Train Travel Offers Something Extra to Many Travelers
A lot of people ride trains just to get somewhere. For the rest of us, the experience is quite different and it affects each of us in different ways.
In 1948, Harry Truman won re-election as president in an upset victory over New York governor, Thomas Dewey. Credit is usually given to Truman’s “whistle-stop tour” around the country by train. His plain-spoken but astute observation is just as true today as it was in 1948:
“You get a real feeling for this country and the people in it when you’re on a train.”
In The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne penned this thought about trains in what my old English teacher referred to as purple prose:
“They give us wings; they annihilate the toil and dust of pilgrimage; they spiritualize travel.”
More than a half-century earlier, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay clearly felt the same:
“… there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.”
Paul Theroux, author of several books with train travel as their focus, once wrote …
“I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.”
He could have had me in mind when he wrote that. A month ago, the next-to-last leg taking me home from an extended trip to Europe was Seattle to Los Angeles aboard Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. As we eased to a stop at LA’s wonderful Union Station, the Sunset Limited was just starting to board passengers on an adjacent platform. In less than an hour, it would roll out of the station beginning it’s two-night journey to New Orleans. I would have given almost anything to have been aboard.
A lot of my friends have no idea what I’m talking about. Or what they’re missing.