Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dead-End Tracks, Part I

Boston & Maine trestle, Waltham MA

From Dave Brigham:

There's something about trains and railroad tracks that stir my mind. I become nostalgic for a time that I never witnessed, a time when freight trains delivered lumber to local yards, heavy machinery to factories and cattle to slaughterhouses. Passenger trains shuttled people across town or across the country.

I hearken back to my childhood, when I would often hear, and sometimes see, the freight train that ran through my hometown, Simsbury, CT. I wondered where the trains were coming from, where they were going, who was on them, what was on them. I wondered why, when I walked along the tracks, I saw so many liquor bottles strewn about (teenagers, surely, rather than hobos).

The abandoned trestle above, once part of the Watertown Branch of the Fitchburg Railroad, crosses the Charles River and a walking path less than a mile from my house. For a time, the branch served as the main passenger line between Boston and Waltham (thank you Wikipedia). The tracks were used until 2000 for freight service.

Tracks and trains bring to mind westward expansion, and exploration of new and exciting places. My wife and I took the kids to New York City a few weeks ago on the Acela and it was a great ride. Relaxing, sure, and filled with so many great views of the Connecticut coastline and the southern cities of the Nutmeg State. I was jonesing, however, because there were so many opportunities for Backside pictures, especially in unfortunate Bridgeport, but we were going way too fast for me to get any good pictures.

Anyway, in this age of turning old railroad beds into biking and hiking trails (an effort that I fully support), I'm glad that there are still some industrial age relics like this trestle hanging tough. I discover beauty in its solemn, sentinel-like presence. But I also wonder about unsavory types hanging out late at night. I see the old mattress on top and wonder whether somebody sleeps on it, or, mind wanders into dark territory.

Mattress on top of B & M trestle, Waltham MA

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