Something’s Always Going On (or Coming Down) in Galesburg.

The town of Galesburg is about three hours southwest of Chicago and the last stop in Illinois before westbound Amtrak passengers cross the Mississippi river into Iowa. It’s a nice town and home to about 32,000 residents. Knox College is in Galesburg and one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates took place on a street corner there.  A plaque in the sidewalk says so.

 Galesburg has always been a big railroad town, too. There’s constant freight traffic and both the Southwest Chief and the California Zephyr stop there. And once a year around the third week of June, almost everything comes to a halt for Railroad Days. Huge crowds show up to look at vintage rail cars, lots of passenger and freight equipment, and for a chance to climb up into the head-end of several different locomotives.

But, strangely, it seems as though every week or so, some guy steps off the California Zephyr or the Southwest Chief in Galesburg with a suitcase full of marijuana … only to find a couple of cops on the platform with a pot sniffing dog.  Busted!
It happens over and over again. I suppose these characters think it will be safer getting off in a small town with bus connections for the rest of their route rather than lugging their load of pot all the way into Chicago.  Of course, no doubt most of these people are not, shall we say, the sharpest knife in the drawer.
The last time I rode the Chief – I was going to a NARP* meeting in Washington – one of my tablemates at dinner on the first night out of Los Angeles was a young man in his mid-20s. He didn’t say much except that he was from California and was headed for Chicago. The next day — I think it was in Las Vegas, New Mexico – some DEA guys came aboard the train and hauled him and his bulging backpack off the train and into the back seat of their squad car. I wonder if he was going to get off in Galesburg.