10,000 Tons Of Steel

I’ve had a fascination with trains as far back as I can remember. You might even say they’re in my blood. My father and his brothers were railroad men, like their father before them and his father before him. In fact, despite my fascination, I’m the only male in our family for the last three generations that hasn’t worked for the railroad. I remember going to work a few times with my father when I was a boy. He would set me up in the caboose with a sack lunch while he went off to do his job. He was a brakeman; not as glamorous as an engineer, but every bit as important. There I would sit, staring out the window of the caboose, lost in the sounds, the smells and the restless, wandering motion of 10,000 tons of steel. My mother always wanted to take a train across the country. “There’s just so much you can’t see from an airplane,” she would say, “and we live in such a beautiful country.” Sadly, she never got to make that trip, though I often think of making it for her. Other than the occasional Metrolink trip into Los Angeles, I haven’t been on a train since those few times with my father. I think about it, and for just a bit, I’m eight years old again, with nothing but empty track ahead of me.

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