I ever did. It is amazing that some of us did not get hurt...

The other thing, the railroad sat above the surrounding land for the most part...and the banks grew thick with bushes, briars, and honeysuckle to name a few. So thick one could not pass through them. So, you had to beware and listen for the train, and head to the nearest path down. Sometimes we had to hurry, and just wait, but if we were lucky, it was at a place that the path went down to a field and we could continue walking.

Only one time was there ever a close call for me. It was cold and windy...I had my hood up and my head down...not even looking up. I was by myself, and the train tooted. I swear, I don't think it was much over the length of a city block away. I don't mind telling you my heart jumped into my throat....if it had not tooted, I would never have heard it. Luckily, I was right at the train trestle and could get off by it.

We also walked down the railroad to go to the store and to the post office in summer, and we walked the railroad on up past our home to go to the barn (not far away), or if we wanted to go up to the old place, or to the tobacco patches. You'd see us walking down the road, with a hoe over our shoulder.

When we go home, I know Neal and I always walk the railroad...either to get up to the old place or down to Arthur.

Anyway, I bet our family has easily taken a million steps on those tracks that ran by home.

Sometimes when I am drifting off to sleep, I will hear a train blow its horn here...and just for a moment I am back in bed at home. It has to be the right tone, and sometimes I think it has to be a certain type of weather for it to be the right tone to make me think I am home again. But just FYI, I have never lived where I could not hear a train, and most of the time within sight of the tracks.

Us and the one family of neighbors, it is a common last name, but I won't say it...anyway, besides us, they are the only ones I ever remember really using the railroads a lot. Now, I suppose you would be fined if they caught you walking on them up here. And that because if someone got hurt, they would probably sue the railroad. I often see No Trespassing signs, but that is usually by overpasses. I have not noticed them at home, but maybe it is cause I haven't been paying attention.

16 comments:

Jacob said...

Rose, you just must collect these stories...have them edited...find an agent and get them into book form! I think you'd have a best-seller. They are absolutely fascinating! And you could thread your photos throughout the book.

It would be fantastic!!!! And I'll buy the first copy!

don said...

A fine reminiscence of a former time. I too like your stories very much. Nice shot down the tracks. I like it in black and white. When I listen to a home game with the Mariner's in Seattle, one can frequently hear the old fashioned steam whistle of one of the nearby engines moving cars around... and it always takes me back to trips to the depot and the steam engines coming into town.

Linda (PA_shutterbug) said...

That was an enjoyable story to read. When I was in school I had to walk to catch the bus. My walk was a lot shorter than yours and not on a railroad track. I walked about 1/4 mile to the bus stop. Nowadays school buses seem to stop at every corner to pick up children and take them to school.

Caron said...

My dad would have loved your stories. This one in particular. He was fascinated with railroads and worked for awhile for the B&O as a freight claim clerk. We got tons of toilet paper once, peanut butter...things that couldn't be used due to an accident. Once we got Carnation malted milk. I was never allowed to stand on the rails - rule #1! :)

Leedra said...

The only railroad I walked up high (where I couldn't just step off) was on the University of Tennessee campus. I grew up in GA and when we walked the tracks we could always just step off if we heard a train. We moved WAY OVER THERE, so we were safe. I don't ever remember a close call.

Mildred said...

A lovely post. I'd like to wish you and yours a wonderful weekend.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Like you, I grew up with trains all around... We had the L&N at one end of town --and the Southern at the other... I could hear train whistles all day and all night... LOVED it---and miss those sounds now.

Hugs,
Betsy

Neal said...

One other thing we did, at least us boys, was grab a bunch of rocks when when we heard the train coming. :) We would get off the track and wait for the engine to get out of site and then pepper the cars with rocks. We always made sure we didn't get close to the caboose.

Neal said...

Of course, once in a while we had to put a penny on the rail to see how flat the train would smash it. :)

EG Wow said...

As a child I lived across the street from some tracks so this brought back fond memories.

Mary said...

I really enjoyed reading this! You do need to collect your stories some way. Your kids and grandkids will want to read them and you are a good storyteller. That was pretty dangerous to always be walking the rails, but I think years ago people did more things like that and didn't think about the danger as much. Now you would be in trouble for doing it because the railroad wouldn't want the libility for a possible accident. I lived fairly close to a train track, too, but on a road that went over it. I can remember occasionally going and looking down, but not often.

George said...

You've brought back lots of memories. When I was growing up we had a railroad (double line) along one edge of our property. My brother and I used the tracks to cross the creek between our house and our friends' home. It wasn't as long a walk as yours, but we would walk the rail and see how far we could go without falling off.

Carletta said...

There was a high trestle that crossed the river up from where me and Hubs went to college. It was in use and I remember we walked across it to get to the other side. Dangerous for sure but what a thrill. :)
Great depth in this shot Rose.

Judy said...

Love the picture Rose. I didn't grow up near any train tracks but my cousins lived by some and we would always go there to play. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.

Small City Scenes said...

Exciting story. You must do as Jacob says. Y are a very good story teller. Very interesting. MB

dot said...

I always wanted to walk a railroad track but never lived near one. Now I live near one but I wouldn't dare get out there. lol. I do enjoy hearing the train going through at night and the whistle blowing.
I like the picture Rose!

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