GAINESVILLE, Ga. – I sit in the lounge car, drinking a beer, watching towns fly by like a blur, as if they don’t exist.
But with every passing light, there are a thousand stories. I wonder if the people watch the train fly by at night. I can only imagine sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting that touches the heart of America, enjoying the rush that is a passing train.
Some of these towns are nothing more than a blip on the map, literally just another whistle stop. But the train picks up people at every town it services. People wait in a shanty by the side of the tracks as the train rolls up well past midnight. It’s a timeless scene, something that people have been doing for generations.
In this particular town, I sit watching the blinking red lights of the crossing gates as we take on more passengers. The train is stopped and it is holding up traffic in this small town. People sit in their cars, frustrated and waiting for the train to disembark. Years ago, trains served as the center of a community. Whole towns stood still when the train pulled into town.
I can only imagine what it must have been like as the town grew up and depended on the railroad as a means of tying it to the outside world. The train brought with it news, helping to keep it connected to the world. They brought with them freight, commodities from other cities. It must have been an amazing world when a little town had a railroad station, which served as the center of town and a gathering place for residents. They could gather and gossip.
In one sense, they have been replaced by chat rooms as the world has progressed. Things are much faster in the modern e-world.
Today the train isn’t so romantic. We don’t have the time to spare on a trip. We are in a hurry.
I took the train for an adventure. I hadn’t ever taken a long trip on a train, but with the time to spare and the means and the desire, I set out to not only travel to a destination, but also to travel back in time.