Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Life on the Train

"The time will come when people will travel in stages moved by steam engines from one city to another, almost as fast as birds can fly, 15 or 20 miles an hour.... A carriage will start from Washington in the morning, the passengers will breakfast at Baltimore, dine at Philadelphia, and sup in New York the same day.... Engines will drive boats 10 or 12 miles an hour, and there will be hundreds of steamers running on the Mississippi, as predicted years ago."
--Oliver Evans, 1800
Old L&N Depot
What could possibly be more nostalgic that reflections upon the train, especially the steam engine? Massive hulks of iron and steel ruled the rails and were the life blood of America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Train stations bustled as trains regularly stopped to load or unload passengers or freight. The train dominated an era of growth and prosperity relying on the backs of the Chinaman and escapes from the Western bandits.

The evolution of the train is much like life, its journey through time collects treasured memories of people and places as it stops and goes from one station to another. Have you ever thought about comparing life to a train ride or a series of train rides?

Be sure to watch in FULL SCREEN!

We've come a long way from the days of steam powered locomotives which demanded back-breaking drudgery to trains of today having advanced to high-speed technology centered on magnetic levitation. However, from the steam engine to the electric to the diesel to the stream-lined locomotives none compare to the poetry of steam.

Poetry of Steam
Incredible expansion in New York (The Empire State) during the 19th century
need not be mentioned without highlighting the role played by the railroads.
Whether leaving the city for the country or bringing raw materials into the city, railroads linked municipality to farm.

White clouds in rhythmical motion
Swirl to the beat of the engine
The whistle signals, “All aboard”
As I say good-bye to my friend

 Lovely in all her poise and beauty
Is the Iron Horse with its majestic stance
Daring and brazen blowing off steam
Hotter than ending a summer romance

Valves open, wheels slowly revolve
Emitting sounds of raw metal against metal
Smoke twists and turns, rises and falls
Settling gently as dew on a rose petal

The massive hulk eases forward
Resembling a cat stalking its prey
Mightily, steady with resolve
The driving rods push it on its way

Weaving, winding along rugged terrain
In harmony with nature’s raw concepts
Swirling, whirling flurries of ashen smoke
Invite all within its billowy depths

©2012 AwakeningsSharla Lee Shults

Ride the rails, Feel the motion, Sense the power
The Sounds of a Vanishing Era
While this is a 9-minute presentation, it only takes
a couple of minutes for you to feel the passion
of the railroad in a bygone era.

Original Oil Painting: Sharla Lee Shults
One of my paintings completed for my husband.
It hung in his office until his retirement from the railroad.
Connecting the past to the present. . .
While we may say goodbye to an era once vibrant, let us not forget the impact of the railroad as America rapidly became an urban nation. Where would America be today without the expansion of the railroad?


  1. GREAT post. I wonder what Oliver Evans would think about the Internet, cell phones, and space travel?

    1. He would be overwhelmed for sure, especially in light of the speeds he referenced in his quote:>)

  2. Wonderful post Sharla, and what a lovely painting...
    I always loved travelling by train - flying doesn't have either the same comfort or the same pleasure...

    1. Thanks, Val. The only time I got to travel by rail was in Europe in the early 70s. Much different today:>)

  3. Amazing videos. I just went back and watched all three.

    1. They are great! I worked for the railroad between educational jaunts. It was quite an experience! I love those trains:>)

  4. beautiful there is something very special about the old steam train will join your blog and look forward to reading more

    1. Hi, Julie. So glad you stopped by for a visit and elated you will follow. You are right about the ol' steam locomotive. My husband was trainmaster for Southern Railway in a long line of RR ancestry. I met him when I worked for the RR between teaching locations. Would not trade it for anything. Trains are fascinating, especially the steam engine!

  5. I love trains and I still remember the wonderful dining cars with the dignified waiters with their white gloves. And I love to hear the train whistles during the night--they rekindle so many wonderful nostalgic memories. Great post!

    1. Would have loved the experience of the dining cars! Too back that era cannot be rekindled!

  6. My favorite memory is riding a train from San Antonio, Texas to Bethlehen, PA when I was five years old. I love to fall asleep to the sounds of rushing trains across the mountains or over city overpass tresstles. I find the whistle of the old trains soothing--calling out to something within me that also wants to rush across the towns and countries. Beautiful post as always!!


    1. Trains have always fascinated me so when I had the opportunity to work for the railroad, I hopped on board very excitedly!

  7. I usually use the bus as my analogy, but I totally relate to trains. I love them. There's something romantic about trains that nothing else matches. We tried to plan a train trip only to discover that large stretches of tracks are unusable. You have to disembark, take a bus, then get back on down the line on most long train trips. We have tracks through the middle of town but only 1 or 2 trains a week and no working station. We hear them, though as the race through on their way to somewhere else.

    1. Theirs is a sound out of history! Wish the spirit of some of those times could be renewed :>)