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- Subject: PC: Flashback
- From: "Roger P. Hensley" <rhensley@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 23 Dec 1997 09:53:47 +0000
- Comments: Authenticated sender is <rhensley -AT- ecicnet.org>
- Priority: normal
In my daily drive to work, I run parallel to a Conrail
(ex-NYC) double track main in several places so that I
occasionally get to see a freight going one way or the other
during my morning and evening drives. As part of my routine, I
watch for the evening Westbound to determine the route I need to
use going home in order to avoid the stopped traffic.
It was late into the dusk of twilight as I rolled Westward
toward Anderson, caught up in the usual drive time traffic.
Clearing the buildings of the small town of Daleville, the
highway once again lined up with the Conrail tracks. The track
signal ahead to my left was showing green, so I glanced in my
left-hand rear view mirror to see if there was anything in sight.
The bright glare of a locomotive headlight reflected back at me.
It was fairly close and was moving along quickly. I turned my
attention back to the cars in front of me and yet, something
about that headlight was different, almost compelling. Looking
again, I found the light nearer still and the shape of the loco
and its consist was becoming more discernable in the growing
darkness. It seemed out of place, but I knew that I should
recognize it; I had seen this before...
My heart leaped. It was a New York Central Niagara complete
with Elephant Ears (smoke deflectors)! The frontal silhouette
was unmistakable! The dark shape of the loco framed the
headlight as it raced through the gathering darkness pulling its
consist of Westbound freight cars. THIS SIMPLY COULD NOT BE! My
gaze moved to the road ahead and back to the mirror and back to
the road and back to the mirror as I tried to see more clearly. I
knew that this wasn't possible. It had to be a trick of the
failing light and the deepening shadows and yet...
The locomotive was catching me and, now, there was something
else about it. I could swear that I could almost see through it.
The consist no longer looked right and the size of the cars were
a little too big. I watched as the smaller 1950s cars faded to
be replaced by something larger. And then the Niagara had
shifted, blurred and faded and became two... two Conrail Blue GE
units pulling Westward with its train of modern freight cars.
As the track curved away from the highway, the train and I
separated, but it no longer matted. For what I had seen was not
a part of what was there. For a moment, for just one beautiful
and all too brief moment, in my minds eye at least, the NYC
Niagaras that used to rule this Main had lived again. I knew the
look. I had seen them before. I used to race with them in my
mind when my family would take trips south out of Anderson. We
would parallel NYC trackage and the Niagaras, Mikes and Hudsons
would race by us on their way to far off places. For just a
moment, after nearly 40 years, that time had lived again. The
ghosts of my mind had escaped and by using the tricks of light
and shadow had given me a glimpse of what had once been. They
had shown me a memory long lost, but, obviously, not forgotten.
Is this, then, what drives us to create (or re-create) with
our model railroads? Do our 'ghosts' express themselves in the
miniature steel rails that pave the way for our 'scale'
locomotives and consists that continue to deliver the 'mail', the
'passengers' and the 'freight' that makes our scale worlds go? We
think that our buildings, people, farms, industry, cars and
trains are the worlds that we want them to be, the worlds that we
make. But are they? Or is it the ghosts of Rails Past that drive
As for me, for just one moment, the Interlocking Towers were
manned and the Cabin Cars (cabooses) followed their freights as
sure as night follows day while crossing guards protected their
grade crossings and 'name' passenger trains still raced each
other against the schedule and the clock. For just a moment, for
one wonderful moment, the world was young.
- - END - -
Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays to you all.
Ghost Trains by Roger Hensley - Copyright 1994 Originally Published
Electronically in Model Rails Online v1 (Internet) - May '94 and again
in Volumn 25 No. 5 (Winter 1995) of the Central Indiana Division
Roger Hensley - 00rphensley -AT- bsuvc.bsu.edu - firstname.lastname@example.org
Information Systems Specialist - Ball State University - Muncie, IN
=== http://bsuvc.bsu.edu/~00rphensley/cidwelco.html ================
=== The Railroads of Madison County, Indiana =======================
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