I miss trains. There was a time here in Alberta when every little town was connected by rail. People rode trains to the cities to visit their doctors and get shopping done. Students visited home often on weekends or during college breaks. Trains which passed through the Rocky Mountains had a car with an observation deck so people could appreciate the grandeur of the scenery.
When I lived in Fort Saskatchewan during the early sixties, I rushed to the classroom emergency exit to watch the train go by. These big machines rumbling through town and blowing their whistles fascinated me. My teacher once remarked, “You act as if you haven’t seen a train before.”
During summer holidays, I stood near the tracks as freight trains rolled past. Diane, my sister and close friend, sometimes joined me. We counted the cars and tried to read what was painted on the sides as the rolling stock rushed past.
Sometimes the train would stop. Fortunately for all concerned, Diane and I heeded Mom’s admonition not to crawl between the cars. Her graphic stories of children losing arms, legs, and even their lives acted as a profitable restraint against the foolish urge to try something stupid.
When I moved to Radway, a small hamlet an hour north-northeast of Edmonton in 2000, the train passed through at least once a week. What memories it evoked each time it happened. Even when the train came in the middle of the night, I still felt nostalgic for those halcyon days of my youth when the passing of trains were a wonderful excuse to stand next to the tracks.
Owing to a grain elevator fire in 2009, the train no longer comes through the town. Even the siding where excess rolling stock was parked now sits abandoned. The once-gleaming rails now are rusting unused.
I mentioned the train passing through Radway in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. This engaging memoir of God’s awesome providence is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.