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 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 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.