Some trivia for you, Five major railroads serve Kansas City making it the largest rail hub in the nation in terms of volume. With 90 miles of track in the metro area, all under centralized traffic control, the Kansas City Terminal Railway Co. coordinates the efficient movement and interchange of rail traffic for the more than 300 trains arriving or departing Kansas City each day. What does this mean to you? Maybe nothing, but to me as I enjoy the art of insomnia (another gift from Parkinson) and lay awake at night I’m amazed at the number of train whistles I can hear. The photos below I took in June of 2002 of a Steam Engine rolling past me at a crossing as it rolled across Iowa.
Growing up in Cameron MO my house was not even a block from the train tracks and the local grain elevator, the whistles I now hear at night opens up the flood gate of memories I have from my youth of laying in bed and listening to the trains that came though Cameron at night and dropped off and picked up the grain cars. there was always trains passing though Cameron during the night and you could hear the whistles as the trains approached each crossings. the ones I remember the most are the ones that stopped and switched out grain cars during harvest. I loved the sounds of the cars being unhooked then the sound of the diesels and the humming of the eclectic engines as the engineers arraigned the cars in the order they needed then as the trains left I got to listen to the whistles as they grew weaker and weaker as the train got further away.
Now the problem with staying up late listening to trains is that you still have to be up early to go to work, the plus side is the sounds of song birds chirping away usually just before sunrise. As I awaken to the sounds of the song birds and unfortunately the sounds of traffic too. Now they say that smell and tastes are the strongest triggers of memories but my sense of taste and smell are diminished (another gift from Mr. Parkinson) but I find that the sense of hearing can be just as powerful if you take the time to listen. The birds remind me of the ones I heard on my grandparents farm just outside of Marceline MO during the summers, those who have spent time in the county away from the hustle of the city know what I’m talking about. There’s nothing more peaceful than being in the county side where all you can hear is the wind and the song birds calling out to each other.
Take time today to just listen and be it a song, a voice, a train, or just something that’s just special to you. I’ll bet you to can turn back the pages of your memory to a time that you haven’t thought of for years
One thought on “Train Whistles and Song Birds”
excellent article!! reminded me of the huge presence of trains and their sounds in my life.