When I was a kid, there was a train yard not too far from my dad’s office in West Springfield. He would take me there on his lunch break to watch the trains. It was a fascinating place for a six-year old.
As I got a little older, railroad tracks offered a means of transportation. I spent hours walking the tracks through Westfield, Springfield, and Holyoke. And I rode my bike along the old New Haven line that shut down years before I was born. The trains no longer ran, but there was still a clear path that cut through Westfield and Southwick. It was perfect for a curious kid to explore.
I rode my bike to the Tin Bridge in Westfield to go swimming. Just like my dad did when he was a kid. And just like his dad did before him.
I started getting into photography in middle school. The red brick factory buildings that lined the tracks and the rusted railroad trestles provided the perfect scenery to learn how to shoot a camera. And it was the graffiti that got me into design… and some trouble.
In my teenage years, railroad tracks and underpasses were a great place to ditch class. It was exciting. Hell… I even had to hang off the side of the trestle just north of Memorial Bridge to avoid an oncoming freight train once… Sorry Mom, I promise I won’t do that again.
At age 22, my girlfriend (now-fiancée) and I moved to her hometown in California. We took the train 2,800 miles across the country. From Springfield to Chicago. And then from Chicago to Los Angeles. It was an incredible way to see the country. And it was cheaper than flying.
The train is unbiased. It takes you through woods, farmland, cities, and towns. Picturesque skylines, and dilapidated neighborhoods. And corn fields. So many damn corn fields…
Railroad tracks have been a recurring theme in my life. A link between the past and present. And a sense of freedom. I imagine the fascination will always remain on some level.