Why did we ever do away with trains?

Ann Swanson

I learned to love trains from little on. Grandma’s house was just a short way from the tracks so we heard the trains. Actually, unless we were outdoors, we really did not hear the trains. I guess we just got used to the sound so we never heard it.

I do remember when they went from the old Iron Horse engines to the new streamlined ones. The sound of those was different.

My mother and I would ride the Nickel Plate Railroad to Buffalo to go shopping. I was just little when we were doing this. I remember going to see Santa Claus in some of the big department stores in Buffalo and getting a gift. The one I remember was a set of Chinese Checkers. We had a lot of fun with that.

I remember looking at the Christmas decorations as well. It was nothing like I was used to. The local stores decorated, but not like the big stores in Buffalo.

Riding the train was fun. I loved to get up to get a glass of water. They had those little fold-up cups. I think I probably used several on each trip.

When we got to Buffalo, we took the trolley up town. I loved to watch the sparks from the connection on the wire for the trolley.

I am sure my love of trains stems from those trips. When I got older, we rode the train to New York City one Easter. It was fun to visit there. We toured the television stations and I could see where some of the children’s programing was shot. I remember going to the Howdy Doody studio. We saw Buffalo Bob.

My love of trains did not diminish. When I was in college, I took the train to Notre Dame to see my boyfriend and attend a dance. In those days you dressed up when you took the train. I remember having a blue linen dress on. I sat next to a nun who admired my dress telling me how nice I looked. I think she was envious because she wore a habit. We had a wonderful conversation that made the time pass quickly for me. When we arrived, we bid each other good-by and wished each other well.

On a trip to Lancaster, PA we took a ride on the railroad that went through that area. It was fun to see the scenery and all of the beautiful Amish farms.

My husband knew of my love for trains. I guess I probably had told him enough times. One year he gave me a model train for Christmas. As a kid I always dreamed of getting a train for Christmas, but my mother never saw fit to get me one. I had to enjoy my cousin’s train and another train that belonged to one of my mother’s cousins.

When our daughter was out in Iowa, I discovered a little railroad museum for us to visit. Jill was busy working at an attorney’s office so she was gone during the day. It was beastly hot the day we visited. In fact, the steering wheel got so hot you could hardly touch it to drive.

I decided I could put together an article about trains so I began taking notes. I guess we were in there so long that the man who ran it came to ask about what I was doing. He asked if I would like to meet the owner and I immediately said that would be wonderful.

The owner was a wheelchair occupant who built his small empire one train at a time. He told me all about his acquisitions and how he built the exhibit. It ended up to be a fascinating day. I did produce a couple articles about trains.

One year for my birthday my husband took me for a ride on an excursion railroad not far from home. He made arrangements for us to eat our lunch during our ride. It was not a five-star lunch but it was fun. I remember that it was a very cold morning even though it was only the middle of September.

We also rode the train in Titusville one time. There was a little museum there. When I returned to that museum a couple years ago, I was surprised to see how many things had been added. My grandson and I spent a couple hours looking at things. That was one of our little trips that he really enjoyed. Thank you, Jared, for that summer that we took so many excursions. I truly enjoyed myself and we saw so many things.

My train adventure continued. One summer I went with a group from our area on the railroad that goes across Canada. We got on in Toronto and rode to Vancouver. It was a relaxing trip. We often sat in the domed car so we could see better. Our group slept in bunks that were made up for us every night. During the daytime, they were regular seats. We all had craft projects with us so we kept busy. I had a top berth for sleeping. We had that section of the train to ourselves so it was nice. We became known as “the ladies who slept in the hall”.

There used to be a program on television, I think on the History Channel, that told the history of trains. We watched it faithfully learning all of the things that we could. Trains were an asset back in the day. It certainly seems that we took a step backwards when we did away with trains.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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