Have you ever taken a trip by train? The Holiday season is probably a good time to consider one!
One of the most memorable trips that I have ever taken by train was in 1981 during the Christmas Holidays. I was in the process of moving from Upstate New York to a town in North East Georgia. I had driven a U-Haul truck down to Georgia with a load of furniture and personal belongings during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas and had decided to take the Amtrak Crescent back up North as far as Washington, DC.
I had never visited Washington Union Terminal, but had seen several pictures and was really looking forward to the visit! There was only one problem, the station had been closed for restoration and refurbishing just months before and remained so for my visit. I had however had a very enjoyable trip from Georgia to Washington. Let me share some of my memories here:
As we stood out on the passenger platform around 10:00 PM at Toccoa, GA waiting for the train, I remember thinking that there was something wrong with this picture. I had left the cold and snow behind in New York and as I stood there at the whistle stop station in GEORGIA, the temperature was in the 20’s and snow flurries were flying all around us! This made the night air nice and crisp and sound traveled seemingly forever. Before long, I could hear the whine of the locomotives in the distance and soon the blasts of the air horns, as they came into the outer limits of town. Even though the majority of our trip would be in the hours of darkness, there was still a sense of excitement that leaped inside of me! I knew that before long, I would be watching the Christmas lights all along the right of way, what a sight!
To this day I can still remember that as we came upon every station that was still being used for some purpose or another, the lights that were lit and the snow reflecting off from their glow. As we worked our way further North, the snow started sticking to the ground and as we passed sidings and yards, the snow was covering the parked freight cars. What a sight! I stayed awake well into the wee hours of the morning watching out the window and enjoying all of the things that I could see, but the warm heat in the car with its gentle rocking and clickity-clack of the wheels soon put me to sleep. On occasion we would come into a station and the conductor would wake me up with announcements, but other than that, I was dead to the world!
When I awoke to the announcement that they were now serving breakfast in the dining car, I looked out my window to find that we were traveling through places that had very deep snow. As we worked our way to the dining car, I asked an attendant where we were and was informed that we were in the mountains of Virginia. We sat down to a table that was set with a white table cloth and a red flower in a vase by the window. What a beautiful sight set against the white snow covered mountains! As we sat there eating a wonderful breakfast equal to any in a fine restaurant, I remember entering into cut through the mountain and the freshly fallen snow billowing up into the air, as went speeding through.
The remainder of the trip into Washington was filled with views of the suburbs and railroad sights that are normally associated with big metropolitan areas. When we arrived at the station in Washington, we exited byway of makeshift platforms and passageways to a section of the terminal that was still open enough to handle the operations. It had been a trip that will always remain in my mind, The Snow, The Warm Car, The clickity-clack and The Gentle Rocking, The Smell of Breakfast and the Joy of Christmas Expectations along the right of way!
This Christmas Season, you just might want to consider a Holiday Trip aboard Amtrak! Click on the link to the right and check it out!