Friday, July 10, 2015

Freight Trains

We were warned.  If you live in the Columbia River Gorge, you live with trains.  All day.  And all night.  "But don't worry," our property manager assured us, "After two weeks you won't even hear them."

Yeah, right.

Trains on the Oregon side of the river.  Trains on the Washington side of the river.

It was almost a deal breaker.

"But you like trains," my travel buddy said.

True.  But not right outside my window!!!

Whenever I hear the rattle, roll and screech (There's no lulling choo-choo or gentle clackety-clack sound to these monsters) I run to the window and start counting the cars, especially when there are four locomotives in front.  So far the longest one has been 127!

  What fascinates me is the variety of goods these big guys are pulling.  Lumber.  Coal.  Costco stuff.    Cold storage.  From the Pacific coast to the East coast and many points in between.  There are trailers on flatcars.  Containers on flatcars.  Grainers.  Tankers.  Many of them have been painted with graffiti by artists who sneak into the rail yards in the middle of the night.

Which brings me to a subject that has fueled my imagination.  Train hoppers.

There are whole websites devoted to this subject.  How to hop on a freight train safely.  And without getting caught.  America's freight rails if laid end-to-end could go around the earth 5.6 times.  Whoa!!

And so I stand on my balcony.  One.  Two.  Three.  Jump.  In the underworld of REM I land in an empty boxcar.  Travel over mountains, across the prairie and into the vast artery of delta waves.

  "Guess what?  I slept the whole night through," I said one morning a few weeks ago.  "Have the trains stopped running?"

My travel buddy laughed.  "Nope.  We've just stopped hearing them.  Just like she said we would."

So, yes, living with trains is okay.  And, yes, I love trains. Still.  

 But hopping onto an empty freight car?  No thanks.  I'll continue to wave at the cute engineers as they whiz by, but I won't jump.  I'll take Amtrak.   


  1. I had no idea there were that many train cars in the US to wrap around us that many times. The only time I don't like them is when they've blocked the traffic for several minutes....and then just when you think the rail arm is about to lift the train goes in reverse!

    1. I came back to read this again and now see that this is your home! What an amazing view, wow!

  2. I know!!!! I can't believe I'm living in such a beautiful place. Despite the trains.

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  4. Glad to hear you are getting used to the train noise . I grew up at an airport and still remember visitors commenting on the noise that we didn't hear. You are living in such a beautiful place, your views are stunning.