Boys And Trains

Mostly we get the regional New Haven to Springfield line. If there’s a sadder train I haven’t seen it.

When I’m not on-the-air I sit in a cubicle in the vast FoxCT/Hartford Courant newsroom. I’m about fifteen feet from the window. I am beckoned to that window a few times every day when a train rolls by. I can’t resist.

What is it with boys and trains? Why does the train’s whistle (mandatory as it passes the grade crossing adjacent to our building) irresistibly bring me to my feet?

I wish I knew!

Considering it’s a single track this is a busy line with both freight and passengers. A few times day we’ll get one of Amtrak’s long distance runs heading north to Vermont or the Northeast Regional service between Washington and Springfield, MA.

Mostly we get the regional New Haven to Springfield line. If there’s a sadder train I haven’t seen it.

The New Haven – Springfield service consists of one Amtrak engine and two cars. The engine pulls on the northbound run and pushes going south. It’s like a model train in a department store around Christmas.

I could take this train to work. I’d have to drive to Wallingford first then take the train about 35 minutes. From a practical standpoint my transit time would double. If I wanted to take the train home I’d have to stay here overnight!

In my 27 years in Connecticut I’ve never heard anyone mention they’d taken this train or were thinking about it. Not once!

The most interesting trips by our building are provided by a railroad I’d never heard of until I got here: The Connecticut Southern (CSO).

Most of their trains are short with just a few ratty hopper cars from other railroads. Not all! One night I shot a five plus minute video as a CSO freight lazily headed southbound toward the shoreline. I’ve got the video on my phone, but I’ll spare you.

Let’s get back to my original point for a moment. What is it about these trains that fascinate me? It’s not like I’m going to look down one day and see something amazing. It’s always the same. It always lures me back.

13 thoughts on “Boys And Trains”

  1. Trains rule! Love going out and taking pictures of the different trains that roll through CT. I just wish there was more.

  2. Geoff I love trains too. There’s a Union Pacific line along the Salton Sea in sourthern CA, they have HUGE trains there, I love driving out there to watch them in the open desert when I am out there on business. Also I have a train table in my house where the dining room table should be. I have always been drawn to trains. Just like a fly to drawn to a dead animal in the hot Sun!

  3. My son would join you to watch the trains. He’s been a train freak ever since he could talk. At one of the playgrounds we used to frequent in his toddler days, the commuter rail from north of Boston into North Stations was always a welcome, swing stopping treat. Freight trains were pure entertainment (and colors teaching) gold. Nowadays he’s into Youth In Model Railroading. A national organization. It is mainly a guy thing, Geoff. With clubs all over the country. Look up AmTrak. They are celebrating a 40th something anniversary with trains all over. A special train is supposed to be making an appearance in Conn. The YRR club was going to go until we found it is also coming to South Station in Boston.

  4. I have loved trains all my life! When I was 5 years old I used to travel by train from New Haven to Columbus Ohio. Loved it even then. I love Union Station and Grand Central. I love all types of trains old and new. YouTube has some great train videos by some dedicated train enthusiasts. I even love the sound of them, horns and tracks. Believe me, this is not just a boy thing!

  5. I love trains too!! I had the pleasure of taking the train from either Branford (Shoreline East) or New Haven to Bridgeport for 18 mos. before I left my job in Bpt. If I went out of Branford, I had great parking but it was a longer trip, changing trains and so on. The only problem with going out of New Haven was parking and paying for parking. Either choice was always better than sitting on i95!

    I know some of my former coworkers take the Amtrak train out of Wallingford to New Haven and pick up Metro North to Bridgeport. The Springfield/New Haven line works ok for a 9-5 job but not for off peak hours. It is the most under utilized line in the the North East. It needs to be beefed up to make it a realistic alternative.

  6. I too am a female train enthusiast. A freight line ran half a block away from my grandparents’ house, and my sister’s first apartment was in a building 500 feet from the same line, 20 miles away. From the time I could walk, as soon as I felt the vibration I was compelled to run to the nearest window (or, if the weather permitted, to my grandparents’ front porch). I had to count all the cars and make a bet with myself to see if there would be a caboose.

    These days I have to take Metro-North frequently … even after all these years, I feel a thrill when I see a big locomotive. And I never complain when I get stuck behind a train at a crossing when I’m trying to drive somewhere.

  7. i worked for the old NEW YORK/ NEW HAVEN /HARTFORD railroad in the early 60s as a brakeman.NEW HAVEN was much busyier than its up in SELKIRK NY

  8. Geoff, Have you ever listened to Guy Clark’s Texas 1947?

    “Trains are big and black and smokin’ – steam screamin’ at the wheels,
    bigger than anything they is, at least that’s the way she feels

    Trains are big and black and smokin’, louder’n July four,
    but everybody’s actin’ like this might be somethin’ more. . .

    Big, red, and silver,
    she don’t make no smoke,
    she’s a fast-rollin’ streamline
    come to show the folks.

    . .Lord, she never even stopped.

    She left fifty or sixty people still sittin’ on their cars,
    and they’re wonderin’ what it’s comin’ to
    and how it got this far.

    Oh but me I got a nickel smashed flatter than a dime
    by a mad dog, runaway red-silver streamline. . . train”

  9. I love trains as well! All kinds. New and old. I love traveling by train, watching them, and listening to them go by since I live by some train tracks and hear them all the time!

  10. In the 80’s I worked for the Waterbury Republican-American Newspapers (yes there were two back then) as Customer Service Supervisor.

    Our small office overlooked the railroad tracks behind the building which in case readers don’t know is located in the old Waterbury Union Station. In that office I had to stand up behind my desk and look out the window to watch the small amount of rail traffic.

    A year or so into my three plus years tenure before moving to Atlanta we moved the customer service office to the Freight Street end of the building which overlooks the tracks near the bridge which goes over Freight Street.

    Being a “railroad nut” I was in “Seventh Heaven” as I no longer had to stand up as the windows in that part of the building were just about desk level and when asked where I wanted my desk put during the move I said “right over there by the bridge”.

    Bill Pape, Sr. publisher of the papers use to joke he had me in mind when deciding to move our office. Whether true or not he made one of his staff very happy.

    As the old AMTRAK slogan use to go … “there’s something about a train”.

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