Trains and America’s Birthday


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Last week I was at a leadership conference in Chapel Hill.  As my friend Elizabeth were on our way back to Charlotte, a train passed above us on a bridge.  I watched it go over the bridge and thought back to my memories with trains…

Back when my family lived in Maine for a couple of summers, my mom, sisters and I would drive down to my grandparents’ in Rhode Island and take the train from Providence to Charlotte to visit family down here.  I have some fun memories attached to those trips.  Meeting new people, learning Egyptian War (card game) from some of them, ordering in the dining car, switching trains, that one time I left my “purse” on the train and it went somewhere…but still managed to make it’s way back to me.  Somehow.  🙂  I remember watching the scenery pass by on the train, going over bridges.  I think the last time I took a train (and not a tourist/tour train) was one year in college when I couldn’t get all the way home for Thanksgiving and spent it with family in Connecticut/Rhode Island.

Of course I have other experience with trains…  Tweetsie in Boone, The Great Smoky Railway, riding SEPTA into Philly while in college, the system in Barcelona (Spain), the light rail here in Charlotte.  But you know, nothing quite compares to riding a train for a longer period of time and experiencing that.  It’s something quintessentially American, I think.

We started talking about trains after we saw the one on the bridge above us and our experiences.  We also talked about the fact that if we asked our kids at school if they’d ever been on a train most of them would probably look at us like we’re crazy.  Why would you take something that doubles/triples the time it takes to fly??!!  We also figured they’d probably associate trains with the old “wild west” and things they see in movies.


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It kind of gave me an itch to go on a trip via train again someday soon.  And it’s still a relatively cheap way to travel roundtrip.  The funny and ironic thing is that while there are cheap flights you can get in Europe from one place to another (RyanAir, Vueling), it’s the rail system that is your best bet.  They have such an advanced system with the AVE.  But here…we’re still lagging behind with that infrastructure.  I’m not 100% sure why.  We’ve got that out the window and our bridges aren’t up to par either (consider the bridge collapses in several location in the last couple of years).  At least they’re checking the bridges now.  I can only imagine what great things would happen if we actually updated our rail system-jobs, trips, goods and people getting places faster, good times.

Anyway, here we are on America’s 236th birthday and along with freedom, independence and liberty, I propose a celebration of trains.  Though I’m not a lunatic about trains like Sheldon is on Big Bang.  🙂


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Happy birthday, America.  I’m grateful for you, those who fought for you and will fight for you, and for your trains.


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