I live in a tiny little town. I live here by choice. There are many things that I enjoy about my tiny little town-- I know my neighbors and they know me; the crime rate is low; traffic is nearly non-existent. The only traffic jams occur during the annual Frogeye Festival when the population of Montgomery swells by a few hundred people and a few dozen frogs--even then the traffic jams aren't bad.
One very big reason I enjoy living here: the trains. I chose my house, in part, because it's situated about 50 yards from the railroad tracks. The trains roll through at all hours of the day and night--The engineers begin blowing their horns a few miles before the engines reach the village limit. It's a good thing too; there are no signals or gates at the railroad crossings in the village.
Over the years I've learned to block out the horns at night. I sleep just fine. During the day I love to hear the trains coming. I like to stand in my yard or on the sidewalk watching. There's nothing like feeling the rumble and hearing the sounds of the steel wheels on the steel track.
Very few passenger trains run on the line that passes my house. Occasionally an excursion train, pulled by a steam engine, rolls through. I love to hear the high-pitched steam whistle on an autumn morning as the old-timer pulls day trippers on a color tour through the Michigan countryside.
Most days the line is traveled by heavy freight trains. They haul coal to the power plant and corn, wheat and soybeans from the grain elevators in surrounding towns. There's plenty of grain to be hauled in this part of the country.
What do trains have to do with music? Well...A lot! How many train songs can you name? I'll bet you thought of a few before you finished reading this sentence.
There's something about a westbound train that stirs the imagination. Maybe it's the freedom of the hobo in the boxcar, or the paying passenger headed somewhere away from here--on down the line.
Whatever it is, I can't help but feel a little bit of traveling fever every time I hear the engine coming down the line. Maybe it's just the Romance of the Rails but I sometimes have to fight the urge to chase down an open boxcar and ride "til the train runs out of track."
Westbound Through Montgomery-The view down the tracks that run past my home. This is a recent picture of a place that, for the moment, appears forgotten by time.