TEN FEET AWAY, the train roared down the tracks next to The Depot Bar & Grill in Faribault. I could feel its immense power as the cars zipped by in a blur, rails rising and falling.
For a moment I considered my vulnerability with only a wrought iron fence and a slip of stones separating me from this mammoth machine.
Despite my flash of fear, I thrilled in the rush of sitting so near a train as I waited for my brisket sandwich and fries on the outdoor patio. I grabbed my beer, took another swig and felt the rhythm of the fast-moving cars.
What is it about trains that holds such fascination? The power certainly impresses. But I think it’s the history, too, associated with trains that appeals to us. Travel by rail opened this country to further settlement.
My paternal great grandfather, Rudolph, rode the train to Henderson, Minnesota, in 1890, four years after he arrived by steamship in Baltimore. And four years after that, he moved farther west and bought a farm from the Great Western Railroad just outside my hometown of Vesta.
I expect most of you could tell similar stories of your ancestors and their travel by rail. Trains link us to our past, to those who came before us to this land, this America.
© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling