The Love of Trains - Were We Born with it?


thanks for the memories
I've often wondered where my love of trains originated. Are we born with it or did some interaction when we were young and developing the mush in our heads create it. So, I'm going to ramble a little with no distinct answer to the question.

When I was born, my maternal grandparents lived in a house that backed up to Radnor Yards in Nashville. Some of my earliest remembrances in the '50s are the weekly Sunday visits to my grandparents house and playing alongside the tracks, flattening pennies and all sorts of other things that I shouldn't have been doing, but it was great fun. I loved standing by the tracks and watching the trains being switched. Those locomotives were so massive to such a little kid. Of course, the engineers would wave as they came trumbling by but warned me to stay off the tracks. My grandparents lived in that same house until my grandfather died about 10 years ago and as my love of trains grew, I still loved to go visit and do a little train watching.

Not only did my grandparents live by the tracks, but my great-grandfather lived on the same street. He had been a conductor for the L&N although that was before I came along. My remembrances of him were of a different sort related to trains. Nashville had an amusement park called 'Fair Park' and it in was a rather large train ride that ran around the perimeter of the park. Sorry, but I don't remember the gauge of the train, but the cars were large enough for 2 kids to sit side by side. What was so amazing about it was that my great-grandfather was the Engineer for that little train and I loved going down and visiting him and riding his train. There were two pedestrian entrances into the park and they both has crossing lights and gates that would operate when the train approached and I just loved it.

Continuing on with my family connections to trains, my uncle (my mother's brother) went to work for L&N when I was probably about 10 years old and spent 35 years as a mechanic in the roundhouse at Radnor. He was always bringing me things train related and telling me stories. As I grew, we've remained very close and he still finds something in this garage from time to time and graces me with another gift. Perhaps the gift that I'm proudest of is the 3 chime horn that he gave me that came off a Conrail locomotve. He was working in the shop as usual when the engineer on the loco complained that the horn just wasn't loud enough and that he wanted a new one installed. My uncle complied and as a result, he saved it from the scrap heap and gave it to me. I've hooked it up to an air compressor and it seems loud enough to wake the dead to me. I always wanted to go to work for the railroad, which my uncle would have helped me with, but my bad back was an impediment that wouldn't have been able to be overcome.

My father, before I was born, also worked for the railroad for awhile. He worked for the Tennessee Central for a year or two, but never talked about it much. I don't think he enjoyed the work very much.

As years went by, I never lost my interest in trains and eventually started building model railroads. I once had half of a basement filled with a model railroad, but eventually had to move out of the house and have never had the space to rebuild. I also joined a local model railroading club which eventually started pruchasing surplus prototype equipment and was instrumental in starting up the now defunct 'Broadway Dinner Train' in Nashville. I eventually left the club, but they have grown quite a bit and now operate a budding museum in Nashville on the old Tennessee Central yard grounds.

As model railroading became harder to do because of space and cost, I was browsing through Best Buy one day when I came across this little simulation program called Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004. Life hasn't been the same since.

I don't know what path my life will take in the future, but I'm fairly sure that Trainz is going to be a big part of it. I guess trains will always hold a special place in my heart. As I said, I don't know whether I was born with the love or whether circumstances led me that way, but whatever the cause, I'm thankful for it.

Any thoughts on the subject? Why do you love trains? Were you born with the love or did circumstances cause it?

You know, I'm not really sure. As a lad, I lived about two blocks from the local railroad passing through my hometown. It's now the "RiverLine" light rail through the towns of Riverside, Delanco, Beverly, Edgewater Park, Burlington, etc, in New Jersey. I don't know what it was 40 to 45 years ago, but I do remember the filthy black engines pulling the tankers from a Dupont Chemical plant on the banks of the Delaware, and later the empty hoppers when it changed hands to become a US Gypsum Plant. I especially remember the wail of the horn every night as I lay in bed. What a gorgeous sound that is! Obama might think the Muslim call to prayer is beautiful, but we all know the mournful moan of a far away train is the best.

I had model trains when I was young, and I spent alot of time at those railroad tracks. Not much freight came through even then, but you could count on one or two a day. Coal drags for the power plant in Burlington, the previously mentioned tankers and hoppers, and various boxcar loads, they all went through there. At the end of the street was "Wall Rope Works", and the local would switch it out about every other day. I used to sit there on my bike, with my buddy on his, and we used to watch the whole procedure, and drink root beer.

After I went into the service I didn't think much about trains. In fact it wasn't until about twelve or fourteen years ago that I became interested in them again. Now I wish I had paid more attention as a boy. I think the engines were PRR at that time, I remember black. I want to say they were high hoods, but that's probably my imagination. They may have been Alcos, some of the engines that N8phu has released look very familiar. Good times in the hot summer, sitting on a "banana bike", drinking a root beer and watching a big, ugly, dirty freight go by! It had to slow down alot, because North of where I lived, there were a ton of crossings, sometimes it would just creep by, and then stop....BAM! the cars bunched up, then KERCHUNK! as they started moving again.

Thanks Mike, for the involuntary trip back there. My God, I wish I could have that feeling just once more before I die.

Thanks Mike
Thanks for the memories Ed. You reminded me of my 'banana bike'. My brother and I grew up with the same experiences as lads, but he doesn't seem to have the same fascination with trains, so I was just wondering where it comes from.

Thanks for commenting

i don't know anything about that but i can tell you that i love trains too and TRS2006 infact i even have a tv show but i need to ask if anyone here knows alex99
I love trains too, but for some inexplicable reason, I spent most of my productive years 'kissing my ship', as at least one attentive lass, wryly noted!
I guess we can't all be railroad engineers.......................
Im only 11 years old, I was born with the love of trains, My blood - White blood cells, Red blood cells, Trains- ROFL.. I see at-least 90 trains a day, easily..