Got trains?

A meeting place for regulars to discuss the lighter side of old-houses.

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Got trains?

Post by HarleyLady »

Old houses and trains just kinda go together. Recent laws now enable the creation of quiet zones. HarleyMan started the process for our community (the one we're moving from) and it saddens me. I didn't realize it until after the paperwork was begun. The new house five miles south is also an old farm depot town. I love the sound of my trains. I'm always amazed at the varieties of sound from the whistles. I know the new horns don't have the flexibility of the old steam horns but at night sometimes I feel I know the operators by their whistle style. Some seem to take great pride in creating beautiful melodic sounds. Some sound hopeful, some nostalgic, some melancholy, others just blast. At night I like hearing them gradually fading as they move through each crossing up and down the valley. It's comforting.

I'm sure if I lived close enough to have them shaking my house, I wouldn't be quite as sentimental. Anybody else love 'em?
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Post by Bryan »

Harley Lady,

At our last house we could hear the trains. Loud enough to make you take notice, but not close enough to really distrub us. It was pretty nice, but I imagine if you lived right next to some tracks you would view it differently.

Along the same lines, I love church bells. In both of our old houses, we have always been able to hear church bells. It was actually one of the criteria for choosing our current house. I love to listen to them not only mark the time, but playing music as well. Sitting on the front porch listening to church bell music is pretty "old housey", don't you think?

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Post by lrkrgrrl »

My last flat was right across the street from a lovely old church. Man, those bells got you up early on Sunday. I'd sit on the porch in my robe and wave to the good people going to Mass. The horrible hound sang along. Now I'm a little more comfortable distance, still can appreciate them, but without getting shaken out of bed at 8 AM on Sunday. I'm sorry. Make that 7:50 AM.

Oh, and fog horns. When it's really foggy, sound carries a long way, and the fog horns sound so cool.

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Post by jeepnstein »

We are facing a major East/West, Norfok and Southern, line. You can hear them quite well. There is also a trestle within a mile of the house and it can be heard as well. I don't even notice them. My wife still gets blasted out of bed at 2:00 by some SOB that lays on the horn like his life depends on it as he approaches a crossing in the neighborhood. Most of the guys just give it a quick three blasts and roll on through. You can tell engineers by their whistle.

There is an awful lot of coal moving these days. We see at least a train an hour some days. There are quite a few brand-new locomotives out there lately.

We will sit on the porch and watch them roll by sometimes. The other day we were sitting in the kitchen when a train load of Humvees were going past. My wife commented on how some lucky people were getting new Hummers and then spotted the machine gun turrets on the top. The kids love to watch the different kinds of freight cars and I must admit I do that also.

We can also hear the barges, especially when they are running upriver this time of year. They really have to pour it on to make the turn against the current. The Delta Queen used to be heard quite a bit when they cranked up the caliope.

In the Fall an excursion passenger train will come through a couple of times. It's an old steam engine. Oh what a glorious noise.


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Post by Abuela »

I actually like that our new house will be close enough to a train track to hear the whistles, even though it's nothing at all like the old steam engines. I also used to live close to where they'd occasional take antique steam engines pulling old cars through on excursion trips, and I worked with someone who was involved in the antique train preservation group who always told me about their schedule so that I could go down and watch it go by. I still have a small stack of flattened pennies that help bring back those memories, since I'd put one down on the rail each time before the train went by. What I enjoyed most was that almost every time, someone - often a child or someone with children, sometimes an elder - would notice my standing and waiting, and they'd stop and stand and wait, wondering what was going to happen. Then when it passed, it's big black steaming stack in front, the beautiful deep red and brilliantly detailed antique passenger cars behind, the piercing melodious whistle, the handlebar-moustached man in an old fashioned conductor's suit waving from the caboose, everyone would be struck by its magic.

Church bells, yes indeed. My school has a carillon (sp?) and I wonder if we'll be close enough to hear that (we're about a mile away). My house in Philadelphia was close to a church that didn't ring church bells, but oh MY the wonderful sound of that huge Black Baptist gospel choir on Sunday mornings. I used to open my windows a crack even in the winter just to bring more of that sound into my house as I had my morning tea.
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Post by shrimpdip »

The tracks were pulled up in the mid eighties in my little town. I remember the Chessie system rolling through in front of my parents house growing up. My sister and I always tried to guess the color of the caboose. The coal that fell off the hoppers also made great sidewalk chalk. :) We would also put a penny on the tracks but they would vibrate off before the train would flatten it. :wink: My girls 2 and 4 are fascinated by trains. I put a couple lionels around the front room floor in the winter and the girls and I spend our evenings watching them go 'round. The methodist church across the street had chimes in the summer but someone complained about them so they turned them off. :( It was nice to sit on the front porch swing and listen to them.


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Post by lrkrgrrl »

Well, Aaron, did anybodies offer compliments to the Methodists for their chiming? Sometimes one complaint can seem like a lot when the happy people don't speak up!

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Post by Starr-Point »

I used to be a member of a hunting club in western Maryland where there was a lot of train traffic to/from the coal mines. They were CSX trains, and the horns in the middle of thenight could be quite loud.

Well, I used to write insurance for CSX, and one year took a bunch of clients up for a turkey hunt. Couple of guys complained about the noise, but one of the CSX guys said "Friend, every time one of those horns sounds, all I hear is another paycheck." :wink:

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Post by Texas_Ranger »

Oh yeah, trains... Vienna is (at least to some extent) still a train city. Street cars (or tramways as they're usually called) still go around the streets (currently 33 lines in operationm compared to 5 subway linesm though it used to be 50+ lines years ago)...
And I live roughly 2 tram stops away from a suburban railway line. When they still had the "old" (built 1975-1989 I think) cars on that line and when I had a room facing the yard I could hear the trains accellerate or slow down when the windows were open. Those were electric trains with a really distinct engine sound, starting from a low growl, going up steadily to a high-pitched whine. A sound that always reminded me of holidays and summer... now it's gone. Only boring new cars.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

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Post by Schag »

When we first moved in, the trains down in the valley would blow late at night and echo down the valley walls.
It kept me up for the first month or so.
Now, I don't even hear them in my sleep.

One night, I had to call 911 because a stationary train had it's horn blowing for 45 minutes straight. I thought the conductor had had a heart attack or something and needed help. That was a sleepless night.

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