Freight Trains

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Back in my previous life as a locomotive engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad (now BNSF), I fell in awe of locomotives and trains in general. Although that was decades ago, I still love to hear the distant blare of air horns and feel the rumble of horsepower and wheels turning from these diesel-electric monsters. Yes, they burn fossil fuel unlike many transit trains on the east coast or in Europe, but there are three thousand miles to cover between New York and California which makes electric trains across America impractical. Besides, it is unlikely that electric locomotives can efficiently produce the horsepower needed to pull a 100 car coal or grain train. So, for now, diesel-electric is the main freight locomotive used in America, Canada and Mexico.

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I had a difficult time coming up with a title for this post as there are so many good songs about trains and railroads that I wanted to use. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I thought of Iron Horses as this was the name given by our Native American ancestors when they first encountered the steam locomotive. However, the rail-line linking of the east and west in 1869 had devastating consequences for their way of life so I didn’t want to celebrate a cool name with such negativity. The past cannot be changed, but there is no denying that the trans-continental movement of freight plays a huge role in almost every segment of our lives.

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In the first two photographs, the westbound grain train is waiting for a mixed-freight eastbound train to pass so that it can proceed. There was track work being done east of here so trains had to share one track for a short distance. This double track runs from Chicago to San Bernadino and handles millions of tons of freight each year.

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Cabooses were replaced by signalling devices which feed the engineer with vital information about the amount of compressed air in the brake lines at the end of the train. As the eastbound leaves us behind, the westbound starts his movement. Destination unknown, but it will be up to speed within a few miles.

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Wheels of Time

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Grilles and chrome

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and hood ornaments and fancy headlights

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and rear fins and long bodies

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and more fins and classic styling

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to the muscle car era of the mid-60’s and early 70’s

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and just about any imaginable engine / trany configuration one wanted to pay for

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to modern muscle cars with more comfort, horsepower and better gas mileage

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one more icon, the Corvette

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yellow was the new “hot color” back in the “day”

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so was the celebrated LS Chevy engine, long front end, flared fenders, gills, T-top and so much more.

Not that many cars at this show, but enough to want more horsepower and nostalgia. Funny, no Mustangs or other high-performance Fords at this show. They are out there.

Today, car manufacturers are turning out faster and better cars than ever before…who would have thought after the 1980’s gas crunch, impotent and ugly automobiles and 55 mph speed limits?

By the way, the yellow Vet is for sale!

 

 

Radiance

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Day lilies…what can be more common? They grow everywhere-even (especially) in ditches! Yet, they are beautiful in their own way (to coin a phrase from a Ray Stevens’ song).

One day there is a single stem of two to three feet and the next day a bud and then a flower and the next day the flower is wilted and then the next day it is gone. But, oh the glory of that single day when she is in full bloom. Radiance !

The oft used phrase, here today-gone tomorrow, certainly applies to this species of plant. Regardless, one day in full color is better than none at all.  The Bible has a verse which states that it is better to enjoy one day in God’s courts than in a thousand courts elsewhere.

Although the Psalmist is referring to actual courts in his day, I like the analogy of Heavenly courts. My understanding is that their radiance will be so glorious it will be almost blinding. If that is the case then I can hardly wait to witness those courts where Christ’s light illuminates everything.

What we see on Earth is but a sample of what’s to come, and for this I am grateful.